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Is Buttcoin designed to protect Russia from sanctions?

I don’t typically submit posts to this sub, but like many here I think Buttcoin is a scam. I admit, I used to trade it back in the day. I bought hundreds of them for a few bucks and traded them for fun when they were just getting popular. I even kept a few on a wallet and totally forgot about them until the price was around 10k and ended up finding them and selling them right away for a nice little profit.
But I’ve always thought they were a weird novelty that clearly served the purpose of transferring money in an obscure way, mostly for nefarious reasons. Obviously they were a good way to buy drugs, and I assume some shady figures have used them to launder money, especially in the early days.
Today I was reading the Mueller report, and it mentions 3 Russian military units engaging in cyber espionage. One of the units specifically exists to mine bitcoins. The information about these units and their operations are redacted, unfortunately.
The mention of this bitcoin unit got me thinking about Russian involvement in bitcoin because in the early days, I remember thinking crypto was probably created by some intelligence service or government in order to trick people into donating their computing power in exchange for stupid internet money. However, I think I found a more plausible answer to why bitcoin exists.
While this is just speculation at this point, I think the Russians may be diverting state-sponsored investment funds using bitcoin. My theory is this: the Mueller report details a meeting Putin had with major oligarchs following the 2016 election, warning large banks that they need to make in-roads with the new administration because he expects the US to impose sanctions for Russian activities. These Russian bankers develop relationships with the administration through Kushner and his hedge fund buddy, hoping to get some insight into the new administration’s plan for future sanctions. Who knows what was discussed, but I don’t think the bankers got all the info they hoped for.
Fast forward to 2017. The Russia investigation becomes public. If you look at the timeline of events related to the investigation, especially concerning US figures who played a role in negotiating future easing of sanctions on Russia, they seem to correlate with the extreme price rise in bitcoin.
March 31, 2017 - Mike Flynn offers to testify about his meetings with Russia (this date marks almost the EXACT date bitcoin begins its huge rise)
June 12, 2017 - Senate passes sanctions bill (Bitcoins sets ATH just days before)
August 4, 2017 - Trump reluctantly signs bill into law (bitcoin sets new ATH less than one month after)
However, even though Trump signs the sanctions into law, he drags his feet for months and refuses to announce who the sanctions will apply to. Eventually, he announces he will have a list of sanctioned parties by the end of January 2018. It seems odd to me that between the time Trump signs the sanctions into law and the time they go into effect, bitcoin literally rises 3000% after the law is signed, and falls 1500-2000% just before they go into effect.
I feel like once the Russians knew the sanctions were certain, the administration wasted time to give the Russians time to launder their money, and a lot of it was moved through bitcoin and that is the only reason the price was so high for such a small amount of time.
submitted by orygunmane to Buttcoin [link] [comments]

Bitcoin, huh? WTF is going on? Should we scale you on-chain or off-chain? Will you stay decentralized, distributed, immutable?

