back to article Bitcoin, schmitcoin. Let's play piggyback on the blockchain

Bitcoin may have generated countless salacious news headlines, but it’s a cameo player in a much bigger act. The blockchain is the real innovation that that makes Bitcoin work, and could well outlast the upstart currency. But it’s in trouble – and Silicon Valley has forked out millions to try and save it. The blockchain is a …

  1. Brangdon

    Nxt

    You really ought to look at what LOHAN sponsor Nxt is doing in this area. Nxt is an alt-coin that is specifically designed to be a platform for block-chain applications. It has a modular design with multiple transaction types. Transactions can have "prunable" attachments, meaning you store moderately large blocks of data in its block-chain, and they'll be deleted after 2 weeks, so the block-chain is not bloated permanently. It's for distribution rather than long term storage.

    Other features currently include an asset exchange, a digital goods store, and voting mechanism. Any transaction can be made to require approval via voting. So for example, you can issue an asset that represents shares in a company, and then issue a transaction to pay Fred Bloggs to do some work, and the payment will only go through if enough shareholders vote to approve it. All implemented in a trust-free way, with everything visible and verifiable in the public block-chain.

    Nxt has been running for over 18 months now and is achieving things Bitcoin can barely dream of. This is where the innovation is happening.

    1. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Jeffy's Law: "The real world is hard" ™ ® ©

      The famous law "A.I. is hard" has just been demoted to a trivial example of my new higher order law.

      Jeffy's Law: "The real world is hard" ™ ® ©

      I've just ordered 5,000 T-shirts and 20,000 posters.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. JimmyPage

    Vague memories of a sci-fi story

    Where there's a universal blockchain, and everyone uses it for everything.

    (Obviously the story is because something goes wrong).

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge

        Re: Vague memories of a sci-fi story

        Err no. That's about something else.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Transactions can have "prunable" attachments, meaning you store moderately large blocks of data in its block-chain, and they'll be deleted after 2 weeks, so the block-chain is not bloated permanently. It's for distribution rather than long term storage."

    I'd been thinking of something along those lines: a "pruning" mechanism in which the oldest transactions in the chain can be given more stringest hashing to minimize the risk of later tampering, archived and removed from the chain, and these hashes incorporated into the current chain to help preserve their integrity in future. Perhaps two chains can be kept: an active chain and an archive chain, with the active chain containing hashes of the archive chain as a base, then periodically part of the active chain is merged into the archive chain, hashed, and the entry appended to the active chain, and so on. Then the active chain only needs to keep transactions up to like the second or third such archiving and drop the rest beyond that hashing point: keeping a couple links back to the archive tree which can be looked up and checked on the odd occasions it's needed.

  4. John Lilburne

    Damn users eh!

    “The blockchain only moves money. That’s the only thing that the blockchain was designed to do,” he said. “People do attempt to abuse it with OP_RETURN and other things for moving around other stuff, but that’s because these people, in my view, are maybe being a bit lazy."

    People will always use something in unintended ways, you cannot stop them from doing so, they will always be on the lookout for ways to exploit a systems behaviour, in order to accomplish some cheap goal.

    1. Bert 1
      Facepalm

      Re: Damn users eh!

      I have given up telling people that email was not designed for attachments, and when they try to send a 15Mb spreadsheet, it probably wont work.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Damn users eh!

        "I have given up telling people that email was not designed for attachments"

        We have people complaining when 600Mb attachments don't go through and one of my earliest user issues 25 years ago was the guy in the New Zealand version of DVLA who kept trying to email 30Mb attachments. Even after we opened up sendmail to allow it the other end couldn't handle the size.

        1. JeffyPoooh
          Pint

          Re: Damn users eh!

          "15Mb"

          "600 Mb" "30Mb"

          Why are you guys measuring file sizes in mega bits?

  5. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Context

    Mike Hearn, one of the core developers of the software underpinning Bitcoin, predicts that the number of transactions will exceed the network’s current capacity in winter 2016.

