[bitcoin-dev] Fees and the block-finding process

Michael Naber mickeybob at gmail.com
Tue Aug 11 19:26:48 UTC 2015

All things considered, if people want to participate in a global consensus
network, and the technology exist to do it at a lower cost, then is it
sensible or even possible to somehow arbitrarily set the price of
participating in a global consensus network to be expensive? Can someone
please walk me through how that's expected to play out because I'm really
having a hard time understanding how it could work.

On Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 2:00 PM, Mark Friedenbach via bitcoin-dev <
bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:

> More people using Bitcoin does not necessarily mean more transactions
> being processed by the block chain. Satoshi was forward-thinking enough to
> include a powerful script-signature system, something which has never
> really existed before. Though suffering from some limitations to be sure,
> this smart contract execution framework is expressive enough to enable a
> wide variety of new features without changing bitcoin itself.
> One of these invented features is micropayment channels -- the ability for
> two parties to rapidly exchange funds while only settling the final balance
> to the block chain, and to do so in an entirely trustless way. Right now
> people don't use scripts to do interesting things like this, but there is
> absolutely no reason why they can't. Lightning network is a vision of a
> future where everyone uses a higher-layer protocol for their transactions
> which only periodically settle on the block chain. It is entirely possible
> that you may be able to do all your day-to-day transactions in bitcoin yet
> only settle accounts every other week, totaling 13kB per year. A 1MB block
> could support that level of usage by 4 million people, which is many orders
> of magnitude more than the number of people presently using bitcoin on a
> day to day basis.
> And that, by the way, is without considering as-yet uninvented
> applications of existing or future script which will provide even further
> improvements to scale. This is very fertile ground being explored by very
> few people. One thing I hope to come out of this block size debate is a lot
> more people (like Joseph Poon) looking at how bitcoin script can be used to
> enable new and innovative resource-efficient and privacy-enhancing payment
> protocols.
> The network has room to grow. It just requires wallet developers and other
> infrastructure folk to step up to the plate and do their part in deploying
> this technology.
> On Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 2:14 AM, Angel Leon <gubatron at gmail.com> wrote:
>> - policy neutrality.
>> - It can't be censored.
>> - it can't be shut down
>> - and the rules cannot change from underneath you.
>> except it can be shutdown the minute it actually gets used by its
>> inability to scale.
>> what's the point of having all this if nobody can use it?
>> what's the point of going through all that energy and CO2 for a mere
>> 24,000 transactions an hour?
>> It's clear that it's just a matter of time before it collapses.
>> Here's a simple proposal (concept) that doesn't pretend to set a fixed
>> block size limit as you can't ever know the demands the future will bring
>> https://gist.github.com/gubatron/143e431ee01158f27db4
>> We don't need to go as far as countries with hyper inflation trying to
>> use the technology to make it collapse, anybody here who has distributed
>> commercial/free end user software knows that any small company out there
>> installs more copies in a couple weeks than all the bitcoin users we have
>> at the moment, all we need is a single company/project with a decent amount
>> of users who are now enabled to transact directly on the blockchain to
>> screw it all up (perhaps OpenBazaar this winter could make this whole thing
>> come down, hopefully they'll take this debate and the current limitations
>> before their release, and boy are they coding nonstop on it now that they
>> got funded), the last of your fears should be a malicious government trying
>> to shut you down, for that to happen you must make an impact first, for now
>> this is a silly game in the grand scheme of things.
>> And you did sound pretty bad, all of his points were very valid and they
>> share the concern of many people, many investors, entrepreneurs putting
>> shitload of money, time and their lives on a much larger vision than that
>> of a network that does a mere 3,500 tx/hour, but some people seem to be
>> able to live in impossible or useless ideals.
>> It's simply irresponsible to not want to give the network a chance to
>> grow a bit more. Miners centralizing is inevitable given the POW based
>> consensus, hobbists-mining is only there for countries with very cheap
>> energy.
>> If things remain this way, this whole thing will be a massive failure and
>> it will probably take another decade before we can open our mouths about
>> cryptocurrencies, decentralization and what not, and this stubornness will
>> be the one policy that censored everyone, that shutdown everyone, that made
>> the immutable rules not matter.
