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Author Topic: Tragedy Of The Commons  (Read 2176 times)
Fractality
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January 28, 2011, 05:45:32 PM
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I am new to BitCoin, and I haven't looked through it all yet. I just had this thought: isn't the race for more computing power kind of a tragedy of the commons? If we could all agree to only use low volatage CPUs, nobody would have to buy expensive Quad-GPU mining rigs.

The power consumption is the one thing I don't like about BitCoin...

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January 28, 2011, 05:46:53 PM
 #2

If we could all agree...

We can't all agree. We are individuals. We act in our own self-interest. Get over it.
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January 28, 2011, 05:47:49 PM
 #3

I am new to BitCoin, and I haven't looked through it all yet. I just had this thought: isn't the race for more computing power kind of a tragedy of the commons? If we could all agree to only use low volatage CPUs, nobody would have to buy expensive Quad-GPU mining rigs.

The power consumption is the one thing I don't like about BitCoin...

Miners will find more efficient means to use electricity as a way to minimize cost.

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January 28, 2011, 05:52:13 PM
 #4

If we could all agree to only use low volatage CPUs, nobody would have to buy expensive Quad-GPU mining rigs.
If we could all agree to report our bitcoin balance honestly and not double-spend, the Bitcoin system wouldn't even need computers.
ribuck
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January 28, 2011, 05:59:40 PM
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I found an amusing quote from Satoshi in this forum, dated 12 December 2009:

Quote
The average total coins generated across the network per day stays the same.  Faster machines just get a larger share than slower machines.  If everyone bought faster machines, they wouldn't get more coins than before.

We should have a gentleman's agreement to postpone the GPU arms race as long as we can for the good of the network. It's much easer to get new users up to speed if they don't have to worry about GPU drivers and compatibility.

Of course, avoiding a hashing arms race presumes that there are no "bad guys".
Hal
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January 28, 2011, 07:09:17 PM
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Ultimately it's good for the network for mining to be expensive. It makes it that much harder for a well financed attacker to dominate the network.

Hal Finney
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January 28, 2011, 07:48:43 PM
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It's best just to think of miners as heaters that pay for themselves.
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January 28, 2011, 09:48:17 PM
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Mining is kind of like a dollar auction. The only method of winning is to persuade everyone else to stop playing and let you have the final bid.
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January 28, 2011, 10:25:35 PM
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I think someone should read again what a tragedy of the commons is.
Anonymous
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January 28, 2011, 10:43:14 PM
 #10

It's best just to think of miners as heaters that pay for themselves.

Thats probably the simplest explanation.

Now who is going to be the first to mass produce bitcoin heaters?

Babylon
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January 28, 2011, 11:03:47 PM
 #11

it has eben said but it needs to be said more loudly.  A high difficulty prevents attacks.  Low difficulty may be better for miners, but it is worse for the bitcoin community as a whole.

Fractality
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January 29, 2011, 12:00:37 AM
 #12

JohnDoe, I admit I didn't look up the exact definition before I wrote here, but now that I read the Wikipedia article, it seems to me the analogies are there.

We could look at the BitCoins that can be found as the resource. Everybody is going at it as hard as it as they can, driving the costs to prohibitive highs.

Other than usual in a ToC the resource can not be destroyed directly. I don't know yet, but perhaps it's usefulness could be greatly decreased, though. For example if the same computing power is needed to execute transactions, the transaction costs might be too high in practice (I admit I don't know how it works yet - is it easier to verify small transactions than big transactions?).

Anyway, it was just a thought.

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January 29, 2011, 12:16:21 AM
 #13

We could look at the BitCoins that can be found as the resource. Everybody is going at it as hard as it as they can, driving the costs to prohibitive highs.

No, not "everybody" -- if it is too expensive for you, then you stop doing it.  Only the people who can generate most efficiently will stick around, and they'll stop "going hard" when the cost of adding more generating hardware is more than the value of the bitcoins they get.

Hopefully bitcoins will become more valuable over time (that will happen if people find them useful/valuable).