0. Shit, this is long, TLWR please! Too long, won't read.
EDIT: TLDR TLWR for clarity.
1. Bitcoin, huh? Brief introduction.
There are 3 sections to this overview. The first section is a brief introduction to bitcoin. The second section looks at recent developments in the bitcoin world, through the analogy of email attachments, and the third section discusses what could be next, through the perspective of resilience and network security.
This is just a continuation of a long, long, possibly never-ending debate that started with the release of the bitcoin whitepaper in 2008 (see https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf). The recent mess during the past few years boils down to the controversy with the block size limit and how to appropriately scale bitcoin, the keyword appropriately. Scaling bitcoin is a controversial debate with valid arguments from all sides (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Block_size_limit_controversy).
I have researched, studied, and written this overview as objectively and as impartially as possible. By all means, this is still an opinion and everyone is advised to draw their own conclusions. My efforts are to make at least a few readers aware that ultimately there is only one team, and that team is the team bitcoin. Yes, currently though, there are factions within the team bitcoin. I hope that we can get beyond partisan fights and work together for the best bitcoin. I support all scaling proposals as long as they are the best for the given moment in time. Personally, I hate propaganda and love free speech as long as it is not derogatory and as long as it allows for constructive discussions.
The goal of this overview is to explain to a novice how bitcoin network works, what has been keeping many bitcoin enthusiasts concerned, and if we can keep the bitcoin network with three main properties described as decentralized, distributed, immutable. Immutable means censorship resistant. For the distinction between decentralized and distributed, refer to Figure 1: Centralized, decentralized and distributed network models by Paul Baran (1964), which is a RAND Institute study to create a robust and nonlinear military communication network (see https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_memoranda/2006/RM3420.pdf). Note that for the overall network resilience and security, distributed is more desirable than decentralized, and the goal is to get as far away from central models as possible. Of course, nothing is strictly decentralized or strictly distributed and all network elements are at different levels of this spectrum.
For those unaware how bitcoin works, I recommend the Bitcoin Wikipedia (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Main_Page). In short, the bitcoin network includes users which make bitcoin transactions and send them to the network memory pool called mempool, nodes which store the public and pseudonymous ledger called blockchain and which help with receiving pending transactions and updating processed transactions, thus securing the overall network, and miners which also secure the bitcoin network by mining. Mining is the process of confirming pending bitcoin transactions, clearing them from the mempool, and adding them to blocks which build up the consecutive chain of blocks on the blockchain. The blockchain is therefore a decentralized and distributed ledger built on top of bitcoin transactions, therefore impossible to exist without bitcoin. If someone claims to be working on their own blockchain without bitcoin, by the definition of the bitcoin network however, they are not talking about the actual blockchain. Instead, they intend to own a different kind of a private database made to look like the public and pseudonymous blockchain ledger.
There are roughly a couple of dozen mining pools, each possibly with hundreds or thousands of miners participating in them, to several thousand nodes (see https://blockchain.info/pools and https://coin.dance/nodes). Therefore, the bitcoin network has at worst decentralized miners and at best distributed nodes. The miner and node design makes the blockchain resilient and immune to reversible changes, making it censorship resistant, thus immutable. The bitcoin blockchain avoids the previous need for a third party to trust. This is a very elegant solution to peer-to-peer financial exchange via a network that is all: decentralized, distributed, immutable. Extra features (escrow, reversibility via time-locks, and other features desirable in specific instances) can be integrated within the network or added on top of this network, however, they have not been implemented yet.
Miners who participate receive mining reward consisting of newly mined bitcoins at a predetermined deflationary rate and also transaction fees from actual bitcoin transactions being processed. It is estimated that in 2022, miners will have mined more than 90% of all 21 million bitcoins ever to be mined (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Controlled_supply). As the mining reward from newly mined blocks diminishes to absolute zero in 2140, the network eventually needs the transaction fees to become the main component of the reward. This can happen either via high-volume-low-cost transaction fees or low-volume-high-cost transaction fees. Obviously, there is the need to address the question of fees when dealing with the dilemma how to scale bitcoin. Which type of fees would you prefer and under which circumstances?
2. WTF is going on? Recent developments.
There are multiple sides to the scaling debate but to simplify it, first consider the 2 main poles. In particular, to scale bitcoin on blockchain or to scale it off it, that is the question!
The first side likes the idea of bitcoin as it has been until now. It prefers on-chain scaling envisioned by the bitcoin creator or a group of creators who chose the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. It is now called Bitcoin Cash and somewhat religiously follows Satoshi’s vision from the 2008 whitepaper and their later public forum discussions (see https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1347.msg15366#msg15366). Creators’ vision is good to follow but it should not be followed blindly and dogmatically when better advancements are possible, the keyword when. To alleviate concerning backlog of transactions and rising fees, Bitcoin Cash proponents implemented a simple one-line code update which increased the block size limit for blockhain blocks from 1MB block size limit to a new, larger 8MB limit. This was done through a fork on August 1, 2017, which created Bitcoin Cash, and which kept the bitcoin transaction history until then. Bitcoin Cash has observed significant increase in support, from 3% of all bitcoin miners at first to over 44% of all bitcoin miners after 3 weeks on August 22, 2017 (see http://fork.lol/pow/hashrate and http://fork.lol/pow/hashrateabs).
An appropriate scaling analogy is to recall email attachments early on. They too were limited to a few MB at first, then 10MB, 20MB, up until 25MB on Gmail. But even then, Gmail eventually started using Google Drive internally. Note that Google Drive is a third party to Gmail, although yes, it is managed by the same entity.
The second side argues that bitcoin cannot work with such a scaling approach of pre-meditated MB increases. Arguments against block size increases include miner and node centralization, and bandwidth limitations. These are discussed in more detail in the third section of this overview. As an example of an alternative scaling approach, proponents of off-chain scaling want to jump to the internally integrated third party right away, without any MB increase and, sadly, without any discussion. Some of these proponents called one particular implementation method SegWit, which stands for Segregated Witness, and they argue that SegWit is the only way that we can ever scale up add the extra features to the bitcoin network. This is not necessarily true because other scaling solutions are feasible, such as already functioning Bitcoin Cash, and SegWit’s proposed solution will not use internally integrated third party as shown next. Note that although not as elegant as SegWit is today, there are other possibilities to integrate some extra features without SegWit (see /Bitcoin/comments/5dt8tz/confused_is_segwit_needed_for_lightning_network).
Due to the scaling controversy and the current backlog of transactions and already high fees, a third side hastily proposed a compromise to a 2MB increase in addition to the proposed SegWit implementation. They called it SegWit2x, which stands for Segregated Witness with 2MB block size limit increase. But the on-chain scaling and Bitcoin Cash proponents did not accept it due to SegWit’s design redundancy and hub centralization which are discussed next and revisited in the third section of this overview. After a few years of deadlock, that is why the first side broke free and created the Bitcoin Cash fork.
The second side stuck with bitcoin as it was. In a way, they inherited the bitcoin network without any major change to public eye. This is crucial because major changes are about to happen and the original bitcoin vision, as we have known it, is truly reflected only in what some media refer to as a forked clone, Bitcoin Cash. Note that to avoid confusion, this second side is referred to as Bitcoin Core by some or Legacy Bitcoin by others, although mainstream media still refers to it simply as Bitcoin. The core of Bitcoin Core is quite hardcore though. They too rejected the proposed compromise for SegWit2x and there are clear indications that they will push to keep SegWit only, forcing the third side with SegWit2x proponents to create another fork in November 2017 or to join Bitcoin Cash. Note that to certain degree, already implemented and working Bitcoin Cash is technically superior to SegWit2x which is yet to be deployed (see /Bitcoin/comments/6v0gll/why_segwit2x_b2x_is_technically_inferior_to).
Interestingly enough, those who agreed to SegWit2x have been in overwhelming majority, nearly 87% of all bitcoin miners on July 31, 2017 prior to the fork, and a little over 90% of remaining Bitcoin Core miners to date after the fork (see https://coin.dance/blocks). Despite such staggering support, another Bitcoin Core fork is anticipated later in November (see https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-is-splitting-once-again-are-you-ready) and the "Outcome #2: Segwit2x reneges on 2x or does not prioritize on-chain scaling" seems to be on track from the perspective of Bitcoin Core SegWit, publicly seen as the original Bitcoin (see https://blog.bridge21.io/before-and-after-the-great-bitcoin-fork-17d2aad5d512). The sad part is that although in their overwhelming majority, the miners who support SegWit2x would be the ones creating another Bitcoin Core SegWit2x fork or parting ways from the original Bitcoin.
In a way, this is an ironic example how bitcoin’s built-in resiliency to veto changes causes majority to part away when a small minority has status quo and holds off fully-consented progress. Ultimately, this will give the minority Bitcoin Core SegWit proponents the original Bitcoin branding, perhaps to lure in large institutional investors and monetize on bitcoin’s success as we have it seen it during the past 9 years since its inception. Recall that bitcoin of today is already a decentralized, distributed, immutable network by its definition. The bitcoin network was designed to be an alternative to centralized and mutable institutions, so prevalent in modern capitalist societies.
Bitcoin Core SegWit group wants to change the existing bitcoin network to a network with dominant third parties which, unlike Google Drive to Gmail, are not internal. In particular, they intend to do so via the lightning network, which is a second layer solution (2L). This particular 2L as currently designed relies on an artificial block size limit cap which creates a bottleneck in order to provide high incentives for miners to participate. It monetizes on backlog of transaction and high fees, which are allocated to miners, not any group in particular. Cheaper and more instantaneous transactions are shifted to the lightning network which is operated by hubs also earning revenue. Note that some of these hubs may choose to monitor transactions and can possibly censor who is allowed to participate in this no longer strictly peer-to-peer network.
We lose the immutability and instead we have a peer-to-hub-to-peer network that is mutable and at best decentralized, and certainly not distributed (see https://medium.com/@jonaldfyookball/mathematical-proof-that-the-lightning-network-cannot-be-a-decentralized-bitcoin-scaling-solution-1b8147650800). For regular day-to-day and recurring transactions, it is not a considerable risk or inconvenience. And one could choose to use the main chain any time to bypass the lightning network and truly transact peer-to-peer. But since the main chain has an entry barrier in the form of artificially instilled high transaction fees, common people are not able to use bitcoin as we have known it until now. Peer-to-peer bitcoin becomes institution-to-institution bitcoin with peer-to-hub-to-peer 2L.
To reiterate and stress, note the following lightning network design flaw again. Yes, activating SegWit and allowing 2L such as lightning allows for lower transaction fees to coexist side by side with more costly on-chain transactions. For those using this particularly prescribed 2L, the fees remain low. But since these 2L are managed by hubs, we introduce another element to trust, which is contrary to what the bitcoin network was designed to do at the first place. Over time, by the nature of the lightning network in its current design, these third party hubs grow to be centralized, just like Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, etc. There is nothing wrong with that in general because it works just fine. But recall that bitcoin set out to create a different kind of a network. Instead of decentralized, distributed, immutable network with miners and nodes, with the lightning network we end up with at best decentralized but mutable network with hubs.
Note that Bitcoin Core SegWit has a US-based organization backing it with millions of dollars (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockstream and https://steemit.com/bitcoin/@adambalm/the-truth-about-who-is-behind-blockstream-and-segwit-as-the-saying-goes-follow-the-money). Their proponents are quite political and some even imply $1000 fees on the main bitcoin blockchain (see https://cointelegraph.com/news/ari-paul-tuur-demeester-look-forward-to-up-to-1k-bitcoin-fees). Contrary to them, Bitcoin Cash proponents intend to keep small fees on a scale of a few cents, which in large volume in larger blockchain blocks provide sufficient incentive for miners to participate.
On the one hand, sticking to the original vision of peer-to-peer network scaled on-chain has merit and holds potential for future value. On the other hand, 2L have potential to carry leaps forward from current financial infrastructure. As mentioned earlier, 2L will allow for extra features to be integrated off-chain (e.g. escrow, reversibility via time-locks), including entirely new features such as smart contracts, decentralized applications, some of which have been pioneered and tested on another cryptocurrency network called Ethereum. But such features could be one day implemented directly on the main bitcoin blockchain without the lightning network as currently designed, or perhaps with a truly integrated 2L proposed in the third section of this overview.
What makes the whole discussion even more confusing is that there are some proposals for specific 2L that would in fact increase privacy and make bitcoin transactions less pseudonymous than those on the current bitcoin blockchain now. Keep in mind that 2L are not necessarily undesirable. If they add features and keep the main network characteristics (decentralized, distributed, immutable), they should be embraced with open arms. But the lightning network as currently designed gives up immutability and hub centralization moves the network characteristic towards a decentralized rather than a distributed network.
In a sense, back to the initial email attachment analogy, even Gmail stopped with attachment limit increases and started hosting large files on Google Drive internally, with an embedded link in a Gmail email to download anything larger than 25MB from Google Drive. Anticipating the same scaling decisions, the question then becomes not if but when and how such 2L should be implemented, keeping the overall network security and network characteristics in mind. If you have not gotten it yet, repeat, repeat, repeat: decentralized, distributed, immutable. Is it the right time now and is SegWit (one way, my way or highway) truly the best solution?
Those siding away from Bitcoin Core SegWit also dislike that corporate entities behind Blockstream, the one publicly known corporate entity directly supporting SegWit, have allegedly applied for SegWit patents which may further restrict who may and who may not participate in the creation of future hubs, or how these hubs are controlled (see the alleged patent revelations, https://falkvinge.net/2017/05/01/blockstream-patents-segwit-makes-pieces-fall-place, the subsequent Twitter rebuttal Blockstream CEO, http://bitcoinist.com/adam-back-no-patents-segwit, and the subsequent legal threats to SegWit2x proponents /btc/comments/6vadfi/blockstream_threatening_legal_action_against). Regardless if the patent claims are precise or not, the fact remains that there is a corporate entity dictating and vetoing bitcoin developments. Objectively speaking, Bitcoin Core SegWit developers paid by Blockstream is a corporate takeover of the bitcoin network as we have known it.
And on the topic of patents and permissionless technological innovations, what makes all of this even more complicated is that a mining improvement technology called ASICboost is allowed on Bitcoin Cash. The main entities who forked from Bitcoin Core to form Bitcoin Cash had taken advantage of patents to the ASICboost technology on the original bitcoin network prior to the fork (see https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/breaking-down-bitcoins-asicboost-scandal). This boost saved estimated 20% electricity for miners on 1MB blocks and created unfair economic advantage for this one particular party. SegWit is one way that this boost is being eliminated, through the code. Larger blocks are another way to reduce the boost advantage, via decreased rate of collisions which made this boost happen at the first place (see https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/breaking-down-bitcoins-asicboost-scandal-solutions and https://bitslog.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/the-relation-between-segwit-and-asicboost-covert-and-overt). Therefore, the initial Bitcoin Cash proponents argue that eliminating ASICboost through the code is no longer needed or necessary.
