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> Ethereum offers nothing more than Bitcion

It offers a more powerful scripting language to define contracts.

> Ethereum could quickly outdate itself by defining a fixed language.

If offers a "bytecode" type language which can be created by compiling contracts in >=2 languages already. Bitcoin currently lets you define contracts in the equivalent of assembly code, with no higher level languages available. So this statment seems to apply more to Bitcoin than Ethereum.

> Bitcoin could be easily made Turing complete.

Bitcoin developers can't even agree to a simple block size increase. What makes you think they would be able to do something as complex as adding turing-complete scripting capabilities?

> Unless I am missing something, a new currency is simply unnecessary.

Since bitcoin does not support 2-way pegged sidechains yet, it's not possible to launch a new blockchain without launching a new currency to power that blockchain. Besides, you need a way to reward the miners.

> Soon, I am sure a prototype of what I described will be released on bitcion thus obscuring Ethereum.

That's basically what Rootstock[0] is supposed to be. Although at present, it seems to be vaporware.

A year ago I used to have a similar viewpoint to you, that Bitcoin had such a massive first mover advantage and network effects that it would remain the dominant public blockchain, and that even as new inventions appeared, they would be backported to bitcoin. But over the past 6 months I've realized how useless Bitcoin is without a genuine respected leader/BDFL, and now think that without a leader it's doomed to design by committee and stalemate on key decisions, which leaves the playing field wide open for competitors like Ethereum.

[0] http://www.rootstock.io/

This is what's going to happen in three months with Ethereum: http://forums.prohashing.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=782

Ethereum's features with Turing-completeness and all the things it can do are great, but everyone is missing the point that not all of that is needed. What is needed is simple: people who act professionally, who get things done, and a network that is not artificially limited.

Litecoin could have taken on this role even more easily than Ethereum, or Dogecoin, or any of the other coins - but they refused to increase their blocksizes when they had the chance. Ethereum is coming of age now partially due to its Homestead release, but also due to the critical bitcoin halving event in July that is going to throw cryptocurrency into chaos.

People are missing the point - Ethereum isn't popular because it is better than bitcoin. It's popular because it has good people in charge. In that way, Mike Hearn is right.

Bitcoin's problem is not a lack of a leader, it's problem is that the leader is Gregory Maxwell at Blockstream and he's a terrible decision maker. Blockstream is the source of the refusal to bump the block size.

Indeed, the block size debate did not stalemate. It resulted in the small blockists winning, due to the much more aggressive tactics they used (e.g. hiring a bunch of developers then asserting they'd all quit forever if the block size were changed).

I've noticed a "know-nothing" strategy recently adopted by blockchain core - basically, the ideas is that community members claim that everyone who isn't part of core development is naive and has no valid position in debating the future of bitcoin. These users speak with pride about leaving social communities because of their ignorance. It reminds me a lot of the Fox news listeners who deride world media as liars.

Here's an example of the proud know-nothingness. The interesting part begins at 17:30. The speaker, Julia Tourianski, makes a fair attack against Mike Hearn for his departure, but then she goes on to point out that developers are faced with low morale because the community doesn't support their work. The conversation then moves to leaving Reddit and other media because "the trolls" (presumably persons who are in favor of a blocksize increase) have taken over.


Bitcoin's technical problems are that it fundamentally does not scale. If each node has to verify all transactions that is not sustainable in the long term. Hal Finney knew this way back: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=2500.msg34211#msg342... "Bitcoin itself cannot scale to have every single financial transaction in the world be broadcast to everyone and included in the block chain. There needs to be a secondary level of payment systems which is lighter weight and more efficient."

It is a myth that Bitcoin requires every node to validate all transactions in the long term. That's why the white paper explains the need for spv clients.


Moreover it a red herring to assert that Bitcoin has to scale to support every single financial transaction in the world just like it would be a red herring to attack the architecture of the Internet because it cannot scale today to include every form of communication we perform today.

Red herring/ strawman / Nirvana arguments are the defense for the entire small block position. Bitcoin, like every other information technology, does not need to meet every need today. It simply needs

1. Sufficient free capacity to encourage growth, and

2. Continuous improvement

Can confirm. Bitcoin can scale but is being artificially limited in favor of off chain solutions.

