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Author Topic: Flaw which will prevent Bitcoin from ever becoming widespread  (Read 1568 times)
cfiziksh
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March 07, 2012, 07:23:32 PM
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There is a major flaw which will prevent Bitcoin from ever going into widespread use, which is that you must download all previous transactions since the beginning of time to even start using Bitcoin.

Right now the block chain is already a couple of GB and takes more than a day to download and verify on even a fast connection, but what happens if Bitcoin handles a significant fraction of even the US transactions, let alone the world transactions?  The block chain becomes what? several hundred TB long and takes over a lifetime to download? and grows linearly with time?

This program has been reviewed by hundreds, if not thousands of developers, and they all though it was perfectly acceptable to use an algorithm that scales O(N) with the number of transactions since the beginning of time? WTF?!? Shocked
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March 07, 2012, 07:29:19 PM
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FAIL.

You think you're the first person to ponder this issue?  Roll Eyes

Most users of Bitcoin don't need the blockchain at all, or even to download the client software. Ponder on that for a min.
gadsdengraphics
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March 07, 2012, 07:37:09 PM
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This is on purpose, though there has been discussion in the past about truncating the blockchain. I don't think it will happen.

There are other ways, like a hybrid client/server model. Bitcoin Spinner, the Android app I use for my active wallet, uses a method like this. BCCAPI is one implementation of this, and there is another open-source alternative whose name escapes me at the moment.

Basically, this architecture allows a server to manage the Bitcoin blockchain. The user's public key is handed to the server, which then responds with balance and pending transaction information.

To send money, the client requests a new transaction from the server. The server sends it to the client, the client signs it with it's private key, and the signed transaction is sent back to the server for network inclusion.

It's fast, secure, and does not require the client to download the whole blocks. Desktop clients are possible, though I've not seen one. Perhaps one day, one could make money by hosting a relay server in exchange for a modest monthly fee.
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March 07, 2012, 07:39:31 PM
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FAIL.

You think you're the first person to ponder this issue?  Roll Eyes

Most users of Bitcoin don't need the blockchain at all, or even to download the client software. Ponder on that for a min.

How so? Are you thinking of physical Bitcoins, or of second-order users who will potential use the Bitcoin network as a transaction protocol, exchanging for state fiat at each end?
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March 07, 2012, 07:48:37 PM
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It is interesting that you posted this as I was just thinking about it on the bus to college today.gadsdengraphics, Under that model does the user still have full control over their wallet or will their wallet be stored on a remote server?

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March 07, 2012, 07:50:41 PM
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The new solution the DCAO will be announcing this summer will give access to Bitcoin to everyone in the world without ever worrying about the blockchain.

Keep your panties on.

gadsdengraphics
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March 07, 2012, 08:00:26 PM
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It is interesting that you posted this as I was just thinking about it on the bus to college today.gadsdengraphics, Under that model does the user still have full control over their wallet or will their wallet be stored on a remote server?

There really is no "wallet", there are only private keys. Those are stored only on the device, so the Bitcoins associated with that private key is as secure as the device upon which they are stored.
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March 07, 2012, 08:01:12 PM
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try Electrum: http://ecdsa.org/electrum

Electrum: the convenience of a web wallet, without the risks
cfiziksh
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March 07, 2012, 08:01:30 PM
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The new solution the DCAO will be announcing this summer will give access to Bitcoin to everyone in the world without ever worrying about the blockchain.

Keep your panties on.

What is the new solution?

It is interesting that you posted this as I was just thinking about it on the bus to college today.gadsdengraphics, Under that model does the user still have full control over their wallet or will their wallet be stored on a remote server?

If I understood what gadsdengraphics proposed, the private key remains on your computer and is never sent to the server.  You just sign a transaction generated by the server, so the server never has control of your wallet (i.e. private key).
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March 07, 2012, 08:07:27 PM
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Won't the future blockchain bandwidth issue be solved with Internet2? 100Gbits
Also, I'll be able to store the terrabytes of blockchain on my 2 petabyte MicroSD card.

