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Decentralised or just inefficient?

By Craig Wright | 26 Apr 2019 | Bitcoin & Blockchain Tech

Let us do a little thought experiment.

Later in the year, I’ll be talking about a way of doing serialised algorithms across machines. It is something I developed in 2005. It seems to be what many seek to add into cryptocurrency, and yet it is what I rejected 15 years ago in creating Bitcoin. I will explain at the next CoinGeek Conference some methods that will allow the creation of nodes that can mine without any parallelisation being possible. That means, one machine will earn as much as two machines and as much as 10 or a million. In other words, it does not matter if you have one ASIC device or 100 racks of ASIC devices; the result is the same return.

 

We have a patent being filed on the technique as I’ve never published it. So I’m going to leave you with the Hegelian dilemma that will be posed here; do you seek to use my technology even with a patent and my permission, or do you avoid it because I have created it?

The Socratic dialectic

So let us start our thought experiment. Ignore for a moment that it is me who has proposed the algorithm, and consider that a serialised one-way function exists, that is, a function that is simple to verify and yet gains no extra ability through the introduction of parallelised systems. I’ll leave you to do research on such functions for now, but they do exist, and if you don’t believe me, you can have a segue through a discourse of alternate information as you learn that serial functions that cannot be parallelised have been known for a long time.

Inherently sequential.

There are many problems that had been known well before computer science. One that has been talked about many times throughout history is a common one in project management — an analogy based on humanity.

The number of women will not reduce the length of pregnancy.

My little addition is simply that I’ve found some that act as a one-way trap.

In our experiment, let us assume 1 billion people are now running and using sequential gold. We’ll call it for the experiment an alternative form of bit gold, for it’s nothing like Bitcoin. Like with Bitcoin, a core group sets the software updates and rolls out the node software.

 

In sequential gold, protocol changes will happen in one timeline, no change will happen in another. We’ll experiment with both possibilities and see what happens. To start, let us look at a fixed protocol. Something set in stone like Bitcoin. As such, we’ll start with an experiment when no changes in it occur — ever — and look at our first set of problems. We have 1 billion people running our protocol. It’s completely decentralised, and the discovery is a serial lottery. Here, every block is randomly found, and no one can predict what the next one will be.

There are 31,556,926 seconds in a year.

Let’s keep a few people happy and make one-minute blocks. This means we have approximately 525,600 blocks every year. With our collection of 1 billion people, we now expect the average person to win the lottery once every 1900 years. The maths is not too difficult.

Bitcoin is an economic incentive system. The security of Bitcoin relies on a group of individuals investing money in building to create a secure system. It is not the tragedy of the commons which we have in the communist or socialist version of Bitcoin.

With 1 billion people or families seeking to earn money from their node using a sequential algorithm, no party can expect a return. It becomes a pure lottery. Basically, everyone in the world runs a node with the vain hope of achieving a rare lottery win. Without delving into the plethora of dystopian novels based on the concept of a society that slaves as sheep to fulfil another’s destiny with the hope of one day winning the lottery and getting out of the grind, we can start looking at this further. Such a version of Bitcoin becomes the classic problem of the tragedy of the commons; if I need to propagate the blocks of every other user and I do not expect to win, why would I want to?

Why am I investing in creating an infrastructure to pass blocks around the global network helping people I will never meet?

We can argue that each individual gains knowing that he has a secure monetary source. Yet, where is the incentive not to cheat? Think about it for a minute: the majority of people are going to come to understand that they have a better return on money buying a government lotto ticket than they do investing in the support of the Bitcoin node network. Consequently, why would you leave your node running, consuming electricity and costing you money to validate other people’s transactions? Few would.

The reality is that most individuals would only leave their system on and running if they needed to personally check and validate a transaction, and then they would only do so while it was occurring.

If individuals come and go and need to download and update the blockchain every time their transaction occurs, they are still investing money and yet getting few returns. Why invest even more for the chance of a lottery ticket? It is something no one seems to investigate when seeking to make Bitcoin into sequential gold. Once you do so, you remove the incentive and you remove the security of Bitcoin’s network effect, that is, an ultra small-world graph. The network collapses into a mere mesh. Once this occurs, it cannot be secured.

So now let us assume that we have a dedicated core of users who see the importance of Bitcoin’s node network and distribution. We’ll assume that a mere 0.1% of the population using Bitcoin understand such importance and will maintain it no matter what. So we have 1 million people running a node all the time and the remaining 999 million people running a node 1% of the time, which means our lotto will be distributed in the following way:

1. Those who do not care — (999/1000)*1 = 0.999

2. Those who are staunch supporters of the network no matter what — (1/1000)*99 = 0.099

The total sample set is now 1.098.

So the distribution is:

1. 0.999/1.098 = 90.98%

2. 0.099/1.098 = 9.164%

In effect, our staunch supporters of the network are expected to win more than the average because they are online more often and protecting the network more. Yet, such actors still only receive 9.1% of the network transactions and across all of the users gain a mere fraction of the rewards. Yes, again, many many times more than the average person, but the reality is that they still only achieve a block once every 173 years.

We have to assume that the same group of dedicated altruists will sacrifice their earnings for their entire life just to ensure the integrity of the network. Yet, at such scale, we can expect large costs. Current network costs at such scale will result in monthly charges of around US$10,000-25,000, and you can double the figure when you add computational costs, storage costs, and more. In such a version of a distributed coin, sequential gold, what we end up with is another project that needs to be saved by government. It is the typical consequence of the socialist mindset in their hatred and desire to bring down companies that fails to understand that you cannot create anything through destruction.

The problem is one that is faced over and over by “utopians” and socialists throughout history. It is the economic problem: how do they get other people to pay for their costs? It is what Bitcoin truly solved.

What you will start to discover, if you analyse it, is that the network will always degrade. In 2013, I had simulations on my website demonstrating this. Unlike Bitcoin, sequential gold never incentivises a single fork. As soon as an orphan chain comes into existence (which is a natural part of Bitcoin and an aspect of the security model of Bitcoin), the system starts to fragment into more and more chains that will never rejoin. Without the economic incentive to build corporate systems and funded miners, the system degrades in a tragedy of the commons.

An evolving protocol

It merely gets worse if we consider a protocol that is not set in stone. If the protocol is allowed to evolve, as occurs with competitors to Bitcoin such as Core coin (BTC), then we have a scenario where the network fragments unless all users are running the same version. It is more important in a network of a billion people with a lottery than it ever would be in Bitcoin itself. If every party does not upgrade, you will end with enhanced protocol forking that never rejoins. The network fragments very quickly.

There is an answer to such an issue: you hand control, that is power to the development team.

You allow them to take control of not only the protocol but the software updates. You allow them to force you to have updated software. Once such power is granted, the power over everything in your life has been relegated to such people. It is why Bitcoin was hijacked to create (BTC) Core coin.

A group of people with strong ties to anarchist and criminal groups seeks power. In the true sense of 1984 doublespeak, they will tell you how they’re freeing you. They will do so as they have you relegate control and give them the power to update and change the protocol. Such is the true path of BTC (Core).

It is everything Bitcoin is not.

Only a stable protocol disseminates power. The reason is that power comes from the ability to change the protocol. Once you remove the ability to change the protocol, you take away the power of those seeking to alter it.