Seem like you don't see the x^n argument. It should be obvious. Satoshi/Hal Finney were well aware of this, see the link. This has nothing to do with SPV. Producing blocks is what's important.

I searched the link. Satoshi did not post in that thread and there is no mention of "x^n"

Maybe you should present the argument, since it wasn't presented where you said I'd find it.

Very well said riprowan.

It is indeed time to get back on track developing SPV!

True, but we are not there yet. Bitcoin can probably scale 20x times without a problem. That would be 20 times lower transaction fees and 20 times more people using it.

It can't scale 20x without running into decentralization problems.


Most large blockers are running businesses that depend on no/low fees, plus the reddit mob that goes with whatever argument sounds most conspiratorial (aka Blockstream sabotaging Bitcoin for sidechains).

Thanks for the article. But I don't see where it says that Bitcoin can't scale 20x without decentralization problems.

I see that "the block size should not exceed 4MB for X=90%; and 38MB for X=50%", but I don't think that 50% reduction of number of nodes would be a serious decentralization problem (we've seen a similar reduction already due to the implementation of SPV clients).

Mining centralization could be a bigger problem, but with headers-first mining the block size wouldn't contribute to it.

Also the authors of the article assume the use of Bitcoin’s current peer-to-peer overlay network, that can be drastically optimized.

I've chosen 20x because Gavin had conducted 20Mb tests more than a year ago, before many optimizations took place.

There is nothing bad in the low fees. Low fees is the marketing strategy to boost the usage of Bitcoin and create the large enough ecosystem. Miners are being subsidised by bitcoin holders for a reason.

Larger the blocks while preserving a reasonable degree of decentralization -> lower the fees per transaction -> more people use Bitcoin -> more valuable the bitcoin ecosystem is -> higher the price of bitcoin -> mining is more profitable -> stable and secure infrastructure for the new global economy.

"If each node has to verify all transactions that is not sustainable in the long term."

It is sustainable, but only for certain amount of transactions. Even if the block size limit stays at 1MB, I'm pretty sure some group of people/organizations will keep using bitcoin for something. Those who are not happy with it will move elsewhere, but there is so much infrastructure/tools/etc for bitcoin already, that many have will hard time switching to something new.

Sorry, I am not sure Bitcoin can be a niche currency. It needs to be big enough to survive.

If most people prefer to use other crypto instead then Bitcoin may fall into a death spiral:

...lower the demand for bitcoins -> lower the price of bitcoin AND lower amount of bitcoin transactions -> less profitable the mining -> less secure the network -> lower the demand for bitcoins....

Mike Hearn works for a bank. Gregory Maxwell works for a group of cypherpunks. I'll take my chances with Bitcoin.

Thanks for bitcoinj though.

Look at the list of investors. Banks invested in Blockstream.

I never said banks don't know how to hedge.

That's not hedging. They are paying to kill Bitcoin.

Do you think Bitcoin Classic has chances to succeed? It looks like their hashing power is growing: http://nodecounter.com/#block_explorer

Do you find it strange that Bitcoin is the same price it was ever since you said it was dead?

So many new users just to attack you Mike. And all the buttcoin trolls suddenly became small blockers. Evidence of Blockstream hiring shills continues to grow.

It went great.

Mike, the entire drama is ridiculous. However, you've turned your back on BTC because XT was rejected to go and work for R3 to put our tech back into the hands of the people we wanted to get away from. If BTC and everything that "could" come with it was so important to you then you should have stayed and fought the fight. Instead you decided to join R3,so let go and move on.

Blockstream is developing bitcoin into a bank settlement network (that the banks won't use). Maybe you should focus your ire there, instead of on the guy who has actually pushed open source and consumer-grade P2P payment systems miles forward.

> and now think that without a leader it's doomed to design by committee and stalemate on key decisions

As a regular in the cryptocurrency world, it's evident that no matter what you do, someone is going to find a reason to criticize you. One day these people are criticising Bitcoin for being run by a cabal of closely knit developers, the next you see this guy saying Bitcoin doesn't have a leader and is instead being designed by an apparently leaderless committee. They seem to alter their concerns and their approach to criticising Bitcoin depending on which way the wind is blowing.

BTW, I'm going to assume something and you should too: adrianmacneil here is almost assuredly long ETH. He probably albeit less assuredly so doesn't own any BTC. In any case you can assume I have the opposite portfolio.