Of course, saving any amount electricity between 0% and 20% is good for all on our planet but in reality any energy saved in a mining operation is used by the same mining operation to increase their mining capacity. In reality, there are no savings, there is just capacity redistribution. The question then becomes if it is okay that only one party currently and already holds onto this advantage, which they covertly hid for relatively long time, and which they could be using covertly on Bitcoin Cash if they desired to do so, even though it would an advantage to a smaller degree. To be fair to them, they are mining manufacturers and operators, they researched and developed the advantage from own resources, so perhaps they do indeed have the right to reap ASICboost benefits while they can. But perhaps it should happen in publicly know way, not behind closed doors, and should be temporary, with agreed patent release date.
In conclusion, there is no good and no bad actor, each side is its own shade of grey. All parties have their own truth (and villainy) to certain degree.
Bitcoin Cash's vision is for bitcoin to be an electronic cash platform and daily payment processor whereas Bitcoin Core SegWit seems to be drawn more to the ideas of bitcoin as an investment vehicle and a larger settlement layer with the payment processor function managed via at best decentralized third party hubs. Both can coexist, or either one can eventually prove more useful and digest the other one by taking over all use-cases.
Additionally, the most popular communication channel on /bitcoin with roughly 300k subscribers censors any alternative non-Bitcoin-Core-SegWit opinions and bans people from posting their ideas to discussions (see https://medium.com/@johnblocke/a-brief-and-incomplete-history-of-censorship-in-r-bitcoin-c85a290fe43). This is because their moderators are also supported by Blockstream. Note that the author of this overview has not gotten banned from this particular subreddit (yet), but has experienced shadow-banning first hand. Shadow-banning is a form of censorship. In this particular case, their moderator robot managed by people moderators, collaboratively with the people moderators, do the following:
  • (1) look for "Bitcoin Cash" and other undesirable keywords,
  • (2) warn authors that “Bitcoin Cash” is not true bitcoin (which objectively speaking it is, and which is by no means “BCash” that Bitcoin Core SegWit proponents refer to, in a coordinated effort to further confuse public, especially since some of them have published plans to officially release another cryptocurrency called “BCash” in 2018, see https://medium.com/@freetrade68/announcing-bcash-8b938329eaeb),
  • (3) further warn authors that if they try to post such opinions again, they could banned permanently,
  • (4) tell authors to delete their already posted posts or comments,
  • (5) hide their post from publicly seen boards with all other posts, thus preventing it from being seeing by the other participants in this roughly 300k public forum,
  • (6) and in extreme cases actually “remove” their valid opinions if they slip by uncensored, gain traction, and are often times raise to popularity as comments to other uncensored posts (see /btc/comments/6v3ee8/on_a_reply_i_made_in_rbitcoin_that_had_over_350 and /btc/comments/6vbyv0/in_case_we_needed_more_evidence_500_upvotes).
This effectively silences objective opinions and creates a dangerous echo-chamber. Suppressing free speech and artificially blowing up transaction fees on Bitcoin Core SegWit is against bitcoin’s fundamental values. Therefore, instead of the original Reddit communication channel, many bitcoin enthusiasts migrated to /btc which has roughly 60k subscribers as of now, up from 20k subscribers a year ago in August 2016 (see http://redditmetrics.com/btc). Moderators there do not censor opinions and allow all polite and civil discussions about scaling, including all opinions on Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Core, etc.
Looking beyond their respective leaderships and communication channels, let us review a few network fundamentals and recent developments in Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Cash networks. Consequently, for now, these present Bitcoin Cash with more favorable long-term prospects.
  • (1) The stress-test and/or attack on the Bitcoin Cash mempool earlier on August 16, 2017 showed that 8MB blocks do work as intended, without catastrophic complications that Bitcoin Core proponents anticipated and from which they attempted to discourage others (see https://jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/uahf/#2w for the Bitcoin Cash mempool and https://core.jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/#2w for the Bitcoin Core mempool). Note that when compared to the Bitcoin Core mempool on their respective 2 week views, one can observe how each network handles backlogs. On the most recent 2 week graphs, the Y-scale for Bitcoin Core is 110k vs. 90k on Bitcoin Cash. In other words, at the moment, Bitcoin Cash works better than Bitcoin Core even though there is clearly not as big demand for Bitcoin Cash as there is for Bitcoin Core. The lack of demand for Bitcoin Cash is partly because Bitcoin Cash is only 3 weeks old and not many merchants have started accepting it, and only a limited number of software applications to use Bitcoin Cash has been released so far. By all means, the Bitcoin Cash stress-test and/or attack from August 16, 2017 reveals that the supply will handle the increased demand, more affordably, and at a much quicker rate.
  • (2) Bitcoin Cash “BCH” mining has become temporarily more profitable than mining Bitcoin Core “BTC” (see http://fork.lol). Besides temporary loss of miners, this puts Bitcoin Core in danger of permanently fleeing miners. Subsequently, mempool backlog and transaction fees are anticipated to increase further.
  • (3) When compared to Bitcoin Cash transaction fees at roughly $0.02, transaction fees per kB are over 800 times as expensive on Bitcoin Core, currently at over $16 (see https://cashvscore.com).
  • (4) Tipping service that used to work on Bitcoin Core's /Bitcoin a few years back has been revived by a new tipping service piloted on the more neutral /btc with the integration of Bitcoin Cash (see /cashtipperbot).
3. Should we scale you on-chain or off-chain? Scaling bitcoin.
Let us start with the notion that we are impartial to both Bitcoin Core (small blocks, off-chain scaling only) and Bitcoin Cash (big blocks, on-chain scaling only) schools of thought. We will support any or all ideas, as long as they allow for bitcoin to grow organically and eventually succeed as a peer-to-peer network that remains decentralized, distributed, immutable. Should we have a preference in either of the proposed scaling solutions?
First, let us briefly address Bitcoin Core and small blocks again. From the second section of this overview, we understand that there are proposed off-chain scaling methods via second layer solutions (2L), most notably soon-to-be implemented lightning via SegWit on Bitcoin Core. Unfortunately, the lightning network diminishes distributed and immutable network properties by replacing bitcoin’s peer-to-peer network with a two-layer institution-to-institution network and peer-to-hub-to-peer 2L. Do we need this particular 2L right now? Is its complexity truly needed? Is it not at best somewhat cumbersome (if not very redundant)? In addition to ridiculously high on-chain transaction fees illustrated in the earlier section, the lightning network code is perhaps more robust than it needs to be now, with thousands of lines of code, thus possibly opening up to new vectors for bugs or attacks (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Lightning_Network and https://github.com/lightningnetwork/lnd). Additionally, this particular 2L as currently designed unnecessarily introduces third parties, hubs, that are expected to centralize. We already have a working code that has been tested and proven to handle 8MB blocks, as seen with Bitcoin Cash on August 16, 2017 (see https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/first-8mb-bitcoin-cash-block-just-mined). At best, these third party hubs would be decentralized but they would not be distributed. And these hubs would be by no means integral to the original bitcoin network with users, nodes, and miners.
To paraphrase Ocam’s razor problem solving principle, the simplest solution with the most desirable features will prevail (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor). The simplest scalability solution today is Bitcoin Cash because it updates only one line of code, which instantly increases the block size limit. This also allows other companies building on Bitcoin Cash to reduce their codes when compared to Bitcoin Core SegWit’s longer code, some even claiming ten-fold reductions (see /btc/comments/6vdm7y/ryan_x_charles_reveals_bcc_plan). The bitcoin ecosystem not only includes the network but it also includes companies building services on top of it. When these companies can reduce their vectors for bugs or attacks, the entire ecosystem is healthier and more resilient to hacking disasters. Obviously, changes to the bitcoin network code are desirable to be as few and as elegant as possible.
But what are the long-term implications of doing the one-line update repeatedly? Eventually, blocks would have to reach over 500MB size if they were to process Visa-level capacity (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Scalability). With decreasing costs of IT infrastructure, bandwidth and storage could accommodate it, but the overhead costs would increase significantly, implying miner and/or full node centralization further discussed next. To decrease this particular centralization risk, which some consider undesirable and others consider irrelevant, built-in and integrated 2L could keep the block size at a reasonably small-yet-still-large limit.
At the first sight, these 2L would remedy the risk of centralization by creating their own centralization incentive. At the closer look and Ocam’s razor principle again, these 2L do not have to become revenue-seeking third party hubs as designed with the current lightning network. They can be integrated into the current bitcoin network with at worst decentralized miners and at best distributed nodes. Recall that miners will eventually need to supplement their diminishing mining reward from new blocks. Additionally, as of today, the nodes have no built-in economic incentive to run other than securing the network and keeping the network’s overall value at its current level. Therefore, if new 2L were to be developed, they should be designed in a similar way like the lightning network, with the difference that the transaction processing revenue would not go to third party hubs but to the already integrated miners and nodes.
In other words, why do we need extra hubs if we have miners and nodes already? Let us consider the good elements from the lightning network, forget the unnecessary hubs, and focus on integrating the hubs’ responsibilities to already existing miner and node protocols. Why would we add extra elements to the system that already functions with the minimum number of elements possible? Hence, 2L are not necessarily undesirable as long as they do not unnecessarily introduce third party hubs.
Lastly, let us discuss partial on-chain scaling with the overall goal of network security. The network security we seek is the immutability and resilience via distributed elements within otherwise decentralized and distributed network. It is not inconceivable to scale bitcoin with bigger blocks as needed, when needed, to a certain degree. The thought process is the following:
  • (1) Block size limit:
We need some upper limit to avoid bloating the network with spam transactions. Okay, that makes sense. Now, what should this limit be? If we agree to disagree with small block size limit stuck at 1MB, and if we are fine with flexible block size limit increases (inspired by mining difficulty readjustments but on a longer time scale) or big block propositions (to be increased incrementally), what is holding us off next?
  • (2) Miner centralization:
Bigger blocks mean that more data will be transferred on the bitcoin network. Consequently, more bandwidth and data storage will be required. This will create decentralized miners instead of distributed ones. Yes, that is true. And it has already happened, due to the economy of scale, in particular the efficiency of grouping multiple miners in centralized facilities, and the creation of mining pools collectively and virtually connecting groups of miners not physically present in the same facility. These facilities tend to have huge overhead costs and the data storage and bandwidth increase costs are negligible in this context. The individual miners participating in mining pools will quite likely notice somewhat higher operational costs but allowing for additional revenue from integrated 2L described earlier will give them economic incentive to remain actively participating. Note that mining was never supposed to be strictly distributed and it was always at worst decentralized, as defined in the first section of this overview. To assure at best a distributed network, we have nodes.
  • (3) Node centralization:
Bigger blocks mean that more data will be transferred on the bitcoin network. Consequently, more bandwidth and data storage will be required. This will create decentralized nodes instead of distributed ones. Again, recall that we have a spectrum of decentralized and distributed networks in mind, not their absolutes. The concern about the node centralization (and the subsequent shift from distributed to decentralized network property) is valid if we only follow on-chain scaling to inconsiderate MB values. If addressed with the proposed integrated 2L that provides previously unseen economic incentives to participate in the network, this concern is less serious.
Furthermore, other methods to reduce bandwidth and storage needs can be used. A popular proposal is block pruning, which keeps only the most recent 550 blocks, and eventually deletes any older blocks (see https://news.bitcoin.com/pros-and-cons-on-bitcoin-block-pruning). Block pruning addresses storage needs and makes sure that not all nodes participating in the bitcoin network have to store all transactions that have ever been recorded on the blockchain. Some nodes storing all transactions are still necessary and they are called full nodes. Block pruning does not eliminate full nodes but it does indeed provide an economic incentive for the reduction and centralization (i.e. saving on storage costs). If addressed with the proposed integrated 2L that provides previously unseen economic incentives to participate in the network, this concern is less serious.
In other words, properly designed 2L should provide economic incentives for all nodes (full and pruned) to remain active and distributed. As of now, only miners earn revenue for participating. The lightning network proposes extra revenue for hubs. Instead, miner revenue could increase by processing 2L transactions as well, and full nodes could have an economic incentive as well. To mine, relatively high startup costs is necessary in order to get the most up to date mining hardware and proper cooling equipment. These have to be maintained and periodically upgraded. To run a full node, one needs only stable bandwidth and a sufficiently large storage, which can be expanded as needed, when needed. To run a full node, one needs only stable bandwidth and relatively small storage, which does not need to be expanded.
Keeping the distributed characteristic in mind, it would be much more secure for the bitcoin network if one could earn bitcoin by simply running a node, full or pruned. This could be integrated with a simple code change requiring each node to own a bitcoin address to which miners would send a fraction of processed transaction fees. Of course, pruned nodes would collectively receive the least transaction fee revenue (e.g. 10%), full nodes would collectively receive relatively larger transaction fee revenue (e.g. 20%), whereas mining facilities or mining pools would individually receive the largest transaction fee revenue (e.g. 70%) in addition to the full mining reward from newly mined blocks (i.e. 100%). This would assure that all nodes would remain relatively distributed. Hence, block pruning is a feasible solution.
However, in order to start pruning, one would have to have the full blockchain to begin with. As currently designed, downloading blockchain for the first time also audits previous blocks for accuracy, this can take days depending on one’s bandwidth. This online method is the only way to distribute the bitcoin blockchain and the bitcoin network so far. When the size of blockchain becomes a concern, a simpler distribution idea should be implemented offline. Consider distributions of Linux-based operating systems on USBs. Similarly, the full bitcoin blockchain up to a certain point can be distributed via easy-to-mail USBs. Note that even if we were to get the blockchain in bulk on such a USB, some form of a block audit would have to happen nevertheless.
A new form of checkpoint hashes could be added to the bitcoin code. For instance, each 2016 blocks (whenever the difficulty readjusts), all IDs from previous 2015 blocks would be hashed and recorded. That way, with our particular offline blockchain distribution, the first time user would have to audit only the key 2016th blocks, designed to occur on average once in roughly 2 weeks. This would significantly reduce bandwidth concerns for the auditing process because only each 2016th block would have to be uploaded online to be audited.
Overall, we are able to scale the bitcoin network via initial on-chain scaling approaches supplemented with off-chain scaling approaches. This upgrades the current network to a pruned peer-to-peer network with integrated 2L managed by miners and nodes who assure that the bitcoin network stays decentralized, distributed, immutable.
  • Discussion at /btc/comments/6vj47c/bitcoin_huh_wtf_is_going_on_should_we_scale_you is greatly encouraged.
  • Note that the author u/bit-architect appreciates any Bitcoin Cash donations on Reddit directly or on bitcoin addresses 178ZTiot2QVVKjru2f9MpzyeYawP81vaXi bitcoincash:qp7uqpv2tsftrdmu6e8qglwr2r38u4twlq3f7a48uq (Bitcoin Cash) and 1GqcFi4Cs1LVAxLxD3XMbJZbmjxD8SYY8S (Bitcoin Core).
  • EDIT: Donation addresses above updated.
submitted by bit-architect to btc [link] [comments]

