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Author Topic: Would Bitcoin Suffer a Similar Fate as that of Unix on the Desktop?  (Read 4110 times)
blogospheroid
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March 24, 2013, 03:20:13 PM
 #21

Hi Flyonthewall,

The main issue you will face is defining velocity. In a pseudo-anonymous world, it is impossible to distinguish someone paying another person from someone round tripping to their own account. You could use coin-days destroyed, but coin days destroyed is a measure that is presently not being used for any adjustment, hence it might be an ok measure. Once a measure is made a target, it tends to lose its ability to measure the phenomenon. (Goodhart's law). If the coins are dependent on coin days destroyed, you will have early adopters sweeping their accounts at a regular rate to minimize the production of new coins.

The closest you have is Freicoin which degrades at a given rate, but even that is not an intelligent, sensing dependent rate. It is a fixed rate.

If you have a velocity measure that cannot be gamed, there are many people waiting for it, as a fair number of people in the real world might follow a coin more in tune with their conventional economic sense.
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March 25, 2013, 01:05:36 AM
 #22

A very interesting perspective but if Bitcoin were to have a worldwide market share comparable to GNU/Linux on the desktop, about 1.21% by one of the most conservative estimates http://www.netmarketshare.com/, the value of one Bitcoin would have to reach at least that of 12100 USD (2013 dollars).

Why? Because we are talking of Bitcoin accounting for 1.21% of the approximately 21 Trillion USD world M1 money supply.

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
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March 25, 2013, 01:13:54 AM
 #23

A very interesting perspective but if Bitcoin were to have a worldwide market share comparable to GNU/Linux on the desktop, about 1.21% by one of the most conservative estimates http://www.netmarketshare.com/, the value of one Bitcoin would have to reach at least that of 12100 USD (2013 dollars).

Why? Because we are talking of Bitcoin accounting for 1.21% of the approximately 21 Trillion USD world M1 money supply.

And this is conservative because Unix works globally, just as there are other fiat currencies to consider.

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March 25, 2013, 02:31:51 AM
 #24

There are already alt-coins. Some have limits of 84 million. You are forgetting that Bitcoin, while it is limited to 20.9 million, has 8 decimal places. People just have a hard time understanding more than 2 decimal places because people are so used to fiat currency with 2 decimal places.

While gold can be mined, the vast majority of gold has already been mined. To go further on this analogy, half the bitcoins have been mined. Another 20 to 30 years and almost all the bitcoins will have been mined. To keep mining, miners must invest heavily in hardware.

For gold, to keep mining, they have to invest in digging deeper (more difficulty, like GPU) or going to within our solar system space (more difficulty, like FPGA), or going to deep outer space (more difficulty, like ASICs).

It's not practical nor economic to keep mining gold when it is more expensive or dangerous (overheating bitcoin mining rigs, high electricity), and there might be other stuff to do that is more profitable (like generate electricity that the miners have to buy).

In 30 years, there might not be any much point in bitcoin mining for block rewards, but instead to get all those transaction fees. For gold, maybe the analogy is similar to how gold is being used while physically being secured, you are getting certificates for your gold, not the actual gold itself (maybe you can get it later.)

When bitcoins are worth $12,100.00 as ArticMine has pointed out, then those decimal places come in handy. Transaction fees will eventually become lower to reflect the value or worth of each bitcoin.

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March 25, 2013, 09:10:33 AM
 #25

In the nearest future people will start to exploit asteroids. I wonder what people who invested in gold will say, when some company will bring someday asteroid made of gold on earth.

Lets hope people have learned a thing or two before such nonsense occurs.  Collective stupidity is getting a little old. 
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March 25, 2013, 10:57:13 PM
 #26

Quote
If you have a velocity measure that cannot be gamed, there are many people waiting for it, as a fair number of people in the real world might follow a coin more in tune with their conventional economic sense.

