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The Mike Hearn Show: Season Finale (and Bitcoin Classic: Series Premiere)
This post debunks Mike Hearn's conspiracy theories RE Blockstream in his farewell post and points out issues with the behavior of the Bitcoin Classic hard fork and sketchy tactics of its advocates I used to be torn on how to judge Mike Hearn. On the one hand he has done some good work with BitcoinJ, Lighthouse etc. Certainly his choice of bloom filter has had a net negative effect on the privacy of SPV users, but all in all it works as advertised.* On the other hand, he has single handedly advocated for some of the most alarming behavior changes in the Bitcoin network (e.g. redlists, coinbase reallocation, BIP101 etc...) to date. Not to mention his advocacy in the past year has degraded from any semblance of professionalism into an adversarial us-vs-them propaganda train. I do not believe his long history with the Bitcoin community justifies this adversarial attitude. As a side note, this post should not be taken as unabated support for Bitcoin Core. Certainly the dev team is made of humans and like all humans mistakes can be made (e.g. March 2013 fork). Some have even engaged in arguably unprofessional behavior but I have not yet witnessed any explicitly malicious activity from their camp (q). If evidence to the contrary can be provided, please share it. Thankfully the development of Bitcoin Core happens more or less completely out in the open; anyone can audit and monitor the goings on. I personally check the repo at least once a day to see what work is being done. I believe that the regular committers are genuinely interested in the overall well being of the Bitcoin network and work towards the common goal of maintaining and improving Core and do their best to juggle the competing interests of the community that depends on them. That is not to say that they are The Only Ones; for the time being they have stepped up to the plate to do the heavy lifting. Until that changes in some way they have my support. The hard line that some of the developers have drawn in regards to the block size has caused a serious rift and this write up is a direct response to oft-repeated accusations made by Mike Hearn and his supporters about members of the core development team. I have no affiliations or connection with Blockstream, however I have met a handful of the core developers, both affiliated and unaffiliated with Blockstream. Mike opens his farewell address with his pedigree to prove his opinion's worth. He masterfully washes over the mountain of work put into improving Bitcoin Core over the years by the "small blockians" to paint the picture that Blockstream is stonewalling the development of Bitcoin. The folks who signed Greg's scalability road map have done some of the most important, unsung work in Bitcoin. Performance improvements, privacy enhancements, increased reliability, better sync times, mempool management, bandwidth reductions etc... all those things are thanks to the core devs and the research community (e.g. Christian Decker), many of which will lead to a smoother transition to larger blocks (e.g. libsecp256k1).(1) While ignoring previous work and harping on the block size exclusively, Mike accuses those same people who have spent countless hours working on the protocol of trying to turn Bitcoin into something useless because they remain conservative on a highly contentious issue that has tangible effects on network topology. The nature of this accusation is characteristic of Mike's attitude over the past year which marked a shift in the block size debate from a technical argument to a personal one (in tandem with DDoS and censorship in /Bitcoin and general toxicity from both sides). For example, Mike claimed that sidechains constitutes a conflict of interest, as Blockstream employees are "strongly incentivized to ensure [bitcoin] works poorly and never improves" despite thousands of commits to the contrary. Many of these commits are top down rewrites of low level Bitcoin functionality, not chump change by any means. I am not just "counting commits" here. Anyways, Blockstream's current client base consists of Bitcoin exchanges whose future hinges on the widespread adoption of Bitcoin. The more people that use Bitcoin the more demand there will be for sidechains to service the Bitcoin economy. Additionally, one could argue that if there was some sidechain that gained significant popularity (hundreds of thousands of users), larger blocks would be necessary to handle users depositing and withdrawing funds into/from the sidechain. Perhaps if they were miners and core devs at the same time then a conflict of interest on small blocks would be a more substantive accusation (create artificial scarcity to increase tx fees). The rational behind pricing out the Bitcoin "base" via capacity constraint to increase their business prospects as a sidechain consultancy is contrived and illogical. If you believe otherwise I implore you to share a detailed scenario in your reply so I can see if I am missing something. Okay, so back to it. Mike made the right move when Core would not change its position, he forked Core and gave the community XT. The choice was there, most miners took a pass. Clearly there was not consensus on Mike's proposed scaling road map or how big blocks should be rolled out. And even though XT was a failure (mainly because of massive untested capacity increases which were opposed by some of the larger pools whose support was required to activate the 75% fork), it has inspired a wave of implementation competition. It should be noted that the censorship and attacks by members of /Bitcoin is completely unacceptable, there is no excuse for such behavior. While theymos is entitled to run his subreddit as he sees