MeWe: A trip report

Among the more frequently mentioned G+ alternatives at the Google+ Mass Migration community, and others, is MeWe with over 250 mentions. The site bills itself as "The Next-Gen Social Network" and the "anti-Facebook": "No Ads, No Political Bias, No Spyware. NO BS. It is headed by professed Libertarian CEO Mark Weinstein.
As the site reveals no public user-generated content to non-members, it's necessary to create an account in order to get a full impression. I thought I'd provide an overview based on recent explorations.
This report leads of with background on the company, though readers may find the report and analysis of specific groups on the site of interest.

Leadership

Founder & CEO Mark Weinstein.
Co-Founder & Chief Scientist, Jonathan Wolfe (no longer with company).
Weinstein previously founded SuperFamily and SuperFriends, "at the turn of the millennium". Weinstein's MeWe biography lists articles published by The Mirror (UK), Huffington Post, USA Today, InfoSecurity Magazine, Dark Reading, and the Nation. His media appearances include MarketWatch, PBS, Fox News, and CNN. He's also the author of several personal-success books.
His Crunchbase bio is a repeat of the MeWe content.

Advisory Board

Ownership & Investment

MeWe is the dba of Sgrouples, a private for-profit early-stage venture company based in Los Angeles, though with a Mountain View HQ and mailing address, 11-50 employees, with $10m in funding over five rounds, and a $20m valuation as of 2016.
Sgrouples, Inc., dba MeWe Trust & Safety - Legal Policy c/o Fenwick West 801 California Street Mountain View, CA 94041
Crunchbase Profile.
Founded: 2012 (source)
Secured $1.2M in seed funding in 2014.
2016 valuation: $20m (source]
Backers:
Despite the business address, the company claims to be based in Los Angeles County, California and is described by the Los Angeles Business Journal as a Culver City, CA, company.

Business

Policy

In an August 6, 2018 Twitter post, Weinstein promotes MeWe writing:
Do you have friends still on Facebook? Share this link with them about Facebook wanting their banking information - tell them to move to MeWe now! No Ads. No Spyware. No Political Agenda. No Bias Algorithms. No Shadow Banning. No Facial Recognition.
MeWe provide several policy-related links on the site:
Highlights of these follow.

Privacy

The privacy policy addresses:

Terms of Service

The ToS addresses:
Effective: November 6, 2018.

FAQ

The FAQ addresses:

Values

This emphasises that people are social cratures and private people by right. The service offers the power of self expression under an umbrella of safety. It notes that our innermost thoughts require privacy.
Under "We aspire...":
MeWe is here to empower and enrich your world. We challenge the status quo by making privacy, respect, and safety the foundations of an innovatively designed, easy-to-use social experience.
Totalling 182 words.

Privacy Bill of Rights

A ten-item statement of principles (possibly inspired by another document, it might appear):
  1. You own your personal information & content. It is explicitly not ours.
  2. You will never receive a targeted advertisement or 3rd party content based on what you do or say online. We think that's creepy.
  3. You see every post in timeline order from your friends, family & groups. We do not manipulate, filter, or change the order of your content or what you see.
  4. Permissions & privacy are your rights. You control them.
  5. You control who can access your content.
  6. You control what, if anything, others can see in member searches.
  7. Your privacy means we do not share your personal information with anyone.
  8. Your emojis are for you and your friends. We do not monitor or mine your data.
  9. Your face is your business. We do not use facial recognition technology.
  10. You have the right to delete your account and take your content with you at any time.

Press

There are a few mentions of MeWe in the press, some listed on the company's website, others via web search.

Self-reported articles

The following articles are linked directly from MeWe's Press page:
The page also lists a "Privacy Revolution Required Reading" list of 20 articles all addressing Facebook privacy gaffes in the mainstream press (Wired, TechCrunch, Fortune, Gizmodo, The Guardian, etc.).
There are further self-reported mentions in several of the company's PR releases over the years.

Other mentions

A DuckDuckGo search produces several other press mentions, including:

Technology

This section is a basic rundown of the user-visible site technology.

Mobile Web

The site is not natively accessible from a mobile Web browser as it is overlayed with a promotion for the mobile application instead. Selecting "Desktop View" in most mobile browsers should allow browser-based access.

Mobile App

There are both Android and iOS apps for MeWe. I've used neither of these, though the App store entries note:
Crunchbase cites 209,220 mobile downloads over the past 30 days (via Apptopia), an 80.78% monthly growth rate, from Google Play.

Desktop Web

Either selecting "View Desktop" or navigating with a Desktop browser to https://www.mewe.com your are presented with a registration screen, with the "About", "Privacy Bill of Rights", "MeWe Challenge", and a language selector across the top of the page. Information requested are first and last name, phone or email, and a password. Pseudonymous identities are permitted, though this isn't noted on the login screen. Returning members can use the "Member Log In" button.
The uMatrix Firefox extension reveals no third-party content: all page elements are served from mewe.com, img.mewe.com, cdn.mewe.com, or ws.mewe.com. (In subsequent browsing, you may find third-party plugins from, for example, YouTube, for videos, or Giphy, for animated GIFs.)
The web front-end is nginx. The site uses SSL v3, issued by DigiCert Inc. to Sgrouples, Inc.

Onboarding

The onboarding experience is stark. There is no default content presented. A set of unidentified icons spans the top of the screen, these turn out to be Home, Chats, Groups, Pages, and Events. New users have to, somehow, find groups or people to connect with, and there's little guidance as to how to do this.

Interface

Generally there is a three panel view, with left- and right-hand sidebars of largely navigational or status information, and a central panel with main content. There are also pop-up elements for chats, an omnipresent feature of the site.
Controls display labels on some devices and/or resolutions. Controls do not provide tooltips for navigational aid.

Features

Among the touted features of MeWe are:

Community

A key aspect of any social network is its community. Some of the available or ascertained information on this follows.

Size

Weinstein claims a "million+ following inside MeWe.com" on Twitter.
The largest visible groups appear to have a maximum of around 15,000 members , for "Awesome gifs". "Clean Comedy" rates 13,350, and the largest open political groups, 11,000+ members.
This compares to Google+ which has a staggering, though Android-registrations-inflated 3.3 billion profiles, and 7.9 million communities, though the largest of these come in at under 10 million members. It's likely that MeWe's membership is on the whole more more active than Google+'s, where generally-visible posting activity was limited to just over 9% of all profiles, and the active user base was well under 1% of the total nominal population.

Active Users

MeWe do not publish active users (e.g., MUA / monthly active users) statistics.

Groups

MeWe is principally a group-oriented discussion site -- interactions take place either between individuals or within group contexts. Virtually all discovery is group-oriented. The selection and dynamics of groups on the site will likely strongly affect user experience, so exploring the available groups and their characteristics is of interest.
"MeWe has over 60,000 open groups" according to its FAQ.
The Open groups -- visible to any registered MeWe user, though not to the general public Web -- are browsable, though sections and topics must be expanded to view the contents: an overview isn't immediately accessible. We provide a taste here.
A selection of ten featured topics spans the top of the browser. As I view these, they are:
Specific groups may appear in multiple categories.
The top Groups within these topics have, variously, 15,482, 7,738, 15,482 (dupe), 7,745, 8,223, 8,220, 1,713, 9,527, 2,716, and 1,516 members. Listings scroll at length -- the Music topic has 234 Groups, ranging in size from 5 to 5,738 members, with a median of 59, mean of 311.4, and a 90%ile of 743.5.
Below this is a grid of topics, 122 in all, ranging from Activism to Wellness, and including among them. A selected sample of these topics, with top groups listed members in (parens), follows:
To be clear: whilst I've not included every topic, I've sampled a majority of them above, and listed not an arbitrary selection, but the top few Groups under each topic.

Google+ Groups

The Google Plus expats group seems the most active of these by far.

Political Groups

It's curious that MeWe make a specific point in their FAQ that:
At MeWe we have absolutely no political agenda and we have a very straightforward Terms of Service. MeWe is for all law-abiding people everywhere in the world, regardless of political, ethnic, religious, sexual, and other preferences.
There are 403 political groups on MeWe. I won't list them all here, but the first 100 or so give a pretty clear idea of flavour. Again, membership is in (parentheses). Note that half the total political Groups memberships are in the first 21 groups listed here, the first 6 are 25% of the total.
  1. Donald J. Trump 2016 - Present (11486)
  2. The Conservative's Hangout (8345)
  3. Qanon Follow The White Rabbit (5600)
  4. Drain The Swamp (4978)
  5. Libertarians (4528)
  6. United We Stand Trump2020 (4216)
  7. The Right To Self Defense (3757)
  8. Alternative Media (3711)
  9. Hardcore Conservative Patriots for Trump (3192)
  10. Bastket Of Deplorables4Trump! (3032)
  11. Return of the Republic (2509)
  12. Infowars Chat Room Unofficial (2159)
  13. Donald Trump Our President 2017-2025 (2033)
  14. Berners for Progress (1963)
  15. Sean Hannity Fans (1901)
  16. The American Conservative (1839)
  17. I Am The NRA (1704)
  18. Tucker Carlson Fox News (1645)
  19. We Love Donald Trump (1611)
  20. MAGA - Make America Great Again (1512)
  21. Q (1396)
  22. ClashDaily.com (1384)
  23. news from the front (1337)
  24. Basket of Deplorables (1317)
  25. Payton's Park Bench (1283)
  26. Convention of States (1282)
  27. Britons For Brexit (1186)
  28. MoJo 5.0 Radio (1180)
  29. MeWe Free Press (1119)
  30. The Constitutionally Elite (1110)
  31. Libertarian (1097)
  32. WOMEN FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP (1032)
  33. AMERICANS AGAINST ISIS and OTHER ENEMIES (943)
  34. #WalkAway Campaign (894)
  35. ALEX JONES (877)
  36. The Lion Is Awake ! (854)
  37. We Support Donald Trump! (810)
  38. The Stratosphere Lounge (789)
  39. TRUMP-USA-HANDS OFF OUR PRESIDENT (767)
  40. Official Tea Party USA (749)
  41. Mojo50 Jackholes (739)
  42. Yes Scotland (697)
  43. "WE THE DEPLORABLE" - MOVE ON SNOWFLAKE! (688)
  44. Judge Jeanine Pirro Fans (671)
  45. Anarcho-Capitalism (658)
  46. Ted Cruz for President (650)
  47. No Lapdog Media (647)
  48. Q Chatter (647)
  49. Daily Brexit (636)
  50. Tucker Carlson Fox News (601)
  51. The Trumps Storm Group (600)
  52. QAnon-Patriots WWG1WGA (598)
  53. 100% American (569)
  54. Ladies For Donald Trump (566)
  55. Deep State (560)
  56. In the Name of Liberty (557)
  57. Material Planet (555)
  58. WikiUnderground (555)
  59. Trump NRA Free Speech Patriots on MeWe Gab.ai etc (546)
  60. Magna Carta Group (520)
  61. Constitutional Conservatives (506)
  62. Question Everything (503)
  63. Conspiracy Research (500)
  64. Bill O'Reilly Fans (481)
  65. Conservative Misfit's (479)
  66. Canadian politics (478)
  67. Anarchism (464)
  68. HARDCORE DEPLORABLES (454)
  69. Deplorable (450)
  70. Tampa Bay Trump Club (445)
  71. UK Politics (430)
  72. Bongino Fan Page (429)
  73. Radical Conservatives (429)
  74. RESIST THE RESISTANCE (419)
  75. The Deplorables (409)
  76. America's Freedom Fighters (401)
  77. Politically Incorrect & Proud (399)
  78. CONSERVATIVES FOR AMERICA ! (385)
  79. Political satire (383)
  80. RISE OF THE RIGHT (371)
  81. UK Sovereignty,Independence,Democracy -Everlasting (366)
  82. The Patriots Voting Coalition (359)
  83. End The Insanity (349)
  84. Coming American Civil War! (345)
  85. Constitutional Conservatives (343)
  86. United Nations Watch (342)
  87. A Revival Of The Critical Thinking Union (337)
  88. The New Libertarian (335)
  89. Libertarian Party (official ) (333)
  90. DDS United (Duterte Die-hard Supporters) (332)
  91. American Conservative Veterans (331)
  92. Anarchism/Agorism/Voluntaryism (328)
  93. America Needs Donald Trump (326)
  94. The UKIP Debating Society (321)
  95. Coalition For Trump (310)
  96. Egalitarianism (306)
  97. FRIENDS THAT LIKE JILL STEIN AND THE GREEN PARTY (292)
  98. 2nd Amendment (287)
  99. Never Forget #SethRich (286)
  100. Green Party Supporters 2020 (283)
It seems there is relatively little representation from the left wing, or even the centre, of the political spectrum. A case-insensitive match for "liberal" turns up:
Mainstream political parties are little represented, though again, the balance seems skewed searching on "(democrat|republic|gop)":
The terms "left" and "right" provide a few matches, not all strictly political-axis aligned:
Socialism and Communism also warrant a few mentions:
And there are some references to green, laboulabor parties:

Conclusion

Whilst there may not be a political agenda, there does appear to be at least a slight political bias to the site. And a distinctive skew on many other topical subjects.
Those seeking new homes online may wish to take this into account.

