[bitcoin-dev] BIP proposal: Inhibiting a covert attack on the Bitcoin POW function

Russell O'Connor roconnor at blockstream.io
Thu Apr 6 13:55:31 UTC 2017


Hi Jonathan,

The proposal raised here does not deny miners the ability to use ASICBOOST.
Miners can still use overt ASICBOOST by version bit fiddling and get the
same power savings.  In fact, overt ASICBOOST is much easier to implement
than covert ASICBOOST, so I don't really understand what the objection is.


On Apr 6, 2017 13:44, "Jonathan Toomim via bitcoin-dev" <
bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:

Ethically, this situation has some similarities to the DAO fork. We have an
entity who closely examined the code, found an unintended characteristic of
that code, and made use of that characteristic in order to gain tens of
millions of dollars. Now that developers are aware of it, they want to
modify the code in order to negate as much of the gains as possible.

There are differences, too, of course: the DAO attacker was explicitly
malicious and stole Ether from others, whereas Bitmain is just optimizing
their hardware better than anyone else and better than some of us think
they should be allowed to.

In both cases, developers are proposing that the developers and a majority
of users collude to reduce the wealth of a single entity by altering the
blockchain rules.

In the case of the DAO fork, users were stealing back stolen funds, but
that justification doesn't apply in this case. On the other hand, in this
case we're talking about causing someone a loss by reducing the value of
hardware investments rather than forcibly taking back their coins, which is
less direct and maybe more justifiable.

While I don't like patented mining algorithms, I also don't like the idea
of playing Calvin Ball on the blockchain. Rule changes should not be
employed as a means of disempowering and empoverishing particular entities
without very good reason. Whether patenting a mining optimization qualifies
as good reason is questionable.

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