fit, if he continues to alienate users there may be a point of mass exodus following some significant event in the community that he tries to censor. As for the DDoS attackers, they should be ashamed of themselves; it is recommended that alt. nodes mask their user agents. Although Mike has left the building, his alarmist mindset on the block size debate lives on through Bitcoin Classic, an implementation which is using a more subtle approach to inspire adoption, as jtoomim cozies up with miners to get their support while appealing to the masses with a call for an adherence to Satoshi's "original vision for Bitcoin." That said, it is not clear that he is competent enough to lead the charge on the maintenance/improvement of the Bitcoin protocol. That leaves most of the heavy lifting up to Gavin, as Jeff has historically done very little actual work for Core. We are thus in a potentially more precarious situation then when we were with XT, as some Chinese miners are apparently "on board" for a hard fork block size increase. Jtoomim has expressed a willingness to accept an exceptionally low (60 or 66%) consensus threshold to activate the hard fork if necessary. Why? Because of the lost "opportunity cost" of the threshold not being reached.(c) With variance my guess is that a lucky 55% could activate that 60% threshold. That's basically two Chinese miners. I don't mean to attack him personally, he is just willing to go down a path that requires the support of only two major Chinese mining pools to activate his hard fork. As a side effect of the latency issues of GFW, a block size increase might increase orphan rate outside of GFW, profiting the Chinese pools. With a 60% threshold there is no way for miners outside of China to block that hard fork. To compound the popularity of this implementation, the efforts of Mike, Gavin and Jeff have further blinded many within the community to the mountain of effort that core devs have put in. And it seems to be working, as they are beginning to successfully ostracize the core devs beyond the network of "true big block-believers." It appears that Chinese miners are getting tired of the debate (and with it Core) and may shift to another implementation over the issue.(d) Some are going around to mining pools and trying to undermine Core's position in the soft vs. hard fork debate. These private appeals to the miner community are a concern because there is no way to know if bad information is being passed on with the intent to disrupt Core's consensus based approach to development in favor of an alternative implementation controlled (i.e. benevolent dictator) by those appealing directly to miners. If the core team is reading this, you need to get out there and start pushing your agenda so the community has a better understanding of what you all do every day and how important the work is. Get some fancy videos up to show the effects of block size increase and work on reading materials that are easy for non technically minded folk to identify with and get behind. The soft fork debate really highlights the disingenuity of some of these actors. Generally speaking, soft forks are easier on network participants who do not regularly keep up with the network's software updates or have forked the code for personal use and are unable to upgrade in time, while hard forks require timely software upgrades if the user hopes to maintain consensus after a hardfork. The merits of that argument come with heavy debate. However, more concerning is the fact that hard forks require central planning and arguably increase the power developers have over changes to the protocol.(2) In contrast, the 'signal of readiness' behavior of soft forks allows the network to update without any hardcoded flags and developer oversight. Issues with hard forks are further compounded by activation thresholds, as soft forks generally require 95% consensus while Bitcoin Classic only calls for 60-75% consensus, exposing network users to a greater risk of competing chains after the fork. Mike didn't want to give the Chinese any more power, but now the post XT fallout has pushed the Chinese miners right into the Bitcoin Classic drivers seat. While a net split did happen briefly during the BIP66 soft fork, imagine that scenario amplified by miners who do not agree to hard fork changes while controlling 25-40% of the networks hashing power. Two actively mined chains with competing interests, the Doomsday Scenario. With a 5% miner hold out on a soft fork, the fork will constantly reorg and malicious transactions will rarely have more than one or two confirmations.(b) During a soft fork, nodes can protect themselves from double spends by waiting for extra confirmations when the node alerts the user that a ANYONECANSPEND transaction has been seen. Thus, soft forks give Bitcoin users more control over their software (they can choose to treat a softfork as a soft fork or a soft fork as a hardfork) which allows for greater flexibility on upgrade plans for those actively maintaining nodes and other network critical software. (2) Advocating for a low threshold hard forks is a step in the wrong direction if we are trying to limit the "central planning" of any particular implementation. However I do not believe that is the main concern of the Bitcoin Classic devs. To switch gears a bit, Mike is ironically concerned China "controls" Bitcoin, but wanted to implement a block size increase that would only increase their relative control (via increased orphans). Until the p2p wire protocol is significantly improved (IBLT, etc...), there is very little room (if any at all) to raise the block size without significantly increasing orphan risk. This can be easily determined by looking at jtoomim's testnet network data that passed through normal p2p network, not the relay network.