Quote
Other than usual in a ToC the resource can not be destroyed directly. I don't know yet, but perhaps it's usefulness could be greatly decreased, though. For example if the same computing power is needed to execute transactions, the transaction costs might be too high in practice (I admit I don't know how it works yet - is it easier to verify small transactions than big transactions?).

Mostly no, total value of the transaction doesn't matter.  A large-value transaction that is made up of lots of little transactions is more expensive to verify, but so is a small-value transaction made up of lots of tiny transactions.  And for both, if they're big enough they'll have to include a transaction fee to get accepted.

How often do you get the chance to work on a potentially world-changing project?
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January 29, 2011, 02:56:48 AM
 #14

Ultimately it's good for the network for mining to be expensive. It makes it that much harder for a well financed attacker to dominate the network.

I agree with this comment 100%.

The point of solving blocks is to protect the network, the more of us that contribute to that, the greater the Block Chain's integrity will be.

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eMansipater
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January 29, 2011, 05:32:57 AM
 #15

This isn't a tragedy of the commons, it's a design element.  Bitcoins are supposed to get hard to mine, as fast as possible--this is the best way to preserve the security of the blockchain, which is the ultimate source of a bitcoin's value--the fact that the system can not be inexpensively compromised.  In the big picture the mining process is about as significant a part of the bitcoin economy as the bill-printing process is to the world economy.  And I say that as someone who bought hardware specifically to mine.  Outside of the Bitcoin Geek community the mining process is pretty irrelevant.

sincerely,
eMansipater

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January 29, 2011, 04:29:22 PM
 #16

I am new to BitCoin, and I haven't looked through it all yet. I just had this thought: isn't the race for more computing power kind of a tragedy of the commons?

No.

The power consumption is the one thing I don't like about BitCoin...

Well, gold also requires lots of energy/resources to be mined.

The thing is, how to invent a currency that
-anyone can issue/mine/generate/etc, in other words, it's issuing is not centralized.
-doesn't inflate too fast
-doesn't consume too much resources to issue, in other words, it's easy to produce

So far you can at most pick two... if you manage to invent something that satisfy these 3 criteria at once, I bet everyone here would be really interested. Wink

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January 29, 2011, 11:07:26 PM
 #17

The thing is, how to invent a currency that
-anyone can issue/mine/generate/etc, in other words, it's issuing is not centralized.
-doesn't inflate too fast
-doesn't consume too much resources to issue, in other words, it's easy to produce

So far you can at most pick two... if you manage to invent something that satisfy these 3 criteria at once, I bet everyone here would be really interested. Wink

You cannot have all three. If you have something that is easy to produce, it will reduce in value until it is no longer profitable to produce. If bitcoins double in value they will become twice as expensive to produce (people will generate profitability until the effect evens out).
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January 30, 2011, 12:28:03 AM
 #18

I am new to BitCoin, and I haven't looked through it all yet. I just had this thought: isn't the race for more computing power kind of a tragedy of the commons?

No.

The power consumption is the one thing I don't like about BitCoin...

Well, gold also requires lots of energy/resources to be mined.

The thing is, how to invent a currency that
-anyone can issue/mine/generate/etc, in other words, it's issuing is not centralized.
-doesn't inflate too fast
-doesn't consume too much resources to issue, in other words, it's easy to produce

So far you can at most pick two... if you manage to invent something that satisfy these 3 criteria at once, I bet everyone here would be really interested. Wink

Bitcoin is pretty cool because it starts easy to create and eventually becomes impossible. Best of both worlds imo. It would be nic e if there was a way around the arbitrariness of the rate of decrease, I'd prefer smoother and that's been discussed here. I do kind of like the general method though: most in 15 years, but not all for 120.

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January 30, 2011, 02:18:24 AM
 #19

Yeah, we're lucky we got in before the first half of blocks were processed.

I'm part of Slush's pool, and I'm expecting to get about .1 Bitcoin every day. I see it as a cheaper substitute for MMORPGs in that you're getting payed to watch numbers and statistics go up rather than vice versa. Seeing "Found Hash!" is no less exciting than "You killed the goblin! +1 XP!"
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