Updates

submitted by dredmorbius to plexodus [link] [comments]

Bitcoin, huh? WTF is going on? Should we scale you on-chain or off-chain? Will you stay decentralized, distributed, immutable?

0. Shit, this is long, TLWR please! Too long, won't read.
EDIT: TLDR TLWR for clarity.
1. Bitcoin, huh? Brief introduction.
There are 3 sections to this overview. The first section is a brief introduction to bitcoin. The second section looks at recent developments in the bitcoin world, through the analogy of email attachments, and the third section discusses what could be next, through the perspective of resilience and network security.
This is just a continuation of a long, long, possibly never-ending debate that started with the release of the bitcoin whitepaper in 2008 (see https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf). The recent mess during the past few years boils down to the controversy with the block size limit and how to appropriately scale bitcoin, the keyword appropriately. Scaling bitcoin is a controversial debate with valid arguments from all sides (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Block_size_limit_controversy).
I have researched, studied, and written this overview as objectively and as impartially as possible. By all means, this is still an opinion and everyone is advised to draw their own conclusions. My efforts are to make at least a few readers aware that ultimately there is only one team, and that team is the team bitcoin. Yes, currently though, there are factions within the team bitcoin. I hope that we can get beyond partisan fights and work together for the best bitcoin. I support all scaling proposals as long as they are the best for the given moment in time. Personally, I hate propaganda and love free speech as long as it is not derogatory and as long as it allows for constructive discussions.
The goal of this overview is to explain to a novice how bitcoin network works, what has been keeping many bitcoin enthusiasts concerned, and if we can keep the bitcoin network with three main properties described as decentralized, distributed, immutable. Immutable means censorship resistant. For the distinction between decentralized and distributed, refer to Figure 1: Centralized, decentralized and distributed network models by Paul Baran (1964), which is a RAND Institute study to create a robust and nonlinear military communication network (see https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_memoranda/2006/RM3420.pdf). Note that for the overall network resilience and security, distributed is more desirable than decentralized, and the goal is to get as far away from central models as possible. Of course, nothing is strictly decentralized or strictly distributed and all network elements are at different levels of this spectrum.
For those unaware how bitcoin works, I recommend the Bitcoin Wikipedia (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Main_Page). In short, the bitcoin network includes users which make bitcoin transactions and send them to the network memory pool called mempool, nodes which store the public and pseudonymous ledger called blockchain and which help with receiving pending transactions and updating processed transactions, thus securing the overall network, and miners which also secure the bitcoin network by mining. Mining is the process of confirming pending bitcoin transactions, clearing them from the mempool, and adding them to blocks which build up the consecutive chain of blocks on the blockchain. The blockchain is therefore a decentralized and distributed ledger built on top of bitcoin transactions, therefore impossible to exist without bitcoin. If someone claims to be working on their own blockchain without bitcoin, by the definition of the bitcoin network however, they are not talking about the actual blockchain. Instead, they intend to own a different kind of a private database made to look like the public and pseudonymous blockchain ledger.
There are roughly a couple of dozen mining pools, each possibly with hundreds or thousands of miners participating in them, to several thousand nodes (see https://blockchain.info/pools and https://coin.dance/nodes). Therefore, the bitcoin network has at worst decentralized miners and at best distributed nodes. The miner and node design makes the blockchain resilient and immune to reversible changes, making it censorship resistant, thus immutable. The bitcoin blockchain avoids the previous need for a third party to trust. This is a very elegant solution to peer-to-peer financial exchange via a network that is all: decentralized, distributed, immutable. Extra features (escrow, reversibility via time-locks, and other features desirable in specific instances) can be integrated within the network or added on top of this network, however, they have not been implemented yet.
Miners who participate receive mining reward consisting of newly mined bitcoins at a predetermined deflationary rate and also transaction fees from actual bitcoin transactions being processed. It is estimated that in 2022, miners will have mined more than 90% of all 21 million bitcoins ever to be mined (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Controlled_supply). As the mining reward from newly mined blocks diminishes to absolute zero in 2140, the network eventually needs the transaction fees to become the main component of the reward. This can happen either via high-volume-low-cost transaction fees or low-volume-high-cost transaction fees. Obviously, there is the need to address the question of fees when dealing with the dilemma how to scale bitcoin. Which type of fees would you prefer and under which circumstances?
2. WTF is going on? Recent developments.
There are multiple sides to the scaling debate but to simplify it, first consider the 2 main poles. In particular, to scale bitcoin on blockchain or to scale it off it, that is the question!
The first side likes the idea of bitcoin as it has been until now. It prefers on-chain scaling envisioned by the bitcoin creator or a group of creators who chose the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. It is now called Bitcoin Cash and somewhat religiously follows Satoshi’s vision from the 2008 whitepaper and their later public forum discussions (see https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1347.msg15366#msg15366). Creators’ vision is good to follow but it should not be followed blindly and dogmatically when better advancements are possible, the keyword when. To alleviate concerning backlog of transactions and rising fees, Bitcoin Cash proponents implemented a simple one-line code update which increased the block size limit for blockhain blocks from 1MB block size limit to a new, larger 8MB limit. This was done through a fork on August 1, 2017, which created Bitcoin Cash, and which kept the bitcoin transaction history until then. Bitcoin Cash has observed significant increase in support, from 3% of all bitcoin miners at first to over 44% of all bitcoin miners after 3 weeks on August 22, 2017 (see http://fork.lol/pow/hashrate and http://fork.lol/pow/hashrateabs).
An appropriate scaling analogy is to recall email attachments early on. They too were limited to a few MB at first, then 10MB, 20MB, up until 25MB on Gmail. But even then, Gmail eventually started using Google Drive internally. Note that Google Drive is a third party to Gmail, although yes, it is managed by the same entity.
The second side argues that bitcoin cannot work with such a scaling approach of pre-meditated MB increases. Arguments against block size increases include miner and node centralization, and bandwidth limitations. These are discussed in more detail in the third section of this overview. As an example of an alternative scaling approach, proponents of off-chain scaling want to jump to the internally integrated third party right away, without any MB increase and, sadly, without any discussion. Some of these proponents called one particular implementation method SegWit, which stands for Segregated Witness, and they argue that SegWit is the only way that we can ever scale up add the extra features to the bitcoin network. This is not necessarily true because other scaling solutions are feasible, such as already functioning Bitcoin Cash, and SegWit’s proposed solution will not use internally integrated third party as shown next. Note that although not as elegant as SegWit is today, there are other possibilities to integrate some extra features without SegWit (see /Bitcoin/comments/5dt8tz/confused_is_segwit_needed_for_lightning_network).
Due to the scaling controversy and the current backlog of transactions and already high fees, a third side hastily proposed a compromise to a 2MB increase in addition to the proposed SegWit implementation. They called it SegWit2x, which stands for Segregated Witness with 2MB block size limit increase. But the on-chain scaling and Bitcoin Cash proponents did not accept it due to SegWit’s design redundancy and hub centralization which are discussed next and revisited in the third section of this overview. After a few years of deadlock, that is why the first side broke free and created the Bitcoin Cash fork.
The second side stuck with bitcoin as it was. In a way, they inherited the bitcoin network without any major change to public eye. This is crucial because major changes are about to happen and the original bitcoin vision, as we have known it, is truly reflected only in what some media refer to as a forked clone, Bitcoin Cash. Note that to avoid confusion, this second side is referred to as Bitcoin Core by some or Legacy Bitcoin by others, although mainstream media still refers to it simply as Bitcoin. The core of Bitcoin Core is quite hardcore though. They too rejected the proposed compromise for SegWit2x and there are clear indications that they will push to keep SegWit only, forcing the third side with SegWit2x proponents to create another fork in November 2017 or to join Bitcoin Cash. Note that to certain degree, already implemented and working Bitcoin Cash is technically superior to SegWit2x which is yet to be deployed (see /Bitcoin/comments/6v0gll/why_segwit2x_b2x_is_technically_inferior_to).
Interestingly enough, those who agreed to SegWit2x have been in overwhelming majority, nearly 87% of all bitcoin miners on July 31, 2017 prior to the fork, and a little over 90% of remaining Bitcoin Core miners to date after the fork (see https://coin.dance/blocks). Despite such staggering support, another Bitcoin Core fork is anticipated later in November (see https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-is-splitting-once-again-are-you-ready) and the "Outcome #2: Segwit2x reneges on 2x or does not prioritize on-chain scaling" seems to be on track from the perspective of Bitcoin Core SegWit, publicly seen as the original Bitcoin (see https://blog.bridge21.io/before-and-after-the-great-bitcoin-fork-17d2aad5d512). The sad part is that although in their overwhelming majority, the miners who support SegWit2x would be the ones creating another Bitcoin Core SegWit2x fork or parting ways from the original Bitcoin.
In a way, this is an ironic example how bitcoin’s built-in resiliency to veto changes causes majority to part away when a small minority has status quo and holds off fully-consented progress. Ultimately, this will give the minority Bitcoin Core SegWit proponents the original Bitcoin branding, perhaps to lure in large institutional investors and monetize on bitcoin’s success as we have it seen it during the past 9 years since its inception. Recall that bitcoin of today is already a decentralized, distributed, immutable network by its definition. The bitcoin network was designed to be an alternative to centralized and mutable institutions, so prevalent in modern capitalist societies.
Bitcoin Core SegWit group wants to change the existing bitcoin network to a network with dominant third parties which, unlike Google Drive to Gmail, are not internal. In particular, they intend to do so via the lightning network, which is a second layer solution (2L). This particular 2L as currently designed relies on an artificial block size limit cap which creates a bottleneck in order to provide high incentives for miners to participate. It monetizes on backlog of transaction and high fees, which are allocated to miners, not any group in particular. Cheaper and more instantaneous transactions are shifted to the lightning network which is operated by hubs also earning revenue. Note that some of these hubs may choose to monitor transactions and can possibly censor who is allowed to participate in this no longer strictly peer-to-peer network.
We lose the immutability and instead we have a peer-to-hub-to-peer network that is mutable and at best decentralized, and certainly not distributed (see https://medium.com/@jonaldfyookball/mathematical-proof-that-the-lightning-network-cannot-be-a-decentralized-bitcoin-scaling-solution-1b8147650800). For regular day-to-day and recurring transactions, it is not a considerable risk or inconvenience. And one could choose to use the main chain any time to bypass the lightning network and truly transact peer-to-peer. But since the main chain has an entry barrier in the form of artificially instilled high transaction fees, common people are not able to use bitcoin as we have known it until now. Peer-to-peer bitcoin becomes institution-to-institution bitcoin with peer-to-hub-to-peer 2L.
To reiterate and stress, note the following lightning network design flaw again. Yes, activating SegWit and allowing 2L such as lightning allows for lower transaction fees to coexist side by side with more costly on-chain transactions. For those using this particularly prescribed 2L, the fees remain low. But since these 2L are managed by hubs, we introduce another element to trust, which is contrary to what the bitcoin network was designed to do at the first place. Over time, by the nature of the lightning network in its current design, these third party hubs grow to be centralized, just like Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, etc. There is nothing wrong with that in general because it works just fine. But recall that bitcoin set out to create a different kind of a network. Instead of decentralized, distributed, immutable network with miners and nodes, with the lightning network we end up with at best decentralized but mutable network with hubs.
Note that Bitcoin Core SegWit has a US-based organization backing it with millions of dollars (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockstream and https://steemit.com/bitcoin/@adambalm/the-truth-about-who-is-behind-blockstream-and-segwit-as-the-saying-goes-follow-the-money). Their proponents are quite political and some even imply $1000 fees on the main bitcoin blockchain (see https://cointelegraph.com/news/ari-paul-tuur-demeester-look-forward-to-up-to-1k-bitcoin-fees). Contrary to them, Bitcoin Cash proponents intend to keep small fees on a scale of a few cents, which in large volume in larger blockchain blocks provide sufficient incentive for miners to participate.
On the one hand, sticking to the original vision of peer-to-peer network scaled on-chain has merit and holds potential for future value. On the other hand, 2L have potential to carry leaps forward from current financial infrastructure. As mentioned earlier, 2L will allow for extra features to be integrated off-chain (e.g. escrow, reversibility via time-locks), including entirely new features such as smart contracts, decentralized applications, some of which have been pioneered and tested on another cryptocurrency network called Ethereum. But such features could be one day implemented directly on the main bitcoin blockchain without the lightning network as currently designed, or perhaps with a truly integrated 2L proposed in the third section of this overview.
What makes the whole discussion even more confusing is that there are some proposals for specific 2L that would in fact increase privacy and make bitcoin transactions less pseudonymous than those on the current bitcoin blockchain now. Keep in mind that 2L are not necessarily undesirable. If they add features and keep the main network characteristics (decentralized, distributed, immutable), they should be embraced with open arms. But the lightning network as currently designed gives up immutability and hub centralization moves the network characteristic towards a decentralized rather than a distributed network.
In a sense, back to the initial email attachment analogy, even Gmail stopped with attachment limit increases and started hosting large files on Google Drive internally, with an embedded link in a Gmail email to download anything larger than 25MB from Google Drive. Anticipating the same scaling decisions, the question then becomes not if but when and how such 2L should be implemented, keeping the overall network security and network characteristics in mind. If you have not gotten it yet, repeat, repeat, repeat: decentralized, distributed, immutable. Is it the right time now and is SegWit (one way, my way or highway) truly the best solution?
Those siding away from Bitcoin Core SegWit also dislike that corporate entities behind Blockstream, the one publicly known corporate entity directly supporting SegWit, have allegedly applied for SegWit patents which may further restrict who may and who may not participate in the creation of future hubs, or how these hubs are controlled (see the alleged patent revelations, https://falkvinge.net/2017/05/01/blockstream-patents-segwit-makes-pieces-fall-place, the subsequent Twitter rebuttal Blockstream CEO, http://bitcoinist.com/adam-back-no-patents-segwit, and the subsequent legal threats to SegWit2x proponents /btc/comments/6vadfi/blockstream_threatening_legal_action_against). Regardless if the patent claims are precise or not, the fact remains that there is a corporate entity dictating and vetoing bitcoin developments. Objectively speaking, Bitcoin Core SegWit developers paid by Blockstream is a corporate takeover of the bitcoin network as we have known it.
And on the topic of patents and permissionless technological innovations, what makes all of this even more complicated is that a mining improvement technology called ASICboost is allowed on Bitcoin Cash. The main entities who forked from Bitcoin Core to form Bitcoin Cash had taken advantage of patents to the ASICboost technology on the original bitcoin network prior to the fork (see https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/breaking-down-bitcoins-asicboost-scandal). This boost saved estimated 20% electricity for miners on 1MB blocks and created unfair economic advantage for this one particular party. SegWit is one way that this boost is being eliminated, through the code. Larger blocks are another way to reduce the boost advantage, via decreased rate of collisions which made this boost happen at the first place (see https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/breaking-down-bitcoins-asicboost-scandal-solutions and https://bitslog.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/the-relation-between-segwit-and-asicboost-covert-and-overt). Therefore, the initial Bitcoin Cash proponents argue that eliminating ASICboost through the code is no longer needed or necessary.