(3) In the mean time this will only get worse if no one picks up the slack on the relay network that Matt Corallo is no longer maintaining. (4) Centralization is bad regardless of the block size, but Mike tries to conflate the centralization issues with the Blockstream block size side show for dramatic effect. In retrospect, it would appear that the initial lack of cooperation on a block size increase actually staved off increases in orphan risk. Unfortunately, this centralization metric will likely increase with the cooperation of Chinese miners and Bitcoin Classic if major strides to reduce orphan rates are not made. Mike also manages to link to a post from the ProHashing guy RE forever-stuck transactions, which has been shown to generally be the result of poorly maintained/improperly implemented wallet software.(6) Ultimately Mike wants fees to be fixed despite the fact you can't enforce fixed fees in a system that is not centrally planned. Miners could decide to raise their minimum fees even when blocks are >1mb, especially when blocks become too big to reliably propagate across the network without being orphaned. What is the marginal cost for a tx that increases orphan risk by some %? That is a question being explored with flexcaps. Even with larger blocks, if miners outside the GFW fear orphans they will not create the bigger blocks without a decent incentive; in other words, even with a larger block size you might still end up with variable fees. Regardless, it is generally understood that variable fees are not preferred from a UX standpoint, but developers of Bitcoin software do not have the luxury of enforcing specific fees beyond basic defaults hardcoded to prevent cheap DoS attacks. We must expose the user to just enough information so they can make an informed decision without being overwhelmed. Hard? Yes. Impossible. No. Shifting gears, Mike states that current development progress via segwit is an empty ploy, despite the fact that segwit comes with not only a marginal capacity increase, but it also plugs up major malleability vectors, allows pruning blocks for historical data and a bunch of other fun stuff. It's a huge win for unconfirmed transactions (which Mike should love). Even if segwit does require non-negligible changes to wallet software and Bitcoin Core (500 lines LoC), it allows us time to improve block relay (IBLT, weak blocks) so we can start raising the block size without fear of increased orphan rate. Certainly we can rush to increase the block size now and further exacerbate the China problem, or we can focus on the "long play" and limit negative externalities. And does segwit help the Lightning Network? Yes. Is that something that indicates a Blockstream conspiracy? No. Comically, the big blockians used to criticize Blockstream for advocating for LN when there was no one working on it, but now that it is actively being developed, the tune has changed and everything Blockstream does is a conspiracy to push for Bitcoin's future as a dystopic LN powered settlement network. Is LN "the answer?" Obviously not, most don't actually think that. How it actually works in practice is yet to be seen and there could be unforseen emergent characteristics that make it less useful for the average user than originally thought. But it's a tool that should be developed in unison with other scaling measures if only for its usefulness for instant txs and micropayments. Regardless, the fundamental divide rests on ideological differences that we all know well. Mike is fine with the miner-only validation model for nodes and is willing to accept some miner centralization so long as he gets the necessary capacity increases to satisfy his personal expectations for the immediate future of Bitcoin. Greg and co believe that a distributed full node landscape helps maintain a balance of decentralization in the face of the miner centralization threat. For example, if you have 10 miners who are the only sources for blockchain data then you run the risk of undetectable censorship, prolific sybil attacks, and no mechanism for individuals to validate the network without trusting a third party. As an analogy, take the tor network: you use it with an expectation of privacy while understanding that the multi-hop nature of the routing will increase latency. Certainly you could improve latency by removing a hop or two, but with it you lose some privacy. Does tor's high latency make it useless? Maybe for watching Netflix, but not for submitting leaked documents to some newspaper. I believe this is the philosophy held by most of the core development team. Mike does not believe that the Bitcoin network should cater to this philosophy and any activity which stunts the growth of on-chain transactions is a direct attack on the protocol. Ultimately however I believe Greg and co. also want Bitcoin to scale on-chain transactions as much as possible. They believe that in order for Bitcoin to increase its capacity while adhering to acceptable levels of decentralization, much work needs to be done. It's not a matter of if block size will be increased, but when. Mike has confused this adherence to strong principles of decentralization as disingenuous and a cover up for a dystopic future of Bitcoin where sidechains run wild with financial institutions paying $40 per transaction. Again, this does not make any sense to me. If banks are spending millions to co-op this network what advantage does a decentralized node landscape have to them? There are a few roads that the community can take now: one where we delay a block size increase while improvements to the protocol are made (with the understanding that some users may have to wait a few blocks to have their transaction included, fees will be dependent on transaction volume, and transactions <$1 may be temporarily