I understand your point that it maybe possible to game the measure of velocity, what I don't see is the motivation for it. If I were a miner for this new currency (which would simply be a slightly different version of Bitcoin), sure I would want to relax the production spigot for that currency. But by doing so I would be affecting not just the production of my mining rig, but the production rate of all my competitors as well. We can all conspire to render that spigot ineffective altogether, but then doing so would NOT be in our interest. Why? Because, like the oil-producing cartels, we don't want to flood the world with cheap currency. It wouldn't be in the interest of miners to lower the relative price of the new currency, just as it's not in the interest of oil-producing countries to cause the price of oil to come down. What every oil-producing country wants to do and is continually doing is to announce that it would reduce production, but then secretly do the opposite (increase its production). However, all the other members of the cartel are doing the same thing, and so in general they find it very difficult to directly cause an increase in the world price of oil. The current high price is certainly not of their doing.

Quote
You are forgetting that Bitcoin, while it is limited to 20.9 million, has 8 decimal places. People just have a hard time understanding more than 2 decimal places because people are so used to fiat currency with 2 decimal places.

Some programmer thought at one point in the history of desktop PCs that it's OK to allocate only so many digits for the year. And so during the year 2000 an enormous amount of effort had to be spent just to fix this date limit bug. My point is that the eight decimal places for every Bitcoin may still not be enough. If the U.S. dollar were to continue as the dominant world currency, the M1 count would definitely grow, maybe indefinitely.

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March 26, 2013, 12:07:47 PM
 #27

The Miners' "Greed" will Save Bitcoin

It occurred to me that the Bitcoin system of production does not need to be controlled at all, not pogrammatically, not even by any rule. What will limit production is the profitability of miners. At this stage of development, Bitcoin is increasing in value, and mining is very profitable. It cannot remain so forever, if production is not limited by absolute quantity. Assume for the sake of discussion that there is no limit. Every miner, to increase profitability, would produce as many Bitcoins per second as he could. There will be over-production, and subsequent inflation (inflation in quantity, and then eventually reduction in value [the alternate "definition" of inflation]). As the value of Bitcoins come down, naturally the profits of miners will come down also, if measured in terms of how much a Bitcoin can buy. The system will tend towards a state of equilibrium, one in which the profitability of miners is throttled by inflation (in the second sense), and the value of every Bitcoin stabilizes.

This absolute limit on quantity is fictitious anyway, and I daresay it is GOOD that it is fictitious.

Let's say that the miners "collude" among themselves in order to remove the absolute limit on quantity. As the moderator of this forum pointed out here: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=145475.msg1543280#msg1543280, there is really nothing that can stop the miners from changing the quantity rule, except the wallets in everybody else's possession. What if the miners themselves also start distributing their vesion of the wallet, with compelling advantages to the user? (For example, a version with a much pruned Merkle tree, so that everybody with a smartphone or any handheld device can use it.)

So now the question to ask is, if the limit on quantity is fictitious, what sets Bitcoin apart from any fiat currency in use today? Every fiat currency is controlled by some monopoly, a monopoly necessarily sanctioned and enforced by the state. In Bitcoin's case, such monopoly does not exist. In Bitcoin's case, its own market will control its quantity, while fiat currencies are prone to hyper-inflation because its monopolistic structure does not present a feedback mechanism to limit production or "printing".

The two worries I expressed in the OP are in reality no cause for concern. I now believe in Bitcoins much more than I ever did. If a version of the wallet that can run on a handheld becomes available (as I am sure it will, soon enough), then its proliferation will further enhance its own integrity, as I explain here: http://ctapang.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/more-on-bitcoins/.

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March 26, 2013, 12:46:25 PM
 #28


Some programmer thought at one point in the history of desktop PCs that it's OK to allocate only so many digits for the year. And so during the year 2000 an enormous amount of effort had to be spent just to fix this date limit bug.

