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Author Topic: Why the Bitcoin rules can't change (reading time ~5min)  (Read 11712 times)
hazek
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February 20, 2013, 06:47:13 PM
 #1

Well the title is a lie. Of course they can change and they already have changed in the past. But if this is bad news to you and you were lead to believe something else, don't fret, it's not all bad. Here, let me try and give you the bigger picture about rules in Bitcoin and who it is that you need to trust that they won't change to something you won't like.

First there's a myths that I want to address. I also want to make sure the community pays attention to this issue. Because as Ben Franklin told a woman the Americans got a republic if they can keep it (turns out they couldn't) so too I'm here to tell you that you have an excellent money system on your hands, if you can keep it.

Myth: Miners set the rules by voting

False. Miners do not vote, they validate. They check that transactions meet the rules and then they add them into a block and add it to the blockchain. If a subset of miners decide that a certain rule should be changed what happens ISN'T that all miners now validate transactions according to the new rule even if the subset has the majority of hashing power, instead a so called hard fork happens and some miners validate transactions that obey the new rules and those who stick with the old rules ignore them and by virtue of ignoring each other they split into two peer to peer networks.

But what if all miners suddenly switch to new rules? Can they do this? Is there something that stops them? Answer: YES, EVERY NON MINING FULL NODE

I mean this is critical for every Bitcoin user to understand. Bitcoin is a decentralized system, in which if you run a full node YOU HAVE A SAY in what rules are to be followed. Because once the miner adds a new block they send it around across the network and when it gets to you, your client also validates. It validates that the miner validated the transactions and added them into a block and into the blockchain following the right rules, rules that you gave your EXPLICIT consent to when you downloaded the Satoshi client. If all of the sudden all miners started validating according to some new rules, your client is coded to simply ignore them and as soon as just 1 miner following rules your client accepts as valid shows up, the network can continue to operate under these same rules.

The ONLY way for rules to ever change for you is if YOU PERSONALLY download a new client version with new rules. I cannot stress enough how important this is. This so important that it should be paramount for anyone who has any significant wealth in Bitcoin to run your own full node regardless of the costs that brings to you. I myself do it too even though I don't even use the client for anything else.

Now this doesn't mean you should never accept new rules in a new client. In fact you already did because those new rules solved a technical problem. But if you want to keep the Bitcoin money system running under the principles that it is built upon today (FINITENESS, TANGIBILITY, TRANSPARENCY, ANONYMITY, SECURITY, DECENTRALIZATION, SELF-OWNERSHIP, INTEGRITY, PRACTICALITY, RATIONALISM) it is paramount that any such rule changes do not immediately or down road preclude you from being able to run a full node. Because if you can't run a full node and you trust someone else to do it for you, then you have effectively given away your power to have say about what rules Bitcoin follows.

Right now you are a sovereign in Bitcoin. You should never give that up, under any circumstance.

What do I mean with sovereign? Well there's nothing anyone could possibly do that can make you accept rules you didn't agree with. Nothing. You yourself have to decide to consent to a rule change. But if running a full node becomes impossible for you then all that which you were told about Bitcoin, that rules virtually can't change, that it has a strict limit of 21million, ect, all these rules will then be left to be decided by a small number of super nodes and the people who control them. The second this becomes reality Bitcoin will be no different than simply a slightly more transparent Paypal. And if you don't want that you better make damn sure you can run a full node.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
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greyhawk
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February 20, 2013, 06:55:11 PM
 #2

The client in it's current state is not a viable option for most people to run as a node in the not too far future. Both bandwidth and space issues will only intensify with further acceptance of Bitcoin. Thus either the client has to change with all that entails (such as developer decided rules changes) or more and more people will have to stop running a full node, when it's no longer viable for them.
hazek
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February 20, 2013, 06:58:51 PM
 #3

The client in it's current state is not a viable option for most people to run as a node in the not too far future. Both bandwidth and space issues will only intensify with further acceptance of Bitcoin. Thus either the client has to change with all that entails (such as developer decided rules changes) or more and more people will have to stop running a full node, when it's no longer viable for them.

How so? I have a laptop with 1TB space, and the block size limit means there's max 55GB that can be added in a year on avg, so how could I not run a full node for at least 5 more years when I'm sure I'm going to upgrade my laptop by then and have even more disk space available?