>> Perhaps it will be Stellar what ends up delivering at this stubborn pace.
>> http://twitter.com/gubatron
>> On Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 4:38 AM, Thomas Zander via bitcoin-dev <
>> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
>>> >It follows then, that if we make a decision now which destroys that
>>> property, which makes it possible to censor bitcoin, to deny service, or to
>>> pressure miners into changing rules contrary to user interests, then
>>> Bitcoin is no longer interesting.
>>> You asked to be convinced of the need for bigger blocks. I gave that.
>>> What makes you think bitcoin will break when more people use it?
>>> Sent on the go, excuse the brevity.
>>> *From: *Mark Friedenbach
>>> *Sent: *Tuesday, 11 August 2015 08:10
>>> *To: *Thomas Zander
>>> *Cc: *Bitcoin Dev
>>> *Subject: *Re: [bitcoin-dev] Fees and the block-finding process
>>> On Mon, Aug 10, 2015 at 11:31 PM, Thomas Zander via bitcoin-dev <
>>> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
>>>> On Monday 10. August 2015 23.03.39 Mark Friedenbach wrote:
>>>> > This is where things diverge. It's fine to pick a new limit or growth
>>>> > trajectory. But defend it with data and reasoned analysis.
>>>> We currently serve about 0,007% of the world population sending maybe
>>>> one
>>>> transaction a month.
>>>> This can only go up.
>>>> There are about 20 currencies in the world that are unstable and
>>>> showing early
>>>> signs of hyperinflation. If even small percentage of these people
>>>> cash-out and
>>>> get Bitcoins for their savings you'd have the amount of people using
>>>> Bitcoin
>>>> as savings go from maybe half a million to 10 million in the space of a
>>>> couple
>>>> of months. Why so fast? Because all the world currencies are linked.
>>>> Practically all currencies follow the USD, and while that one may stay
>>>> robust
>>>> and standing, the linkage has been shown in the past to cause
>>>> chain-effects.
>>>> It is impossible to predict how much uptake Bitcoin will take, but we
>>>> have
>>>> seen big rises in price as Cyprus had a bailin and then when Greece
>>>> first
>>>> showed bad signs again.
>>>> Lets do our due diligence and agree that in the current world economy
>>>> there
>>>> are sure signs that people are considering Bitcoin on a big scale.
>>>> Bigger amount of people holding Bitcoin savings won't make the
>>>> transaction
>>>> rate go up very much, but if you have feet on the ground you already
>>>> see that
>>>> people go back to barter in countries like Poland, Ireland, Greece etc.
>>>> And Bitcoin will be an alternative to good to ignore.  Then transaction
>>>> rates
>>>> will go up. Dramatically.
>>>> If you are asking for numbers, that is a bit tricky. Again; we are at
>>>> 0,007%... Thats like a f-ing rounding error in the world economy. You
>>>> can't
>>>> reason from that. Its like using a float to do calculations that you
>>>> should
>>>> have done in a double and getting weird output.
>>>> Bottom line is that a maximum size of 8Mb blocks is not that odd.
>>>> Because a 20
>>>> times increase is very common in a "company" that is about 6 years old.
>>>> For instance Android was about that age when it started to get shipped
>>>> by non-
>>>> Google companies. There the increase was substantially bigger and the
>>>> company
>>>> backing it was definitely able to change direction faster than the
>>>> Bitcoin
>>>> oiltanker can change direction.
>>>> ...
>>>> Another metric to remember; if you follow hackernews (well, the
>>>> incubator more
>>>> than the linked articles) you'd be exposed to the thinking of these
>>>> startups.
>>>> Their only criteria is growth. and this is rather substantial growth.
>>>> Like
>>>> 150% per month.  Naturally, most of these build on top of html or other
>>>> existing technologies.  But the point is that exponential growth is
>>>> expected
>>>> in any startup.  They typically have a much much more agressive
>>>> timeline,
>>>> though. Every month instead of every year.
>>>> Having exponential growth in the blockchain is really not odd and even
>>>> if we
>>>> have LN or sidechains or the next changetip, this space will be used.
>>>> And we
>>>> will still have scarcity.