I think you are mistaking some corporation or one proprietary operating system, compared to the open source programmers or OS. Perhaps, during that time, 4 digit years took up twice the space of 2 digit years, and space was at a premium then. This Y2K bug was not a problem for Linux machines, and for most of their software (unless it had a Windows counterpart) because this really is a Y2038 bug. Which is not a bug, it's just a limitation of the bits allocated for time.

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March 26, 2013, 08:48:31 PM
 #29

1. I've used Linux on the desktop since I was 12.  Linux and other Unix like OSes run the vast majority of hardware.  Windows is for consumers and (decreasingly) business users.  Real code runs on a real OS.  Smartphones are almost all POSIX compatible.  Microsoft will continue to see difficulty with new markets since users now understand the walls that come with Windows.
2. As for chance, it does play a small roll, but 98% of the time, if you started with the same initial distribution of land and poured water on it you would get the same path.  The path did change as the river carved out the rock.  Softer areas of rock wore quicker and pulled the river in that direction.  If you go back far enough, and cast your net across the entire universe, it can be deterministically predicted.  However, there are practical problems when you try to model the entire universe over all time, so we have to resort to probabilistics to make good local guesses and still acknowledge that the likely event may not happen because of an external factor we can't predict.
3. If bitcoin runs serious international settlement and some other systems provides a simple user interface for consumers (possibly with chargebacks, insurance, etc.), bitcoin will still be a success in my mind.  This is just like the comparison of Unix running the show and Windows just being a walled garden so idiots don't hurt themselves with the power of the real system.  As long as the real system remains accessible to everyone.

https://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
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March 26, 2013, 09:02:46 PM
 #30

Rather, we want to be like the Colorado river, cutting deep into the very foundation of world commerce, less by chance, and more by conscious decisions.

Are you saying the Colorado river cut it's path via conscious decisions?

https://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
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May 12, 2013, 11:50:28 PM
 #31

First of all, OP is a good read, even though I disagree on main points.

The issue of hard limit boils down to psychology and culture. It is stated in the OP how the supply of an ideal currency should scale with the economic growth or recession. In that case, we need to think in terms of changing supply and (ideally) steady real value of the unit of currency. In reality, however, this implies trust in a central authority issuing and destroying currency at their (corrupt) will. It implies uncertainty. Importantly, we have all seen how dysfunctional and corrupt this system is. Taking "experts" seriously would mean mental disease at this point.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, offers a mathematically certain supply (with some minor variation due to hash rate variation and compressed or extended schedule of difficulty adjustments). In the case of Bitcoin, therefore, we need to think in terms of scheduled supply and variable real value of the unit depending on the growth or recession of the economy. If the economy is growing, value of coins is rising, and people may slow down on spending and increase savings, thereby slowing down the economy, thus leading to a slower increase or even to a decrease in the value of a coin, which then stimulates spending, and drives the economic growth... you get the picture. Hard limit on the supply leads to a sane, self-regulating economy, as opposed to the current mainstream idiocy.
Niko, I read this again, and I think I have just fully understood it. So what you are saying is that keeping the quantity a constant while allowing the value to change is just the other side of the same idea, which is allowing the quantity to change, thereby steadying the value. Sort of like an adiabatic pressure, volume, and temperature (velocity) relationship. Keeping the pressure (price) constant and allowing the volume (quantity) to change has a similar effect on temperature as keeping the volume constant and allowing the pressure to change.

You make a very good point, but there is just one thing we need to take into account. If the current Bitcoin rules are followed rigorously in time, there would be a tendency for the absolute quantity to decrease. This is because, like real coins, Bitcoins can be lost. I have a Bitcoin address for which I lost the private key. Fortunately for me, that Bitcoin address has zero coins in it. We can imagine this happening to millions of people on a daily basis losing the private key for one reason or another, and the sum of Bitcoins lost in this manner can be substantial. As another, more dramatic example, some wealthy person with millions of Bitcoins in several accounts or addresses dies, and nobody, not even his heirs, are able to get to the private keys.