cost ineffective) so that when we do increase the block size, orphan rate and node drop off are insignificant. Another is the immediate large block size increase which possibly leads to a future Bitcoin which looks nothing like it does today: low numbers of validating nodes, heavy trust in centralized network explorers and thus a more vulnerable network to government coercion/general attack. Certainly there are smaller steps for block size increases which might not be as immediately devastating, and perhaps that is the middle ground which needs to be trodden to appease those who are emotionally invested in a bigger block size. Combined with segwit however, max block sizes could reach unacceptable levels. There are other scenarios which might play out with competing chains etc..., but in that future Bitcoin has effectively failed. As any technology that requires maintenance and human interaction, Bitcoin will require politicking for decision making. Up until now that has occurred via the "vote download" for software which implements some change to the protocol. I believe this will continue to be the most robust of options available to us. Now that there is competition, the Bitcoin Core community can properly advocate for changes to the protocol that it sees fit without being accused of co-opting the development of Bitcoin. An ironic outcome to the situation at hand. If users want their Bitcoins to remain valuable, they must actively determine which developers are most competent and have their best interests at heart. So far the core dev community has years of substantial and successful contributions under its belt, while the alt implementations have a smattering of developers who have not yet publicly proven (besides perhaps Gavin--although his early mistakes with block size estimates is concerning) they have the skills and endurance necessary to maintain a full node implementation. Perhaps now it is time that we focus on the personalities who many want to trust Bitcoin's future. Let us see if they can improve the speed at which signatures are validated by 7x. Or if they can devise privacy preserving protocols like Confidential Transactions. Or can they figure out ways to improve traversal times across a merkle tree? Can they implement HD functionality into a wallet without any coin-crushing bugs? Can they successfully modularize their implementation without breaking everything? If so, let's welcome them with open arms. But Mike is at R3 now, which seems like a better fit for him ideologically. He can govern the rules with relative impunity and there is not a huge community of open source developers, researchers and enthusiasts to disagree with. I will admit, his posts are very convincing at first blush, but ultimately they are nothing more than a one sided appeal to the those in the community who have unrealistic or incomplete understandings of the technical challenges faced by developers maintaining a consensus critical, validation-heavy, distributed system that operates within an adversarial environment. Mike always enjoyed attacking Blockstream, but when survey his past behavior it becomes clear that his motives were not always pure. Why else would you leave with such a nasty, public farewell? To all the XT'ers, btc'ers and so on, I only ask that you show some compassion when you critique the work of Bitcoin Core devs. We understand you have a competing vision for the scaling of Bitcoin over the next few years. They want Bitcoin to scale too, you just disagree on how and when it should be done. Vilifying and attacking the developers only further divides the community and scares away potential future talent who may want to further the Bitcoin cause. Unless you can replace the folks doing all this hard work on the protocol or can pay someone equally as competent, please think twice before you say something nasty. As for Mike, I wish you the best at R3 and hope that you can one day return to the Bitcoin community with a more open mind. It must hurt having your software out there being used by so many but your voice snuffed. Hopefully one day you can return when many of the hard problems are solved (e.g. reduced propagation delays, better access to cheap bandwidth) and the road to safe block size increases have been paved. (*) https://eprint.iacr.org/2014/763.pdf (q) https://github.com/bitcoinclassic/bitcoinclassic/pull/6 (b) https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/bitcoin-dev/2015-Decembe012026.html (c) https://github.com/bitcoinclassic/bitcoinclassic/pull/1#issuecomment-170299027 (d) http://toom.im/jameshilliard_classic_PR_1.html (0) http://bitcoinstats.com/irc/bitcoin-dev/logs/2016/01/06 (1) https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/graphs/contributors (2) https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/pipermail/bitcoin-dev/2015-Decembe012014.html (3) https://toom.im/blocktime (beware of heavy website) (4) https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=766190.msg13510513#msg13510513 (5) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10774773 (6) http://rusty.ozlabs.org/?p=573 edit, fixed some things. edit 2, tried to clarify some more things and remove some personal bias thanks to astro
Since this is a pressing and prevalent issue, I thought maybe condensing the essential arguments into one mega thread is better than rehashing everything in new threads all the time. I chose a FAQ format for this so a certain statement can be answered. I don't want to re-post everything here so where appropriate I'm just going to use links. Disclaimer: This is biased towards big blocks (BIP 101 in particular) but still tries to mention the risks, worries and fears. I think this is fair because all other major bitcoin discussion places severely censor and discourage big block discussion.
