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Author Topic: Miners operate the majority of Bitcoin nodes.  (Read 2860 times)
n8rwJeTt8TrrLKPa55eU
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October 06, 2012, 06:36:55 PM
Last edit: October 06, 2012, 07:38:10 PM by n8rwJeTt8TrrLKPa55eU
 #21

Why is this a problem? Why should every user be influenced into installing software and operating a node?

Imagine the future where all miner rewards come from transaction fees.

In such a future, the single economic incentive for miners will clearly be to maximize the number of transactions.  Anything that furthers that goal, they will support.  Anything that reduces or kills growth in the number of transactions, they will likely not adopt.

Then imagine this scenario: governments bring charges of aiding and abetting money laundering onto the Bitcoin Foundation and the development team.  They promise to drop charges and put a stamp of approval on Bitcoin, as long as the verification code is changed: transactions are to be rejected if the source and destination addresses are not pre-registered in a "voluntary" taxing/tracking database which links Bitcoin addresses to real world IDs.

Some developers elect to not go to jail and implement the change.  A fork occurs in the code, and miners must now choose.

Will 51% of miners adopt a code change that reduces privacy and fungibility?  My guess is that they will, if it comes with a government stamp of approval that potentially takes Bitcoin more mainstream and therefore increases the number of transactions (and thus their profit).

A potential "flaw" in Bitcoin is that the profitability of miners, in the very long term, is not necessarily aligned with the interests of Bitcoin holders.  In the early days, there was a 1:1 mapping between holders and miners, so no divergence existed.  But clearly at some future date, due to hardware requirements and specialization, it's not inconceivable that virtually no miners will be holders, and no holders will be miners.  Similar to what you see in the real world wrt. gold holders and gold mining.

Do you trust that, 10 years from now, 51% of miners will "vote" according to Satoshi's ideals...or will they seek maximum profit?

If 10 years from now, the largest transaction procesors/miners are Citibank and ABN...will they care about your opinion on what Bitcoin should be?
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October 06, 2012, 08:26:01 PM
 #22


Miners only select (or ignore) transactions provided to them.

The bitcoin client you run chooses what transactions and blocks to validate and relay.

Miners cannot change the rules without bitcoin user agreement.


Jeff Garzik, Bloq CEO, former bitcoin core dev team; opinions are my own.
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n8rwJeTt8TrrLKPa55eU
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October 06, 2012, 11:41:14 PM
 #23

Perhaps you are correct, and a government approved fork will be more desirable and thus more valuable than any other. But it's not the miners that will make this decision. If they choose the wrong fork and the holders start liquidating their Bitcoins on that fork, the miners will be mining worthless coins. They may be able to merge mine both forks, in which case they will not need to make any risky choices.

TL;DR: It's impossible for the miners interests to diverge from the holders interests, unless the miners are interesting in mining worthless coins.

The argument you & Jeff make is mathematically correct, but mischievously incomplete.

Over time, the userbase expands, and thus the average interest shifts.

Today, many users (let's randomly say 51%) are attracted to Bitcoin because of privacy and agorism features.

10 years from now, the overall pool of users will likely be much larger and more mainstream, and have a different ideological makeup.  Let's say at that point, 51% of a small pie has morphed into 5% of a much bigger pie, and the other 95% are simply using Bitcoin for aboveground transactions at aboveground businesses, without any political goals whatsoever.

At that point, miners and banks could easily dump all privacy provisions, because 95% of users will not care.  Interests of miners and most holders (95%) will still be aligned, satisfying your premise.  Price per coin will likely go up on the news.  But those 5% who signed on for political reasons, and perhaps Satoshi himself, might rightly feel that Bitcoin was hijacked from under them.

History has shown that, regardless of good intentions and careful crafting of checks and balances, systems structured as democracies are susceptible to deviation from original intent once they experience enough population influx to dilute the ideologically hardcore founding membership.  Bitcoin will not be an exception.  Once your grandma is using it...kiss any controversial features goodbye, she will not care about original intent and will "vote" accordingly.

I suppose Satoshi perhaps foresaw this, and hence another reason for the outsized rewards for early adopters.  At least if we get ideologically screwed once massive waves of people push us off the Bitcoin airplane, that same influx of people will likely supply us with a golden parachute with which to fund the development of the next cryptocurrency.

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October 06, 2012, 11:52:42 PM
 #24

I suppose Satoshi perhaps foresaw this, and hence another reason for the outsized rewards for early adopters.  At least if we get ideologically screwed once massive waves of people push us off the Bitcoin airplane, that same influx of people will likely supply us with a golden parachute with which to fund the development of the next cryptocurrency.

With this argument, you have actually destroyed your previous argument about BTC being broken by banks & governments.

We are the early adopters, which gives us incredible power. Once banks take over the "normal" bitcoin, we can still have all the coins we hoarded using which we can rule the market.

We will fork, and since we (early adopters) will (i hope) hold most of the coins, or at least significiant part, it won't matter that banks & governments created the mainstream version. Because we can move to the fork, simultaneously causing the mainstream version to die by (for example) manipulating market through selling all coins at very low price simultaneously.

More coins = more power. If we have most of the coins, there are endless number of ways we can destroy the mainstream version, while forking and promoting the new, better version.

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October 07, 2012, 01:10:36 AM
 #25

More coins = more power. If we have most of the coins, there are endless number of ways we can destroy the mainstream version, while forking and promoting the new, better version.