    When you put this statement in context - that the current rate limit of bitcoin is about 160 transactions per minute - you can see that bitcoin is unlikely to achieve anything useful. Most individual payment processing companies do orders of magnitude more than that. Visa alone is capable of dealing with almost 3.5 million transactions in the same period of time, without using several dollars/pounds/euros/whatever worth of electricity per transaction in the "mining" process that verifies bitcoin's transactions. Hopefully it's clear that increasing the size of a block by a factor of 8 or 20 is not going to change a thing. Bitcoin would need 20 gigabyte blocks to match the capacity of a single financial services company.

    To use bitcoin you need to have a local copy of the complete blockchain, which increases in size every time a block is added. It just passed 36GB, which is a 10GB increase in since the beginning of this year.

    Bitcoin and its blockchain are simply not practical technology.

  6. F0ul

    a fear for sale

    The bloating of the Blockchain was a potential problem all the way back to the original document for Bitcoins in 2008-9 and there was a simple solution, prune dead transactions. The idea being that transactions have a life, where they go around in a circle or sorts. Eventually, there is no need for that extra information because newer information covers it and it can be deleted safely

    Plus, there is the data storage is cheap argument - where a browser was 3Mb in size and took 3 hours to download in 1994, in 2015, we have webpages that are far bigger than that and download in fractions of seconds. Its a non issue.

    Give it 20 years and we will be sharing 1TB files in the playground. Obviously, not me, because I'd be arrested for being an old pervert if I did that! ;-)

  7. Jason Bloomberg

    Shits and Giggles

    I'm tempted to buy a Bitcoin, get a couple of wallets, then engage in continually making a huge number of micro-payments between the two just to see what happens.

    1. Fibbles

      Re: Shits and Giggles

      War and Peace, in full, one word per transaction.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Shits and Giggles

      Miners aren't obliged to include outstanding transactions in a block, and they're not processed in any order. Some miners simply mine empty blocks. To increase the chance of (but not guarantee!) being included in a block, a transaction needs to have a fee attached to it. More complex transactions require larger fees. So attacking the network costs money.

      The good news is that there have been a couple of unilateral "stress tests" on bitcoin in the last couple of months. The most recent one demonstrated that it costs about €500 to bring the system to its knees for several hours, long enough to knock it out for an entire business day somewhere in the world. So not a system that any serious company's going to rely on.

      There's a network of "nodes" that aren't miners but do relay transactions. You could probably harm that network by sending a ridiculous number of fee-less transactions. They won't get included in a block so they'll just fill up the memory of all of the nodes. I think the fact nobody's bothered with this or an attack along the lines of the above "stress test" says a lot for how seriously it's taken outside the echo chamber.

  8. Gary Bickford

    Transactions will be by far the more important application in the long run

    I first learned from an online security professional (he teaches this stuff) that the importance of Bitcoin is not Bitcoin but the protocol, which will allow, for example, two entities who are remote from each other to transact business and sign and execute contracts, neither necessarily knowing who the other is or where they are depending on the situation, securely.

    My favorite application is the following: This will become an enabling technology for space development and business where two parties to a transaction may be separated by thousands or millions of miles. Thus a party on Mars can agree to a contract with a party on the Moon or mining asteroids, with a complete distributed transaction record.

    But in order for this to be viable in the long term, the system needs to support several orders of magnitude more transactions. This is analogous to the IPV4 vs. IPV6 problem. IPV6 was made large enough to support any foreseeable expansion of the internet address space.

    The blockchain protocol needs to be expanded similarly, either to a size that contemplates the huge potential expansion in human population across the Solar System (one trillion people?), or incorporates a way for multiple blockchains run by different vendors (or governments) to be managed cooperatively with interoperability. In fact the latter would be a good way to do that, by adding one or a few extra fields to the transaction data to identify the vendor and protocol (if they aren't already there.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Transactions will be by far the more important application in the long run

      I'm having a hard time coming up with any case where not knowing the party you're contracting with would be a good idea. If you don't know who the other party is, then the contract is unenforceable. There's no way to force someone that you don't know and can't find to honor a contract.

      The only use case where this seems even remotely useful is in a criminal enterprise, where you're already at substantial risk of the other party reneging on the deal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Transactions will be by far the more important application in the long run

        Anonymous Counter Party Clearing or Central Counter Party Clearing

        Look it up and you will discover that it is in use pretty much everywhere.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Transactions will be by far the more important application in the long run

          TL;DR: CCC works because it's a monolithic trading operation, similar to current payment models. Long term contracts still aren't covered.

