Ideas are not harmless. Ideas can be destructive, regardless of whether they are right or wrong. New ideas run at risk of disturbing the homeostasis that evolved in the environment they contaminate.
I worry everyday about what we have created. Inventions can not be put back into the box they came from. As soon as we announce a new invention, we lose control over it. Worse, there is no guarantee that a new invention ends up benefiting humanity in the long run.
With the discovery of nuclear weapons we ensured that another great war would be the last one. With the discovery of heroin we ensured the death through addiction of millions. With Bitcoin, we have changed the natural laws that governed the global economy. This will inevitably trigger the largest social upheaval in modern history.
Governments know that technology is the most disruptive power in the world. The American government knew this was going to happen. The NSA came up with a theoretical implementation of Bitcoin in 1996.
They knew. And they prepared themselves. Today the US government is the owner of 144.336 Bitcoin, or one percent of the total current supply.
Don't expect your government to let go of those coins. If the US government would ever see a need to purchase Bitcoin, it's own acquisition of new Bitcoin would inevitably trigger a rise in prices. This was the easiest way for your government to step into the game and preserve its own relevancy in the coming global economy.
The official narrative is that Bitcoin surged as a result of the stability found through the closure of Silk Road. The Chinese then stepped into the market and we ended up at 200 dollar a coin. The official narrative is a lie.
The sudden massive increase in volume on Chinese Bitcoin exchanges was completely unexplainable. There was no rise in client downloads in China. There was no rise in Bitcoin search volume on Baidu. There was no rise in Bitcoin visits on the Chinese Wikipedia. There was no Chinese bubble. You can all look this up for yourself, and you'll see that I'm right.
What happened is that the world's second largest superpower took an emergency response upon discovering that the world's largest superpower seized 1% of the global Bitcoin supply. The closure of Silk Road was never about drugs, it was about seizing Bitcoin without causing a price spike.
Who was capable of causing the April 2013 DDOS attacks that brought Mt Gox to its knees, triggering a price collapse? The US government owns a massive botnet.
The US government thinks about the long term. Their goal is to make the worldwide adaptation of Bitcoin as little disruptive as possible. They know what's going to happen and the chaos it will cause. We're only barely beginning to understand what we have unleashed.
As mentioned earlier, you have no power to stop the use of a technology. Mr. Nobel was horrified to see how dynamite was used, you will be horrified to see how Bitcoin will be used. You can't decide how Bitcoin will be used any more than Bram Cohen could decide what you will and won't get to download with Bittorrent. There is no "Stop" sign that Bitcoin has to obey. There is 32 trillion dollar worth of wealth hidden off shore to avoid paying taxes. This is sooner or later going to end up stored in Bitcoin.
People who own Bitcoin will see no need to pay taxes, thus leading to a rise in taxes for people who do pay taxes, thus leading to more people fleeing to Bitcoin. Eventually, this leads to a situation where all financial transactions are done in Bitcoin. Fiat currency is going to be worthless.
This is good news for you, but not for the rest of humanity. We are about to witness the largest transfer of wealth in human history. The victims will be those a few years from now who didn't invest and are forced to buy Bitcoin to pay for their groceries when the value of the dollar starts to take a nosedive.
How will your neighbor feel when his savings have become worthless and his bank won't let him withdraw the money? How will people in third world countries without access to Bitcoin feel? How will the people of the world feel about people becoming billionaires through sheer luck? Will those people use their power in a responsible manner?
You're going to feel thankful for every crash we've had, as every crash encouraged people with a large balance to divest and thereby lead to a more egalitarian distribution of Bitcoin. The problem is nonetheless unavoidable. There will be anonymous Bitcoin billionaires. There will be social and economic chaos.
I genuinely hope that I'm wrong and shake my head a few years from now. We can't count on such luck however. Think about what you're going to do. You successfully inverted the global economic order. Now you are at the steering wheel.
What is Bitcoin? A brief history. submitted by
Okay. So we know that cryptocurrencies are non-state issued currencies that seek to maintain value through scarcity (usually), security (hopefully), and easy transferability regardless of national borders (indubitably
Bitcoin does all of these things...but so do other cryptocurrencies. Why is Bitcoin special? Let's start with a bit of history.
