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Author Topic: Thought Experiment on Super Computing and Bitcoin Generation Difficulty  (Read 8986 times)
gigabytecoin
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March 17, 2011, 11:00:46 AM
 #1

I develop a quantum computer super fast computer that generates bitcoins rather quickly.

I solve 2016 blocks in a matter of nanoseconds.

I then disconnect myself from the network and never tell the world about my super fast bitcoin generating technology. My aim is to ruin the bitcoin network. I am a rogue government or central bank with almost unlimited funds.

In theory, would it not take years/decades for us "average computers" to then solve the next sequence of 2016 blocks once I removed myself from the network? Thus "ruining" the bitcoin generation mechanism at least?

EDIT: Not only could they ruin the generating mechanism, but they could cease all transactions from taking place on the bitcoin network for a matter of years/decades because the difficulty level to solve a block would be raised so "artificially" high that we could not generate one for the life of us.
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Cdecker
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March 17, 2011, 11:09:33 AM
 #2

Well, yes, but this is a catastrophic scenario where it would be easy to get all developers of all clients to agree on resetting the difficulty to the last known good value. As long as we can get 50%+ to use a client we can do whatever we want with Bitcoin ^^

Want to see what developers are chatting about? http://bitcoinstats.com/irc/bitcoin-dev/logs/
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Meni Rosenfeld
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March 17, 2011, 11:17:46 AM
 #3

I doubt you'll be able to build a quantum computer large enough to do this, before anyone else builds a smaller computer which will convince us we need to upgrade the protocol.

Also, is SHA-256 known to be cracked by QC? QC are notorious for being assumed to solve things they're actually not known to.

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gigabytecoin
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March 17, 2011, 11:18:43 AM
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Quote from: Cdecker
Well, yes, but this is a catastrophic scenario where it would be easy to get all developers of all clients to agree on resetting the difficulty to the last known good value. As long as we can get 50%+ to use a client we can do whatever we want with Bitcoin ^^

Kind of tough to do when the creator of the super fast computer is the Chinese government and China is the largest user of bitcoin. (Which is probably one of the more plausible scenarios for my given example).
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March 17, 2011, 11:19:56 AM
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I doubt you'll be able to build a quantum computer large enough to do this, before anyone else builds a smaller computer which will convince us we need to upgrade the protocol.

Also, is SHA-256 known to be cracked by QC? QC are notorious for being assumed to solve things they're actually not known to.

Holy-Fire, obviously I cannot build a quantum computer with my knowledge alone.

Feel free to exchange "quantum computer" with "super computer", "super cooled computer", "super fucking fast computer", etc...
Thndr
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March 17, 2011, 11:23:24 AM
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Beowulf cluster with real wolves.

Anyway, theoretically if this happens, could it happen again after the difficulty reset? What would stop it from happening again and again, claiming 10 million BTC for itself? What if they did it and then gave every bitcoin address it could 50BTC with a 5,000BTC transfer fee? What would happen if bitcoins inflate from 5.6mil to 21mil over the course of 6 months?
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March 17, 2011, 11:27:16 AM
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...theoretically if this happens, could it happen again after the difficulty reset? What would stop it from happening again and again...

Good eye. My thoughts exactly.

The attacker could easily sit quiet for a few years while we struggled to solve the problem. (Literally).

Or if we ever did manage to convince the entire world to accept our new difficulty rate... the attacker could spring again in an instant. (I'm sure they'd be watching...)

Eventually, the general public would become tired of this "nonsense". And bitcoin would die.
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March 17, 2011, 11:40:26 AM
 #8

Anyway, theoretically if this happens, could it happen again after the difficulty reset? What would stop it from happening again and again, claiming 10 million BTC for itself? What if they did it and then gave every bitcoin address it could 50BTC with a 5,000BTC transfer fee? What would happen if bitcoins inflate from 5.6mil to 21mil over the course of 6 months?
Transaction fees can't come out of a thin air, they come from a previous transaction with an input controlled by the person. Of course the difficulty should be reset only after we've patched the vulnerability. If the person is too disruptive he can collapse the economy and the bitcoins he mines will be worthless, so there's little incentive to do this. A better way for him will be to increase his mining output gradually to camouflage as organic growth of the ecosystem.

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gigabytecoin
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March 17, 2011, 11:41:58 AM
 #9

Maybe somebody with a little more technical knowledge of the bitcoin generation algorithm can chime in?

I was thinking...

Bitcoin's goal is to have a block generated every ten minutes, correct? So it could wait at least 10 minutes before it created the 2017th (1st) block... That would have the negative effect of slowing down the network transfer speed (to a maximum of 10 minutes)... But at least we could maybe negate the attack this way in an attempt to possibly locate the attacking machine and block it from the network?

But then again... who has the authority to deem one computer "too powerful" for the network...?

I am beginning to become seriously worried by this possible problem.

Re: Holy-Fire's post just above... The attacker's incentive may not be to make bitcoins worth more, or "steal" bitcoins... but to ruin the bitcoin network/authority in general.
gigabytecoin
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March 17, 2011, 11:46:26 AM
 #10

Another possibility besides super computing would be a custom-made chip that only generates bitcoins.

