[Arm-netbook] Urgent statement on Cryptocurrency ethics

Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton lkcl at lkcl.net
Wed Mar 21 13:11:21 GMT 2018

crowd-funded eco-conscious hardware: https://www.crowdsupply.com/eoma68

On Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 12:08 PM, Wookey <wookey at wookware.org> wrote:
> On 2018-03-20 21:44 +0100, Philip Hands wrote:
>>   https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/20/child-abuse-imagery-bitcoin-blockchain-illegal-content
> There's always someone isn't there? This is why we can't have nice things.

 *sigh* i would be curious to know if monero (designed with privacy in
mind) suffers the same problem.

 apparently the tx-extra field is used as a payment-id...
interestingly though it looks like it's down to the miners to decide
that field's contents... which would, if that's correct, take away the

> I'm quite surprised that the format allows inclusion of random extra
> files. Why isn't it just a list of transaction IDs (or however it
> works), i.e. the data needed to make the blockchain work. Or are they
> just abusing some 'Name' or 'Comment' type freeform field?


 ok so there's apparently about 8 separate and distinct methods, all
of them "abusing" various fields, some of them security violations /
exploiting flaws in the design.  oops.

> It seems to me that bitcoin needs to fail on energy terms alone - it's
> mind-bogglingly inefficent (and, contrary to my initial understanding,
> this problem doesn't get better over time as more coins are
> mined).

 arms / energy races don't get better without consensus, and this
one's an arms / energy race where (at the moment) individuals can
participate as opposed to businesses.

 *if* people agree - world-wide - to slow down on the mining *then*
the hashrate - world-wide - will slow down.  however the only way
that's actually realistically likely to happen is when the "reward"
drops sufficiently (halves every 18 months) for the financial
incentive to lower.

 *then* when the financial incentive lowers, the number of people
mining will also lower (non-financially-viable equipment switched off)
and the hashrate will correspondingly drop.

 the problem with that assumption is that the people mining will only
be motivated by profit.  if they're genuinely interested in going over
the 50% share in order to corrupt / control the blocks then that
doesn't happen, and bitcoin goes to hell in a handbasket.

> Plenty of other cryptocurrency algorithms exist, using much
> more sensible amounts of energy (Wh/transaction: bitcoin: 634,000,
> Ethereum: 43,000, (Visa: 1.69) Stellar: 0.03). The tricky bit is
> making sure that remains true when the thing gets popular.

 i've been thinking about this, beyond what monero does (which plans
to hard-fork to increase the random-access memory usage).  monero is
not possible to do on a custom ASIC because it deliberately requires
large amounts of memory (6gb, 8gb).  if you were to make a custom ASIC
it would *be* a GPU... therefore you might as well buy...
off-the-shelf GPU Cards.

 beyond that i think you need to specify and agree hard limits about
mining capabilities that, if exceeded, result in PENALTIES not
REWARDS.  such mining contracts would need to be stored *in the
blockchain* rather than being hard-coded.  miners would be required to
sign up to the mining contract (in the blockchain) in order to
participate, along-side a declaration of running some CPU benchmark
tests which indicate the computing capacity that they are declaring
that they intend to use.

if they go OUTSIDE of those parameters, by responding too fast on a
block (which can be verified by other miners re-running the same
algorithms that they did), they get PENALISED *not* REWARDED.

if that's combined with the ability to fork a coin *within* a coin (by
placing an ID or #tag on transactions that indicate that it is totally
separate and completely distinct from other coins *within the sam e
blockchain*) the nice thing about such a scheme would be that isolated
communities, for example those running off of isolated sporadic
internet, on smartphones only rather than having access to GPU
resources, could declare the mining contract to be within the
capabilities of the average smartphone... and the community as a
whole.  an "outsider" would then NOT BE ABLE to destabilise their
"local" currency.

> If those numbers are right bitcoin is generating the same emissions as
> a flight to Spain from the UK (300kG) _per transaction_ which is
> completely nuts. Buying a beer in the Haymakers really shouldn't have
> that sort of footprint.

 even up until 2016 it didn't... but it does now.  and it's an
exponential rise of about 20% *per month* and shows no sign of slowing


More information about the arm-netbook mailing list