Of course, saving any amount electricity between 0% and 20% is good for all on our planet but in reality any energy saved in a mining operation is used by the same mining operation to increase their mining capacity. In reality, there are no savings, there is just capacity redistribution. The question then becomes if it is okay that only one party currently and already holds onto this advantage, which they covertly hid for relatively long time, and which they could be using covertly on Bitcoin Cash if they desired to do so, even though it would an advantage to a smaller degree. To be fair to them, they are mining manufacturers and operators, they researched and developed the advantage from own resources, so perhaps they do indeed have the right to reap ASICboost benefits while they can. But perhaps it should happen in publicly know way, not behind closed doors, and should be temporary, with agreed patent release date.
In conclusion, there is no good and no bad actor, each side is its own shade of grey. All parties have their own truth (and villainy) to certain degree.
Bitcoin Cash's vision is for bitcoin to be an electronic cash platform and daily payment processor whereas Bitcoin Core SegWit seems to be drawn more to the ideas of bitcoin as an investment vehicle and a larger settlement layer with the payment processor function managed via at best decentralized third party hubs. Both can coexist, or either one can eventually prove more useful and digest the other one by taking over all use-cases.
Additionally, the most popular communication channel on /bitcoin with roughly 300k subscribers censors any alternative non-Bitcoin-Core-SegWit opinions and bans people from posting their ideas to discussions (see https://medium.com/@johnblocke/a-brief-and-incomplete-history-of-censorship-in-r-bitcoin-c85a290fe43). This is because their moderators are also supported by Blockstream. Note that the author of this overview has not gotten banned from this particular subreddit (yet), but has experienced shadow-banning first hand. Shadow-banning is a form of censorship. In this particular case, their moderator robot managed by people moderators, collaboratively with the people moderators, do the following:
  • (1) look for "Bitcoin Cash" and other undesirable keywords,
  • (2) warn authors that “Bitcoin Cash” is not true bitcoin (which objectively speaking it is, and which is by no means “BCash” that Bitcoin Core SegWit proponents refer to, in a coordinated effort to further confuse public, especially since some of them have published plans to officially release another cryptocurrency called “BCash” in 2018, see https://medium.com/@freetrade68/announcing-bcash-8b938329eaeb),
  • (3) further warn authors that if they try to post such opinions again, they could banned permanently,
  • (4) tell authors to delete their already posted posts or comments,
  • (5) hide their post from publicly seen boards with all other posts, thus preventing it from being seeing by the other participants in this roughly 300k public forum,
  • (6) and in extreme cases actually “remove” their valid opinions if they slip by uncensored, gain traction, and are often times raise to popularity as comments to other uncensored posts (see /btc/comments/6v3ee8/on_a_reply_i_made_in_rbitcoin_that_had_over_350 and /btc/comments/6vbyv0/in_case_we_needed_more_evidence_500_upvotes).
This effectively silences objective opinions and creates a dangerous echo-chamber. Suppressing free speech and artificially blowing up transaction fees on Bitcoin Core SegWit is against bitcoin’s fundamental values. Therefore, instead of the original Reddit communication channel, many bitcoin enthusiasts migrated to /btc which has roughly 60k subscribers as of now, up from 20k subscribers a year ago in August 2016 (see http://redditmetrics.com/btc). Moderators there do not censor opinions and allow all polite and civil discussions about scaling, including all opinions on Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Core, etc.
Looking beyond their respective leaderships and communication channels, let us review a few network fundamentals and recent developments in Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Cash networks. Consequently, for now, these present Bitcoin Cash with more favorable long-term prospects.
  • (1) The stress-test and/or attack on the Bitcoin Cash mempool earlier on August 16, 2017 showed that 8MB blocks do work as intended, without catastrophic complications that Bitcoin Core proponents anticipated and from which they attempted to discourage others (see https://jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/uahf/#2w for the Bitcoin Cash mempool and https://core.jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/#2w for the Bitcoin Core mempool). Note that when compared to the Bitcoin Core mempool on their respective 2 week views, one can observe how each network handles backlogs. On the most recent 2 week graphs, the Y-scale for Bitcoin Core is 110k vs. 90k on Bitcoin Cash. In other words, at the moment, Bitcoin Cash works better than Bitcoin Core even though there is clearly not as big demand for Bitcoin Cash as there is for Bitcoin Core. The lack of demand for Bitcoin Cash is partly because Bitcoin Cash is only 3 weeks old and not many merchants have started accepting it, and only a limited number of software applications to use Bitcoin Cash has been released so far. By all means, the Bitcoin Cash stress-test and/or attack from August 16, 2017 reveals that the supply will handle the increased demand, more affordably, and at a much quicker rate.
  • (2) Bitcoin Cash “BCH” mining has become temporarily more profitable than mining Bitcoin Core “BTC” (see http://fork.lol). Besides temporary loss of miners, this puts Bitcoin Core in danger of permanently fleeing miners. Subsequently, mempool backlog and transaction fees are anticipated to increase further.
  • (3) When compared to Bitcoin Cash transaction fees at roughly $0.02, transaction fees per kB are over 800 times as expensive on Bitcoin Core, currently at over $16 (see https://cashvscore.com).
  • (4) Tipping service that used to work on Bitcoin Core's /Bitcoin a few years back has been revived by a new tipping service piloted on the more neutral /btc with the integration of Bitcoin Cash (see /cashtipperbot).
3. Should we scale you on-chain or off-chain? Scaling bitcoin.
Let us start with the notion that we are impartial to both Bitcoin Core (small blocks, off-chain scaling only) and Bitcoin Cash (big blocks, on-chain scaling only) schools of thought. We will support any or all ideas, as long as they allow for bitcoin to grow organically and eventually succeed as a peer-to-peer network that remains decentralized, distributed, immutable. Should we have a preference in either of the proposed scaling solutions?
First, let us briefly address Bitcoin Core and small blocks again. From the second section of this overview, we understand that there are proposed off-chain scaling methods via second layer solutions (2L), most notably soon-to-be implemented lightning via SegWit on Bitcoin Core. Unfortunately, the lightning network diminishes distributed and immutable network properties by replacing bitcoin’s peer-to-peer network with a two-layer institution-to-institution network and peer-to-hub-to-peer 2L. Do we need this particular 2L right now? Is its complexity truly needed? Is it not at best somewhat cumbersome (if not very redundant)? In addition to ridiculously high on-chain transaction fees illustrated in the earlier section, the lightning network code is perhaps more robust than it needs to be now, with thousands of lines of code, thus possibly opening up to new vectors for bugs or attacks (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Lightning_Network and https://github.com/lightningnetwork/lnd). Additionally, this particular 2L as currently designed unnecessarily introduces third parties, hubs, that are expected to centralize. We already have a working code that has been tested and proven to handle 8MB blocks, as seen with Bitcoin Cash on August 16, 2017 (see https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/first-8mb-bitcoin-cash-block-just-mined). At best, these third party hubs would be decentralized but they would not be distributed. And these hubs would be by no means integral to the original bitcoin network with users, nodes, and miners.
To paraphrase Ocam’s razor problem solving principle, the simplest solution with the most desirable features will prevail (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor). The simplest scalability solution today is Bitcoin Cash because it updates only one line of code, which instantly increases the block size limit. This also allows other companies building on Bitcoin Cash to reduce their codes when compared to Bitcoin Core SegWit’s longer code, some even claiming ten-fold reductions (see /btc/comments/6vdm7y/ryan_x_charles_reveals_bcc_plan). The bitcoin ecosystem not only includes the network but it also includes companies building services on top of it. When these companies can reduce their vectors for bugs or attacks, the entire ecosystem is healthier and more resilient to hacking disasters. Obviously, changes to the bitcoin network code are desirable to be as few and as elegant as possible.
But what are the long-term implications of doing the one-line update repeatedly? Eventually, blocks would have to reach over 500MB size if they were to process Visa-level capacity (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Scalability). With decreasing costs of IT infrastructure, bandwidth and storage could accommodate it, but the overhead costs would increase significantly, implying miner and/or full node centralization further discussed next. To decrease this particular centralization risk, which some consider undesirable and others consider irrelevant, built-in and integrated 2L could keep the block size at a reasonably small-yet-still-large limit.
At the first sight, these 2L would remedy the risk of centralization by creating their own centralization incentive. At the closer look and Ocam’s razor principle again, these 2L do not have to become revenue-seeking third party hubs as designed with the current lightning network. They can be integrated into the current bitcoin network with at worst decentralized miners and at best distributed nodes. Recall that miners will eventually need to supplement their diminishing mining reward from new blocks. Additionally, as of today, the nodes have no built-in economic incentive to run other than securing the network and keeping the network’s overall value at its current level. Therefore, if new 2L were to be developed, they should be designed in a similar way like the lightning network, with the difference that the transaction processing revenue would not go to third party hubs but to the already integrated miners and nodes.
In other words, why do we need extra hubs if we have miners and nodes already? Let us consider the good elements from the lightning network, forget the unnecessary hubs, and focus on integrating the hubs’ responsibilities to already existing miner and node protocols. Why would we add extra elements to the system that already functions with the minimum number of elements possible? Hence, 2L are not necessarily undesirable as long as they do not unnecessarily introduce third party hubs.
Lastly, let us discuss partial on-chain scaling with the overall goal of network security. The network security we seek is the immutability and resilience via distributed elements within otherwise decentralized and distributed network. It is not inconceivable to scale bitcoin with bigger blocks as needed, when needed, to a certain degree. The thought process is the following:
  • (1) Block size limit:
We need some upper limit to avoid bloating the network with spam transactions. Okay, that makes sense. Now, what should this limit be? If we agree to disagree with small block size limit stuck at 1MB, and if we are fine with flexible block size limit increases (inspired by mining difficulty readjustments but on a longer time scale) or big block propositions (to be increased incrementally), what is holding us off next?
  • (2) Miner centralization:
Bigger blocks mean that more data will be transferred on the bitcoin network. Consequently, more bandwidth and data storage will be required. This will create decentralized miners instead of distributed ones. Yes, that is true. And it has already happened, due to the economy of scale, in particular the efficiency of grouping multiple miners in centralized facilities, and the creation of mining pools collectively and virtually connecting groups of miners not physically present in the same facility. These facilities tend to have huge overhead costs and the data storage and bandwidth increase costs are negligible in this context. The individual miners participating in mining pools will quite likely notice somewhat higher operational costs but allowing for additional revenue from integrated 2L described earlier will give them economic incentive to remain actively participating. Note that mining was never supposed to be strictly distributed and it was always at worst decentralized, as defined in the first section of this overview. To assure at best a distributed network, we have nodes.
  • (3) Node centralization:
Bigger blocks mean that more data will be transferred on the bitcoin network. Consequently, more bandwidth and data storage will be required. This will create decentralized nodes instead of distributed ones. Again, recall that we have a spectrum of decentralized and distributed networks in mind, not their absolutes. The concern about the node centralization (and the subsequent shift from distributed to decentralized network property) is valid if we only follow on-chain scaling to inconsiderate MB values. If addressed with the proposed integrated 2L that provides previously unseen economic incentives to participate in the network, this concern is less serious.
Furthermore, other methods to reduce bandwidth and storage needs can be used. A popular proposal is block pruning, which keeps only the most recent 550 blocks, and eventually deletes any older blocks (see https://news.bitcoin.com/pros-and-cons-on-bitcoin-block-pruning). Block pruning addresses storage needs and makes sure that not all nodes participating in the bitcoin network have to store all transactions that have ever been recorded on the blockchain. Some nodes storing all transactions are still necessary and they are called full nodes. Block pruning does not eliminate full nodes but it does indeed provide an economic incentive for the reduction and centralization (i.e. saving on storage costs). If addressed with the proposed integrated 2L that provides previously unseen economic incentives to participate in the network, this concern is less serious.
In other words, properly designed 2L should provide economic incentives for all nodes (full and pruned) to remain active and distributed. As of now, only miners earn revenue for participating. The lightning network proposes extra revenue for hubs. Instead, miner revenue could increase by processing 2L transactions as well, and full nodes could have an economic incentive as well. To mine, relatively high startup costs is necessary in order to get the most up to date mining hardware and proper cooling equipment. These have to be maintained and periodically upgraded. To run a full node, one needs only stable bandwidth and a sufficiently large storage, which can be expanded as needed, when needed. To run a full node, one needs only stable bandwidth and relatively small storage, which does not need to be expanded.
Keeping the distributed characteristic in mind, it would be much more secure for the bitcoin network if one could earn bitcoin by simply running a node, full or pruned. This could be integrated with a simple code change requiring each node to own a bitcoin address to which miners would send a fraction of processed transaction fees. Of course, pruned nodes would collectively receive the least transaction fee revenue (e.g. 10%), full nodes would collectively receive relatively larger transaction fee revenue (e.g. 20%), whereas mining facilities or mining pools would individually receive the largest transaction fee revenue (e.g. 70%) in addition to the full mining reward from newly mined blocks (i.e. 100%). This would assure that all nodes would remain relatively distributed. Hence, block pruning is a feasible solution.
However, in order to start pruning, one would have to have the full blockchain to begin with. As currently designed, downloading blockchain for the first time also audits previous blocks for accuracy, this can take days depending on one’s bandwidth. This online method is the only way to distribute the bitcoin blockchain and the bitcoin network so far. When the size of blockchain becomes a concern, a simpler distribution idea should be implemented offline. Consider distributions of Linux-based operating systems on USBs. Similarly, the full bitcoin blockchain up to a certain point can be distributed via easy-to-mail USBs. Note that even if we were to get the blockchain in bulk on such a USB, some form of a block audit would have to happen nevertheless.
A new form of checkpoint hashes could be added to the bitcoin code. For instance, each 2016 blocks (whenever the difficulty readjusts), all IDs from previous 2015 blocks would be hashed and recorded. That way, with our particular offline blockchain distribution, the first time user would have to audit only the key 2016th blocks, designed to occur on average once in roughly 2 weeks. This would significantly reduce bandwidth concerns for the auditing process because only each 2016th block would have to be uploaded online to be audited.
Overall, we are able to scale the bitcoin network via initial on-chain scaling approaches supplemented with off-chain scaling approaches. This upgrades the current network to a pruned peer-to-peer network with integrated 2L managed by miners and nodes who assure that the bitcoin network stays decentralized, distributed, immutable.
submitted by bit-architect to Bitcoincash [link] [comments]

10x…Is It an Impossible Challenge or an Irresistible Opportunity for an ICO?