What is the block size limit?
The block size limit was introduced by Satoshi back in 2010-07-15 as an anti-DoS measure (though this was not stated in the commit message, more info here). Ever since, it has never been touched because historically there was no need and raising the block size limit requires a hard fork. The block size directly limits the number of transactions in a block. Therefore, the capacity of Bitcoin is directly limited by the block size limit.
Why does a raise require a hard fork?
Because larger blocks are seen as invalid by old nodes, a block size increase would fork these nodes off the network. Therefore it is a hard fork. However, it is possible to downsize the block limit with a soft fork since smaller blocks would still be seen as valid from old nodes. It is considerably easier to roll out a soft fork. Therefore, it makes sense to roll out a more ambitious hard fork limit and downsize as needed with soft forks if problems arise.
What is the deal with soft and hard forks anyways?
It is the Chicken and Egg problem applied to future growth of Bitcoin. If companies do not see how Bitcoin can scale long term, they don't invest which in turn slows down adoption and development. See here and here.
Does an increase in block size limit mean that blocks immediately get larger to the point of the new block size limit?
No, blocks are as large as there is demand for transactions on the network. But one can assume that if the limit is lifted, more users and businesses will want to use the blockchain. This means that blocks will get bigger, but they will not automatically jump to the size of the block size limit. Increased usage of the blockchain also means increased adoption, investment and also price appreciation.
Which are the block size increase proposals?
See here. It should be noted that BIP 101 is the only proposal which has been implemented and is ready to go.
What is the long term vision of BIP 101?
BIP 101 tries to be as close to hardware limitations regarding bandwidth as possible so that nodes can continue running at normal home-user grade internet connections to keep the decentralized aspect of Bitcoin alive. It is believed that it is hard to increase the block size limit, so a long term increase is beneficial to planning and investment in the Bitcoin network. Go to this article for further reading and understand what is meant by "designing for success". BIP 101 vs actual transaction growth visualized: http://imgur.com/QoTEOO2 Note that the actual growth in BIP 101 is piece-wise linear and does not grow in steps as suggested in the picture.
What is up with the moderation and censorship on bitcoin.org, bitcointalk.org and /bitcoin?
Proponents of a more conservative approach fear that a block size increase proposal that does not have "developeexpert consensus" should not be implemented via a majority hard fork. Therefore, discussion about the full node clients which implement BIP 101 is not allowed. Since the same individuals have major influence of all the three bitcoin websites (most notably theymos), discussion of Bitcoin XT is censored and/or discouraged on these websites.
Who governs or controls Bitcoin Core anyways? Who governs Bitcoin XT? What is Bitcoin governance?
