Bitcoin Developers Propose Changing Proof-of-Work Algorithm

Bitcoin Developers Propose Changing Proof-of-Work Algorithm


As the 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.

Also read: Bitpay Confident in Bitcoin, But Raises Its Minimum Transaction Size

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.”

Bitcoin Developers Consider Changing Proof-of-Work Algorithm
The “BTC PoW Initiative” website.

PoW Change Stirs Controversy  

Bitfury’s George Kikvadze on Twitter.

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’

Bitcoin Developers Consider Changing Proof-of-Work Algorithm
Bitcoin developer Luke-jr.

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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  • Lachlan Sean C

    Can’t PoW fork fast enough imho

  • Billy Williams

    Pow change would really mess with certain pools that really control the hash atm. Hint:Antpool

  • cseverance

    If this statement is true, “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.” then some miners have what is coming to them. This seems to be a symptom of some individuals that have more money than common sense and will cut off their nose to spite their face. If the miners (which seems to have the largest financial investment outside of those that only direct investors and don’t have any sweat equity in the game) care about their baby then they need to understand that children grow up and become adults. The best thing they can do to get their baby ready for the world is to invest as much knowledge into them as possible so that they make as few mistakes as possible. Good luck miners (im just now beginning my bitcoin investment journey so please don’t fuck it up!).

    • William Tucker

      I say this fits with the Chinese mentality, no enlightened self interest. Or in other words arrogant assholes.

    • Jason

      The pursuit of Bitcoin, is the root of this evil.

    • I believe the problem lies with those who seek to take Bitcoin away from its intended role as a CONVEYOR of value between INDIVIDUALS and turn it into a STORE of value for new or status quo (mostly capital/investment) INSTITUTIONS.

      Thus we have the current competition between the free market backed Bitcoin Unlimited (BTU) and the capital market backed Bitcoin Corporate (BTC) 😉

      I’m rooting for the market myself!

  • MC Kuky

    The only change I would like to see is that vote “strength” should not be equal to hash rate size, but rather to be equal for all miners. It means that more money or more stake, should NOT equal more voting rights. Some with not as much money should still have equal voting right as someone with lots of money.

    • cseverance

      I’m with you on that one. This is equivalent to the difference between the popular vote and electoral vote. In the popular vote structure only those with the largest population of people get to influence an election and those smaller states with smaller populations do not matter and never get heard. In Electoral version each state gets an equal vote which allows for all voters to have their say no matter how large their state. I am sure that those that have invested the largest amount of money into their business hardware would like to have the lions share of voting power but I am sure that if they were being 100% honest that they would agree that equal voting power is more important since each one could find themselves on the loosing end if any other miner dumps another large block of cash into their business and becomes the new bigger fish in their pond of influence.

      • Alexis

        Voting by “minds” is not a possible solution because nobody can know if it’s a fake or a regular account. Verifying identity would require central authority (no). I think that voting by hash power is the only viable solution even if it’s not equal to all the people. At least it were a good solution when people were mining bitcoin with their GPU and many individuals were mining at home. Today with the asic technology it becomes impossible to a little person to vote on the network, that’s why changing the algorithm is interesting, it would require all the asic to be changed and bring more power to little people without much money to invest (until other asic are produced and used).
        Another debate is the one of blocksize : if the block size increases it means that global pools and asic owners will have a better rate of the global hash rate because they have lots of bandwidth (2mb blocksize means 2 times more work every 10 min for each node and miner). It also means less “normal” people voting on the network and more centralization.
        These two debates are close in fact.

  • Brian Menendez

    the central banks are loving this in- fighting

    • Marco T.

      Who is not to say that they may not be behind it? It is a classic strategy to infiltrate and cause dissension from the inside to collapse an organization. Just another reason why we should move ahead with the existing system until the cryptocurrency as a whole is able to garner a higher valuation. As far as I am concerned, none of the complaints brought up against the current system even comes close to the slavery acting tactics central banks use to create money into existence.

      • Brian Menendez

        oh I absolutely agree

      • Jason

        Sure, cause a problem then swoop in and have a solution, that would work to your advantage. It’s done all the time, but no one seems to catch on because of all the other misdirection’s, pretty much watch this hand and not the other, then oops you have been tricked, and you many not still know it. life imitating politics, who knew?

    • All anti-bitcoin efforts are funded either by the legacy (mostly western) capital interest or the “return to Gold/Silver” interest.

    • Darey Olushina


  • Vitalicus

    POS is future !! Go, go PPC !

  • Ricky Bickerton

    If Peter Todd says it is good, it is BAD.

    The old saying,
    If it is not broken, don’t keep fkkn with it until it is.

    One question needs answering,
    Who is funding blockstream and core developers?

  • Matthias Urlichs

    PoW needs to die entirely. Just look at how much power gets burned every day for mining them.