[Bitcoin-development] Long-term mining incentives

Jorge Timón jtimon at jtimon.cc
Thu May 14 00:11:47 UTC 2015

On Mon, May 11, 2015 at 7:29 PM, Gavin Andresen <gavinandresen at gmail.com> wrote:
> I think long-term the chain will not be secured purely by proof-of-work. I
> think when the Bitcoin network was tiny running solely on people's home
> computers proof-of-work was the right way to secure the chain, and the only
> fair way to both secure the chain and distribute the coins.
> See https://gist.github.com/gavinandresen/630d4a6c24ac6144482a  for some
> half-baked thoughts along those lines. I don't think proof-of-work is the
> last word in distributed consensus (I also don't think any alternatives are
> anywhere near ready to deploy, but they might be in ten years).

Or never, nobody knows at this point.

> I also think it is premature to worry about what will happen in twenty or
> thirty years when the block subsidy is insignificant. A lot will happen in
> the next twenty years. I could spin a vision of what will secure the chain
> in twenty years, but I'd put a low probability on that vision actually
> turning out to be correct.

I think is very healthy to worry about that since we know it's
something that will happen.
The system should work without subsidies.

> That is why I keep saying Bitcoin is an experiment. But I also believe that
> the incentives are correct, and there are a lot of very motivated, smart,
> hard-working people who will make it work. When you're talking about trying
> to predict what will happen decades from now, I think that is the best you
> can (honestly) do.

Lightning payment channels may be a new idea, but payment channels are
not, and nobody is using them.
They are the best solution to scalability we have right now,
increasing the block size is simply not a solution, it's just kicking
the can down the road (while reducing the incentives to deploy real
solutions like payment channels).

Not worrying about 10 years in the future but asking people to trust
estimates and speculations about how everything will burn in 2 years
if we don't act right now seems pretty arbitrary to me.
One could just as well argue that there's smart hard-working people
that will solve those problems before they hit us.

It is true that the more distant the future you're trying to predict
is, the more difficult it is to predict it, but any threshold that
separates "relevant worries" from "too far in the future to worry
about it" will always be arbitrary.
Fortunately we don't need to all share the same time horizon for what
is worrying and what is not.
What we need is a clear criterion for what is acceptable for a
hardfork and a general plan to deploy them:

-Do all the hardfork changes need to be uncontroversial? How do we
define uncontroversial?
-Should we maintain and test implementation of hardfork whises that
seem too small to justify a hardfork on their own (ie time travel fix,
allowing to sign inputs values...) to also deploy them at the same
time that other more necessary hardforks?

I agree that hardforks shouldn't be impossible and in that sense I'm
glad that you started the hardfork debate, but I believe we should be
focusing on that debate rather than the block size one.
Once we have a clear criteria, hopefully the block size debate should
become less noisy and more productive.

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