Fork Watch: Disputed Consensus and an Abundance of Game Theory
In less than 24 hours the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network will be facing a hard fork involving consensus changes that are currently disputed and may lead to a blockchain split. Two development teams have proposed different paths for the Nov. 15 upgrade and the clashing BCH reference implementations will be incompatible with each other after the fork commences.
Nov. 15: Two Incompatible Clients With Different Ruleset Changes
The Bitcoin Cash community plans for a network hard fork twice a year and this year it has become apparent that the Nov. 15 upgrade may have issues due to the release of two competing ruleset changes. The Bitcoin ABC developers plan to add a new opcode called OP_CHECKDATASIG (DSV) and the introduction of canonical transaction ordering. Then the Bitcoin SV team has plans to introduce four new opcodes: OP_MUL, OP_LSHIFT, OP_RSHIFT, and OP_INVERT. Additionally, SV wants to remove the limit of opcodes per script and raise the block size to 128MB.
Bitcoin SV Captures Over 75% of the Global BCH Hashrate
According to data taken from Coindance Cash, there is a significant amount of hashrate currently signaling for the Bitcoin SV client. Data shows that over the last 48 hours or more, the Bitcoin SV implementation has been backed by 75-82% of the global hashrate. However, even though the hashrate is backing SV by an overwhelming percentage of computational power, not everyone in the community is pleased with the outcome.
SV supporters believe they are supporting a move toward a “stable protocol” and are witnessing the first time Nakamoto Consensus is used to make important development decisions.
While some SV supporters believe they are wholeheartedly following “Nakamoto Consensus,” there is a clear amount of BCH supporters who view the hashrate as a “51% attack.” Unlike the 80 percent of miners who supported the Segwit2X upgrade for BTC last year, the amount of hashrate voting for SV is extremely concentrated into just a few pools.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) global hashrate on Nov. 14, 2018. This week the marketplace Openbazaar discussed people’s concerns with the hashrate. “When things settle it is entirely your choice what you do with your coins, but we also recommend being cautious of a chain with hashpower of 50% or more controlled by one entity,” Openbazaar states on Nov. 12.
For instance, on Nov. 14, the day before the consensus changes, there are three pools that have most of the BCH hashrate and all of them support SV. Today’s data shows that Coingeek currently has 46.53 percent of the global hashrate. This is followed by SV Pool with 11.11 percent, and BMG Pool with 9.72 percent at the time of publication. The amount of hashrate controlled by a single entity, specifically Craig Wright and associates, has people concerned about the security of the network and many supporters have been vocal about this issue. For instance, some BCH supporters have stated they won’t follow Wright’s SV plan even with the considerable amount of hashrate pointed at the client.
Cornell Professor Emin Gun Sirer speaks about selfish mining attacks after the SV hashpower breached 51%.
Despite the Hashpower, Some Community Members Just Won’t Follow the ‘Vision’
The early Bitcoin adopter and entrepreneur Olivier Janssens has explained he will not follow Wright’s vision and possibly even retract his support for BCH. “I’m not against Nakamoto Consensus and will support it until the very end — I just won’t support a project where the majority of hashpower is controlled by or in support of a fraud,” Janssens detailed on Twitter.
When the mining pool Viabtc was asked whether or not they will join the SV hashrate, the Chinese miners detailed they would not follow Wright’s Satoshi Vision strategy. Viabtc explained to its Twitter followers on Nov. 12:
Drivechain developer Paul Sztorc believes sidechains can possibly help avoid these hash war conflicts.
Certain Statements Furthering the Complexity of the Situation
A lot of the community complaints against the SV roadmap have stemmed from Wright’s recent statements and threats toward the ABC fork. For instance, on Twitter Wright has explained that he will make the ABC side of the chain untradeable if there is a split. In fact, BCH users have collected screenshots and Twitter statements of Wright threatening to double spend, orphan blocks, and reorg the ABC chain in order to force miners toward the ABC side.
“If you support ABC, we will remove you,” Wright detailed on Twitter on Nov. 12. “When you say I will not go through with this — You will be bankrupted and I will watch — You are wrong,” he adds.
Coingeek’s Calvin Ayre wholeheartedly agrees with Wright’s SV roadmap and explained on Nov. 14 that he believes miners not showing SV support will eventually follow the SV implementation. In a post called “Bitcoin finally comes of age with adult supervision,” Ayre states:
The founder of the wallet Cointext, Vin Armani, has also outlined his beliefs concerning Wright’s recent statements and the big hashrate move toward SV. In a very hypothetical video, Armani emphasized that he believes Wright and followers will follow through with the ultimatums told to ABC supporters.
Cointext founder Vin Armani has been very vocal about his theories concerning the “hash war.”
Further, due to the complexity of the contentious fork, Coinbase has released a new statement concerning the consensus changes.
“Due to recent developments, we have now determined that it will be necessary to also pause all buys, sells, and trading of BCH starting at 8:00 a.m. PST on Thursday on Coinbase.com, in the iOS and Android apps, and on Coinbase Pro and Prime,” explained the San Francisco exchange. “Accordingly, during the time of the pause, you will not be able to sell or remove your BCH from Coinbase. If you wish to have access to your BCH during the pause, you will need to remove it from the Coinbase platform prior.”
The Great Divide
At the moment there is a clear divide between users who support the two different Bitcoin SV and the ABC rulesets, and it is unclear what will take place during the fork. Another indication of the ideological separation is the 73% of Bitcoin Cash companies who are currently supporting the ABC roadmap, according to Coin Dance statistics. Moreover, there’s been a lot of discussion concerning Bitmain’s Jihan Wu lately, and whether or not he will be bringing more hashrate to the ABC side. Even though there’s been a bunch of conversation about Bitmain and Wu over the last few weeks, the founder has been quiet during the week of the fork. One of the last things Wu had said about the conflict was that he believed “the whole BCH community was working together to kick Fake Satoshi out,” on Nov. 8.
Wright has stated in a recent Medium post that he is prepared for a quick “burst” of hashrate. Moreover, after cryptocurrency markets plunged on Nov.15 losing $17 billion in very little time, Wright tweeted this to his followers.
Since then there have also been rumors of Bitmain prepping 90,000 machines in the southern regions of China. A local media report has recently detailed that mining farms in China may be donating to the ABC hashrate. A source familiar with the matter said, “‘Half of its marketing staff have gone to Xinjiang to talk with local mining operators about deploying equipment.” There hasn’t been any sign of fresh hashrate coming to the BCH chain yet and right now it is 21% more profitable for SHA256 miners to mine blocks on the BTC chain.
Despite the low amount of hashrate Bitcoin ABC has the most network nodes and company support on Nov. 14.
No one truly knows what will happen during the fork but there are many hypothetical scenarios proposed by those on both sides of the fence. While ABC proponents have stated they will not follow Wright, Nchain, and Coingeek, SV supporters believe that ultimately hashpower and “Nakamoto Consensus” will settle this conflict. News.Bitcoin.com has recently published information on how users can prepare for the fork, no matter which side they support. Alongside this, our news crew has also compiled a comprehensive list of wallets, exchanges, and payment services providers that have outlined their plans for the consensus changes.
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