Create 10,000 or 100,000 of these (for $25-$50M USD) and cluster them into one board and you could probably pull off a similar effect. (As opposed to a quantum computer).
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March 17, 2011, 11:47:48 AM
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Anyway, theoretically if this happens, could it happen again after the difficulty reset? What would stop it from happening again and again, claiming 10 million BTC for itself? What if they did it and then gave every bitcoin address it could 50BTC with a 5,000BTC transfer fee? What would happen if bitcoins inflate from 5.6mil to 21mil over the course of 6 months?
Transaction fees can't come out of a thin air, they come from a previous transaction with an input controlled by the person.

I assumed transaction fees are given to those who process/confirm the transaction. So 100 confirmations = 100 people getting 1/100th of 5,000BTC.
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March 17, 2011, 11:54:02 AM
 #12

Anyway, theoretically if this happens, could it happen again after the difficulty reset? What would stop it from happening again and again, claiming 10 million BTC for itself? What if they did it and then gave every bitcoin address it could 50BTC with a 5,000BTC transfer fee? What would happen if bitcoins inflate from 5.6mil to 21mil over the course of 6 months?
Transaction fees can't come out of a thin air, they come from a previous transaction with an input controlled by the person.

I assumed transaction fees are given to those who process/confirm the transaction. So 100 confirmations = 100 people getting 1/100th of 5,000BTC.
No, each transaction appears only in one block. Its transaction fees go to the one who found this block. The number of confirmations simply mean the number of blocks found after it - the more there are, the greater the chance that the block, and hence the transaction, are part of the established timeline.

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gigabytecoin
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March 17, 2011, 11:55:50 AM
 #13

Thanks for the insight guys! But let's not try to stray too far away from the original question/problem at hand here.

Is this a semi-valid doomsday scenario for Bitcoin?
comboy
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March 17, 2011, 12:02:34 PM
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Thanks for the insight guys! But let's not try to stray too far away from the original question/problem at hand here.

Is this a semi-valid doomsday scenario for Bitcoin?

I'm not sure I'm getting the problem right, but if you are talking about the problem that difficulty will stay insanely high, then it seems easy to fix. There could be another condition for difficulty adjustment based on time span rather than block count.

Also, somebody having 100,000 more computing power than anybody else on earth is doomsday scenario not only for the bitcoin. We're living in information age, it's having power over the world.

Variance is a bitch!
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March 17, 2011, 12:09:06 PM
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...theoretically if this happens, could it happen again after the difficulty reset? What would stop it from happening again and again...

Good eye. My thoughts exactly.

The attacker could easily sit quiet for a few years while we struggled to solve the problem. (Literally).

Or if we ever did manage to convince the entire world to accept our new difficulty rate... the attacker could spring again in an instant. (I'm sure they'd be watching...)

Eventually, the general public would become tired of this "nonsense". And bitcoin would die.
Well as long as the super computer stays it's all ok because the protocol still works and transactions can be processed, the scenario where he leaves is unlikely because he has an incentive to stay (Bitcoin generation).

Beowulf? Why couldn't Bitcoin have started earlier, I had access to the ETH Zurich/EPFL Beowulf cluster, damn Cheesy

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Meni Rosenfeld
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March 17, 2011, 12:11:37 PM
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Also, somebody having 100,000 more computing power than anybody else on earth is doomsday scenario not only for the bitcoin. We're living in information age, it's having power over the world.
I don't know. Most endeavors only give a logarithmic return or worse on raw computing power, at least after a certain point. It's how you use the computation that matters.

By the way, I'm still interested if anyone knows to answer my earlier question, whether quantum computers are known to solve our hashing problem efficiently.

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gigabytecoin
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March 17, 2011, 12:16:57 PM
 #17

Guys... whether or not it is "profitable" to generate bitcoins in my ridiculous manner mentioned is beside the point.

If and when a large government entity wishes to destroy bitcoin. Is this one of the ways they could go about it?

The idea was... that they would generate 2016 blocks within a matter of nanoseconds, and then disconnect from the network entirely. Thus setting the generation difficulty bar so high that they "ruin" basically everything.

Even transactions would cease to occur would they not?
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March 17, 2011, 12:25:03 PM
 #18

The difficulty can't go up or down more than 4x in one adjustment, so it'd take longer than 2016 blocks to become completely out of reach.

If that ever happens, I suppose we'd have to change the difficulty adjustment method to fix it.

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March 17, 2011, 12:29:28 PM
 #19

One of the Bitcoin developers would publish an updated version of the client where the difficulty has been reset manually @ the affected block.

Most users and miners would accept this change because it's to everyone's benefit.

Remeber that nobody is forced to adhere to the Bitcoin protocol. Anyone can use a modified client if they wish. The hard part is convincing other users to accept transactions.  

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gigabytecoin
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March 17, 2011, 12:37:12 PM
 #20

the attacker with unlimited computing power could just commit enough resources to keep at about 49% of the total network capacity and steadily accumulate some BTC's and commit the rest of computing resources to find aliens with seti and fold whatever is it they are folding with folding@home maybe some more good deeds too.


True. But the attacker in my scenario doesn't care one bit about accumulating bitcoins. They only care about crushing it's existence.
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