          You are correct, the CCC model would seem to be supported by blockchain transactions. But that's because it's an example of a trade. The clearing house acts as a monolithic entity, determining whether the terms of the contract can be satisfied by both parties and then executes the trade. If the clearing house determines that the contract cannot be fulfilled in whole, then no part of the contract is filled.

          In contrast, most contracts are partially delayed--as if you can make an immediate trade, then there isn't much need for the legal backing of a contract. If you take out a loan or purchase a long term service (such as Gary's moon mining example,) then one party is going to fill their part of the bargain well before the other party does. i.e. the bank gives you lots of money with the expectation that you will return it later or you give the mining company lots of money with the expectation that they'll give you a bunch of minerals later. This is where contracts are most important as they give both parties a legally enforceable means of ensuring that a long term transaction is completed.

          This is where you either need to know the other party that you're contracting with, or know someone else who knows him. For the simple trade example, you don't actually need to know who the other person is, or where the goods are located, both sides only need to know the location to deliver their goods to. If the trade can happen monolithically, then we can be sure that either both sides got what they wanted, or didn't lose anything. But if the trade doesn't happen in a single step, then one side may fill their end of the bargain, but the other side can decide not to fulfill the terms of the contract. If someone knows who the reneging party is, then they can be punished according to contract law, but if it's actually anonymous and no one knows who that contracting entity is, then there is no way to force them to honor the contract.

          Bootnote: Technically, in the CCC model, the parties on both ends are not actually trading with each other, but the known clearing house in the middle, which can easily be held to account if something goes wrong anyway.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Transactions will be by far the more important application in the long run

            So IOW contract law is dependent on trust, and in asymmetric transactions (where both sides aren't simultaneously met), that trust depends on each side trusting the other, which usually requires the parties knowing each other. In which case, any kind of blockchain can act as no more than a ledger for the transactions themselves. They can't be an enabler, as enabling goes into the "First Contact" problem of security in general: a Hard Problem that can't be solved without some gesture or arbitration of trust. If no trust is possible (paranoid or DTA setting), identity can always be faked and therefore can never be confirmed. IOW, it's a whole other hill of beans.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

    It is sad to see El Reg brainwashed by Bitcoin propaganda that masks the true story about its blockchain. I would love for you guys to dig in to verify that what I say below is true, and then go on to publish a series of "Register Exclusives" about Bitcoin...

    Consider paragraphs 3 and 4 of your article:

    "Every ten minutes, a new block of data is added to the blockchain, detailing the latest transactions that have taken place. Each block includes a cryptographic hash of all its transactions.

    A hash is unique, and is computed based on the transaction data that it represents. If any part of the underlying data changes, the hash changes too. Any fraudster wanting to tamper with a block’s transactions would need to also alter the hash recorded for that block to match the new, fraudulent set of transactions. Given that the computing power distributed around the whole Bitcoin network takes ten minutes to produce the hash, that’s a tall order."

    Focus on that last line. Look at the true data here (and be sure to click on the "all-time" link at the bottom of this page):

    https://blockchain.info/charts/hash-rate

    Exponential growth burnout is strangling Bitcoin. It cannot keep growing in its present form, and changes / patches described in your article to address blockchain bloat are not aiming at the real problem. For the past year, Bitcoin hash rates have been stuck between 300 and 400 million billion hashes per second. Since it takes 10 minutes or 600 seconds to generate the "winning" hash, it takes at least 300 X 600 = 180 thousand million billion trial hashes to generate the actual hash / block that gets added to the blockchain. That's 180 billion Gigahash (GH) currently required to add one block to the Bitcoin blockchain.

    Key point: EVERY SINGLE ONE of these 180 thousand million billion hashes generated by the "the Bitcoin network [that] outpaces the world’s top 500 supercomputers combined" can secure the Bitcoin blockchain just as well as ANY OTHER. The "combined effort" of all miners / the "networked Bitcoin ultrasupercomputer" is NOT required to secure the blockchain. Literally only 1 / 180 thousand millon billion or 0.0000000000000000005% (that's 18 zeros) of that expended computer power is required to secure the Bitcoin blockchain. The rest of those cycles and calculations are TOTALLY WASTED.

