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Author Topic: Gox stash recoverable by wallet update?  (Read 3323 times)
Luno
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February 28, 2014, 07:17:50 PM
 #1

Me being oblivious to much of the inner workings of the Bitcoin protocol, someone else suggested that doing a "hard wired" transfer of the contents of the wallets being locked up in Gox should be possible through a wallet update if it reaches a 51% consensus amongst miners.

This is a technical subforum, so my question is not about short-circuiting the legal system or debating if this is a purist libaritarian thing to do.

Long term this will show resilience amongst Bitcoiner's as a self governing community, and in some way comparable to correction on the hard fork a while back, where consensus was reached quickly and an update was implemented to bring the network back in sync.

Short term speculators that think this will have a negative effect on price, think again. If we get a reputation as a democratic consensus driven payment system also, more will trust Bitcoin, and that will have a positive effect on price. Think of it like the dye bomb system implemented in banks.

In effect the consensus principle would act as a global Bitcoin banking authority in cases like that.

The wallets in question would be announced beforehand and anyone claiming ownership other than the curators would have a possibility to protest the suggestion.

So my question,: Is it possible to delete a known wallet and make it's balance appear in a new one with not lost keys (under the pretence that coins locked out in Gox are proper identified)?

Has the Foundation taken a position on that question, to anyone’s knowledge?


 
 
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DannyHamilton
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February 28, 2014, 07:25:22 PM
 #2

So my question,: Is it possible to delete a known wallet and make it's balance appear in a new one with not lost keys (under the pretence that coins locked out in Gox are proper identified)?

No it is not possible.

Also, bitcoin is a consensus system (not a 51% democracy), so even there was a way to do it (which there is not), it would require a consensus of all nodes, and not just 51% of the miners.

People tend to mis-understand what a 51% attack is and think that there is a "voting" system whereby if 51% of miners agree to something it happens.  That's not how bitcoin works.

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February 28, 2014, 07:29:28 PM
 #3

So my question,: Is it possible to delete a known wallet and make it's balance appear in a new one with not lost keys (under the pretence that coins locked out in Gox are proper identified)?

Well MtGox hasn't even admitted to losing a private key.  The bankruptcy procedure reported bitcoins being stolen not lost.

You can't change Bitcoin, you can only fork it.  A fork that is controversial has no chance of consensus (being accepted by all users, merchants, developers, etc).  As Danny points out, people often attribute magical powers to miners.  Miners set the consensus on transaction order, nothing else.   An invalid block is still invalid even if 51%+ of miners build off of it.

You can fork the Bitcoin network to do anything you want, you could fork it so the block reward is 1 billion bitcoins per block.  The question is how many people will use your work.  Also you can't stop the existing fork as long as at least one copy of that blockchain exists.

The idea brings up a lot of moral hazards.  If it was done (and I don't think it has a chance in hell) then MtGox is "too big to fail" and you have essentially just recreated the existing broken financial system.  There will always be someone who wants just one more "one time exception".
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February 28, 2014, 07:29:38 PM
 #4

Quote
“He turned away, and suddenly she thought about the old children's story, where the stupid girl opens the box that God gave her, and all the evils of the world fly out, except Hope, which stays at the bottom; and she wondered what Hope was doing in there in the first place, in with all the bad things. Then the answer came to her, and she wondered how she could've been so stupid. Hope was in there because it was evil too, probably the worst of them all, so heavy with malice and pain that it couldn't drag itself out of the opened box.”

Edit: I lost BTC but still hate the idea of a fork.

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Luno
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February 28, 2014, 07:34:12 PM
 #5

So my question,: Is it possible to delete a known wallet and make it's balance appear in a new one with not lost keys (under the pretence that coins locked out in Gox are proper identified)?

No it is not possible.

Also, bitcoin is a consensus system (not a 51% democracy), so even there was a way to do it (which there is not), it would require a consensus of all nodes, and not just 51% of the miners.

People tend to mis-understand what a 51% attack is and think that there is a "voting" system whereby if 51% of miners agree to something it happens.  That's not how bitcoin works.

Thank you, my bad then. The idea is an interesting one though as it would solve the "poof gone" problem without needing financial backing, it would scratch on the integrity of each coin though, which is something we don't want either, and one could argue that Bitcoin would be centralised in a sense by such a move, if there was an authority that could suggest which coins were bad.


