As Bitcoin’s scaling debate intensifies, many people are choosing sides and thinking of solutions that best suit their subjective opinions of how the network should operate. Now discussions on Bitcoin’s blockchain possibly forking has caused some people to consider trying to change the digital currency’s Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism.
Bitcoin Community Members and Developers Propose Changing Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work
The past week in bitcoin-land it’s been quite a ride, to say the least. Scaling topics have now eclipsed all discussions concerning the March 10 ETF decision. Most of the “community” is now focused on the block size debate and the possibility of a hard fork in the near future. There are those who vehemently oppose a hard fork and have decided to come up with solutions to avoid the situation by proposing some ideas that are very controversial. This week community members and Bitcoin Core developers such as Luke-jr have been discussing trying to change Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm.
Of course, the discussion of changing PoW has stirred contentious arguments once again. Many people within the community believe the PoW consensus mechanism is one foundation within Bitcoin’s code that should never change. However, the group discussing the algorithm change are afraid of “de facto control” by a great majority of the network hashrate. The group has pushed the conversation further by creating a website, and a Twitter handle to promote the idea.
“A call for research, testing, and finally implementation of a decentralization-friendly algorithm for Bitcoin’s proof-of-work,” explains the BTC PoW Initiative website. “Bitcoin has been unable to implement a scaling solution due to greedy miners who want to keep fees high and who even mine empty blocks, not caring that it increases network congestion. — Changing the proof-of-work will fire the current crop of miners and open the door for quickly and easily scaling the network.”
PoW Change Stirs Controversy
Almost immediately the community began yet another heated debate concerning this idea. A Bitfury employee, George Kikvadze, spoke against the PoW change rather sternly even saying some bitcoin community members could threaten those responsible with legal action.
“Discussions (or even speculation) of a PoW change is super irresponsible! And even in the remote 0.01 percent chance it may happen — Those responsible, we will spare no resources, get best lawyers and prosecutors to go after you wherever you will be in the world,” Kikvadze said on Twitter. “Bitcoin has become a multi-billion industry, with great financial investment and societal responsibility. We will protect this at all cost!”
A ‘High-Risk Move’ to Some, While Others Call It ‘Much Less Controversial’
Another bitcoin developer, Peter Todd, also promoted the BTC PoW Initiative to his Twitter followers on March 19. “With some miners threatening 51% attacks against Bitcoin, researching a PoW change is a good backup plan,” Todd states. However following this statement Todd details that changing the PoW consensus mechanism is risky. “Having said that, actually changing the PoW is a high-risk move; IMO best to only do that if an attack actually happens,” the developer added.
Lots of Bitcoin proponents across the web completely opposed the idea of a PoW change, while others thought the idea should be explored, and some explained the concept should truly be a last minute resort. One Redditor exclaimed that a “Proof of Work change is a HUGE controversial change!” However, bitcoin developer Luke-jr disagreed saying, “Much less controversial than block size increases — In any case, there is no client software being promoted here, merely consensus-building.”
It’s clear from the many conversations across cryptocurrency forums and social media that a PoW algorithm change is a pretty touchy subject. Whether or not discussions like these go further and see actual development remains to be seen.
What do you think about community members and developers discussing a PoW consensus mechanism change? Do you think the current PoW algorithm is a foundation that never should be changed? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, Twitter, and the BTC PoW Initiative website.
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