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Author Topic: My challenge  (Read 1509 times)
Gareth Nelson
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December 21, 2011, 07:22:21 PM

I have a (maybe silly) idea .. replace proof of work with proof of time. Instead of mining, run some time consuming process, which cannot be done faster, after which the proof of time will be the lottery ticket to win the block reward and secure it, too.

For example, imagine a device which is natural random number generator - let say a radioactive decay material with a beta particle detector (classic may know that a sufficient hot cup of tea may work, too). The detector will try to search for a rare event in the incoming stream of detected decays, like special sequence of delays between each detected particle. Or, the device may wait for all 2048 molecules of argon to collect at left part of some volume (unlikely, but with the Maxwell's deamon help, possible). Or, waiting for the special mutation of bacteria with large prime number encoded in its protein. Or, those who really understand quantum mechanics (yeah, I mean those 10 people on Earth), can bring up something even better.

Of course, such a device must be self-contained, where the part of testing the work is integral part of the device, cannot be cheated on (like faking the generator). This is the hardest part of the idea to implement and I know it. Speaking in words of one-way functions, the device must somehow report found solution, and somehow prove it, to avoid faking. Simulating the process on any fast computer must not help to find it (nature and its atoms are faster).

Such a device will silently, with minimal energy, run its lottery and its user can only wait (or collect more devices) until a possible solution is found and block secured.

As I said, maybe silly idea.

Fails the feasibility test and when you look at how to prevent fake readings you run into a brick wall and can't describe further.

Not to mention that most of what you describe varies by observer and thus can not be verified by other observers.
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The block chain is the main innovation of Bitcoin. It is the first distributed timestamping system.
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Mike Caldwell
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The Casascius 1oz 10BTC Silver Round (w/ Gold B)

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December 22, 2011, 12:32:39 AM

Which is why a proof of stake requirement could be used to directly increase the monetary cost without consuming anything.

Everybody who has mined in the past likely still has the private keys associated with all of the coinbase transactions they generated.  They're in the wallet.dat of their main mining machine.

Since the public keys are all known on the blockchain, in the event of an attack, a potential rule that could be agreed upon is that all transactions must be signed by any private key associated with a coinbase transaction before block X.

That would reduce mining to a little bit of a cartel of bitcoin's earliest miners (including everyone mining today), as those private keys would suddenly become a premium asset - proof of involvement in bitcoin mining prior to a certain date.  Those private keys could be bought and sold on the market so new miners could enter it.  Of course, the attacker could buy them, but any keys suddenly used to sign large numbers of blocks that disrupt the network could be permanently invalidated by the masses.  Signed mining goes somewhat against decentralization, but by the time any such attack occurred, there'd already be hundreds of thousands of such keys in existence, plenty enough where the "cartel" wouldn't be so small as to constitute an actual cartel.

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper or hardware wallets instead.
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