First and foremost, Bitcoin and Ethereum couldn't possibly be more different. Bitcoin is a "Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System". Bitcoin places a higher value on securing the cash. It places tamper resistance above all else, and generally takes no chances on that. That's a feature, not a bug.

Because if that core unit fails, then the entire cash system collapses. You can't exactly have a global currency that fails mid voyage. Modern financial systems don't do that very often and neither should Bitcoin.

Conversely, Ethereum is a smart contracts platform through and through. It has 15 second block times. It has its own VM. This VM has had critical vulnerabilities in the recent past, and is less than 1 year into production.

Notice how Bitcoin could never be about smart contracts like Ethereum does, at its core, since Bitcoin could only do that by taking on existential risk?

However, that doesn't mean Bitcoin can't better manage its risk by making what is essentially a "unikernel" for Ethereum functionality on top of the Bitcoin network. Sure it won't be totally perfect, but it will do everything Ethereum does, without exception, and will do so without compromising the core of Bitcoin's network, when doing so would jeopardize the cash system.

And this is what the poster I'm responding to completely misses when he says:

> [Ethereum] offers a "bytecode" type language which can be created by compiling contracts in >=2 languages already. Bitcoin currently lets you define contracts in the equivalent of assembly code, with no higher level languages available. So this statment seems to apply more to Bitcoin than Ethereum.

The point is, once you have the unikernel model down, who cares if it's Ethereum? Ethereum's VM is very first generational, highly unproven, highly unstable, has God knows how many vulnerabilities not to mention competitors who develop competing languages and competing VMs. We don't want to be in that business. We want to be in the business of running the best of it as a unikernel without even remotely jeopardizing the entire system all at once, though I understand Ethereum kind of had to do that in order to raise money. Turns out if you don't raise a bunch of money from a bunch of investors, you don't get people to voluntarily promote you on HN and Reddit.

> That's basically what Rootstock[0] is supposed to be. Although at present, it seems to be vaporware.

Speaking of Ethereum promoters, they do have a knack for reminding you how the unikernels of cryptocurrency will surely never exist. Nothing to see here.

You raise good points. I think one of the reasons why the conversations surrounding cryptocurrencies are disproportionally emotional is that everybody is long something and inevitably biased because of it.

Also, I agree that comparing BTC and ETH is bogus, they share nothing more than a blockchain but have completely different goals and governance structures, ETH being more like a traditional startup.

In a world were most people haven't heard of blockchains or distrust them, 'competing' with other blockchains is just silly (nobody is really competing anyway, except for mindshare on forums).

Now, disclaimer, I am long ETH, though not by much. Cool sci-fi stories and evangelism aside, I think it's like other startups so it should face the same risk of ruin, which is roughly 90%. So in that sense we might even agree, except I feel like this "very first generational, highly unproven, highly unstable" might turn into something.

> once you have the unikernel model down, who cares if it's Ethereum?

That's a very technical argument, but I'm not at all convinced that the world will adopt a technically superior solution, especially if it is late to the game. Without momentum behind it, it might not even be superior for long. So if there is any application for blockchain VMs, it will probably run on the EVM, all else being equal.

>You raise good points. I think one of the reasons why the conversations surrounding cryptocurrencies are disproportionally emotional is that everybody is long something and inevitably biased because of it.

These tokens ruin a lot of the incentives that makes open source software work. They attract non-technical people and ideologues. The whole thing is a mess.

Bitcoin and Ethereum investors who put a few thousands of their own money on the line years ago have seen it rocket up in value into a considerable fortune.

Naturally, to the extent an investment makes you "rich", the investment occupies a proportionately larger share of your net worth. And to the extent it's a major component of your net worth, especially if your net worth allows for you to retire early, this makes for a situation where you will justify doing and saying anything and everything possible to promote your own interests, which are now dominated by, in our case Bitcoin or Ethereum.

This is why distinguished readers can practically see the greed pouring out of people's eye balls as they discuss these "technologies". Pro tip: call it a "technology" when you're invested in it, but call it an "investment" when you're not.

As you've noted, this gets incredibly frustrating to deal with in the cryptocurrency world. Not just because it applies to so many people, but because cryptocurrency itself is all just a confidence game of trying to get people to buy into a particular unit of account.

