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.

    • BenRickert

      BINGO!!

      • MC Kuky

        Coming back to this post of mine, I have changed my view of what is really going on with Bitcoin, and scaling debate. After much more consideration I came to conclusion that only the miners must be in charge of any changes in Bitcoin code. This means absolutely nothing should be changed in Bitcoin code without vast majority of miner’s consensus.

        Reason for this is, even though the miners profit from mining and selling Bitcoin, but then again so does everyone else that just buys and holds it, the miners are the only people that actually make the Bitcoin network safe by protecting it from overtake by anyone else though their massive hashing power.

        Overall, I still think using 1 miner (person) 1 vote instead of hashing power would work, BUT, all the voting power must always remain with miners only.

        Reason for this is, miners are the only people that keep the network running and keep it safe. They do the massive amount of “work” on their own, they spend their own money… and in order to have this, they must have incentives.

        Incentives can only come from blocks mined and transaction fees.

        What is meant to happen, and this is by design, is that over time rewards from mining blocks would keep decreasing and that should be replaced with ever increasing number of transactions.

        But in order for Bitcoin and miners to allow for this increase in transactions, they must get rid of the 1MB block size. I absolutely do not agree that Bitcoin should EVER have side chains (Lightning Network is side chain also) as side chains will work using proof of stake principle, which Bitcoin does not have, and there is a very good reason why. The transaction that cannot fit into Bitcoin blocks, will end up going through 3rd party layers (side chains) and completely bypass miners.

        This will literally start to destroy free and decentralized Bitcoin main blockchain, because as the miners are robbed of the transaction fees, with time that will make the miners not have enough incentives to keep mining, as they would be doing this at a loss.

        By the time 3rd party corporations (such as Blockstream) will have their 3rd party side chain running, and they will end up being the only party that will want to mine main Bitcoin blockchain (as their side chain layers need it in order to work) and they will be mining Bitcoin at a loss, but they will have enough incentive from profits through side chains.

        In case people haven’t figured this out yet, and I see many haven’t, this will over time, give majority of the hashing power of the main Bitcoin network, allowing them to take over and have full control over Bitcoin code.

        This means 3rd party corporations will eventually have full control, and this will mark an end of free decentralized Bitcoin that we had so far.

        So… to finalize my discovery, the only thing that can kill free decentralized Bitcoin is the 3rd party side chains.

        People will be clueless what is going on in the background, as they will only focus on what they see on the surface.. which will be faster transactions via side chain layer, and they will think this is great.. but… under the hood, the Bitcoin will rot away over the time, and will stop to exist as decentralized network.

        Are people aware of this… and is it worth having temporary benefit of side chains? I would never agree to side chains at all…. never ever…. as this is exactly what will kill Bitcoin… sadly people are so easily fooled, and I think majority have already been fooled by propaganda they see on YouTube from all the people making daily Bitcoin video’s all of which are advocating for SegWit and side chains, and all of which are attacking miners and calling them a problem… but in fact… the Core developers have become bought out and they are paid by corporation to do this.

        Core developers created 1MB block size limit, they don’t want to remove it even if all miners are asking for it so that they can continue doing what they have done all these years (keep increasing block size when needed to accommodate more transactions due to even increasing adoption of Bitcoin)

        it is Core developers that went rogue… not the miners.
        Side chains will destroy decentralized Bitcoin.. and that is a fact… one just needs to look bit further into the future and not be so short sighted as most people are.

  • 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

      Lol

  • Vitalicus

    POS is future !! Go, go PPC !

    • BenRickert

      You probably are the type of shortsighted twit that thinks 0 Interest rates are good too. As long as it benefits you somehow, it must be good right? Idiot.

  • 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.

    • BenRickert

      Here’s two words for your limited brain capacity. ” Solar Power”. Google it. Those light bulbs and home appliances are a real nuisance too huh?? Moron.

      • Matthias Urlichs

        You might get your argument across somewhat better if you’d cut down on the insults.

        Anyway, just calculate how large the solar array would have to be for today’s BTC mining capacity. Then scale it up for the next 20 years or so.

        PoW incentivizes a spiral of spending more power on mining capacity. If everybody turned off 99% of their bitcoin miners today the end result would be exactly the same. Of course that won’t happen because the incentives are all wrong. We need to get them right if we want this to scale.

        • BenRickert

          I guess we should shut of all our lights and computers and appliances too. Or we could construct multi Gw solar farms that augment the current grid. Yeah, I’ll go with that, over instituting a POS platform that only transfers power into the hands of the few and the wealthiest. I doubt many people are looking for a replacement to our current banking system that is essentially the same construct from a hierarchical viewpoint. It’s no coincidence that the “POS” acronym has two translations.

          • Matthias Urlichs

            … as opposed to PoW, which suffers from exactly the same problem: building a mining farm with enough THash to actually matter is NOT cheap. The only difference is that with PoW you need to buy a whole lot of power and hardware while PoS pays out directly.

          • BenRickert

            POS only pays out 1 %. It only pays out to large stake holders. I’m more than aware of the power demands of mining farms. My point is, nothing is static. Adaptability is key in this evolution. Throwing decentralization out the window is NOT an option. POS is just that. Centralization. It’s another knee jerk reaction from an immature group of greedy fools. My long range plan to drive my Hashing power is from the sun. I can actually power homes, businesses AND drive my PH/s with Solar power. If I’m lucky, the government will even help me with the installation costs.

  • BenRickert

    We already have a POS currency platform. It’s called the US monetary system and Fiat currency. You want to centralize power and control into the hands of an elite money class, then by all means, institute POS. What a complete affront to the whole distributed ledger concept. Just like Ethereum. Ethereum is the puppet of the JP Morgan’s and the money control parasites of the world. Ethereum is the Anti Christ of Block Chain. If it weren’t, companies like JP Morgan, Google etc etc wouldn’t be so Gung Ho about it. You can take your POS and your Corporate whore coin Ethereum and shove it up your greedy centralizing A$$.