>>> I'm sorry, I really don't want to sound like a jerk, but not a single
>>> word of that mattered. Yes we all want Bitcoin to scale such that every
>>> person in the world can use it without difficulty. However if that were all
>>> that we cared about then I would be remiss if I did not point out that
>>> there are plenty of better, faster, and cheaper solutions to finding global
>>> consensus over a payment ledger than Bitcoin. Architectures which are
>>> algorithmically superior in their scaling properties. Indeed they are
>>> already implemented and you can use them today:
>>> https://www.stellar.org/
>>> http://opentransactions.org/
>>> So why do I work on Bitcoin, and why do I care about the outcome of this
>>> debate? Because Bitcoin offers one thing, and one thing only which
>>> alternative architectures fundamentally lack: policy neutrality. It can't
>>> be censored, it can't be shut down, and the rules cannot change from
>>> underneath you. *That* is what Bitcoin offers that can't be replicated at
>>> higher scale with a SQL database and an audit log.
>>> It follows then, that if we make a decision now which destroys that
>>> property, which makes it possible to censor bitcoin, to deny service, or to
>>> pressure miners into changing rules contrary to user interests, then
>>> Bitcoin is no longer interesting. We might as well get rid of mining at
>>> that point and make Bitcoin look like Stellar or Open-Transactions because
>>> at least then we'd scale even better and not be pumping millions of tons of
>>> CO2 into the atmosphere from running all those ASICs.
>>> On the other side, 3Tb harddrives are sold, which take 8Mb blocks without
>>>> problems.
>>> Straw man, storage is not an issue.
>>>> You can buy broadband in every relevant country that easily supports the
>>>> bandwidth we need. (remember we won't jump to 8Mb in a day, it will
>>>> likely
>>>> take at least 6 months).
>>> Neither one of those assertions is clear. Keep in mind the goal is to
>>> have Bitcoin survive active censorship. Presumably that means being able to
>>> run a node even in the face of a hostile ISP or government. Furthermore, it
>>> means being location independent and being able to move around. In many
>>> places the higher the bandwidth requirements the fewer the number of ISPs
>>> that are available to service you, and the more visible you are.
>>> It may also be necessary to be able to run over Tor. And not just
>>> today's Tor which is developed, serviced, and supported by the US
>>> government, but a Tor or I2P that future governments have turned hostile
>>> towards and actively censor or repress. Or existing authoritative
>>> governments, for that matter. How much bandwidth would be available through
>>> those connections?
>>> It may hopefully never be necessary to operate under such constraints,
>>> except by freedom seeking individuals within existing totalitarian regimes.
>>> However the credible threat of doing so may be what keeps Bitcoin from
>>> being repressed in the first place. Lose the capability to go underground,
>>> and it will be pressured into regulation, eventually.
>>> To the second point, it has been previously pointed out that large
>>> miners stand to gain from larger blocks, for the same basic underlying
>>> reasons as selfish mining. The incentive is to increase blocks, and miners
>>> are able to do so at will and without cost. I would not be so certain that
>>> we wouldn't see large blocks sooner than that.
>>>> We should get the inverted bloom filters stuff (or competing products)
>>>> working
>>>> at least on a one-to-one basis so we can solve the propagation time
>>>> problem.
>>>> There frankly is a huge amount of optimization that can be done in that
>>>> area,
>>>> we don't even use locality (pingtime) to optimize distribution.
>>>> From my experience you can expect a 2-magnitude speedup in that same 6
>>>> month
>>>> period by focusing some research there.
>>> This is basically already deployed thanks to Matt's relay network.
>>> Further improvements are not going to have dramatic effects.
>>>> Remember 8Gb/block still doesn't support VISA/Mastercard.
>>> No, it doesn't. And 8GB/block is ludicrously large -- it would
>>> absolutely, without any doubt destroy the very nature of Bitcoin, turning
>>> it into a fundamentally uninteresting reincarnation of the existing
>>> financial system. And still be unable to compete with VISA/Mastercard.
>>> So why then the pressure to go down a route that WILL lead to failure by
>>> your own metrics?
>>> I humbly suggest that maybe we should play the strengths of Bitcoin
>>> instead -- it's trustlessness via policy neutrality.
>>> Either that, or go work on Stellar. Because that's where it's headed
>>> otherwise.
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