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Re: Blockchain, block size and interledger (was: How do bank payments actually work?)

From: Stefan Thomas <stefan@ripple.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2016 07:15:30 -0800
Message-ID: <CAFpK0Q2VphfGhRVmYWA9i+R9_HAru9Kv48_Vw77BQLfj8xK-gA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Tao Effect <contact@taoeffect.com>
Cc: Fabio Barone <holon.earth@gmail.com>, Pindar Wong <pindar.wong@gmail.com>, Web Payments <public-webpayments@w3.org>, Interledger Community Group <public-interledger@w3.org>
There is a fundamental tension in developing any blockchain, which I've
felt both in my days as a Bitcoin developer and now at Ripple. And that
tension is that you have to design one single system for a very diverse
user base that is coming at it with different ideologies, different
priorities and usage patterns. Note that I'm not talking about differences
in business logic - that might be handled ok with smart contracts - but
differences in architectural choices like whether to prioritize latency vs.
decentralization.

Bitcoin is - and has always been - under that tension. Our hope is that
Interledger can alleviate some of it. If merchants aren't accepting
payments on one specific ledger, but rather "Interledger payments" - that
means that every ledger is equally accepted everywhere. If I agree with the
values and choices of the Bitcoin community I keep my money there, if I
prefer PayPal I can use that - or I can even make my own ledger. So long as
there is someone (anyone!) with a foot in both worlds (a connector) it
works.

With ILP, we're essentially asking the community to make a decision: Do you
want everyone in the world to agree to use Bitcoin or do you want to add an
abstraction layer (ILP) on top to allow people to choose a ledger? There
are definitely advantages to the former - it totally eliminates the need
for currency conversion for example. But it comes at the cost of agreeing
with everything related to Bitcoin - how the mining works i.e. how
consensus is achieved, how the currency is issued/distributed, how the
script interpreter works, what the blockchain format is, etc.

In order to transact via ILP all we have to agree on is a cryptographic
primitive (like SHA-2) and basic escrow semantics (proposed, prepared,
executed, rejected). That's the minimum required to make payments
interoperable and it leaves everyone free to innovate on better, faster,
smarter, more secure, more local and more scalable ledgers rather than
fighting over the technical direction of the one ledger to rule them all.

- Stefan

On Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 1:03 AM, Tao Effect <contact@taoeffect.com> wrote:

> Hey Fabio,
>
> No sweat!
>
> if it's even decentralized by any real means.
>
>
> You might find this video handy:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S1IqaSLrq8
>
> Cheers,
> Greg
>
> On Jan 26, 2016, at 8:48 PM, Fabio Barone <holon.earth@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I apologize.
> I fell victim of an unchecked, unresearched and unquestioned article.
>
> @Greg, thank you for taking the time to write down your response to Mike.
> I first was a bit put off by your one-line response, but your effort going
> into your article more than fully compensates it.
>
> I never should have been starting this conversation anyway.
>
> I never owned bitcoins (I do accept bitcoins on my blog but nobody ever
> cared, but that's a different issue and may be related to my writing).
> I don't like much bitcoin as a financial instrument, because it has the
> same capitalist-greedy fundations as the conventional money system - just
> without intermediares.
> I don't like the fact that mining myself is close to utterly useless,
> because server farms of some wealthy greedy chap will outperform me by far
> (so the decentralization argument is somewhat put in context...),, and thus
> because the centralization of the network in just a few hands can indeed
> become (or IS?) a real threat
> (and all this explains why I fell victim that quickly - I suppose this
> applies somewhat to many folks eagerly passing around Mike's version).
>
> Maybe I'll never grow up from my utopian dreams of a "better" world
> (whatever that is). Welcome to reality.
>
> My post was fueled by genuine interest in the blockchain itself and its
> potential, by my admiration for the technology, not bitcoin.
>
> At the same time I am saddened,
> because I don't have the time to read all the links and the sub-links and
> the sub-links in the sub-links (reinforcing the statement that I should
> maybe not talk about it then, which saddens me even more),
> because after 20 years in software development I am not able to understand
> this technology as much as I would like to,
> because I now can't even discern if I should more be concerned about the
> developers, or the big miners, if it's even decentralized by any real means.
>
> I honor all the work being done and the undoubtedly many well-intentioned
> and hard-working folks involved.
>
>
> And apologize for wasting people's time up to this point. Never mind.
>
>
>
>
> 2016-01-26 22:14 GMT-05:00 Pindar Wong <pindar.wong@gmail.com>:
>
>> +1
>>
>> There's no collapse but the technical dimensions of scaling bitcoin are
>> more involved that just changing of a constant.
>>
>> See
>>
>> scalingbitcoin.org
>>
>> for some of the technical presentations if you're interested.
>>
>> p.
>>
>>
>> On Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 10:33 AM, Tao Effect <contact@taoeffect.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> What do people here think about the potentially incumbent collapse of
>>> bitcoin as a crypto-currency itself and the block-size issue?
>>>
>>>
>>> I think this BS and you should stop spreading it.
>>>
>>>
>>> https://fixingtao.com/2016/01/point-by-point-response-to-mike-hearns-final-bitcoin-post/
>>>
>>> Cheers,
>>> Greg
>>>
>>> On Jan 26, 2016, at 12:59 PM, Fabio Barone <holon.earth@gmail.com>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>> As suggested, I am starting a new thread for this topic.
>>> I apologize if I am coming over as verbose and/or cluttering your
>>> inboxes.
>>>
>>> ****
>>>
>>> What do people here think about the potentially incumbent collapse of
>>> bitcoin as a crypto-currency itself and the block-size issue?
>>>
>>> The question is related to the blockchain itself, not bitcoin.
>>> Block size is ultimately a "political" decision of the community, and
>>> there appears to be a scism because of that.
>>> Not wanting to discuss that in itself (it's probably being discussed
>>> elsewhere),
>>>
>>> but what do you guys think this means for blockchain technology itself?
>>>
>>> Will we see a proliferation of different blockchains, making ILP even
>>> more interesting and important?
>>>
>>> Could this be a blow to blockchain technology itself (unlikely IMHO),
>>> because limitations of this technology are becoming apparent?
>>>
>>> What developments do you foresee happening in this field, also maybe not
>>> underestimating a potential collapse of the global economy this year?
>>>
>>> On a side note, I like Ethereum's basic tenets but I am worried about a
>>> lock-in of some sorts...
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>
>
Received on Wednesday, 27 January 2016 15:16:21 UTC

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