It is hard to say when 10x became the bare minimum for the Go Big or Go Home Mentality that surrounds personal information and future tech. You will hear it said, in so many words, again and again, “don’t even bother competing with “The Googleverse”, as Visual Capitalist once called it, unless you have something 10x better in your category or market space. Since Google and Facebook have their eyes set on just about everything from your wallet to your exact location, on a second by second basis, it would logically follow that we just give up now and let Google and Facebook, and don’t forget Amazon, take over everything and invent all future social systems and relevant technologies that will continue to shape them.
The company that thinks they can do it: www.10x.market
https://preview.redd.it/1m2mpn3bzo511.png?width=219&format=png&auto=webp&s=d96541a37dea5d7cd53f89ae174d2ffcc7793c0f
Elon Musk decided the 10x divide was a good way to get people excited about new ventures that will not bear fruit until you are too old to care. We are all excited to get from Washington to New York in 33 minutes, and it’s just nice to know that my daughter doesn’t have to move out when she goes to college, as long as by her time the Hypertube spans the East Coast. It almost makes me forget about all the people who will be put out of work in the next five years by driverless cars and automated cargo vehicles, and what they are going to do with all their time when the Robot Tax dollars come every week in the form of a Universal Basic Income check.
“The key to making this work is increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more — this is the goal of The Boring Company. “
https://preview.redd.it/anp94fd9zo511.png?width=425&format=png&auto=webp&s=ff6d6b7f7b9e856bb3bf29af0438b47dffec7409
The Visual Capitalist makes it clear most people believe it's pointless to compete in any area that turns personal information into pay by the bit, which is the IOT version of paying by the click in The Googleverse. It seems it is considered, in many cases, wiser to build something inside of the current Ecosystem of a Google or a Facebook, or something that serves as a gadget that adds utility to these platforms like a Selfie Drone, rather than doubts the wisdom of the Googleverse and Facebook.
How Google Tracks You - And What You Can Do About It
This Chart Reveals Google’s True Dominance Over the Web
https://preview.redd.it/8ikrp437zo511.png?width=760&format=png&auto=webp&s=bbf678d7dba90057840dacc52cdea7630013d4f5
Why can no one match Google?
  1. Part of the reason lies in the math. Google operates at an insane level, processing 3.5 billion searches per day. To get millions of people to try a different search algorithm is expensive — and to get them to keep that behavior permanently is even more expensive.
  2. The only way such change becomes feasible is if a product comes out that is 10x better than Google, and at this point, such an event seems unlikely — at least in the current ecosystem.
Is Silicon Valley the last word on how data is gathered and put to use?
It might seem that way at times, however, if you listen to the message that is coming out of Research Triangle in South Carolina, home to the innovation hubs of Big Data giants like IBM and SAS, global innovation centers such as Silicon Wadi, in Israel (where apparently, there is a glass ceiling for Muslims, and the rest of the tech sector is run by ex-military personnel from the elite cyber division Unit 8200) you could form a completely different opinion. Forbes did a good piece on Unit 8200 back in 2016, if you aren’t familiar. Companies like IBM and SAS say the secret sauce is all in the temporaneous, unstructured data streaming through the airwaves that can be correlated in real time with your position, preferences, and ready-made content bubble, like the one John Palfrey talks about in Born Digital.
Three Different Models: one of them makes less sense than the others in a hyper-connected world.
https://preview.redd.it/qzumjju4zo511.png?width=595&format=png&auto=webp&s=735aa43e3e2cd2cfc4a1514d59bc9fa1a97513ea
How safe is it to concentrate a huge portion of your company’s warehoused data in one mammoth datacenter in a single country that could change it’s laws about how you can use and store data anytime it wants?
Facebook is said to have it’s largest data center, Lulea, in Sweden. It is a good thing the Swedes are pro-blockchain, pro-crypto, or Mark Zuckerberg might have brick and mortared himself out of the Crypto-Blockchain boom that he recently announced Facebook intended to embrace and FaceOpolize. His Lawyers were probably on it way before they applied for the construction permits, but they still have the GDPR and they are still a member of the EEC. If some of the bigger EEC Countries decided that they were tired of having Facebook harvest data from its citizens like a black market doctor in an Indian” Kidneyville”, they could put some pressure on the Swedes to turn off the power. This is unlikely, but so seemed the fall of Rome before Christianity. At least the Romans would have thought the idea preposterous in 500 A.D.
However, the EEC did succeed in fining Facebook and Google an estimated $9.3 billion the day after the new GDPR Laws went into effect on May 25, 2018.
GDPR impact: Google, Facebook look at $9.3 billion in fines under new EU privacy law
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https://www.businesstoday.in/technology/news/gdpr-impact-google-fined-facebook-fined-european-union-privacy-law/story/277807.htm
Ex-Facebook Executive and Founder Chamath Palihapitiya, says that traditional social networks are not only misusing our personal information and forcing us to take an all or nothing deal when we check "yes" in the terms box, but also using surreptitious methods to get people addicted to visiting their sites. He compares the site stats that display on your Google plugins as red numbers to slot machines and says that many of the calls to action on Facebook’s site were developed to elicit the same kind of dopamine rush a gambling addict gets when he pulls the arm of a slot machine. LinkedIn uses the same sort of alerts to keep you coming back throughout the day as well
This is a world where you generate all the interesting facts and Google and Facebook collect them, with your help, and get all the monetary benefits. This is a world where despite all the free time-saving, life-saving apps, you don’t have time for anything and you increasingly don’t have a life…not a real one. You are to busy working on the “digital you” and keeping the views-and-likes-ball in the air. Forget to post just one or two days and you will be reminded to log in and view the negative numbers and the graphs that make your popularity in the ether look like the Stock Market crashing in 2008.

Who’s Viewed You? Are you up or down in the ratings today?

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If you listen to the companies who invented the modern market for data mining and data warehousing , you will hear them say that the only dream worth catching in the new “hyper-connected” world, where over 20 billion sensors will triangulate in the ether and create volumes of metadata and new data points outside the Google/Facebook Ecosystems is Unstructured data. Hence, the only logical place to start storing personal data is in a wallet like Bitcoin with all transactions verified on the Blockchain and in the ether where the promised land lies. Visit websites like IBM (Cognos, Watson Analytics), SAS, SAP HANA, and read the language they use to describe this new kind of data that are the reason AI and Machine Learning and Big Data are the wave of the future. Read the terminology they use on the SAP HANA webpage:

Gain new insights from advanced analytical processing in SAP HANA

“Leverage our in-memory advanced analytical processing capabilities — text, predictive, spatial, event streams, and time series — to build intelligent applications that provide deeper insights at unprecedented speed. And take advantage of predictive analytics, data mining, text analysis, and more.”
-SAP HANA Website
Terms like “event streams” clearly refer to windows of time that are narrow, temporaneous, and outside of the traditional data warehouse. While Google does maintain the position of most people’s cell phones, and a lead in the handheld device market with Android, it is not like we don’t have a choice, or as if Google is the only one who can pinpoint your position for you or the third-party apps on your smartphone or tablet.
https://preview.redd.it/ef6iialtyo511.png?width=759&format=png&auto=webp&s=9fa74fd790f026dd51292361c4ee18ee7841e125
Who in their right mind would want millions of personal data records stored in a central location, that if breached, left every record up for grabs?
With all the turmoil brewing around the theft and loss, and misuse of personal data lately, whether it be SOX, GLBA, Classified Intel handling laws, or now GDPR, you would think the last place The DNC, Equifax, Hospitals, Google, Facebook, a bank, or anyone would want to purposely store data is on their servers, platforms, or any other company asset. Why not just push it to The Ether and scatter it like dust across the blockchain? Cracking the system to steal one transaction’s worth of data is economically akin to stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime. Why steal something when it is more profitable to take part in validating it?
It seems like every other day there’s another mind-boggling data breach at one of the world’s most trusted companies.
https://preview.redd.it/dotihufoyo511.png?width=640&format=png&auto=webp&s=0adcf1c4a6f688d70b54973e097dd7afa702bdd4
While some institutions may have no choice but to store your data in a central depository, like a hospital or Equifax, the ones that profit the most have no reason except profit to keep your details on their servers.
In Google’s defense, they do have an app called Google Takeout ™, which allows you to download every detail that has been collected on you in the Googleverse by any and all of the 89+ apps in the Google ecosystem. It is not like they are forcing us to let them steal our data and sell it without our consent. Although the 20-page take-it-or leave-it opt ins on the apps they use to collect the data are a bit unfair, we are the ones who decided that Google and Facebook could sell it for several thousand dollars per person, per year without any compensation except some free cell phone apps.
This begs the question: what would I do with all that data if I had a copy?
Well, at 10x.market, CEO Chris McFayden and President Greg Fogarty say, “roll it up with some sort of data that is 10x more valuable than the information Google has, and then transfer its value to a token, and begin selling it over a distrubuted Smart Contracts Platform. You are now the owner of a data set at least 10x better than the next best source in the marketplace. You now possess the worlds most complete record of the digital you, and you've only just begun.
Advertisers, IOT, and Big Data service providers, as well as all the mixed reality content providers that will be augmenting the world around you with the help of some holographic contact lenses, will all need to come to you through the 10x platform to get the most complete version of the digital you to sync up with all those "event streams' and senors.”
Here is what we think you should do at 10x
https://preview.redd.it/ezlo0aq7yo511.png?width=747&format=png&auto=webp&s=2e4e60c176b0eca68f08c6b9282c0bc641aa1b45
Things like smartphones, tablets and laptops and flatscreen TVs will no longer be necessary since you will be able to project them holographically into your private version of reality. Even Holographic Keyboards and input tools can be projected into empty space, which means many wireless accessories will disappear too. Maybe we will simply carry a processor with Wi-Fi in our pockets to connect us to the connected world.
So where can I get some 10x data so I have a fighting chance at beating Google at the Personal information game?
The Founders of 10x found their opening by accident. While working with a company in the patient engagement software space on a blockchain app that would give their AI driven engagement model the edge in a very competitive industry, Founders Greg Fogarty and Chris McFayden discovered that patients were willing to volunteer data from Fitbits, other wearables, and an app that asks routine questions that a doctor might ask you at a checkup. As it turns out paying patients cash to answer basic questions about lifestyle, habits, and symptoms lower health premiums.
With just the data from a Fitbit and some routine questionnaires, medicine can not only move to a preventative care model, but some might say a predictive diagnostic model where AI assumes many of the responsibilities of a primary care physician.
https://preview.redd.it/jf3gnfwcyo511.png?width=747&format=png&auto=webp&s=f0825e440d0e9a3a1d4793bb498be2f08ce3f025
In addition, once employees knew that employers and benefits providers where paying them, the Patient Engagement Platform, that appears to employees as part of their HR departments Wellness Program, saw participation rates that were in line with those of Google Search and Facebook.
Furthermore, the two founders of 10x discovered, during a due diligence exercise, that Medical data was worth 10x more on the black market than Credit Card and Banking Data. If they could just put that information in a digital wallet with the information that Google would give you back for free via Google Takeout ™, they would have the 10x everyone said you needed to compete with Google and Facebook.
https://preview.redd.it/qpub6wnfyo511.png?width=740&format=png&auto=webp&s=19f5708f975306d404f19ec30406a123f5d8d0b3
There are literally thousands of companies who sell these Patient Engagement Platforms, and Greg and Chris's client had less than 1% market share after 6 years in business. It was obvious that the play was not in upgrading one platform with Blockchain and equipping it with a token, but rather in making a free app, just like Google has done 89+ times, that gives all the Patient Engagement and Medical Records platforms the kind of advanced AI that their client incorporated to turn Wellness into Predictive Medicine.
Then individuals could start adding other valuable data points that were stranded in data warehouses to their digital data wallets. Things such as:
Now that all the data is within the control of the individual, all that is needed is a trading platform that provides a fair profit to the creator, a fair price to the owner of the Personal Information, and that gives information of any type a normalized value so that it can be stored as a token which reflects the value of the new infonomics marketplace and the sum total of the personal data transactions carried out over the 10x Platform. If the platform gained significant market share in the buyeseller infonomics ecosystem, the token market cap should increase as the volume of available personal data and buyer and seller transactions increase over time. We all know why they call Big Data by that name. It is because the amount and variety of personal data being collected and generated are getting bigger and more varied with every sensor that is added to the IOT Ecosystem. Now with more of the kind of data that the companies like SAS, IBM, and SAP would like to correlate with, “Unstructured” Real-time data, 10x is not only in the Personal Information business, in grand style, but also all the other hot spaces that will dominate the Ether for the next five to ten years: IOT, Big Data, Mixed Reality.
With Personal Data Profiles selling for between $1000 and $5,000 a year, charging for transactions and managing complex coordination of Smart Contracts executed with the 10x token offers an extremely profitable business model if you consider the lifetime value over ten years is between $10,000 and $50,000 for an individual’s static data profile and real-time location information. This means that with only 2 million customers 10x.market could cross the billion dollar magic line, that makes a run of the mill startup an official Silicon Valley “Unicorn.
submitted by 10x_Market to u/10x_Market [link] [comments]

Bitcoin, huh? WTF is going on? Should we scale you on-chain or off-chain? Will you stay decentralized, distributed, immutable?