Beginning in the 1980s, a group of developers and activists formed a list serve and named themselves the Cypherpunks
. This group was obsessed with societal privacy and anonymity. They believed that only complete privacy and security could guarantee a free and open society and that the government could not be relied upon to ensure it. Members of the group sought different modes to achieve this goal. Among others:
Bram Cohen: BitTorrent -> Peer to Peer information sharing
Nick Szabo: Bit Gold -> predecessor of Bitcoin, originator of smart contracts
Julian Assange: WikiLeaks -> classified and secret document archive and disclosure
Another person (?) on this list was "Satoshi Nakamoto" who, in his seminal whitepaper
in 2009, outlined Bitcoin. Note that "Satoshi Nakamoto" is in quotation marks because his or her or their true identity is thus far unconfirmed. Regardless, Nakamoto's whitepaper conceptualized Bitcoin and in the process created the idea of the blockchain and solved the double spending problem
. The double spending problem was something that had plagued digital currencies since they were first proposed. The problem, characterized by a digital currency's lack of physical permanence and resultant ability to be copied, forged, or otherwise falsified, prevent digital currency from progressing past the point of "internet money".
Nakamoto managed to resolve double-spending this via implementation of the blockchain. Let me explain how:
Traditional transactions are pretty straightforward. Party A gives Party B some number of dollars. Party B accepts this money without concern because, the possibility of counterfeiting not withstanding, he is pretty sure that the dollars that he is receiving are legitimate. Since dollars are physical, they can only be spent in one place at a time
. Image 1
This works great when both parties are confident that the money being transacted can only be spent once as is the case with physical money. Digital money is intangible by its nature and therefore, double spending is a concern.
Say that Party A has BitCash A. He wants to purchase goods from Party B and Party C. The goods to be purchased EACH cost BitCash A. If Party A is honest, he will only purchase one of the goods since he can't afford both. Party A is a bad dude, though, and decides to try to pull a fast one on Party B and Party C. Since BitCash is just internet money, it's easily reproducible and requires only a quick copy and paste to dupe the system. Party A sends BitCash A to Party B as well as to Party C. Someone is loses money (likely the whole network since this is a fatal flaw in the currency and indicates underlying unreliability). Image 2
For those of you wondering how credit cards and other digital systems alleviate this issue, they do it through a centralized ledger. In other words, a third party is needed to mediate transactions and to ensure that money only exists in one place at a time. While this works in the context of traditional banking, this system goes against the ethos of Bitcoin, which is predicated on decentralization, privacy, and anonymity. Additionally, the idea of trusting a third party to verify all transactions introduced a single point of potential failure, something that cryptocurrencies sought to avoid.
The above issue remained unsolved until Nakamoto's invention of Bitcoin. Nakamoto introduced the idea of the blockchain, a constantly updated decentralized universal ledger that existed everywhere and nowhere, that was maintained by multiple parties on the network, and that was permanently reliable. Each transaction had to be verified by multiple parties (known as miners
) as being legitimate before becoming irreversibly codified in the universal ledger known as the blockchain. Should a party seek to double spend, one of the transactions put forth would be rejected: either the one that was placed second, or the one that received fewer confirmations from the network. By relying on a second party system, the double spending problem was solved. Image 3
In the above case, Party A attempts to double spend his Bitcoin A to Party B and Party C. Both proposed transactions are sent to miners to verify. Only one of the two is accepted by the network and added to the blockchain. In this case, the Bitcoin A sent to Party B is confirmed as legitimate while the proposed transaction to Party C is rejected. Bitcoin A is NOT double spent. Party B ends up with Bitcoin A and Party C ends up with nothing.