I'd like to think that this community can successfully fend off evil intent, but our track record is poor in that regard.  We can't even cohesively go after a couple of blatant scammers, so I doubt we can coordinate a full-on currency war.  Ultimately, if the majority of people on this planet don't mind having their every transaction monitored and tracked (as seems to be the case, unfortunately), then the main Bitcoin chain, democratically determined, will also reflect that sad reality.  People here need to enjoy this moment of monetary freedom, be realistic, know their history, and be prepared for the possibility that if Bitcoin succeeds wrt. 100% mainstream adoption, it will likely be through a "sanitized", less controversial variant.

I will enjoy my cynicism being proven wrong.  Perhaps at some point, global economic repression and debasement will make average people insist that the virtues of the "original" Bitcoin not be compromised.  But until then, as Mencken wisely put it, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard".  Beware of anyone who claims that mechanisms based on democratic majorities are sufficient to guarantee ideological consistency, in politics, in Bitcoin, or anywhere else.  History clearly shows otherwise.
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October 07, 2012, 01:17:36 AM
 #26

More coins = more power. If we have most of the coins, there are endless number of ways we can destroy the mainstream version, while forking and promoting the new, better version.

I'd like to think that this community can successfully fend off evil intent, but our track record is poor in that regard.  I doubt we can coordinate a full-on currency war.

Of course we can.
When you leave people no choice, they do the only thing they can - fight.

A proper incentive is required for everything. For example, when all your wealth, well being and even survival is dependant upon doing a thing, you will do the thing.

We can't even cohesively go after a couple of blatant scammers, so

Because these scammers aren't a danger against Bitcoin in general, but danger only to people who believe in magical 7% a week profits.

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October 07, 2012, 01:39:50 AM
 #27

Don't the vast majority of miners not bother with a node? They are in pools and just take work orders right?

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October 07, 2012, 01:46:16 AM
 #28

Do what you want. No one is forcing you to do anything.

Most miners use a mining pool. Most miners don't run a full node, as this is not required for pooled mining. So thousands of miners could be relying on tens of nodes.

I want a healthy robust network that is capable of withstanding various attacks. I run a node on every computer that I have access to.

Isn't the most threatening attack one of 51% of the computing power confirming most of the blocks?

They will attack bitcoin economically not with overpowering mining force.

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October 07, 2012, 01:57:42 AM
 #29

Do what you want. No one is forcing you to do anything.

Most miners use a mining pool. Most miners don't run a full node, as this is not required for pooled mining. So thousands of miners could be relying on tens of nodes.

I want a healthy robust network that is capable of withstanding various attacks. I run a node on every computer that I have access to.

Isn't the most threatening attack one of 51% of the computing power confirming most of the blocks?

They will attack bitcoin economically not with overpowering mining force.

That is quite logical, indeed.

They will not risk attacking using weapons they are not experienced with, but with the ones they handle well. They will keep using their usual methods, slightly modified for specifics of the Bitcoin economy.

n8rwJeTt8TrrLKPa55eU
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October 07, 2012, 02:08:11 AM
 #30

Of course we can.
When you leave people no choice, they do the only thing they can - fight.

A proper incentive is required for everything. For example, when all your wealth, well being and even survival is dependant upon doing a thing, you will do the thing.

Your line of thought is noble, I wish I had your optimism, but most societies outside of Iran, North Korea, etc are clearly not at this point yet.  Even in places like Argentina or Venezuela, where people are currently undergoing significant economic repression much harsher than in any 1st world nation, the current governments won reelection by large margins.  Stockholm Syndrome is prevalent and many enjoy being punished.  I travel a lot, and can guarantee that in terms of political and monetary awareness, the people on this forum (and into Bitcoin in general) are the exception, and not the rule.  The scammers and trolls are exasperating, but Bitcoin has an above-average number of very smart, passionate, and multidisciplinary people attached to it, as I confirmed at the recent conference.  So regardless of whether it gets forked or coopted down the line, I'm just happy that this technology exists and has set the precedent of a small community bootstraping and bringing freemarket money into existence.  It's an idea whose time has come and that will survive, even if most of the world isn't mentally ready to appreciate it properly.  Humanity is a bit like the apes in 2001, and Bitcoin is the monolith.  Let's hope it takes far less than 1000000 years before our race evolves to the point where it's ready to make contact with Satoshi near Jupiter.
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October 07, 2012, 02:11:44 AM
 #31

Do what you want. No one is forcing you to do anything.

Most miners use a mining pool. Most miners don't run a full node, as this is not required for pooled mining. So thousands of miners could be relying on tens of nodes.

I want a healthy robust network that is capable of withstanding various attacks. I run a node on every computer that I have access to.

Isn't the most threatening attack one of 51% of the computing power confirming most of the blocks?

They will attack bitcoin economically not with overpowering mining force.

That is quite logical, indeed.

They will not risk attacking using weapons they are not experienced with, but with the ones they handle well. They will keep using their usual methods, slightly modified for specifics of the Bitcoin economy.

Suppose they figured out that bitcoin was going to replace current monies in time to do something about it, maybe they would buy bitcoins and enjoy continuing to be wealthy.

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October 07, 2012, 02:20:40 AM
 #32

Suppose they figured out that bitcoin was going to replace current monies in time to do something about it, maybe they would buy bitcoins and enjoy continuing to be wealthy.

...and lose "undisputable elite" status to the early adopters ? Is any power&money-hungry-bastard ever going to accept this ?




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October 07, 2012, 04:15:03 AM
 #33

Suppose they figured out that bitcoin was going to replace current monies in time to do something about it, maybe they would buy bitcoins and enjoy continuing to be wealthy.

...and lose "undisputable elite" status to the early adopters ? Is any power&money-hungry-bastard ever going to accept this ?






no sir, they will launch every bomb on earth to prevent this
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