0. Shit, this is long, TLWR please! Too long, won't read.
EDIT: TLDR TLWR for clarity.
1. Bitcoin, huh? Brief introduction.
There are 3 sections to this overview. The first section is a brief introduction to bitcoin. The second section looks at recent developments in the bitcoin world, through the analogy of email attachments, and the third section discusses what could be next, through the perspective of resilience and network security.
This is just a continuation of a long, long, possibly never-ending debate that started with the release of the bitcoin whitepaper in 2008 (see https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf). The recent mess during the past few years boils down to the controversy with the block size limit and how to appropriately scale bitcoin, the keyword appropriately. Scaling bitcoin is a controversial debate with valid arguments from all sides (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Block_size_limit_controversy).
I have researched, studied, and written this overview as objectively and as impartially as possible. By all means, this is still an opinion and everyone is advised to draw their own conclusions. My efforts are to make at least a few readers aware that ultimately there is only one team, and that team is the team bitcoin. Yes, currently though, there are factions within the team bitcoin. I hope that we can get beyond partisan fights and work together for the best bitcoin. I support all scaling proposals as long as they are the best for the given moment in time. Personally, I hate propaganda and love free speech as long as it is not derogatory and as long as it allows for constructive discussions.
The goal of this overview is to explain to a novice how bitcoin network works, what has been keeping many bitcoin enthusiasts concerned, and if we can keep the bitcoin network with three main properties described as decentralized, distributed, immutable. Immutable means censorship resistant. For the distinction between decentralized and distributed, refer to Figure 1: Centralized, decentralized and distributed network models by Paul Baran (1964), which is a RAND Institute study to create a robust and nonlinear military communication network (see https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_memoranda/2006/RM3420.pdf). Note that for the overall network resilience and security, distributed is more desirable than decentralized, and the goal is to get as far away from central models as possible. Of course, nothing is strictly decentralized or strictly distributed and all network elements are at different levels of this spectrum.
For those unaware how bitcoin works, I recommend the Bitcoin Wikipedia (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Main_Page). In short, the bitcoin network includes users which make bitcoin transactions and send them to the network memory pool called mempool, nodes which store the public and pseudonymous ledger called blockchain and which help with receiving pending transactions and updating processed transactions, thus securing the overall network, and miners which also secure the bitcoin network by mining. Mining is the process of confirming pending bitcoin transactions, clearing them from the mempool, and adding them to blocks which build up the consecutive chain of blocks on the blockchain. The blockchain is therefore a decentralized and distributed ledger built on top of bitcoin transactions, therefore impossible to exist without bitcoin. If someone claims to be working on their own blockchain without bitcoin, by the definition of the bitcoin network however, they are not talking about the actual blockchain. Instead, they intend to own a different kind of a private database made to look like the public and pseudonymous blockchain ledger.
There are roughly a couple of dozen mining pools, each possibly with hundreds or thousands of miners participating in them, to several thousand nodes (see https://blockchain.info/pools and https://coin.dance/nodes). Therefore, the bitcoin network has at worst decentralized miners and at best distributed nodes. The miner and node design makes the blockchain resilient and immune to reversible changes, making it censorship resistant, thus immutable. The bitcoin blockchain avoids the previous need for a third party to trust. This is a very elegant solution to peer-to-peer financial exchange via a network that is all: decentralized, distributed, immutable. Extra features (escrow, reversibility via time-locks, and other features desirable in specific instances) can be integrated within the network or added on top of this network, however, they have not been implemented yet.
Miners who participate receive mining reward consisting of newly mined bitcoins at a predetermined deflationary rate and also transaction fees from actual bitcoin transactions being processed. It is estimated that in 2022, miners will have mined more than 90% of all 21 million bitcoins ever to be mined (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Controlled_supply). As the mining reward from newly mined blocks diminishes to absolute zero in 2140, the network eventually needs the transaction fees to become the main component of the reward. This can happen either via high-volume-low-cost transaction fees or low-volume-high-cost transaction fees. Obviously, there is the need to address the question of fees when dealing with the dilemma how to scale bitcoin. Which type of fees would you prefer and under which circumstances?
2. WTF is going on? Recent developments.
There are multiple sides to the scaling debate but to simplify it, first consider the 2 main poles. In particular, to scale bitcoin on blockchain or to scale it off it, that is the question!
The first side likes the idea of bitcoin as it has been until now. It prefers on-chain scaling envisioned by the bitcoin creator or a group of creators who chose the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. It is now called Bitcoin Cash and somewhat religiously follows Satoshi’s vision from the 2008 whitepaper and their later public forum discussions (see https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1347.msg15366#msg15366). Creators’ vision is good to follow but it should not be followed blindly and dogmatically when better advancements are possible, the keyword when. To alleviate concerning backlog of transactions and rising fees, Bitcoin Cash proponents implemented a simple one-line code update which increased the block size limit for blockhain blocks from 1MB block size limit to a new, larger 8MB limit. This was done through a fork on August 1, 2017, which created Bitcoin Cash, and which kept the bitcoin transaction history until then. Bitcoin Cash has observed significant increase in support, from 3% of all bitcoin miners at first to over 44% of all bitcoin miners after 3 weeks on August 22, 2017 (see http://fork.lol/pow/hashrate and http://fork.lol/pow/hashrateabs).
An appropriate scaling analogy is to recall email attachments early on. They too were limited to a few MB at first, then 10MB, 20MB, up until 25MB on Gmail. But even then, Gmail eventually started using Google Drive internally. Note that Google Drive is a third party to Gmail, although yes, it is managed by the same entity.
The second side argues that bitcoin cannot work with such a scaling approach of pre-meditated MB increases. Arguments against block size increases include miner and node centralization, and bandwidth limitations. These are discussed in more detail in the third section of this overview. As an example of an alternative scaling approach, proponents of off-chain scaling want to jump to the internally integrated third party right away, without any MB increase and, sadly, without any discussion. Some of these proponents called one particular implementation method SegWit, which stands for Segregated Witness, and they argue that SegWit is the only way that we can ever scale up add the extra features to the bitcoin network. This is not necessarily true because other scaling solutions are feasible, such as already functioning Bitcoin Cash, and SegWit’s proposed solution will not use internally integrated third party as shown next. Note that although not as elegant as SegWit is today, there are other possibilities to integrate some extra features without SegWit (see /Bitcoin/comments/5dt8tz/confused_is_segwit_needed_for_lightning_network).
Due to the scaling controversy and the current backlog of transactions and already high fees, a third side hastily proposed a compromise to a 2MB increase in addition to the proposed SegWit implementation. They called it SegWit2x, which stands for Segregated Witness with 2MB block size limit increase. But the on-chain scaling and Bitcoin Cash proponents did not accept it due to SegWit’s design redundancy and hub centralization which are discussed next and revisited in the third section of this overview. After a few years of deadlock, that is why the first side broke free and created the Bitcoin Cash fork.
The second side stuck with bitcoin as it was. In a way, they inherited the bitcoin network without any major change to public eye. This is crucial because major changes are about to happen and the original bitcoin vision, as we have known it, is truly reflected only in what some media refer to as a forked clone, Bitcoin Cash. Note that to avoid confusion, this second side is referred to as Bitcoin Core by some or Legacy Bitcoin by others, although mainstream media still refers to it simply as Bitcoin. The core of Bitcoin Core is quite hardcore though. They too rejected the proposed compromise for SegWit2x and there are clear indications that they will push to keep SegWit only, forcing the third side with SegWit2x proponents to create another fork in November 2017 or to join Bitcoin Cash. Note that to certain degree, already implemented and working Bitcoin Cash is technically superior to SegWit2x which is yet to be deployed (see /Bitcoin/comments/6v0gll/why_segwit2x_b2x_is_technically_inferior_to).
Interestingly enough, those who agreed to SegWit2x have been in overwhelming majority, nearly 87% of all bitcoin miners on July 31, 2017 prior to the fork, and a little over 90% of remaining Bitcoin Core miners to date after the fork (see https://coin.dance/blocks). Despite such staggering support, another Bitcoin Core fork is anticipated later in November (see https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-is-splitting-once-again-are-you-ready) and the "Outcome #2: Segwit2x reneges on 2x or does not prioritize on-chain scaling" seems to be on track from the perspective of Bitcoin Core SegWit, publicly seen as the original Bitcoin (see https://blog.bridge21.io/before-and-after-the-great-bitcoin-fork-17d2aad5d512). The sad part is that although in their overwhelming majority, the miners who support SegWit2x would be the ones creating another Bitcoin Core SegWit2x fork or parting ways from the original Bitcoin.
In a way, this is an ironic example how bitcoin’s built-in resiliency to veto changes causes majority to part away when a small minority has status quo and holds off fully-consented progress. Ultimately, this will give the minority Bitcoin Core SegWit proponents the original Bitcoin branding, perhaps to lure in large institutional investors and monetize on bitcoin’s success as we have it seen it during the past 9 years since its inception. Recall that bitcoin of today is already a decentralized, distributed, immutable network by its definition. The bitcoin network was designed to be an alternative to centralized and mutable institutions, so prevalent in modern capitalist societies.
Bitcoin Core SegWit group wants to change the existing bitcoin network to a network with dominant third parties which, unlike Google Drive to Gmail, are not internal. In particular, they intend to do so via the lightning network, which is a second layer solution (2L). This particular 2L as currently designed relies on an artificial block size limit cap which creates a bottleneck in order to provide high incentives for miners to participate. It monetizes on backlog of transaction and high fees, which are allocated to miners, not any group in particular. Cheaper and more instantaneous transactions are shifted to the lightning network which is operated by hubs also earning revenue. Note that some of these hubs may choose to monitor transactions and can possibly censor who is allowed to participate in this no longer strictly peer-to-peer network.
We lose the immutability and instead we have a peer-to-hub-to-peer network that is mutable and at best decentralized, and certainly not distributed (see https://medium.com/@jonaldfyookball/mathematical-proof-that-the-lightning-network-cannot-be-a-decentralized-bitcoin-scaling-solution-1b8147650800). For regular day-to-day and recurring transactions, it is not a considerable risk or inconvenience. And one could choose to use the main chain any time to bypass the lightning network and truly transact peer-to-peer. But since the main chain has an entry barrier in the form of artificially instilled high transaction fees, common people are not able to use bitcoin as we have known it until now. Peer-to-peer bitcoin becomes institution-to-institution bitcoin with peer-to-hub-to-peer 2L.
To reiterate and stress, note the following lightning network design flaw again. Yes, activating SegWit and allowing 2L such as lightning allows for lower transaction fees to coexist side by side with more costly on-chain transactions. For those using this particularly prescribed 2L, the fees remain low. But since these 2L are managed by hubs, we introduce another element to trust, which is contrary to what the bitcoin network was designed to do at the first place. Over time, by the nature of the lightning network in its current design, these third party hubs grow to be centralized, just like Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, etc. There is nothing wrong with that in general because it works just fine. But recall that bitcoin set out to create a different kind of a network. Instead of decentralized, distributed, immutable network with miners and nodes, with the lightning network we end up with at best decentralized but mutable network with hubs.
Note that Bitcoin Core SegWit has a US-based organization backing it with millions of dollars (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockstream and https://steemit.com/bitcoin/@adambalm/the-truth-about-who-is-behind-blockstream-and-segwit-as-the-saying-goes-follow-the-money). Their proponents are quite political and some even imply $1000 fees on the main bitcoin blockchain (see https://cointelegraph.com/news/ari-paul-tuur-demeester-look-forward-to-up-to-1k-bitcoin-fees). Contrary to them, Bitcoin Cash proponents intend to keep small fees on a scale of a few cents, which in large volume in larger blockchain blocks provide sufficient incentive for miners to participate.
On the one hand, sticking to the original vision of peer-to-peer network scaled on-chain has merit and holds potential for future value. On the other hand, 2L have potential to carry leaps forward from current financial infrastructure. As mentioned earlier, 2L will allow for extra features to be integrated off-chain (e.g. escrow, reversibility via time-locks), including entirely new features such as smart contracts, decentralized applications, some of which have been pioneered and tested on another cryptocurrency network called Ethereum. But such features could be one day implemented directly on the main bitcoin blockchain without the lightning network as currently designed, or perhaps with a truly integrated 2L proposed in the third section of this overview.
What makes the whole discussion even more confusing is that there are some proposals for specific 2L that would in fact increase privacy and make bitcoin transactions less pseudonymous than those on the current bitcoin blockchain now. Keep in mind that 2L are not necessarily undesirable. If they add features and keep the main network characteristics (decentralized, distributed, immutable), they should be embraced with open arms. But the lightning network as currently designed gives up immutability and hub centralization moves the network characteristic towards a decentralized rather than a distributed network.
In a sense, back to the initial email attachment analogy, even Gmail stopped with attachment limit increases and started hosting large files on Google Drive internally, with an embedded link in a Gmail email to download anything larger than 25MB from Google Drive. Anticipating the same scaling decisions, the question then becomes not if but when and how such 2L should be implemented, keeping the overall network security and network characteristics in mind. If you have not gotten it yet, repeat, repeat, repeat: decentralized, distributed, immutable. Is it the right time now and is SegWit (one way, my way or highway) truly the best solution?
Those siding away from Bitcoin Core SegWit also dislike that corporate entities behind Blockstream, the one publicly known corporate entity directly supporting SegWit, have allegedly applied for SegWit patents which may further restrict who may and who may not participate in the creation of future hubs, or how these hubs are controlled (see the alleged patent revelations, https://falkvinge.net/2017/05/01/blockstream-patents-segwit-makes-pieces-fall-place, the subsequent Twitter rebuttal Blockstream CEO, http://bitcoinist.com/adam-back-no-patents-segwit, and the subsequent legal threats to SegWit2x proponents /btc/comments/6vadfi/blockstream_threatening_legal_action_against). Regardless if the patent claims are precise or not, the fact remains that there is a corporate entity dictating and vetoing bitcoin developments. Objectively speaking, Bitcoin Core SegWit developers paid by Blockstream is a corporate takeover of the bitcoin network as we have known it.
And on the topic of patents and permissionless technological innovations, what makes all of this even more complicated is that a mining improvement technology called ASICboost is allowed on Bitcoin Cash. The main entities who forked from Bitcoin Core to form Bitcoin Cash had taken advantage of patents to the ASICboost technology on the original bitcoin network prior to the fork (see https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/breaking-down-bitcoins-asicboost-scandal). This boost saved estimated 20% electricity for miners on 1MB blocks and created unfair economic advantage for this one particular party. SegWit is one way that this boost is being eliminated, through the code. Larger blocks are another way to reduce the boost advantage, via decreased rate of collisions which made this boost happen at the first place (see https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/breaking-down-bitcoins-asicboost-scandal-solutions and https://bitslog.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/the-relation-between-segwit-and-asicboost-covert-and-overt). Therefore, the initial Bitcoin Cash proponents argue that eliminating ASICboost through the code is no longer needed or necessary.
Of course, saving any amount electricity between 0% and 20% is good for all on our planet but in reality any energy saved in a mining operation is used by the same mining operation to increase their mining capacity. In reality, there are no savings, there is just capacity redistribution. The question then becomes if it is okay that only one party currently and already holds onto this advantage, which they covertly hid for relatively long time, and which they could be using covertly on Bitcoin Cash if they desired to do so, even though it would an advantage to a smaller degree. To be fair to them, they are mining manufacturers and operators, they researched and developed the advantage from own resources, so perhaps they do indeed have the right to reap ASICboost benefits while they can. But perhaps it should happen in publicly know way, not behind closed doors, and should be temporary, with agreed patent release date.
In conclusion, there is no good and no bad actor, each side is its own shade of grey. All parties have their own truth (and villainy) to certain degree.
Bitcoin Cash's vision is for bitcoin to be an electronic cash platform and daily payment processor whereas Bitcoin Core SegWit seems to be drawn more to the ideas of bitcoin as an investment vehicle and a larger settlement layer with the payment processor function managed via at best decentralized third party hubs. Both can coexist, or either one can eventually prove more useful and digest the other one by taking over all use-cases.
Additionally, the most popular communication channel on /bitcoin with roughly 300k subscribers censors any alternative non-Bitcoin-Core-SegWit opinions and bans people from posting their ideas to discussions (see https://medium.com/@johnblocke/a-brief-and-incomplete-history-of-censorship-in-r-bitcoin-c85a290fe43). This is because their moderators are also supported by Blockstream. Note that the author of this overview has not gotten banned from this particular subreddit (yet), but has experienced shadow-banning first hand. Shadow-banning is a form of censorship. In this particular case, their moderator robot managed by people moderators, collaboratively with the people moderators, do the following:
  • (1) look for "Bitcoin Cash" and other undesirable keywords,
  • (2) warn authors that “Bitcoin Cash” is not true bitcoin (which objectively speaking it is, and which is by no means “BCash” that Bitcoin Core SegWit proponents refer to, in a coordinated effort to further confuse public, especially since some of them have published plans to officially release another cryptocurrency called “BCash” in 2018, see https://medium.com/@freetrade68/announcing-bcash-8b938329eaeb),
  • (3) further warn authors that if they try to post such opinions again, they could banned permanently,
  • (4) tell authors to delete their already posted posts or comments,
  • (5) hide their post from publicly seen boards with all other posts, thus preventing it from being seeing by the other participants in this roughly 300k public forum,
  • (6) and in extreme cases actually “remove” their valid opinions if they slip by uncensored, gain traction, and are often times raise to popularity as comments to other uncensored posts (see /btc/comments/6v3ee8/on_a_reply_i_made_in_rbitcoin_that_had_over_350 and /btc/comments/6vbyv0/in_case_we_needed_more_evidence_500_upvotes).
This effectively silences objective opinions and creates a dangerous echo-chamber. Suppressing free speech and artificially blowing up transaction fees on Bitcoin Core SegWit is against bitcoin’s fundamental values. Therefore, instead of the original Reddit communication channel, many bitcoin enthusiasts migrated to /btc which has roughly 60k subscribers as of now, up from 20k subscribers a year ago in August 2016 (see http://redditmetrics.com/btc). Moderators there do not censor opinions and allow all polite and civil discussions about scaling, including all opinions on Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Core, etc.
Looking beyond their respective leaderships and communication channels, let us review a few network fundamentals and recent developments in Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Cash networks. Consequently, for now, these present Bitcoin Cash with more favorable long-term prospects.
  • (1) The stress-test and/or attack on the Bitcoin Cash mempool earlier on August 16, 2017 showed that 8MB blocks do work as intended, without catastrophic complications that Bitcoin Core proponents anticipated and from which they attempted to discourage others (see https://jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/uahf/#2w for the Bitcoin Cash mempool and https://core.jochen-hoenicke.de/queue/#2w for the Bitcoin Core mempool). Note that when compared to the Bitcoin Core mempool on their respective 2 week views, one can observe how each network handles backlogs. On the most recent 2 week graphs, the Y-scale for Bitcoin Core is 110k vs. 90k on Bitcoin Cash. In other words, at the moment, Bitcoin Cash works better than Bitcoin Core even though there is clearly not as big demand for Bitcoin Cash as there is for Bitcoin Core. The lack of demand for Bitcoin Cash is partly because Bitcoin Cash is only 3 weeks old and not many merchants have started accepting it, and only a limited number of software applications to use Bitcoin Cash has been released so far. By all means, the Bitcoin Cash stress-test and/or attack from August 16, 2017 reveals that the supply will handle the increased demand, more affordably, and at a much quicker rate.
  • (2) Bitcoin Cash “BCH” mining has become temporarily more profitable than mining Bitcoin Core “BTC” (see http://fork.lol). Besides temporary loss of miners, this puts Bitcoin Core in danger of permanently fleeing miners. Subsequently, mempool backlog and transaction fees are anticipated to increase further.
  • (3) When compared to Bitcoin Cash transaction fees at roughly $0.02, transaction fees per kB are over 800 times as expensive on Bitcoin Core, currently at over $16 (see https://cashvscore.com).
  • (4) Tipping service that used to work on Bitcoin Core's /Bitcoin a few years back has been revived by a new tipping service piloted on the more neutral /btc with the integration of Bitcoin Cash (see /cashtipperbot).
3. Should we scale you on-chain or off-chain? Scaling bitcoin.
Let us start with the notion that we are impartial to both Bitcoin Core (small blocks, off-chain scaling only) and Bitcoin Cash (big blocks, on-chain scaling only) schools of thought. We will support any or all ideas, as long as they allow for bitcoin to grow organically and eventually succeed as a peer-to-peer network that remains decentralized, distributed, immutable. Should we have a preference in either of the proposed scaling solutions?
First, let us briefly address Bitcoin Core and small blocks again. From the second section of this overview, we understand that there are proposed off-chain scaling methods via second layer solutions (2L), most notably soon-to-be implemented lightning via SegWit on Bitcoin Core. Unfortunately, the lightning network diminishes distributed and immutable network properties by replacing bitcoin’s peer-to-peer network with a two-layer institution-to-institution network and peer-to-hub-to-peer 2L. Do we need this particular 2L right now? Is its complexity truly needed? Is it not at best somewhat cumbersome (if not very redundant)? In addition to ridiculously high on-chain transaction fees illustrated in the earlier section, the lightning network code is perhaps more robust than it needs to be now, with thousands of lines of code, thus possibly opening up to new vectors for bugs or attacks (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Lightning_Network and https://github.com/lightningnetwork/lnd). Additionally, this particular 2L as currently designed unnecessarily introduces third parties, hubs, that are expected to centralize. We already have a working code that has been tested and proven to handle 8MB blocks, as seen with Bitcoin Cash on August 16, 2017 (see https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/first-8mb-bitcoin-cash-block-just-mined). At best, these third party hubs would be decentralized but they would not be distributed. And these hubs would be by no means integral to the original bitcoin network with users, nodes, and miners.
To paraphrase Ocam’s razor problem solving principle, the simplest solution with the most desirable features will prevail (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor). The simplest scalability solution today is Bitcoin Cash because it updates only one line of code, which instantly increases the block size limit. This also allows other companies building on Bitcoin Cash to reduce their codes when compared to Bitcoin Core SegWit’s longer code, some even claiming ten-fold reductions (see /btc/comments/6vdm7y/ryan_x_charles_reveals_bcc_plan). The bitcoin ecosystem not only includes the network but it also includes companies building services on top of it. When these companies can reduce their vectors for bugs or attacks, the entire ecosystem is healthier and more resilient to hacking disasters. Obviously, changes to the bitcoin network code are desirable to be as few and as elegant as possible.
But what are the long-term implications of doing the one-line update repeatedly? Eventually, blocks would have to reach over 500MB size if they were to process Visa-level capacity (see https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Scalability). With decreasing costs of IT infrastructure, bandwidth and storage could accommodate it, but the overhead costs would increase significantly, implying miner and/or full node centralization further discussed next. To decrease this particular centralization risk, which some consider undesirable and others consider irrelevant, built-in and integrated 2L could keep the block size at a reasonably small-yet-still-large limit.
At the first sight, these 2L would remedy the risk of centralization by creating their own centralization incentive. At the closer look and Ocam’s razor principle again, these 2L do not have to become revenue-seeking third party hubs as designed with the current lightning network. They can be integrated into the current bitcoin network with at worst decentralized miners and at best distributed nodes. Recall that miners will eventually need to supplement their diminishing mining reward from new blocks. Additionally, as of today, the nodes have no built-in economic incentive to run other than securing the network and keeping the network’s overall value at its current level. Therefore, if new 2L were to be developed, they should be designed in a similar way like the lightning network, with the difference that the transaction processing revenue would not go to third party hubs but to the already integrated miners and nodes.
In other words, why do we need extra hubs if we have miners and nodes already? Let us consider the good elements from the lightning network, forget the unnecessary hubs, and focus on integrating the hubs’ responsibilities to already existing miner and node protocols. Why would we add extra elements to the system that already functions with the minimum number of elements possible? Hence, 2L are not necessarily undesirable as long as they do not unnecessarily introduce third party hubs.
Lastly, let us discuss partial on-chain scaling with the overall goal of network security. The network security we seek is the immutability and resilience via distributed elements within otherwise decentralized and distributed network. It is not inconceivable to scale bitcoin with bigger blocks as needed, when needed, to a certain degree. The thought process is the following:
  • (1) Block size limit:
We need some upper limit to avoid bloating the network with spam transactions. Okay, that makes sense. Now, what should this limit be? If we agree to disagree with small block size limit stuck at 1MB, and if we are fine with flexible block size limit increases (inspired by mining difficulty readjustments but on a longer time scale) or big block propositions (to be increased incrementally), what is holding us off next?
  • (2) Miner centralization:
Bigger blocks mean that more data will be transferred on the bitcoin network. Consequently, more bandwidth and data storage will be required. This will create decentralized miners instead of distributed ones. Yes, that is true. And it has already happened, due to the economy of scale, in particular the efficiency of grouping multiple miners in centralized facilities, and the creation of mining pools collectively and virtually connecting groups of miners not physically present in the same facility. These facilities tend to have huge overhead costs and the data storage and bandwidth increase costs are negligible in this context. The individual miners participating in mining pools will quite likely notice somewhat higher operational costs but allowing for additional revenue from integrated 2L described earlier will give them economic incentive to remain actively participating. Note that mining was never supposed to be strictly distributed and it was always at worst decentralized, as defined in the first section of this overview. To assure at best a distributed network, we have nodes.
  • (3) Node centralization:
Bigger blocks mean that more data will be transferred on the bitcoin network. Consequently, more bandwidth and data storage will be required. This will create decentralized nodes instead of distributed ones. Again, recall that we have a spectrum of decentralized and distributed networks in mind, not their absolutes. The concern about the node centralization (and the subsequent shift from distributed to decentralized network property) is valid if we only follow on-chain scaling to inconsiderate MB values. If addressed with the proposed integrated 2L that provides previously unseen economic incentives to participate in the network, this concern is less serious.
Furthermore, other methods to reduce bandwidth and storage needs can be used. A popular proposal is block pruning, which keeps only the most recent 550 blocks, and eventually deletes any older blocks (see https://news.bitcoin.com/pros-and-cons-on-bitcoin-block-pruning). Block pruning addresses storage needs and makes sure that not all nodes participating in the bitcoin network have to store all transactions that have ever been recorded on the blockchain. Some nodes storing all transactions are still necessary and they are called full nodes. Block pruning does not eliminate full nodes but it does indeed provide an economic incentive for the reduction and centralization (i.e. saving on storage costs). If addressed with the proposed integrated 2L that provides previously unseen economic incentives to participate in the network, this concern is less serious.
In other words, properly designed 2L should provide economic incentives for all nodes (full and pruned) to remain active and distributed. As of now, only miners earn revenue for participating. The lightning network proposes extra revenue for hubs. Instead, miner revenue could increase by processing 2L transactions as well, and full nodes could have an economic incentive as well. To mine, relatively high startup costs is necessary in order to get the most up to date mining hardware and proper cooling equipment. These have to be maintained and periodically upgraded. To run a full node, one needs only stable bandwidth and a sufficiently large storage, which can be expanded as needed, when needed. To run a full node, one needs only stable bandwidth and relatively small storage, which does not need to be expanded.
Keeping the distributed characteristic in mind, it would be much more secure for the bitcoin network if one could earn bitcoin by simply running a node, full or pruned. This could be integrated with a simple code change requiring each node to own a bitcoin address to which miners would send a fraction of processed transaction fees. Of course, pruned nodes would collectively receive the least transaction fee revenue (e.g. 10%), full nodes would collectively receive relatively larger transaction fee revenue (e.g. 20%), whereas mining facilities or mining pools would individually receive the largest transaction fee revenue (e.g. 70%) in addition to the full mining reward from newly mined blocks (i.e. 100%). This would assure that all nodes would remain relatively distributed. Hence, block pruning is a feasible solution.
However, in order to start pruning, one would have to have the full blockchain to begin with. As currently designed, downloading blockchain for the first time also audits previous blocks for accuracy, this can take days depending on one’s bandwidth. This online method is the only way to distribute the bitcoin blockchain and the bitcoin network so far. When the size of blockchain becomes a concern, a simpler distribution idea should be implemented offline. Consider distributions of Linux-based operating systems on USBs. Similarly, the full bitcoin blockchain up to a certain point can be distributed via easy-to-mail USBs. Note that even if we were to get the blockchain in bulk on such a USB, some form of a block audit would have to happen nevertheless.
A new form of checkpoint hashes could be added to the bitcoin code. For instance, each 2016 blocks (whenever the difficulty readjusts), all IDs from previous 2015 blocks would be hashed and recorded. That way, with our particular offline blockchain distribution, the first time user would have to audit only the key 2016th blocks, designed to occur on average once in roughly 2 weeks. This would significantly reduce bandwidth concerns for the auditing process because only each 2016th block would have to be uploaded online to be audited.
Overall, we are able to scale the bitcoin network via initial on-chain scaling approaches supplemented with off-chain scaling approaches. This upgrades the current network to a pruned peer-to-peer network with integrated 2L managed by miners and nodes who assure that the bitcoin network stays decentralized, distributed, immutable.
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