[Bitcoin-development] Coinbase reallocation to discourage Finney attacks

Mike Hearn mike at plan99.net
Thu Apr 24 14:28:54 UTC 2014

> And that's achieved through proof of work, not through "miner's honesty".

You can't disentangle the two. Proof of work just makes a block chain hard
to tamper with. What it contains is arbitrary. Honest miners build a block
chain that's intended to stop double spending. Dishonest miners don't.
They're both engaging in proof of work, to different ends.

> Whatever, let's keep calling stupid miners "honest miners"

No, let's not. Your definition of "smart miner" is one I'd called "stupid
miner" (or possibly "short bitcoin miner"). They are miners who would
reduce the value of their coins, by making their own system less useful.
That's not smart, that's simply short termism taken to an extreme, sort of
like a business owner who puts so much pressure on his employees they all
quit. He might have gained a bit more profit in the short term, but only at
the cost of destroying his business that would have given lower but
sustainable returns over the long term.

> This persistent argument from authority is annoying.

Peter always says this too, but it's again an incorrect position. This is
not an argument from authority.

Why are we here? We are here because we were brought together by shared

What are those goals? They were defined at the start of the project by the
creator of the project.

Why do we issue 21 million coins and not 42? Because 21 million is the goal
everyone signed up for.

Why did everyone sign up for 21 million coins? Because that's what Satoshi

If someone asked us to change from 21 to 42 million coins, we'd probably
say no and the justification would be that this is the number we started
with. That's not "argument from authority", it's just recognition that the
parameters of a shared project has to be defined somehow, and for Bitcoin
it was defined at the start.

Now the argument Gregory makes is that changing the block chain algorithm
in this way would be a violation of the social contract. This is a generic
outcome to be legitimately worried about - we don't want to change what
Bitcoin is in ways that would dismay its users. That just leads to a fork.

I argue that this isn't such a change because it makes nothing possible
that was previously impossible, it just makes it less disruptive, and the
*actual* shared goal of Bitcoin is not "preserve the block chain algorithm
exactly as found in v0.1" but rather "stop double spending".

You are arguing elsewhere that Bitcoin should allow double spending for a
fee. That *would* be a clear violation of the social contract!

> That's not what I'm saying. Miners that don't mine on top of the
> longest chain are dishonest by my own definition as well.

Right, but I don't accept this definition of honesty. That's not a
definition any man on the street would use:

    "If you pay for something with forged bank notes and walk out
immediately, you are honest. But if you pay for something with forged bank
notes and hang around for longer than 10 minutes, you are dishonest"

That would sound silly to anyone because what's so special about 10
minutes? It's the act of passing counterfeit money and stealing from the
merchant that's the dishonest act, how long it takes is irrelevant.

In Bitcoin, the dishonest act by the user is signing for the same output
twice (ignoring special protocols here), and the dishonest act by the miner
is deviating from normal behaviour for a fee to try and trick the recipient
into believing they have been paid. The exact details are something
computer scientists care about, but the average Bitcoin user would not.

> And I also disagree that all the people who think this way are
> "hopelessly confused". We may be confused, but I think there's always
> hope for removing confusions provided that there's will to learn,
> which I think it is at least my case.

Indeed and that's why we have these threads! These are fundamental issues
that simply must be debated.
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