Discussion:
Upgrading PoW algorithm
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Jefferson Carpenter via bitcoin-dev
2018-01-17 22:31:52 UTC
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Bitcoin's difficulty will be maxed out within about 400 years, by
Moore's law. (After that - supposing the software does not crash when
difficulty overflows - block time will start decreasing, and it will not
take long before blocks are mined faster than photons can be sent across
the planet).

Bitcoin is the dominant cryptocurrency today, as the first mover: the
perfectly fair worldwide game of inventing the cryptocurrency has been
played and won. However, unfortunately, it has a built-in end date:
about 400 years from now. After that, it won't necessarily be clear
what the dominant cryptocurrency is. It might be a lot like VHS vs
Betamax, and a lot of people could lose a lot of money. It seems to me,
this could be mitigated by planning today for what we are going to do
when Bitcoin finally breaks 400 years from now.

Are there any distinct plans today for migrating to a PoW supporting an
even higher difficulty?
Peter Todd via bitcoin-dev
2018-01-18 16:36:44 UTC
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Bitcoin's difficulty will be maxed out within about 400 years, by Moore's
law. (After that - supposing the software does not crash when difficulty
There's no reason to think Moore's law will last for 400 years; if it did
mining Bitcoin blocks would require astronomical energy levels. I haven't
actually done the math, but having to convert a mass-energy equivalance of a
planet or two per block is probably an accurate lower-bound even with quantum
computers. Once we're at that point, the problem is the speed of light: we'll
run out of energy in our 10 minute light radius, and thus need to get it from
farther away, at which point the 10 minute block interval forces a hard fork
anyway because mining no longer is in consensus.

tl;dr: This is a topic for sci-fi writers, not bitcoin-dev

Also: https://xkcd.com/605/
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Jefferson Carpenter via bitcoin-dev
2018-01-19 20:54:52 UTC
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Actually here's something we could possibly do:

Fork off a blockchain that accepts Bitcoin blocks with strictly less
than max difficulty. Because it does not accept max-difficulty blocks,
it is a soft fork. Additionally, if difficulty of a block is set to
max, then the difficulty field is extended so that it represents a
higher max difficulty under a different hashing function, maybe SHA512.
Because this blockchain also accepts differently-formatted blocks, it is
also a hard fork.

The idea is that this blockchain is identical to Bitcoin until the
difficulty goes too high, at which point it diverges.

Transitioning from the current SHA256 to a higher-difficulty hashing
function could be difficult, since they might be solvable at
proportionally different hashrates. In other words, max difficulty for
SHA256 might be significantly faster than forcing the first 256 bits of
a SHA512 hash...
Post by Jefferson Carpenter via bitcoin-dev
Bitcoin's difficulty will be maxed out within about 400 years, by
Moore's law.  (After that - supposing the software does not crash when
difficulty overflows - block time will start decreasing, and it will not
take long before blocks are mined faster than photons can be sent across
the planet).
Bitcoin is the dominant cryptocurrency today, as the first mover: the
perfectly fair worldwide game of inventing the cryptocurrency has been
about 400 years from now.  After that, it won't necessarily be clear
what the dominant cryptocurrency is.  It might be a lot like VHS vs
Betamax, and a lot of people could lose a lot of money.  It seems to me,
this could be mitigated by planning today for what we are going to do
when Bitcoin finally breaks 400 years from now.
Are there any distinct plans today for migrating to a PoW supporting an
even higher difficulty?
nullius via bitcoin-dev
2018-01-20 06:30:37 UTC
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On 2018-01-17 at 22:31:52 +0000, Jefferson Carpenter
Post by Jefferson Carpenter via bitcoin-dev
Bitcoin's difficulty will be maxed out within about 400 years, by
Moore's law.
On 2018-01-19 at 20:54:52 +0000, Jefferson Carpenter
Post by Jefferson Carpenter via bitcoin-dev
In other words, max difficulty for SHA256 might be significantly faster
than forcing the first 256 bits of a SHA512 hash...
“Moore’s law” is not a law of nature. Indeed, chipmakers began bumping
up against the limitations of *actual* natural laws about 15—20 years
ago. That is why instead of increasing core clock, they play the tricks
which opened the way for Meltdown and Spectre. Feature size, and thus
transistor counts, will soon enough run into physical limitations, too.

But the scenario you describe does not even require such a discussion.

2^256 work for brute force is on the order of 10^77 hashes. For the
number of atoms in the observable universe, I’ve seen estimates ranging
from 10^78 to 10^82. Thus, you are suggesting that within 400 years,
computers will be able to compute one hash for every myriad of atoms in
the observable universe—perhaps one hash for every *ten* atoms.
Moreover, you suggest that twenty-fourth century computers will do this
fast enough to meet Bitcoin’s ten-minute target rate.