For Bitcoin to be a true global currency the value of BTC needs always to rise.
If BTC became the global currency & money supply = 100 Trillion then ⊅1.00 BTC = $4,761,904.76.
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gadsdengraphics
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March 07, 2012, 08:09:34 PM
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Won't the future blockchain bandwidth issue be solved with Internet2? 100Gbits
Also, I'll be able to store the terrabytes of blockchain on my 2 petabyte MicroSD card.

That's the consensus. I don't think there's really an issue with bandwidth or storage, at least on a PC - the issue with the blockchain is one of how long it takes a device to get up to speed.
gadsdengraphics
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March 07, 2012, 08:10:32 PM
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That's the open source alternative to BCCAPI I was thinking of.
cfiziksh
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March 07, 2012, 08:18:21 PM
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Won't the future blockchain bandwidth issue be solved with Internet2? 100Gbits
Also, I'll be able to store the terrabytes of blockchain on my 2 petabyte MicroSD card.

That's the consensus. I don't think there's really an issue with bandwidth or storage, at least on a PC - the issue with the blockchain is one of how long it takes a device to get up to speed.

Relying on Moore's law to solve the problem?  Maybe in the future computers will be able to download all global transactions that have happened since 2012, but it will take a while to reach that point.  And until we do reach that point, the growth of Bitcoin is limited by how much current computers can download and store.

I'm curious how much running a block chain server would cost today if Bitcoin was actually handling all the world's transactions.  It could be a significant cost overhead to using Bitcoin.
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March 07, 2012, 08:26:26 PM
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What kind of overhead does VISA have keeping track of all VISA transactions?

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evoorhees
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March 07, 2012, 08:27:32 PM
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Guys - this is not a problem that needs solving in the future. It's solved now.

Use instawallet.org. No blockchain. There are dozens of other alternatives also.

The "full client with full blockchain" is not required to use Bitcoin. Grandmothers will never have their own blockchains locally. Far more than half of all people using Bitcoin will not use the blockchain often, if ever. Just as people who use email don't typically run their own email hosting server, and people who use Wikipedia don't keep a local copy Smiley
cfiziksh
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March 07, 2012, 08:42:21 PM
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Use instawallet.org.

Wait, the wallet is stored on the instawallet server?  No thanks.  But Electrum and BCCAPI do look like good alternatives.
BurtW
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March 07, 2012, 08:46:04 PM
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Also I use StrongCoin.com and there is a great wallet service at BlockChain.info - there are many wallet services.  This is not an issue as many have stated.

Our family was terrorized by Homeland Security.  Read all about it here:  http://www.jmwagner.com/ and http://www.burtw.com/  Any donations to help us recover from the $300,000 in legal fees and forced donations to the Federal Asset Forfeiture slush fund are greatly appreciated!
evoorhees
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March 07, 2012, 08:46:13 PM
 #18

Use instawallet.org.

Wait, the wallet is stored on the instawallet server?  No thanks.  But Electrum and BCCAPI do look like good alternatives.

It all depends on what your risk profile and convenience vs security concerns are. I'd never store large amounts on instawallet, for for day to day stuff, it's super easy.  And yeah Electrum is a great option also if you'd rather keep the coins on your machine (just don't forget backups!).
ThomasV
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March 07, 2012, 08:57:36 PM
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(just don't forget backups!).
Electrum does not need regular backups. It uses a deterministic wallet. you just need to write down the seed somewhere, or to memorize it.

Electrum: the convenience of a web wallet, without the risks
gadsdengraphics
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March 07, 2012, 09:41:21 PM
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Also I use StrongCoin.com and there is a great wallet service at BlockChain.info - there are many wallet services.  This is not an issue as many have stated.

As I understand StrongCoin, it works similarly to BCCAPI or Electrum in principle - the server never knows your private key.

I'd want to do a lot more research before using it though.
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