    Wasted calculations means wasted electricity. How much? Well a state-of-the-art Monarch Bitcoin Miner (see: http://www.butterflylabs.com/monarch/ ) uses 480 watts to deliver 700 GH/s. To get the 300 million GH/sec currently needed to run Bitcoin, we thus need the equivalent of 300,000,000 / 700 = 425,000+ Monarch miners burning over 200MW of power. This low-end conservative estimate is one-sixth the entire electrical output capacity of the UK Sizewell B nuclear plant - just to run Bitcoin! Use 400 million GH/s instead of 300 million GH/s, or consider that most of the miners out there aren't running state of the art equipment - the wasted power is even more, possibly even doubled to 400MW. Nobody really knows. And Bitcoin somehow overcoming its current exponential rut to expand further is a prospect that is nightmarish.

    So if ONLY ONE HASH is needed to secure Bitcoin, why generate 300 thousand million billion of them per block? To distribute prize money (currently 25 bitcoins worth around $6000 total) to the ONE lucky Monarch mining computer out of 425,000+ that gets a hash that just coincidentally has the agreed-upon number of leading zeros in its byte file. The miners are literally playing a lottery that declares a $6000+ winner every ten minutes. The Bitcoin protocol selects 144 such winners per day and around 50,000 such winners per year. At least 375,000 mining computers out there (and probably a much higher number since most are not Monarchs) are going to run 24/7 for a whole year and never contribute a single block to Bitcoin.

    Bitcoin miners are no different than gamblers shooting dice in a back alley, only they use computers instead of dice, they use leading zeros in their hash data file instead of dots on the dice face, and they use the Internet instead of a back alley.

    Thus Bitcoin mining is illegal gambling in most countries, tho its technical obfuscation has prevented it from being widely recognized as such. This will change soon.

    In the US, gambling law is handled by the States, not the Federal government, and so far the States have not been made aware that Bitcoin and other proof-of-work coins like the upcoming Etherium are actually running illegal lotteries. And they are doing so by diverting attention from the truth by getting people to believe that "a supercomputer network is required to secure the blockchain" and "gaming network video cards can mine our coin for rewards". See:

    https://blog.ethereum.org/2015/04/01/ethereums-unexpected-future-direction/

    The real future of cryptocoins is in small, low-cost, low impact that concentrate on actually SECURING THE BLOCKCHAIN instead of RUNNING AN ILLEGAL LOTTERY SCAM. One such coin is Crypti, which I support. As a so-called Distributed Proof of Stake (DPoS) coin, we have a circle of 100 computers that COOPERATIVELY add blocks to our blockchain every 10 seconds. Good things are coming for Crypti even tho we are currently relatively unknown as our development proceeds. Please read more about us here:

    https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=654463.0

    Crypti and other DPoS coins are the mice that will outlast the coming fall of the COMPETITIVE Proof of Work (PoS) ten-minute-per-block dinosaurs like Bitcoin and Etherium.

    Somewhere above is a story or two worthy of further El Reg investigative coverage, no?

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

      Crypti does look interesting, but your comment comes across as hyperbolic. You've identified issues with BTC, and didn't need to take the leap of craziness into insisting that it's an illegal lottery scam. It harms your credibility.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

        It's not crazy, it's legally true. Google the legal phrase "chance, prize, and consideration" for applicable case law.

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

          > It's not crazy, it's legally true

          I'm perfectly happy to wait for a court to decide that, but I disagree with your interpretation:

          As far as as chance and prize go, I'm not going to argue with you because I think mining meets that to some extent.

          As for consideration:

          You _may_ have a point if a miner has bought dedicated single-purpose hardware (i.e. an ASIC) specifically to mine, but there are also other options (though your ability to mine may be reduced). For example, if I buy a GPU and use that both to mine and to play with password hashes, does that constitute enough of a consideration to fall foul?

          The electricity usage is a byproduct of the activity, and I think you'd struggle to call that significant effort given it's reasonably expected that if you're doing any kind of computation, it's going to need the leccy

          Similarly, bandwidth usage is simply a byproduct

          There's also a wide world outside the US (who I suspect would be the first, if anyone to go that route) so although US BTC acceptance could suffer following caselaw supporting your argument, it's going to take quite a while (if ever) for the rest of the world to follow suit.