Bitcoin Core is governed by a consensus mechanism. How it actually works is not clear. It seems that any major developer can "veto" a change. However, there is one head maintainer who pushes releases and otherwise organizes the development effort. It should be noted that the majority of the main contributors to Bitcoin Core are Blockstream employees. BitcoinXT follows a benevolent dictator model (as Bitcoin used to follow when Satoshi and later Gavin Andresen were the lead maintainers). It is a widespread believe that Bitcoin can be separated into protocol and full node development. This means that there can be multiple implementations of Bitcoin that all follow the same protocol and overall consensus mechanism. More reading here. By having multiple implementations of Bitcoin, single Bitcoin implementations can be run following a benevolent dictator model while protocol development would follow an overall consensus model (which is enforced by Bitcoin's fundamental design through full nodes and miners' hash power). It is still unclear how protocol changes should actually be governed in such a model. Bitcoin governance is a research topic and evolving.
What are the arguments against a significant block size increase and against BIP 101 in particular?
The main arguments against a significant increase are related to decentralization and therefore robustness against commercial interests and government regulation and intervention. More here (warning: biased Wiki article). Another main argument is that Bitcoin needs a fee market established by a low block size limit to support miners long term. There is significant evidence and game theory to doubt this claim, as can be seen here. Finally, block propagation and verification times increase with an increased block size. This in turn increases the orphan rate of miners which means reduced profit. Some believe that this is a disadvantage to small miners because they are not as well connected to other big miners. Also, there is currently a large miner centralization in China. Since most of these miners are behind the Great Firewall of China, their bandwidth to the rest of the world is limited. There is a fear that larger block propagation times favor Chinese miners as long as they have a mining majority. However, there are solutions in development that can drastically reduce block propagation times so this problem will be less of an issue long term.
What is up with the fee market and what is the Lightning Network (LN)?
Major Bitcoin Core developers believe that a fee market established by a low block size is needed for future security of the bitcoin network. While many believe fundamentally this is true, there is major dispute if a fee market needs to be forced by a low block size. One of the main LN developers thinks such a fee market through low block size is needed (read here). The Lightning Network is a non-bandwidth scaling solution. It uses payment channels that can be opened and closed using Bitcoin transactions that are settled on the blockchain. By routing transactions through many of these payment channels, in theory it is possible to support a lot more transactions while a user only needs very few payment channels and therefore rarely has to use (settle on) the actual blockchain. More info here.
How does LN and other non-bandwidth scaling solutions relate to Bitcoin Core and its long term scaling vision?
Bitcoin Core is headed towards a future where block sizes are kept low so that a fee market is established long term that secures miner incentives. The main scaling solution propagated by Core is LN and other solutions that only sometimes settle transactions on the main Bitcoin blockchain. Essentially, Bitcoin becomes a settlement layer for solutions that are built on top of Bitcoin's core technology. Many believe that long term this might be inevitable. But forcing this off-chain development already today seems counterproductive to Bitcoin's much needed growth and adoption phase before such solutions can thrive. It should also be noted that no major non-bandwidth scaling solution (such as LN) has been tested or even implemented. It is not even clear if such off-chain solutions are needed long term scaling solutions as it might be possible to scale Bitcoin itself to handle all needed transaction volumes. Some believe that the focus on a forced fee market by major Bitcoin Core developers represents a conflict of interest since their employer is interested in pushing off-chain scaling solutions such as LN (more reading here).
Are there solutions in development that show the block sizes as proposed via BIP 101 are viable and block propagation times in particular are low enough?