With the double spending problem and others worked out, Bitcoin became a viable mode for transaction. The first official Bitcoin transaction occurred on January 12, 2009 between Nakamoto and Hal Finney. Bitcoin ceased to be theoretical and entered the real world. Exchanges began carrying Bitcoin and facilitating its transfer between people. Over the next several years Bitcoin's value grew from fractions of a cent to over $11000
(as of 12/3/17). Image 4 Image 5 Image 6
In addition to its own growth, Bitcoin is also responsible for the rise of cryptocurrencies in general as the majority of cryptocurrencies today have used Bitcoin as their foundational model. Image 7 Controversies
Bitcoin's ascent has been marred by several controversies both internal and external. Advantages of Bitcoin over other cryptocurrencies
I've broken down the major advantages of Bitcoin as follows: Image 8 Ubiquity/cachet
: Ultimately, much of the advantage that Bitcoin possesses boils down to its place as the cryptocurrency leader. Odds are that when people say "cryptocurrency", they really mean Bitcoin. There's value to being at the top of the market and its position affords it a host of benefits. It has the largest user base of any of the cryptocurrencies which fuels its dollar value. Because it was first to market, and because of its users, it also has a robust development community working both internally and externally. One of the perks of investing in Bitcoin is the exposure that one gets to Bitcoin forks. Bitcoin Cash, a fork that occurred on August 1, 2017, is currently trading over $1600/coin. Every user of Bitcoin received Bitcoin Cash...just for holding Bitcoin. There have been other forks since, and there will continue to be forks in the future, all adding potential value to a Bitcoin investment. Furthermore, Bitcoin is relatively established and more robust to insults than other cryptocurrencies, making it a safer store of value.
In order to be unseated as the clear crypto king, a new product would need to show up that is not only qualitatively better than Bitcoin, but better enough that it makes ditching the Bitcoin environment worth it. Technology
: Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to reliably show that digital money could be used for transactions and as stores of value. As mentioned above, most cryptocurrencies today use the Bitcoin white paper as their model. We know that the foundations of Bitcoin are comparatively sound and that it is stable. This stability has allowed a healthy ecosystem of development to take root. Interested in buying a hardware wallet for your Bitcoin? They exist. More interested in creating a free online wallet? Those exist. Interested in mining? It's easy, albeit expensive to get started. The technology being proven has allowed the adjacent technologies to thrive. Price
: While most would consider an $11000 entry tag to be a massive barrier to entry and potentially stifling, it's actually a major boon to Bitcoin. The price tag attracts investors and users, which encourages development, which makes the product more functional, which attracts users, which increases price, etc. Bitcoin is worth something and makes it difficult to dismiss. Furthermore, its high price tempers volatility and manipulation. Unlike other currencies that are worth pennies or dollars, Bitcoin is able to weather large capital inflows and outflows and is less prone to overt market manipulation precisely because its market cap is so high. Risks Image 9 Internal Technology
: While Bitcoin functions completely adequately today, it will need to scale tremendously
to reach its potential. While the technology behind Bitcoin is impressive, it pales in comparison to established modes of exchange. VISA averages 2000 transactions per second and has a peak capacity of 56000 transactions per second. Bitcoin presently averages 7 transactions per second. Certain solutions are being explored, like the Lightning Network
, but there are no guarantees that there will be successful implementation.
As can be said with any technology, Bitcoin is fundamentally dependent on its underlying code. Thus far it has had only one major exposed flaw (which resulted in the accidental creation of 184 billion Bitcoin). Development
: Mentioned above was the advantage conveyed by forks. They can provide additional value. This is a good thing. They can also create competitors. This is a bad thing. While it is unlikely that a Bitcoin offshoot will unseat Bitcoin outright, there is the risk of market cannibalization and confusion with each new iteration. Which is the real Bitcoin? External Legislative
: Because Bitcoin can so ably provide for functions that were once strictly in the government domain, it is likely to become the target of governmental limits at some point. We've already seen China try to crack down on Bitcoin and it's reasonable to assume that other countries will follow suit.
Despite this risk, however, Bitcoin has proven to be incredibly resilient and is still traded by the Chinese
. Since the Chinese ban, Bitcoin's price has nearly doubled from $6000 to over $11000 today (12/3/17). Competitive
: I mentioned earlier that one of Bitcoin's main advantages was that it was first to market. While this is a tremendous benefit today, it does not guarantee ongoing success. History is littered with famous "firsts to market" that were overtaken by savvy competitors. The World
was the first ISP to market. Magnavox
released the first video game console. You'd be hard pressed to find someone that equates ISPs with The World or video game consoles with Magnavox.
Bitcoin is not on the precipice of being overtaken by another cryptocurrency. However, the risk of an existing competitor, or more likely a new competitor that doesn't yet exist, supplanting Bitcoin is always a possibility and investors should mitigate risk appropriately. Investment opportunities
: Bitcoin provides the surest cryptocurrency investment for the reasons mentioned above. Its status as the cryptocurrency leader makes it the most stable investment in the arena. Furthermore, its cachet makes it an attractive investment to lay investors looking for exposure to this particular market which subsequently makes it an even more attractive investment. While many may balk at investing in something whose single unit is priced at more than $11000 and that has experienced explosive growth, I believe that Bitcoin still has opportunity for upward movement.