          Even if the above is wrong, you're still wrong. You _might_ have an argument that BTC is a lottery (though I disagree), but that's very different from a lottery scam. For a lottery scam, you'll first need to show that it's a lottery and then show the mal-intent - without that it'd just be a lottery.

          1. rickyjames

            Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

            The "consideration" clause is legally met once the miner adds the block which is a undeniable benefit to bitcoin. The scam part comes because bitcoin has no limitation on the number of miner and more importantly no requirement for standardized mining rigs. If all had an equal chance it would be just a lottery. But with 50k winners and 325k losers during the effective lifetime of the (majority inferior) gear, there is no equal chance for all. That makes it a scam. All the rest is irrelevant details.

            1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

              Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

              > The "consideration" clause is legally met once the miner adds the block which is a undeniable benefit to bitcoin.

              Personally, I think that's a big stretch.

              > The scam part comes because bitcoin has no limitation on the number of miners. If all had an equal chance it would be just a lottery. But with 50k winners and 325k losers during the effective lifetime of the gear, there is no equal chance for all.

              So lets assume it is legally a lottery for a sec

              Every block mined has an equal chance of getting the BTC.

              Not every miner has an equal chance of course, if I spend out on a lot of kit that can hash at a huge rate then I've potentially got better odds in that I've got more entries. That's no different to if I buy £1000 lottery tickets, I've got more entries that you.

              So, still not a scam

              > All the rest is irrelevant details.

              When you're claiming something is legal or illegal, there's very little that can be called an irrelevant detail

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

                I've gone from crazy to "a stretch". That's progress. I assure you that a court would consider adding an official block to the blockchain to be a consideration passed from the miner to bitcoin in order to qualify for a prize. Finally, forget "lottery scam" as long as we can agree on the key phrase of "illegal lottery". In the US any lottery not run by a State is an illegal lottery by definition. Thus Bitcoin mining is an illegal lottery in the US. Technically this is valid grounds for Bitcoin confiscation from anyone who holds it in the US.

                1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

                  Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

                  > I've gone from crazy to "a stretch". That's progress.

                  One argument simply being a stretch doesn't stop the theory from being crazy, though hyperbolic would likely have been a fairer original description.

                  > I assure you that a court would consider adding an official block to the blockchain to be a consideration passed from the miner to bitcoin in order to qualify for a prize.

                  I don't doubt you could find _a_ court who'd consider it, but realistically the court you'd ultimately need to convince in the US is the Supreme, and there's still the rest of the world to think about.

                  You could also argue that the blockchain is a community asset, and that in fact there isn't a sole entity acting as a lottery operator - not only does that make it harder to shut down, it's a little harder to prove that there's sufficient benefit to call it a lottery in the legal sense.

                  There's also the difficulty of how they'd manage the confiscation if it were to come to pass, but that's not something you'd consider when having the is/isn't argument.

                  I doubt the US govt would think twice if it brought them financial benefit, mind, so that's not to say it couldn't be made to fit

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

                    I agree that ultimately there will be a Bitcoin case in SCOTUS to decide this. Best to switch now to viable alternatives.

                    As I have discussed, every single Bitcoin has an origin that is illegal under US State gaming law. The initial illegal fruits of the Bitcoin lottery first goes to the miner, not the community as a whole. However, every Bitcoin held by a non-miner was obtained via hand-me-down purchase at an exchange, and every Bitcoin that was first put up at an exchange was done so by a miner who won it as a prize.

                    Today there are people who go out and illegally shoot elephants with an AK-47 to obtain valuable ivory to sell. When this ivory is found in the US, it is confiscated from its owners and burned, to discourage the needless waste of a valuable natural resource.

                    Today there are also people who go out and illegally run wasteful Bitcoin miner rigs to obtain valuable Bitcoins. In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before these Bitcoins are confiscated and destroyed, just as ivory is, to discourage the needless waste of a valuable energy resource. 200MW power consumption for 10 minutes is 200,000/6 = 33,000+ KWhr, worth (using a cost of 15 cents per KWh) at least $5000.

                    Competitively burning $5000+ of electricity every ten minutes to mint $6000 of Bitcoin while securing and extending its blockchain is what's really crazy, specially when cooperative DPoS coins like Crypti cost effectively nothing in power and computers to secure an effectively identical blockchain record.