One other thing: it's not just economic activity that's going to affect the value of Bitcoins. Things like the size of the Bitcoin economy in terms of total number of users is also a big factor in its valuation. We want to see the Bitcoin market increase in size in terms of number of participants; but even if Bitcoin conguers the whole world this increase in market size will continue due to population increase. At some point (maybe after we have gone to other habitable planets light-years away, and Bitcoin remains the dominant currency), even the fact that each Bitcoin is divisible won't be enough for it to continue to be useful to a population much larger than its quantity.

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May 13, 2013, 01:03:28 AM
 #32

Coin loss, population growth, and a hard limit all collude to make btc a deflationary currency (when the hard cap comes or gets close)

A lot of people around here think this is a good thing, but that is because they currently don't need to buy groceries with btc (or produce groceries with btc).

All there is to do really is just sit on them, watch the exchange rate, wait for the new mints to taper off, and see what happens.

I agree that the value of btc as a store of wealth is proportional to its value as a medium of exchange, because it has absolutely no other use. You can't even make jewelry with btc.

One thing that I haven't seen talked about around here, is that all the different altcoins springing up takes the pressure of deflation off of bitcoin.

Bitcoin may be the first, and currently the biggest and the baddest, and the most valuable against fiat, but at the end of the day, you have to admit that anymore it's just another crypto altcoin like all the others. The supply of all of them combined is growing, and probably always will, and they all equalize and trade for each other in places like vircurex and btc-e. So when a new one springs up that gains some popularity, people move some of their positions in bitcoin into these.

I think the deflation/inflation issues of any altcoin will ultimately be averaged out across all the altcoins, of which bitcoin is only one. Hopefully that average will work itself out to be optimal in terms of exchanging goods and storing wealth.
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May 13, 2013, 01:09:33 AM
 #33

Not this again.

There is no reason to not "start another currency that has no hard limit on quantity" you can do it. It is easy. I dare you to start it right now. In fact, such shitcoin is sorely needed. It would be great to have all inflation lovers to start using their own inflationary currency and leave us Bitcoiners alone.


Yes. Anyone desperate for "another currency that has no hard limit on quantity" should just load up with XRP instead of bleating that Bitcoin lacks this "feature".

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May 13, 2013, 01:39:16 AM
 #34

There will be and there´re already enough bitcoins to run world economy - however we can be quite happy if it ever covers 1 - 5%. It needes just split (which is not good for clarity, but maybe there will be some changes in the future). Basicly miners will mine and others will spend. Only "few" understand the real potential value and very few really saves bitcoins - which is good for bitcoin economy and adpotion.  So, within next years bitcoin fiat value can basicly only increase as demand will increase dramatically due to India / africa where bitcoin is going basicly replace banks as there´s hundreds of millions without any bank relationship. Of course there will be other altcoins, but it is quite important to understand that bitcoin is more and more nearby real mass adoption stage and other alt coins are just very small sub economies without any real traction. So, in Bitcoins we trust.
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May 13, 2013, 01:44:38 AM
 #35

If you have a velocity measure that cannot be gamed, there are many people waiting for it, as a fair number of people in the real world might follow a coin more in tune with their conventional economic sense.

Could transaction fees paid be a measure of velocity as they go to a random miner?

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May 13, 2013, 02:07:17 AM
 #36

There is no reason to not "start another currency that has no hard limit on quantity" you can do it. It is easy. I dare you to start it right now. In fact, such shitcoin is sorely needed. It would be great to have all inflation lovers to start using their own inflationary currency and leave us Bitcoiners alone.

This phenomenon will actually make bitcoin currency more inflationary. MUWAHAHAAAHAAHAAA!!!!
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May 13, 2013, 04:53:54 AM
 #37

Coin loss, population growth, and a hard limit all collude to make btc a deflationary currency (when the hard cap comes or gets close)

A lot of people around here think this is a good thing, but that is because they currently don't need to buy groceries with btc (or produce groceries with btc).

