Update: Chinese Mining Pools Still Undecided about Bitcoin Classic, Says Huobi

Bitcoin Magazine
Update: Chinese Mining Pools Still Undecided about Bitcoin Classic, Says Huobi

Updated on Jan. 22, 2016 at 11:50 EST:

Bitcoin Magazine recieved a response from major Chinese Bitcoin exchange Huobi, which indicated that the situation was still evolving. According to Huobi, there was not yet consensus among the Chinese mining community about whether to run Bitcoin Classic or Bitcoin Core. This contradicts the earlier information from F2Pool and HaoBTC indicating that a decision had been reached. “We all feel it’s not appropriate for us to give comments at the moment because Evan Mo and other miners are still discussing this issue and haven’t come to a consensus. We will continuously pay attention to this issue and make official comment on it when the time is right,” said a Huobi spokesperson in an emailed statement to Bitcoin Magazine.

Original article:

Shortly after the sensational public break-up between Bitcoin and R3CEV – hire Mike Hearn, and the launch of several alternative Bitcoin implementations, the block-size dispute is reaching fever pitch. Bitcoin Classic, in particular, has been gathering support among companies, users and some developers. Significantly, a number of mining pools has also publicly come out in support of the Bitcoin Core fork led by Jonathan Toomim.

The second largest mining pool on the Bitcoin network, with some 23 percent of hashing power, China-based F2Pool, was said to be among the pools prepared to switch to Bitcoin Classic. Yesterday, however, rumors started to surface claiming that the Chinese pools had changed position, and will stick with Bitcoin Core.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, F2Pool operator Wang Chun confirmed this is indeed the case.

“The rumors are true,” Chun said. “Miners in China were scared by Luke Dashjr’s proof-of-work changing pull request.”

The specific pull request Chun refers to was made by Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin LJR developer Luke Dashjr last week. Dashjr argued that a hard fork should be accompanied by a change of Bitcoin mining hashing algorithm, as it would render ASIC miners obsolete and could re-decentralize mining. Since Bitcoin Classic intends to democratize governance of the implementation, users could vote on the pull request; it had not received widespread support as of yet.

The pull request itself, however, was quickly closed by Bitcoin Classic lead developer Jonathan Toomim, who considered the idea too radical. He argued it shouldn’t have been submitted to GitHub directly – but rather discussed on the voting page and Reddit.

Many Bitcoin Classic proponents believe that the pull request was a sabotage attempt against Bitcoin Classic. They reason that the proposal was specifically intended to strike fear into the hearts of the mining community; if the pull request were to be adopted, any investments made in mining hardware could quickly be made worthless.

When Bitcoin Magazine spoke to Wang Chun earlier this week, the pool operator had already nuanced his position. F2Pool’s claimed support for Bitcoin Classic was misinterpreted, said Chun, stating:

“We did not say we would ‘support’ Bitcoin Classic. We used the word ‘welcome,’ to be exact.”

Earlier this week Chun did, however, emphasize that he wants the block size limit to be increased. Perhaps more important, Chun insists a hard fork is the desired solution to accomplish this – rather than a soft fork through Segregated Witness, as the Bitcoin Core development team intends.

“At the Scaling Bitcoin workshop in Hong Kong, almost every one of us agreed that block size should be increased, and should be increased as a hard fork, as there was no soft fork solution back then,” Chun explained. “Then, last minute, Segregated Witness was introduced. I admire Dr. Pieter Wuille’s brilliant hack to deploy it as a soft fork. But despite being brilliant, the soft fork Segregated Witness is still a hack. A hack is dirty. Such a technology would be better implemented as hard fork.”

Chun has made a concrete hard fork proposal since – though the details of this proposal are not yet clear.

A hard fork solution is regarded as a measure of last resort by the Bitcoin Core development team. With hard forks, all full nodes on the Bitcoin network need to change their software to the latest version or risk being “forked off” the network, with potential unforeseen consequences. Soft forks, considered safer by most Bitcoin Core developers as they only require miners to change their software, have been rolled out several times.

But Chun, like the Bitcoin Classic development team, believes the Bitcoin network can grow more cleanly through a hard fork.

Chun:

“Since Segregated Witness will only allow for some 70 percent of added space, a 2-megabyte hard fork would allow for more headroom, which could end the debate for now. People will not only be more satisfied, they’ll also see that we can actually get something done, get something fixed… not just find some detour hack to leave the issue to the next generation.”