 
 
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February 28, 2014, 07:37:35 PM
 #6

So my question,: Is it possible to delete a known wallet and make it's balance appear in a new one with not lost keys (under the pretence that coins locked out in Gox are proper identified)?

Yes, but the coins would be worthless.

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February 28, 2014, 07:41:36 PM
 #7

The idea brings up a lot of moral hazards.  If it was done (and I don't think it has a chance in hell) then MtGox is "too big to fail" and you have essentially just recreated the existing broken financial system.  There will always be someone who wants just one more "one time exception".
There'll always be someone, and AFAIK it's been done before (generation of 184 billion BTC).
So the real question could be: why not now? After all, we're still in beta.

Seriously though, I personally wouldn't want a MtGox-fork (and I do have skin in this game).

Yeah, well... I'm gonna go build my own blockchain, with blackjack and hookers. In fact, forget the blockchain!
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February 28, 2014, 07:50:50 PM
 #8

I totally agree with the reservations here, but my question was if it could be done technicaly, and the answer was No.

That's also reassuring that the law cannot either decree a certain version of Bitcoin-qt to be Kosher and others not, as that would open for govt confiscation also if Bitcoin one day finds itself totally integrated into a regulatory framework.


 
 
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February 28, 2014, 07:53:53 PM
 #9

I totally agree with the reservations here, but my question was if it could be done technicaly, and the answer was No.

Technically it can be done.  It would be a half a dozen lines of code max.  It could probably be done in an hour.   Anyone can fork Bitcoin to make any change.  The trick is can you convince people to use the fork?  To date all existing forks have been non-controversial with near universal support. 

It isn't a technical problem, it is a consensus problem.
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February 28, 2014, 07:56:35 PM
 #10

I totally agree with the reservations here, but my question was if it could be done technicaly, and the answer was No.

That's also reassuring that the law cannot either decree a certain version of Bitcoin-qt to be Kosher and others not, as that would open for govt confiscation also if Bitcoin one day finds itself totally integrated into a regulatory framework.
The answer "no" is not correct. The answer is just more complex than a simple yes.
Basically, yes, it can be done. It could even be done under regulatory force.

But the outcome would not be "Bitcoin with a twist", but Bitcoin + "Bitcoin with a twist", and practically no one would use the latter.

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February 28, 2014, 07:57:57 PM
 #11

I totally agree with the reservations here, but my question was if it could be done technicaly, and the answer was No.

Technically it can be done.  It would be a half a dozen lines of code max.  It could probably be done in an hour.   Anyone can fork Bitcoin to make any change.  The trick is can you convince people to use the fork?  To date all existing forks have been non-controversial with near universal support. 

It isn't a technical problem, it is a consensus problem.

Technically what could be done?  How difficult it would be to do would depend a lot on what problem you think you are trying to fix.

As you point out, even if software changes can be made to compensate for the problem that is being addressed, there is a consensus problem that is insurmountable.

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February 28, 2014, 07:59:54 PM
 #12

I totally agree with the reservations here, but my question was if it could be done technicaly, and the answer was No.

Technically it can be done.  It would be a half a dozen lines of code max.  It could probably be done in an hour.   Anyone can fork Bitcoin to make any change.  The trick is can you convince people to use the fork?  To date all existing forks have been non-controversial with near universal support. 

It isn't a technical problem, it is a consensus problem.

Aha, then I misunderstood the first answer. Consensus is also about being afraid to be left out, So if there is a sentiment by most, to restore the coins to a recoverable wallet for everybody’s greater good, then the minority would feel a lot of peer pressure to update their wallet?


 
 
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February 28, 2014, 08:00:53 PM
 #13

So the real question could be: why not now? After all, we're still in beta.

If you start 'rolling back' the ledger (even if just specfic addresses) my confidence in the system would then be zero. Zero trust = zero price.

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February 28, 2014, 08:01:06 PM
 #14

But the outcome would not be "Bitcoin with a twist", but Bitcoin + "Bitcoin with a twist"

Or to avoid confusion you could say that the result would be Bitcoin (where the "problem" still exists and is not changed), and a new alt-coin (lets call it adjust-a-coin) that is not bitcoin at all, and that would need to convince everyone that it would be better to use the "adjust-a-coin" alt cryptocurrency instead of any of the 100's of other alt-coins.

Personally, I think dogecoin has better long term prospects.