The number I keep coming back to is $7.8T (trillion). That's the market cap for gold. I use this as a bench mark because I see Bitcoin supplanting gold as a storage of wealth from fiat currencies. As I've discussed, the blockchain provides permanence in a way that is akin to gold's physical permanence.
The present market cap for ALL cryptocurrencies is $340B (billion). Bitcoin presently accounts for 55% of the cryptocurrency market cap with $188B.
Assuming that over the next year growth slows over the next year and that Bitcoin loses some of its dominance, I still think that it's reasonable to project an approximate Bitcoin value of $50000. This assumes that the crypto market continues to grow, albeit at a slower relative pace and still does not approach gold's market cap. Image 10
This is bullish and I assume that no major stumbling blocks present themselves. I am drawn to the fact that market penetration is still relatively low and that institutional money has barely begun to enter the market. These two factors mean that organic growth can continue for the foreseeable future. Conclusion
Bitcoin represents the present pinnacle of the cryptocurrency market. As an investment, it provides the best combination of stability and potential growth precisely because it is the market leader. Through its innovation of the blockchain, it has spurred the cryptocurrency explosion that we have witnessed over the last several years.
Bram Cohen submitted by
on Nov 07 2015:
(My apologies for a 'drive-by' posting. I'm not subscribed to this mailing
list but this post may be of interest here. If you'd like to make sure I
see a response send it to me directly. This post was originally posted to
the web at https://medium.com/@bramcohen/how-wallets-can-handle-transaction-fees-ff5d020d14fb
Since transaction fees are a good thing (see https://medium.com/@bramcohen/bitcoin-s-ironic-crisis-32226a85e39f
brings up the question: How should wallets handle them? This essay is an
expansion of my talk at the bitcoin scaling conference (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKDC2DpzNbw&t=13m17s
To answer this question we first need to lay down some ground rules of what
we’re trying to solve. We’ll focus on trying to solve the problem for
consumer wallets only. We’ll be ignoring microchannels, which dramatically
reduce the number of transactions used but still have to put some on the
blockchain. We’ll also be assuming that full replace by fee is in effect
because the best solution uses that fairly aggressively.
What should transaction fees be?
Before figuring out how wallets should calculate transaction fees, we first
need to know what transaction fees should be. The obvious solution to that
question is straightforward: It should be determined by supply and demand.
The price is set at the point where the supply and demand curves meet. But
supply and demand curves, while mostly accurate, are a little too simple of
a model to use, because they don’t take into account time. In the real
world, the supply of space for transactions is extremely noisy, because
more becomes available (and has to be immediately consumed or it’s lost
forever) every time a block is minted, and block minting is an
intentionally random process, that randomness being essential for
consensus. Demand is random and cyclical. Random because each transaction
is generated individually so the total amount is noisy (although that
averages out to be somewhat smooth at scale) and has both daily and weekly
cycles, with more transactions done during the day than at night.
What all these result in is that there should be a reward for patience. If
you want or need to get your transaction in quicker you should have to pay
on average a higher fee, and if you’re willing to wait longer it should on
average cost less. Inevitably this will result in transactions taking on
average longer than one block to go through, but it doesn’t require it of
everyone. Those who wish to offer high fees to be sure of getting into the
very next block are free to do so, but if everyone were to do that the
system would fall apart.
What should the wallet user interface be?
Ideally transaction fees would be handled in a way which didn’t require
changes to a wallet’s user interface at all. Unfortunately that isn’t
possible. At a minimum it’s necessary to have a maximum fee which the user
is willing to spend in order to make a transaction go through, which of
course means that some transactions will fail because they aren’t willing
to pay enough, which is the whole point of having transaction fees in the
Because transaction fees should be lower for people willing to wait longer,
there should be some kind of patience parameter as well. The simplest form
of this is an amount of time which the wallet will spend trying to make the
transaction go through before giving up (Technically it may make sense to
specify block height instead of wall clock time, but that’s close enough to
not change anything meaningful). This results in fairly understandable
concepts of a transaction being ‘pending’ and ‘failed’ which happen at
Transactions eventually getting into a ‘failed’ state instead of going into
permanent limbo is an important part of the wallet fee user experience.