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
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February 20, 2013, 07:06:04 PM
 #4

I like to have my memory refreshed from time to time, thanks hazek

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greyhawk
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February 20, 2013, 07:08:06 PM
 #5

The client in it's current state is not a viable option for most people to run as a node in the not too far future. Both bandwidth and space issues will only intensify with further acceptance of Bitcoin. Thus either the client has to change with all that entails (such as developer decided rules changes) or more and more people will have to stop running a full node, when it's no longer viable for them.

How so? I have a laptop with 1TB space, and the block size limit means there's max 55GB that can be added in a year on avg, so how could I not run a full node for at least 5 more years when I'm sure I'm going to upgrade my laptop by then and have even more disk space available?

You're priviledged in your space and bandwith capacity. What about those not so lucky? Those on volume capped lines? What about Africa, where most people outside of major cities still connect via 56k dial-up if even?
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February 20, 2013, 07:11:39 PM
 #6

I understand the importance of running full nodes (I run 3 of them on dedicated servers).
But without incentives, total number of nodes will decay over time.
Besides the common benefit, any idea on how to make it more attractive going full ?

If you don't own the private keys, you don't own the coins.
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February 20, 2013, 07:14:06 PM
 #7

encore encore!

Thank you, OP. I completely agree.  That is why when I bring up the growing blockchain size, the response "use a thin client" does not work for me.  Everyone should run at least one full client.  And mine if possible.  But the growing blockchain size is a problem.  I would like very much to have a good way to split up the load of having a full node among multiple machines on my home network.

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hazek
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February 20, 2013, 07:15:26 PM
 #8

The client in it's current state is not a viable option for most people to run as a node in the not too far future. Both bandwidth and space issues will only intensify with further acceptance of Bitcoin. Thus either the client has to change with all that entails (such as developer decided rules changes) or more and more people will have to stop running a full node, when it's no longer viable for them.

How so? I have a laptop with 1TB space, and the block size limit means there's max 55GB that can be added in a year on avg, so how could I not run a full node for at least 5 more years when I'm sure I'm going to upgrade my laptop by then and have even more disk space available?

You're priviledged in your space and bandwith capacity. What about those not so lucky? Those on volume capped lines? What about Africa, where most people outside of major cities still connect via 56k dial-up if even?

Then those who can't afford to run a full node right now are must understand that they are using Bitcoin without their explicit consent to what rules Bitcoin functions under. That their wealth is in the hands of those who can.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
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February 20, 2013, 07:15:35 PM
 #9

One solution to the trade off between the ability of running a full node and limited computing resources as the size of Bitcoin grows is to split the heavy lifting and public activites (downloading and verifying the whole blockchain) from the sensitive private activities (storing and managing of private keys and personal transactions) and have the two communicate over a secure encrypted connection. In this server client model what really matters is that both the server and the client are under the complete control of the individual; however they do not need to be in the same location or even in the same country as long as the connection between them is secure and encrypted.

Some examples:

1) One can set up a server at home and then connect to that server over a secure connection from a thin client on a mobile device.
2) One can lease a server running Free Software in a data centre, pay for it with Bitcoin, and then connect to the server over TOR from a location with poor internet access and high degrees of censorship.
 

Concerned that blockchain bloat will lead to centralization? Storing less than 4 GB of data once required the budget of a superpower and a warehouse full of punched cards. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/IBM_card_storage.NARA.jpg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punched_card
hazek
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February 20, 2013, 07:16:53 PM
 #10

I understand the importance of running full nodes (I run 3 of them on dedicated servers).
But without incentives, total number of nodes will decay over time.
Besides the common benefit, any idea on how to make it more attractive going full ?

The attractiveness is that you remain a sovereign in Bitcoin i.e. the pay off isn't material but of a different kind of value. I run it because this way I can ensure that the rules that govern my wealth are those that I agree with and that's enough of an inventive for me.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
Akka
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February 20, 2013, 07:18:05 PM
 #11

So this is basically the third thread about the max. Blocksize?

So how would the Blockchain be some over System like the FED-Line not violate those principles (FINITENESS, TANGIBILITY, TRANSPARENCY, ANONYMITY, SECURITY, DECENTRALIZATION, SELF-OWNERSHIP, INTEGRITY, PRACTICALITY, RATIONALISM).

Like I already said, if there where 180 Mil. Bitcoin users, that would allow one Blockchain transaction per User per Year. Directly meaning, that the average User would need to Use some kind of (centralised, intransparent, unanonimous, etc.) Provider and never be able to validate his BTC ownership on the Blockchain.

