back to article PoW! Academics KO Bitcoin mining mammoths

Researchers have scuttled Bitcoin mining mammoths such as GHash with a proposed system alteration that would end the money-making collectives and return fairness and stability to the crypto currency. Cornell University academics (@IttalyEyal) Ittay Eyal and Emin Gün Sirer (@el33th4xor) say their "Two Phase Proof of Work (2P- …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds fair enough

    Would solve a lot of the stability problems with BTc.

    Also the proposed modification of storing data with CRC32/MD5hash to show that it is in fact redundantly stored would allow large datasets ie MRI and LHC raw files that are currently wiped after minimal data mining to be backed up long term.

    I wonder if anyone has considered my idea of making 1TB memory chips with the sum of human knowledge embedded in them at manufacture time as a test pattern? Wouldn't be that hard, and would allow reliability testing of the technology as everyone would have multiple redundant copies to check against.

    1. Daniel Palmer

      Re: Sounds fair enough

      >would allow reliability testing of the technology as everyone would have

      >multiple redundant copies to check against.

      Writing data to flash once under factory conditions doesn't really test what flash goes through in the the real world.

  2. Dave Bell

    Think about it

    So it's not the Bitcoin technology that is the problem, it's the people using it?

    Does this new trick really change anything?

    1. John Gamble

      Re: Think about it

      They apologized on their way to the bank, so that makes everything copacetic.

  3. Jonathan 29

    unconvincing

    I believe a singular ASIC operation will most likely come to dominate this proposed system. Individuals and smaller enterprises can currently make some profits providing they are members of the big successful pools. As the article states, time is everything with depreciating hardware and smaller pools make less money. This is one of the reasons GHash has grown so big and why miners are reluctant to leave. Take away the pools and there won't be many people left who can profit.

    If ASIC manufacturers can't sell hardware to pools or individuals they will either stop making the stuff or focus on becoming a manufacturer/miner. The most successful companies will come together through mergers to take a greater share of profits until we are left with 1 or maybe 2 organisations responsible for the security of Bitcoin.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mimics the real world?

    The person who achieves market domination in any area will get benefits over and above the proportion of the market they control (efficiency of scale, higher hurdle for new entrants etc etc)

    Not that I understand BitCoins. I have trouble getting my head around how calculating these mathematical functions equates to the generation of value (by comparison to loaning money, or creating things)

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      It generates the same value as the +2 Sword of Orc-Slaying anyone can earn by doing the right quests.

      It's all the others who don't have the sword but want one that gives it value.

  5. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    If implementation will be 'within twelve months' what will people be mining then? Surely it won't be economic to mine anything that exists today ...?

    Wouldn't this only work when implemented at the point of introduction of yet-another-bit-coin-looky-likey-oops-I've-lost-it currency?

  6. JoeyG
    Stop

    Nope nope nope

    The proposed scheme is not progress-free, so it has natural incentives toward centralization. This is basically the most basic requirement of distributed proof-of-work schemes, which shows the researchers do not understand the way that Bitcoin is supposed to work. Their overt sensationalizing also suggests this — (a) Bitcoin's hashpower has LONG been majority-controlled by 2-3 mining pools, and (b) GHash.IO has long had a significant proportion of hashpower. Both are serious problems for a supposedly decentralized currency, but the notion that Bitcoin is "suddenly centralized" in an "Armageddon" event a few days ago is simply nonsense. There was no flag day.

    Furthermore, this whole idea of eliminating large pools by making pooling impossible is flawed. Pools are necessary to reduce income variance to a point where ordinary miners can participate. Without them, mining will pretty-much have to collapse into oligarchy (perhaps funded by hosting mining power, a far worse centralization risk than pooling).

    A useful research direction would be to force miners to actually verify the work that their pool is giving them (or even control this work directly, as is done for example by P2Pool) to at least ensure that they -can- detect malicious behaviour. Or if the researchers are really just PR goons, perhaps they could push education out to miners that (a) larger pools do not mean larger payouts, so diversify for chrissakes, (b) using decentralized pools like P2Pool are good for Bitcoin's security, so miners who care about Bitcoin (hopefully most of them) should go in that direction.

    Crap like this where self-promoting researchers say smart-sounding nonsense is very damaging to the Bitcoin ecosystem because it discourages real researchers from wanting to be involved in the system. The PR fallout is stressful enough to deal with without The Reg promoting it.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not promoting it

      El Reg is informing us, as is its duty.

      Shooting the messenger never was the solution.

  7. Old Handle

    The other problem is that even if it's a good idea, the only way to roll out a change in the Bitcoin protocol is to convince a majority of the minors to switch. But since mining is currently dominated by pools...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      wait, are there no adults mining bitcoins?

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