For example, I doubt if any of the Ethereum people actually use smart contracts, like ever. They're only using that as an angle to poach investment capital off Bitcoin. We all can see this is true because no one is making any money on "smart contracts". Ironically, the only people who have ever made money on smart contracts - cough Ethereum - did it by selling other people on the idea of smart contracts. Buy smart contracts now!

You seem to have pretty reasonable and moderate opinions, which I respect. And yes, for the record I do currently own a decent number of Ether (because I believe in the project), and I still own a decent (but lesser amount) of Bitcoin (I certainly haven't given up on it completely).

The main point of my post was responding to Bitcoin evangelism with counter arguments, so I guess it did come across a little fanboyish. I don't disagree that it would be nice if Bitcoin could become a sort of "layer 1" in the blockchain space, with smart contracts built on top of it using additional protocols (and I believed for the past couple years that this was the most likely outcome for Bitcoin).

The main problem I now have with this model is that there are still missing features in this layer 1 which Bitcoin needs to support before decent solutions can be built on top of it (e.g. 2-way pegged sidechains, which require at least a couple of new opcodes). Every time Bitcoin wants to support a new use case, it requires someone to submit a BIP, months of development work, debating, and a soft fork to implement. For an example, see the recent OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY soft fork. This is not the sort of thing which can be built in layer 2 - it needs to be supported by the underlying blockchain, specifically so that people can build other layer 2 solutions on top of it. This is just one of many features - every few weeks someone suggests a new opcode on the bitcoin mailing list (and they often get shot down). This is why I originally got excited about Ethereum - while the "turing complete" badge is a bit of a buzzword, they really have solved the problem of creating a generic blockchain which can have anything else built on top of it.

Now, this is not to say that Ethereum is entirely without risk. For sure, Bitcoin is a more secure network, and definitely a better place to park your money if you are looking for long term stability. Bitcoin is also optimizing for stability and decentralization over adding shiny new features, which is simply different priorities and not at all a bad thing. Ethereum still have a long road ahead of them, both with attempting to shift a live blockchain to proof of stake, and with scaling (which will probably be even harder than the challenges Bitcoin is currently facing). But overall I find the project to be a very interesting and exciting development in the blockchain space.

I find it noteworthy that crypto-currencies are treated as investments and 'bets' which would seems to imply instability or a design feature of fluctuating value.

Almost as if a primary motive behind designing crypto "currency" protocols is not a stable value exchange medium, but rather instead an investment system for early adopters to exploit late adopter buyers?

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geSnkE4EOqs

"Maker is a DAO based on the Ethereum blockchain, where it maintains the infrastructure for the Dai - a cryptocurrency that uses smart contract-enforced monetary policy to create price stability.

The Dai enables Ethereum users to transact with smart contracts and applications on the Ethereum blockchain without having to deal with the volatility that is associated with traditional cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It also functions as a decentralized savings account as it is long term deflationary, resulting in slow and steady capital gains.

Maker is able to maintain the price stability of the Dai through the Dai Credit System, which backs the Dai with collateral stored in Ethereum smart contracts, while simultaneously functioning as an internet-based, p2p credit market that commoditizes credit by allowing anyone with valid collateral to take out loans that have low transaction costs and no middle man fees."

[0] http://makerdao.github.io/docs/

> an investment system for early adopters to exploit late adopter buyers

I invite you to "exploit" late adopters as well by investing in some project. it will cure you of this notion that uncertainty doesn't exist.

"they really have solved the problem of creating a generic blockchain which can have anything else built on top of it."

No, actually they haven't. Try and explain how a distributed system should be Turing complete in a scientific paper and you'd notice its not possible. Eventually this will be discovered and this blockchain will implode. The centralised team doesn't even claim that the chain will last - they want to migrate to PoS.

I don't understand what you are saying is impossible about this.

Are you just saying "try it and be really careful about it and you will see that it is impossible"? Because I don't see why that claim should be convincing without, saying why?

(Maybe I missed some other comment of yours?)

All Turing complete systems used in practice are distributed at some scale so your argument is non-sense.

huh? Computers on the Internet don't coordinate like nodes in a P2P blockchain. Bitcoin's script is limited to a simple stack language for a very good reason.

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