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Author Topic: The bitcoin bootstrap  (Read 634 times)
waxwing
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October 31, 2013, 07:37:46 PM
 #1

Has anyone else thought about this scenario?

Imagine that a few years down the line, decentralized autonomous agents, as described in detail by Mike Hearn and others, have started to become viable and are supporting themselves as economic actors by buying hosting and contract services etc. and earning BTC by producing something people want.

Imagine that some of these agents in particular decide to go into a business they're quite suited for: bitcoin mining. They could design and order the fabrication of chips, pay for hosting services and run miners.

Now imagine this really takes off - a large chunk of mining is done in this way, and moreover using evolutionary principles we see that the best ones profit the most, random variation and mutation leads to some types of such agents prospering much more than others and coming up with innovative solutions to how to run a miner in the most profitable way.

Here's the mind-blowing part, to me: eventually the entire bitcoin network becomes independent of human beings. Such agents could even contribute to the bitcoin open source code - and not only with a github type collaborative model, they could also make various minor alterations to the source code that their node is running, without breaking it, perhaps for example optimising its speed or memory usage. Perhaps they would collaborate, who knows.

At this point there is no longer any need to worry about the politics of bitcoin. As Satoshi said in the whitepaper:
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If a greedy attacker is able to assemble more CPU power than all the honest nodes, he would have to choose between using it to defraud people by stealing back his payments, or using it to generate new coins. He ought to find it more profitable to play by the rules, such rules that favour him with more new coins than everyone else combined, than to undermine the system and the validity of his own wealth.

The only flaw in that argument is if a node, currently a human actor, acts on motivations other than economic - as governments well might, for example. But if autonomous agents are the ones running the nodes, they will be guaranteed to have only economic motives, since only those with properly aligned economic motives would survive the evolutionary process.


BM-2cVfGD21hdRgFMr7Vdkc3sjAdEPXcLDpUE PGP Key ID: 0xE9A3197A
"In a nutshell, the network works like a distributed timestamp server, stamping the first transaction to spend a coin. It takes advantage of the nature of information being easy to spread but hard to stifle." -- Satoshi
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November 01, 2013, 10:00:23 AM
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Bitcoin is already autonomous, i.e. the core dev team can no longer shut it down.

It's not the autonomous agents with financial motivations that should keep you lying awake at night. It's the other ones, yet to come.
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