[NetBehaviour] bitcoin power (from Michel Bauwens, G+)

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Fri Dec 1 04:37:50 CET 2017

On Wed, 29 Nov 2017, Rob Myers wrote:

> On 27/11/17 08:21 AM, Alan Sondheim wrote:
>> One question and query -
>> Who establishes the difficult algorithms miners solve? Are they
>> themselves generated within the blockchain? Is there a group that has
>> control over this?
> The original Bitcoin difficulty adjustment algorithm was created by
> Satoshi Nakamoto. Its is part of the C++ code of the Bitcoin client
> software, so it exists outside the blockchain. Its stated objective is
> to keep Bitcoin creating blocks of transactions roughly every ten
> minutes. So the Bitcoin blockchain's ever-increasing energy consumption
> is a result of the difficulty adjustment algorithm being a paperclipper
> about targeting block time.
> Changing the difficulty algorithm requires changing the Bitcoin software
> source code. If that change is incompatible with the rest of the Bitcoin
> network, clients running the modified software will form their own rival
> network and start working on a separate "fork" of the blockchain. The
> most notable fork of the Bitcoin software/network/blockchain at the
> moment is "Bitcoin Cash", which explicitly includes a different
> difficulty adjustment algorithm. Other chains also have forks over their
> consensus rules, notably Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.
What I'm wondering, is who designs these algorithms? In other words, given 
that this is an armored means of transaction, would there be a weak link 
at the algorithmic end, or is the chain self-maintaining?

> There have been experiments with putting the difficulty algorithm on the
> blockchain. Eris did it at one point I think, and there was discussion
> of this for Ethereum network but I don't think anything came of it
> (although it does have "The Difficulty Bomb" to eventually enforce a
> switch from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake). Decred, which I mentioned
> in my last email to the list, makes voting on the parameters and code of
> the difficulty algorithm part of the governance system built into the
> software.

> So control is usually with the software developers and embedded in the
> code, although the developers lose the trust of the miners and of the
> users another fork will pick them up, and there are experiments around
> moving things on chain but that's not really happening yet.
Please explain this last paragraph - apologies for not understanding -

>> And a blockchain for cultural projects -
>> I wonder if it would be possible to establish an anti-currency, a
>> blockchain with easy mining solutions? For example, 2 50-digit numbers
>> multiplied? Does that make any sense? So that the currency built upon it
>> might stay worthless? But it could be used for cultural work, and would
>> still be stable?
> Cryptocurrencies usually pay for the operation and securing of their
> networks in their own currency, so making it worthless won't incentivise
> people to do that. But there are systems like Hyperledger Fabric or
> Tendermint that we could use to create such a network. Or if we accept
> "almost worthless", we could use one of the faster/easier/cheaper
> networks like Dogecoin (it's still going! :-D ).

This sounds fascinating, can you say more?
> What kind of work would you use it for?
It's hard to say; I still am almost totally ignorant and would have to 
work with someone who isn't. I'd be interested in thinking about the chain 
in terms of codework, self-reflexivity, as well as partially embedding 
text in it, that relies on the chain itself for at least part of the 
content. I wrote about that in the codework article for American Book 
Review, http://americanbookreview.org/issueContent.asp?id=37 - not sure 
that's available now.

Thanks greatly,


> - Rob.
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