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Issue #527: BetterHash explainer

Issue #527: BetterHash explainer

Jul 16, 2019
Marty's Ƀent

Issue #527: BetterHash explainer

Let's break away from the madness of the current macro environment and pivot back to "the tech" that is Bitcoin. Specifically, Bitcoin mining. And, more specifically, Bitcoin mining pools.

Bitcoin mining pools have long been the crux of many detractors' arguments against the nascent digital currency. "There are less than ten major pools that can collude to rewrite the chain and mess everything up!" is a common trope that's leaned on by lazy critics. While valid to an extent, history has proven that Bitcoin's incentives make it unlikely that this would happen because the pools would be squandering their golden goose. However, if a few pools were ever taken over by malicious actors (potentially State actors) this attack seems pretty feasible.

The thing that makes this attack a possibility is the fact that mining pools, running the widely adopted Stratum protocol, are in control of constructing each block on behalf of the individual miners in the pool. No one man should have all that power.

Enter BetterHash. Something we haven't written about in this rag in over a year (I think). A new mining pool protocol that would give power back to individual miners by letting them decide how their blocks are constructed. Remember, at the end of the day, it is an individual miner within the pool that will find a block. The pool isn't simply aggregating hash power and solving hashes on behalf of everyone. In a world in which BetterHash is widespread, the above attack scenario would be essentially impossible because a malicious actor would have to gain control of each individual miner within the pool, which are spread throughout the world. The pool operators duties would be reduced to merely divvying out the block reward to the pool after blocks are mined.

Our friend StopAndDecrypt (a very rare back to back appearance this week), has written an extremely thorough explainer that you freaks should check out. (S)He has an incredible knack for breaking down very technical topics into layman's terms.

Final thought...

Having to commute just one day makes me realize how much I love working from home.


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