                    Bitcoin may topple existing financial norms - but it is a zombie apocalypse with Bitcoin itself as The Walking Dead. The final survivors are destined to be coins like Crypti that don't need $5000 every ten minutes to keep running ever into the future.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

          > It's not crazy, it's legally true.

          What Ben said. You raise an interesting practical point, but cover it in opinionated babble. I would have written two posts: one factual, one opinion.

          As for what's "legally true", I'll give you an example: you get arrested for beating your wife (let's say) in front of a crowd at the park--you go to trial but none of the witnesses (including your wife) is willing to testify against you (something to do with your reputation as a Bitcoin gambler, apparently), and you've got an excellent lawyer so you walk free. The outcome is that it's not "legally true", as you put it, that you have beaten up your wife, never mind all the bruises.

          But then again, you started with "illegal gambling" and thus far you are now down to "shooting elephants", so I should like to suggest you must work on your rhetoric.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

            I am totally baffled by your "battered wife" analogy and fail to see any relevance at all to what I have outlined. I stand by my assertions that mining Bitcoin is an illegal lottery under US State gaming laws with extensive "chance, prize and consideration" prior relevant case law examples. I also stand by my opinion that Bitcoin is eventually liable to confiscation not only due to this illegal origin but also to discourage misuse of valuable resources, just as ivory is, once the breathtaking level of resource (mis)use by Bitcoin becomes widely known. I fail to see how any of this is "hyperbolic", "crazy", or "rhetoric".

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

              He's saying try to look at this like a mafia man who knows how to pay off the judges. They're also familiar with the concept of "Jury Nullification." Think Chicago during the Roaring 20's. Sure you can arrest the guy, but good luck getting a conviction out of him.

              PS. About the whole lottery thing, consider the possibility that Bitcoin could have a basis in a country where the practice is legal (or at least not explicitly illegal). Now you end up with a situation similar to online poker sites (which is explicit gambling). There's little the feds can do to shut them down since the sites themselves are based in sovereign (self-determining, meaning the US can't tell them what to do) states that allow the practice, and US citizens are allowed to spend money abroad subject to certain restrictions (of which gambling isn't on the list). Jurisdiction is always a messy thing when things go international.

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: The Real Story About The Bitcoin Blockchain

              I am totally baffled by your "battered wife" analogy and fail to see any relevance at all to what I have outlined.

              Apparently you don't understand the difference between de facto and de jure. As far as I know (IANAL), "legally true" is not a term of art in US law; but if it meant anything in that domain, presumably it would mean something like "de jure".

              In short, claiming something is "legally true" when, in fact, the relevant authorities (such as the US courts) have not promulgated decisions on the matter is meaningless. Even if you happen to actually be all nine SCOTUS justices posting to the Reg as AC, your statements carry no legal weight. You might support your position if you can cite court decisions that are relevant - but you'd have to convince your audience that they're applicable. Otherwise the adverb "legally" is sheer puffery.

  10. JulieM

    It's self-limiting

    Bitcoin is self-limiting. Not only are there by design a finite amount of Bitcoins that can exist, but the cost of mining each one is increasing over time. Soon, it simply won't be economically viable to mine Bitcoin.

    Also, the "illegal lottery" idea fails because Bitcoin mining is a game of skill, not of chance. Still doesn't mean there is any winning move besides not to play, though.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: It's self-limiting

      "Also, the "illegal lottery" idea fails because Bitcoin mining is a game of skill, not of chance. Still doesn't mean there is any winning move besides not to play, though."

      Playing Devil's Advocate. If Bitcoin mining is a game of skill, that implies that one can, with enough skill and/or resources, predict the next winning block or come reasonably close to it, just as one can try to read the other players at a poker table (thus why poker is at least partially skill). How does one figure out the next winning block in that case?

    2. Old Handle

      Re: It's self-limiting

      The cost of mining bitcoin only goes up as fast as people keep throwing more resources at it. If we assume people are rational (I know, right? But on average it seems to work) difficulty should never increase beyond the point of profitability.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: It's self-limiting

        But there's a hard cap to the Bitcoin count, which means diminishing returns has to kick in at SOME point.

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