How we can come together to make our amazing new technology thrive THE PROBLEM Blockchain technology, and Bitcoin its derived monetary system, is amazing. Generally those who investigate the technology and understand it and its potential, come to believe it is an innovation that will change the world. In recent times however it has faced challenges not specifically from technological limits or failings in the structural makeup of the protocol, but the governance, technical consensus reaching mechanism, and power balance in the main components of the overall system (mining/nodes/wallets). There are problems with the way the technology is portrayed to the general public and the media, and how the perceptions of the past are continued and perpetuated when the topic of bitcoin arises (volatility, mtgox, 'not real money'). There needs to be a change. It needs to be measured and managed to give our new technology the best chance of succeeding in the world it will be operating in. GOVERNANCE I believe the way forward is to redesign the overall structure over the next few months, with an aim to implement a new, backwards compatible system, for use from a certain 'block point in time'. Input would be garnered from generally accepted leaders in the bitcoin space and others, and areas of focus would need to be confirmed and likely expanded, however thought leaders in regards to the seperate 'towers' of monetary systems, blockchain technology, cryptography, payment systems, marketing, legal, and governance would be required to comment on proposals, in a progressive and productive forum. Structures need to be built to allow all to contribute, yet without any topic stalling due to indecision or the type of 'regulatory capture lite' we have seen occurring recently in /Bitcoin/. POTENTIAL If changes to the overall system can be managed and orchestrated, with all above 'towers' successfully innovating under a consensus guided and, thought leader driven schema, while concentrating on conservative and achievable roadmaps, our system will thrive. A new (yet backwards/blockchain compatible) set of standards and code base for use in the new (real) world would be required allowing the protocol to fully realise its potential for growth. New technologies such as IBLT and BIP101, SW, among the many others currently being discussed would be combined in a greenfields codebase, to be distributed at a known block in time (sometime in 2017?) ROADMAP AND IMPLIMENTATION Well defined 'block points in time' for updates and roadmap creation allow no surprises for those who have infrastructure and integration requirements. These roadmaps will be definite and any features not incorporated into the feature set will be moved back to the next blockpoint. All code shops are permitted to put their code forward, with the only restriction the requirement to declare their proposal in the common roadmap. MODULAR ARCHITECTURE As discussed https://www.reddit.com/btc/comments/3yciqd/can_we_make_bitcoins_software_modula it is suggested the protocol be as modular as possible allowing for all use cases, hardware types, capacities, and performance. No we will not call the core component, 'Bitcoin Core'. ;) PERCEPTIONS An initial change I propose is in the language we use. We have the chance to claw back the public's interest and attention by changing the name of the protocol from Bitcoin (a wildly physically inaccurate description of the technology, and generally agreed bad public image) to something we will be comfortable to expand use in the boardrooms, web sites, and coffee shops of the future. I propose the following naming changes for our technology, to control its perception in the minds of the public, media and corporate users. Interchain (The Interchain) - New name for Bitcoin. An internet sized system for secure wealth transfer, and payment of goods and services. Aligned with the new governance and innovation schema described above, (in effect we are referring to Bitcoin 2.0). There is of course only one Internet, it just doesn't make any sense to say 'Internets', and this understanding will permeate into the common use with the name 'Interchain'. The name alludes to the fact it is a component of the internet, and is built on the blockchain. Intrachains (i.e. Intranet) - As banks and financial institutions are looking to use blockchain technology to create efficiencies in their controlled environments, this term allows the technology used to appear aligned to, yet is a fundamentally separate construct from the Interchain. Due to the corporate interests in this arena, I believe it is important to take control of this term early here, as once these Intrachains permeate into common use in corporate environments, there will be a scramble for large entities to own the naming and control the terminology of this technology. XBT (deprecated) - Whole bitcoins on exchanges. The concept of a 'bitcoin' needs to be depreciated. It's an arbitrary amount of satoshis (currently one hundred million) yet has no real worth as an amount in financial transactions. How may times have you had some one tell you they like bitcoin, yet at the moment just cant afford 'one'. XIB (XICB) (InterChain Bit) the new Bits (one millionth of a legacy bitcoin) <---- The base unit XIC (XICC) (InterChain Cent) - The new Satoshi. (one hundred millionth of a legacy bitcoin) This is not likely on exchanges etc, in the same way the USD doesn't have a parallel currency to describe the cent. I imagine most world cryptocurrency commerce would be in XIB, possibly called IB. (maybe with a similar symbol as the current bitcoin symbol - not the same however, too confusing) The term bitcoin would probably continue to be used in an informal/colloquial fashion when referring to 1MM bits. The bitcoin symbol could continue to be used, however it would be less useful over time in general money use, and would appear more often in high worth discussions and prices, before disappearing entirely. REDDIT To ensure the initial direction of discussion of the new push is not lost to a potential 'bad actor', I have created the following subreddits... /TheInterchain/Interchain <---- The primary subreddit, the new /bitcoin /Intrachains/Intrachain andreasma gavinandresenmikehearn , as you are thought leaders I trust; if you believe these proposed governance and name changes are worthwhile, I would be happy for you all to advise those who you believe would make open and fair (no corporate interests) moderators. Otherwise, onward and upwards! :)
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