All there is to do really is just sit on them, watch the exchange rate, wait for the new mints to taper off, and see what happens.

I agree that the value of btc as a store of wealth is proportional to its value as a medium of exchange, because it has absolutely no other use. You can't even make jewelry with btc.

One thing that I haven't seen talked about around here, is that all the different altcoins springing up takes the pressure of deflation off of bitcoin.

Bitcoin may be the first, and currently the biggest and the baddest, and the most valuable against fiat, but at the end of the day, you have to admit that anymore it's just another crypto altcoin like all the others. The supply of all of them combined is growing, and probably always will, and they all equalize and trade for each other in places like vircurex and btc-e. So when a new one springs up that gains some popularity, people move some of their positions in bitcoin into these.

I think the deflation/inflation issues of any altcoin will ultimately be averaged out across all the altcoins, of which bitcoin is only one. Hopefully that average will work itself out to be optimal in terms of exchanging goods and storing wealth.
I believe what will happen is that there will be a dominant currency, and that dominant currency would be one that had no hard limit on quantity. In this regard, both Litecoin and Ripple are similarly lacking. The Bitcoin community can and should change this absolute rule, and simply allow the law of supply and demand to determine the course of the currency. It would appear on first examination that this is no different from the current fiat money situation, but in fact there is a big difference: there would be no central authority that will control the quantity of money (as in current fiat money arrangement). The market will decide how many Bitcoins will be produced at any given time. When the price is high, miners will overproduce and thereby tilt the price downwards. Mining profits would then fall, and production consequently be reduced also. Price would go up again, and so on, in a mild cycle of ups and downs. There will be more periods of quiet equilibrium than violent crashes and recessions.

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May 13, 2013, 05:19:38 AM
 #38

I believe what will happen is that there will be a dominant currency, and that dominant currency would be one that had no hard limit on quantity. In this regard, both Litecoin and Ripple are similarly lacking. The Bitcoin community can and should change this absolute rule, and simply allow the law of supply and demand to determine the course of the currency. It would appear on first examination that this is no different from the current fiat money situation, but in fact there is a big difference: there would be no central authority that will control the quantity of money (as in current fiat money arrangement). The market will decide how many Bitcoins will be produced at any given time. When the price is high, miners will overproduce and thereby tilt the price downwards. Mining profits would then fall, and production consequently be reduced also. Price would go up again, and so on, in a mild cycle of ups and downs. There will be more periods of quiet equilibrium than violent crashes and recessions.
The market has already decided. There are alternate cryptocurrencies with no hard limit on quantity.

Nobody uses them.

Amazingly enough, when people are free to choose they tend to choose to hold the currency which gains in value over the one which has a constant or decreasing value. So far no amount of persuasion works to convince people that they should reverse their preferences, so that's why advocates of those other systems can must constantly attempt to remove the features that people actually want in Bitcoin. 
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May 13, 2013, 12:40:59 PM
 #39

Thanks JustusRanvier. So I maybe completely wrong about my thesis here. I admit ignorance and am not aware of such crypto currencies until now. Just googled it, and indeed PPCoin sounds very interesting. I will take a look at it and others.

Bitcoin has had a head start, and that maybe the only reason it's very popular. The competition will intensify shortly, and we'll see whether Bitcoin remains at the top of the heap.

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May 13, 2013, 01:50:55 PM
 #40

The market has already decided. There are alternate cryptocurrencies with no hard limit on quantity.

Nobody uses them.

Amazingly enough, when people are free to choose they tend to choose to hold the currency which gains in value over the one which has a constant or decreasing value. So far no amount of persuasion works to convince people that they should reverse their preferences, so that's why advocates of those other systems can must constantly attempt to remove the features that people actually want in Bitcoin. 

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gresham%27s_law

If this holds up then people will be using alternative non deflationary coins and hoarding (not using) bitcoins.
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