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February 28, 2014, 08:02:00 PM
 #15

Technically what could be done?  How difficult it would be to do would depend a lot on what problem you think you are trying to fix.

The problem proposed in the OP would be to give MtGox "lost" bitcoins back.   That would be trivially simple to do in code.  MtGox creates a new address, a "super user trusted" exception to the coinbase rules coded in the client which allows a single future block to contains a coinbase of 750,000 newly minted coins to that address. MtGox pays a miner to create a block with that coinbase tx and TADA you just fork the network.

Now the question is would anyone use that fork over the existing one?  I wouldn't for the moral hazard and other reasons.  I seriously doubt it would gain a consensus or even a super majority but those are "people problems" not technical ones.


Any change can be made to the protocol at any time through the use of a fork, the "hard part" is just convincing people to use it.
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February 28, 2014, 08:04:30 PM
 #16

So the real question could be: why not now? After all, we're still in beta.
If you start 'rolling back' the ledger (even if just specfic addresses) my confidence in the system would then be zero. Zero trust = zero price.
That would be you and me, but there might be people who might gain confidence in a "regulated" Bitcoin…
I need to stop playing devil's advocate, I'm all opposed to a fork and even thinking about it makes me sick Roll Eyes

Yeah, well... I'm gonna go build my own blockchain, with blackjack and hookers. In fact, forget the blockchain!
DeathAndTaxes
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February 28, 2014, 08:06:40 PM
 #17

So the real question could be: why not now? After all, we're still in beta.

If you start 'rolling back' the ledger (even if just specfic addresses) my confidence in the system would then be zero. Zero trust = zero price.

Which doesn't change the fact that it "could" technically be done.  One can point out the correct answer while not advocating its use.  It is like asking if you shoot someone in the head is there a good chance they will die.  The answer is yes but the yes doesn't imply support for that action.
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February 28, 2014, 08:08:27 PM
 #18

Technically what could be done?  How difficult it would be to do would depend a lot on what problem you think you are trying to fix.

The problem proposed in the OP would be to give MtGox "lost" bitcoins back.   That would be trivially simple to do in code.  MtGox creates a new address, a "super user trusted" exception to the coinbase rules coded in the client which allows a single future block to contains a coinbase of 750,000 newly minted coins to that address. MtGox pays a miner to create a block with that coinbase tx and TADA you just fork the network.

Now the question is would anyone use that fork over the existing one?  I wouldn't for the moral hazard and other reasons.  I seriously doubt it would gain a consensus or even a super majority but those are "people problems" not technical ones.


Any change can be made to the protocol at any time through the use of a fork, the "hard part" is just convincing people to use it.

So, the idea doesn't involve taking the coins back from the people who have them now?  It would just perform a "Quantitative Easing", and instantly inflate the supply by 750,000 bitcoins? So the eventual maximum coins minted would be somewhere around 21,750,000?

Just want to make sure I understand the specific technical resolution we are trying to discuss, before too much confusion leads to unproductive discussion.

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February 28, 2014, 08:09:17 PM
 #19

I totally agree with the reservations here, but my question was if it could be done technicaly, and the answer was No.

Technically it can be done.  It would be a half a dozen lines of code max.  It could probably be done in an hour.   Anyone can fork Bitcoin to make any change.  The trick is can you convince people to use the fork?  To date all existing forks have been non-controversial with near universal support. 

It isn't a technical problem, it is a consensus problem.

Aha, then I misunderstood the first answer. Consensus is also about being afraid to be left out, So if there is a sentiment by most, to restore the coins to a recoverable wallet for everybody’s greater good, then the minority would feel a lot of peer pressure to update their wallet?


 
 
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February 28, 2014, 08:12:37 PM
 #20

So, the idea doesn't involve taking the coins back from the people who have them now?  It would just perform a "Quantitative Easing", and instantly inflate the supply by 750,000 bitcoins? So the eventual maximum coins minted would be somewhere around 21,750,000?
Yes and no. The basic idea is, if MtGox really just lost the keys to a 750K BTC wallet (which is a rumor), it would be technically possible to create a fork of Bitcoin where the original MtGox wallet is made unspendable by code and at the same time 750K new BTC are created in an address where MtGox has control. No need to inflate the total Bitcoin supply.

Yeah, well... I'm gonna go build my own blockchain, with blackjack and hookers. In fact, forget the blockchain!
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