While Chun earlier this week indicated that support for Bitcoin Classic in absence of a hard fork was not completely off the table, it seems that has now changed.

After finishing this article, a second Chinese wallet service, HaoBTC, has confirmed to Bitcoin Magazine that Chinese pools will stick with Bitcoin Core, too.

Bitcoin Magazine will be closely monitoring this story as it progresses.

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UK Chief Science Adviser Urges Government to Start Deploying Blockchains for Public Services

The U.K.’s chief scientific adviser has urged the government to adopt the blockchain technology that powers Bitcoin to run various public services, BBC News reports.

The recommendation comes in the form of a new report produced by the U.K. Government Office for Science, edited by Sir Mark Walport, chief scientific adviser, which looks at the future of distributed ledger (or blockchain) technology and advocates the use of blockchains for a variety of services.

The report, titled “Distributed ledger technology: beyond block chain,” explores how distributed ledger technology can revolutionize services, both in government and the private sector, and recommends government actions to maximize the opportunities and reduce the risks of this new technology. The stated aim of the report is to decrypt blockchain technology for policy audiences and provide policymakers with the vision and evidence to help them to decide where action is necessary, and how best to deploy it.

In the foreword, Parliament members Matthew Hancock, minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general, and Ed Vaizey, minister of state for Culture and the digital economy, say that distributed ledgers will disrupt how we think about and store data, and propose that Great Britain should take a leadership role.

The MPs refer to key national technology assets, including the Alan Turing Institute, the Open Data Institute and Digital Catapult, which are to be put to work to achieve technology leadership and support governmental initiatives.

In March, Bitcoin Magazine reported that the U.K. government would launch a new research initiative to bring together the Research Councils, Alan Turing Institute and Digital Catapult with industry in order to address the research opportunities and challenges for digital currency technology and increase research funding in this area by £10 million (U.S. $14.6 million). Now, the Office for Science proposes new steps to start using distributed ledger technology for public services.

Senior experts from business, government and academia were brought together to assess the opportunities for distributed ledgers to be used within government and the private sector, and to determine what actions government and others need to take to facilitate the beneficial use of distributed ledger technology and to avoid possible harms. The report includes a chapter on the possible government applications in the U.K. – the eventual impact of distributed ledger technology on British society may be “as significant as foundational events such as the creation of Magna Carta” – and a chapter on global perspectives.

“Algorithms that enable the creation of distributed ledgers are powerful, disruptive innovations that could transform the delivery of public and private services and enhance productivity through a wide range of applications,” says Walport in the executive summary. “The electronic distribution of digital cash offers potential efficiencies and, unlike physical cash, it brings with it a ledger of transactions that is absent from physical cash.”

However, Walport notes that the strong association of blockchain technology with Bitcoin represents an important problem when it comes to communicating the potential benefits of distributed ledgers to politicians and the public.

“Bitcoin creates suspicion amongst citizens and government policymakers because of its association with criminal transactions and ‘dark web’ trading sites, such as the now defunct Silk Road,” he says.

According to the report, distributed ledger technologies have the potential to help governments to collect taxes, deliver benefits, issue passports, record land registries, assure the supply chain of goods and generally ensure the integrity of government records and services. In the National Health Service (NHS), the technology offers the potential to improve health care by improving and authenticating the delivery of services and by sharing records securely according to exact rules.

See the report, which is freely downloadable, for the full text of the eight recommendations to the British government. Taken together, the recommendations outline an integrated action plan aimed at achieving a systematic understanding of the technical and regulatory aspects of distributed ledgers, and developing a roadmap.

The Alan Turing Institute, established in 2015 as the U.K.’s national institute for data science and officially launched in November 2015, is expected to play an important role. The report urges the private sector to consider investing in the Institute to support the pre-competitive research that will ultimately facilitate new commercial applications that are robust and secure. This includes work on obvious areas such as cryptography and cybersecurity but also extends to the development of new types of algorithms.

Most recommendations call for further study and road-mapping in a typical bureaucratic language of government documents, but two recommendations outline specific implementation steps:

Recommendation 7: Understanding the true potential of distributed ledgers requires not only research but also using the technology for real life applications. Government should establish trials of distributed ledgers in order to assess the technology’s usability within the public sector.

Recommendation 3: Government could support the creation of distributed ledger demonstrators for local government that will bring together all the elements necessary to test the technology and its application. A demonstrator at a city level could provide important opportunities for trialling and implementing distributed ledger technologies. Innovate UK could use its work with cities in the development of “city deals” to implement the development of a city demonstrator.

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