Unfortunately right now the only way to make sure that a transaction is
permanently failed is to spend its input on something else, but that
requires spending a transaction fee on the canceling transaction, which of
course would be just as big as the fee you weren’t willing to spend to make
the real transaction go through in the first place.
What’s needed is a protocol extension so a transaction can make it
impossible for it to be committed once a certain block height has been
reached. The current lack of such an extension is somewhat intentional
because there are significant potential problems with transactions going
bad because a block reorganization happened and some previously accepted
transactions can’t ever be recommitted because their max block height got
surpassed. To combat this, when a transaction with a max block height gets
committed near its cutoff it’s necessary to wait a longer than usual number
of blocks to be sure that it’s safe (I’m intentionally not giving specific
numbers here, some developers have suggested extremely conservative
values). This waiting is annoying but should only apply in the edge case of
failed transactions and is straightforward to implement. The really big
problem is that given the way Bitcoin works today it’s very hard to add
this sort of extension. If any backwards-incompatible change to Bitcoin is
done, it would be a very good idea to use that opportunity to improve
Bitcoin’s extension mechanisms in general and this one in particular.
What information to use
The most obvious piece of information to use for setting transaction fees
is past transaction fees from the last few blocks. This has a number of
problems. If the fee rate goes high, it can get stuck there and take a
while to come down, if ever, even though the equilibrium price should be
lower. A telltale sign of this is high fee blocks which aren’t full, but
it’s trivial for miners to get around that by padding their blocks with
self-paying transactions. To some extent this sort of monopoly pricing is
inherent, but normally it would require a cabal of most miners to pull it
off, because any one miner can make more money in the short term by
accepting every transaction they can instead of restricting the supply of
available transaction space. If transaction fees are sticky, a large but
still minority miner can make money for themselves even in the short term
by artificially pumping fees in one of their blocks because fees will
probably still be high by the time of their next block.
Past fees also create problems for SPV clients, who have to trust the full
nodes they connect to to report past fees accurately. That could be
mitigated by making an extension to the block format to, for example,
report what the minimum fee per bytes paid in this block is in the headers.
It isn’t clear exactly what that extension should do though. Maybe you want
to know the minimum, or the median, or the 25th percentile, or all of the
above. It’s also possible for miners to game the system by making a bunch
of full nodes which only report blocks which are a few back when fees have
recently dropped. There are already some incentives to do that sort of bad
behavior, and it can be mitigated by having SPV clients connect to more
full nodes than they currently do and always go with the max work, but SPV
clients don’t currently do that properly, and it’s unfortunate to create
more incentives for bad behavior.
Another potential source of information for transaction fees is currently
pending transactions in the network. This has a whole lot of problems. It’s
extremely noisy, much more so than regular transaction fees, because (a)
sometimes a backlog of transactions builds up if no blocks happen to have
happened in a while (b) sometimes there aren’t many transactions if a bunch
of blocks went through quickly, and (c) in the future full nodes can and
should have a policy of only forwarding transactions which are likely to
get accepted sometime soon given the other transactions in their pools.
Mempool is also trivially gameable, in exactly the same way as the last few
blocks are gameable, but worse: A miner who wishes to increase fees can run
a whole lot of full nodes and report much higher fees than are really
happening. Unlike with fee reporting in blocks, there’s no way for SPV
clients to audit this properly, even with a protocol extension, and it’s
possible for full nodes to lie in a much more precise and targetted manner.
Creating such a strong incentive for such a trivial and potentially
lucrative attack seems like a very bad idea.
A wallet’s best information to use when setting price are the things which
can be absolutely verified locally: The amount it’s hand to pay in the
past, the current time, how much it’s willing to pay by when. All of these
have unambiguous meanings, precise mathematical values, and no way for
anybody else to game them. A wallet can start at a minimum value, and every
time a new block is minted which doesn’t accept its transaction increase
its fee a little, until finally reaching its maximum value at the very end.
Full nodes can then follow the behavior of storing and forwarding along
several blocks’s worth of transactions, ten times sounds reasonable,
ignoring transactions which pay less per byte than the ones they have
stored, and further requiring that a new block be minted between times when
a single transaction gets replaced by fee. That policy both has the
property of being extremely denial-of-service resistant and minimizing the
damag...[message truncated here by reddit bot]... original: http://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/bitcoin-dev/2015-Novembe011685.html
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