That can't be a solution.

Also, Disk space is already cheap and will become cheaper. It will still be possible for many users to run full nodes for a long time, ever if the space and bad with requirements increase.

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February 20, 2013, 07:19:26 PM
 #12

The client in it's current state is not a viable option for most people to run as a node in the not too far future. Both bandwidth and space issues will only intensify with further acceptance of Bitcoin. Thus either the client has to change with all that entails (such as developer decided rules changes) or more and more people will have to stop running a full node, when it's no longer viable for them.

How so? I have a laptop with 1TB space, and the block size limit means there's max 55GB that can be added in a year on avg, so how could I not run a full node for at least 5 more years when I'm sure I'm going to upgrade my laptop by then and have even more disk space available?

You're priviledged in your space and bandwith capacity. What about those not so lucky? Those on volume capped lines? What about Africa, where most people outside of major cities still connect via 56k dial-up if even?

Then those who can't afford to run a full node right now are must understand that they are using Bitcoin without their explicit consent to what rules Bitcoin functions under. That their wealth is in the hands of those who can.

I'm confused about what you are arguing. You want everyone to be able to always run a full node, correct? Can someone run a full node on a 56k modem right now indefinitely? The block chain will get bigger and bigger and that poor little laptop won't work. Are you suggesting we lower block size limits so that we can let these 56k modem users work? And if so, aren't you saying centralization will be okay because fees will cost too much to use it for regular transactions?

You've split your thoughts between a few posts and this is very confusing for someone who hasn't been following you around the forum.

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          .      .            .            .        .            .            .          .        .     .               .            .             .            .            .           .            .     .               .         .              .           .            .            .            .     .      .     .    .     .          .            .          .            .            .           .              .     .            .            .           .            .               .         .            .     .            .            .             .            .              .            .            .      .            .            .            .            .            .            .             .          .
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February 20, 2013, 07:20:17 PM
 #13

Uh by all means increase the blocksize, I'll move on and have a long hard laugh at you guys during the grind to the bottom.
It will be the dumbest ever thing Bitcoiners have ever done.
hazek
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February 20, 2013, 07:21:29 PM
 #14

That can't be a solution.

It may not be and it may be that this is a design flaw in Bitcoin. But if a solution is found it will have to be one where there is no compromise on me being able to validate the rules used. If Bitcoin can't achieve that then I have no use for it.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
hazek
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February 20, 2013, 07:23:24 PM
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I'm confused about what you are arguing. You want everyone to be able to always run a full node, correct?

Wrong. I want me to be able to validate the rules I consented to are followed and right now that means running a full node, I don't care about anybody else or how that is achieved.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
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February 20, 2013, 07:26:11 PM
 #16

I'm confused about what you are arguing. You want everyone to be able to always run a full node, correct?

Wrong. I want me to be able to validate the rules I consented to are followed and right now that means running a full node, I don't care about anybody else or how that is achieved.

Which includes a 1Mb block size limit?

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February 20, 2013, 07:27:00 PM
 #17

at 10mio full nodes every transaction costs 1$ in disk space alone. everybody being a full node is only possible for small networks.

besided that, bitcoin has has nothing to do with your ideology. not every bitcoin user agrees with your principles and many likely never will. self-ownership my ass...

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February 20, 2013, 07:27:15 PM
 #18

The client in it's current state is not a viable option for most people to run as a node in the not too far future. Both bandwidth and space issues will only intensify with further acceptance of Bitcoin. Thus either the client has to change with all that entails (such as developer decided rules changes) or more and more people will have to stop running a full node, when it's no longer viable for them.

The sky is falling! Hard drive capacities are only 4TB and falling! Total internet bandwidth can only go down from here!  Tongue

hazek
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February 20, 2013, 07:27:25 PM
 #19

I'm confused about what you are arguing. You want everyone to be able to always run a full node, correct?

Wrong. I want me to be able to validate the rules I consented to are followed and right now that means running a full node, I don't care about anybody else or how that is achieved.

Which includes a 1Mb block size limit?

Given the arguments on both sides that I have heard, yes.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
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February 20, 2013, 07:32:20 PM
 #20

Even if you don't run a full node, you can still exert you sovereignty to some extent by refusing to accept transactions that don't agree with your rules.  

If you are a major bitcoin business such as Mtgox, this alone will exert considerable pressure on the rest of the community to run full nodes that agree with your rules.

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