[Bitcoin-development] Embedded consensus system upgrade procedures

Peter Todd pete at petertodd.org
Sun Feb 9 18:38:31 UTC 2014

On Sun, Feb 09, 2014 at 12:11:32PM -0600, Troy Benjegerdes wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 09, 2014 at 05:25:41PM +0000, Luke-Jr wrote:
> > On Sunday, February 09, 2014 5:12:14 PM Peter Todd wrote:
> > > We have an embedded consensus system and we want to be able to upgrade
> > > it with new rules.
> > 
> > This asserts a central authority and gives developers too much power.
> I don't quite see how, There is nothing that 'forces' me to upgrade,
> unless I have chosen to run an operating system (MacOS, Windows, Android)
> that have automatic don't-ask-the-user update mechanisms.
> The bigger problem with 'asset transfer' of assets which do not exist 
> soley in the blockchain is including the consensus of relevant local and
> distributed legal jurisdictions.
> For example, just because the 'colored coin' and blockchain consensus is
> that I 'electronically' signed a mortgage document giving some random 
> internet company the rights to foreclose on my home does not mean that 
> my local county Judge or Sheriff are going to do anything if the internet
> company cannot produce the original paper document with ink signature.
> The only 'assertion' of central authority here is people who download and
> run the code and submit to whatever the code asserts they are supposed to do.
> At least with the 'central authority' of the big-business bitcoin developer
> cabal I can read the code before I submit to it's central authority, and
> this is a significant improvement over amgibuous legislation or proprietary
> high-frequency trading algorithms.

Standard Disclaimer: Digital asset transfer systems are fundementally
fancy accounting systems; no amount of code can, by itself, make data
represent a physical or legal entity. Only consensus and/or authorities
in the "real world" can do that. Crypto-currencies are only a partial
exception to that rule, and only because a scarce asset that can be
transferred digitally appears to have potential to be broadly useful.

Those considering investing in or otherwise devoting resources to the
creation of digital asset transfer systems should be warned that their
value in general remains unproven and losing some or all of your
investment is very possible, even probable. I myself have doubts that
these systems serve real-world business needs, but the only way to find
out is to build them and see.

Peter Todd
Chief Scientist

Anyway, the best we can do is build good tools. Dwelling on the
underlying metaphysical nature of what those tools may or may not do
from a social perspective is frankly off-topic on this email list.

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