Such a proposition bypasses science, leaps over science fiction, and
lands in the realm of religion. Perhaps a deity could do this—using a
computer made of other than matter, powered by other than energy.
Humans will *never* be capable of such a feat: Not now, and not in a
billion years. Certainly not a mere four centuries hence!

(I do not here positively exclude the possibility, however slim, that
mathematical breakthroughs may yield a preimage attack on SHA-256 which
is significantly better than bruteforce. I *do* positively declare it
impossible that Earth-beings will ever be capable of performing 2^256
work. Or even 2^128 work, for that matter.)
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Bitcoin: bc1qcash96s5jqppzsp8hy8swkggf7f6agex98an7h | (Segwit nested:
3NULL3ZCUXr7RDLxXeLPDMZDZYxuaYkCnG) (PGP RSA: 0x36EBB4AB699A10EE)
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No! Because I do nothing wrong, I have nothing to show.” — nullius
Melvin Carvalho via bitcoin-dev
2018-01-20 18:36:09 UTC
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On 17 January 2018 at 23:31, Jefferson Carpenter via bitcoin-dev <
Bitcoin's difficulty will be maxed out within about 400 years, by Moore's
law. (After that - supposing the software does not crash when difficulty
overflows - block time will start decreasing, and it will not take long
before blocks are mined faster than photons can be sent across the planet).
Bitcoin is the dominant cryptocurrency today, as the first mover: the
perfectly fair worldwide game of inventing the cryptocurrency has been
played and won. However, unfortunately, it has a built-in end date: about
400 years from now. After that, it won't necessarily be clear what the
dominant cryptocurrency is. It might be a lot like VHS vs Betamax, and a
lot of people could lose a lot of money. It seems to me, this could be
mitigated by planning today for what we are going to do when Bitcoin
finally breaks 400 years from now.
Are there any distinct plans today for migrating to a PoW supporting an
even higher difficulty?
Crypto algorithms have a lifetime, and consensus is no different.

Is it likely to be more than a few years? Yes.

Is likely to be less than a few hundred years. Yes.

Every algorithm involves trade offs and it's the job of a thoughtful dev
team to examine those trade offs and come to a consensus optimal solution.

This field is only 9 years old, and there is a large amount of R & D in
this area. So we can evaluate what seems to working better and what seems
to be working worse, transfer that to BIPs, create code, test it, try to
achieve consensus. The normal path that has served free software projects
well.
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Glen Peterson via bitcoin-dev
2018-01-21 15:29:26 UTC
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Popular hashing algorithms have historically managed 10-15 years of
intense use before flaws are found in the algorithm. This chart
suggests SHA-256 is already aging:
http://valerieaurora.org/hash.html
If history is any guide, any long-term cryptocurrency/blockchain will
need the cryptography updated every decade or so.

On Sat, Jan 20, 2018 at 1:36 PM, Melvin Carvalho via bitcoin-dev
Post by Melvin Carvalho via bitcoin-dev
On 17 January 2018 at 23:31, Jefferson Carpenter via bitcoin-dev
Bitcoin's difficulty will be maxed out within about 400 years, by Moore's
law. (After that - supposing the software does not crash when difficulty
overflows - block time will start decreasing, and it will not take long
before blocks are mined faster than photons can be sent across the planet).
Bitcoin is the dominant cryptocurrency today, as the first mover: the
perfectly fair worldwide game of inventing the cryptocurrency has been
played and won. However, unfortunately, it has a built-in end date: about
400 years from now. After that, it won't necessarily be clear what the
dominant cryptocurrency is. It might be a lot like VHS vs Betamax, and a
lot of people could lose a lot of money. It seems to me, this could be
mitigated by planning today for what we are going to do when Bitcoin finally
breaks 400 years from now.
Are there any distinct plans today for migrating to a PoW supporting an
even higher difficulty?
Crypto algorithms have a lifetime, and consensus is no different.
Is it likely to be more than a few years? Yes.
Is likely to be less than a few hundred years. Yes.
Every algorithm involves trade offs and it's the job of a thoughtful dev
team to examine those trade offs and come to a consensus optimal solution.
This field is only 9 years old, and there is a large amount of R & D in this
area. So we can evaluate what seems to working better and what seems to be
working worse, transfer that to BIPs, create code, test it, try to achieve
consensus. The normal path that has served free software projects well.
_______________________________________________
bitcoin-dev mailing list
https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/bitcoin-dev
_______________________________________________
bitcoin-dev mailing list
https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/bitcoin-dev
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