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Proof of Work Algorithm – Bitcoin Rising Controversy

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There has been a flurry in the world of bitcoins during the past few days. A lot of ongoing debates among the bitcoin community are about the Block-size and likelihood of a hard-fork in times to come. There is a group of people who are not in favor of hard-fork and have proposed ideas that are controversial in nature.

Some individuals believe that even in a safe hard-fork situation, having such an update will be a technical and ethical requirement. But what does a safe hard-fork mean? It basically means to prevent coin split and replay attacks by making variations to the consensus rules so that miners can continue to mine empty blocks on the original chain. The strategy of Bitmain, however, to stop the original chain by mining empty blocks is not considered a safe hard-fork as it is more of an attack against the users of the chain. On the contrary, continuous mining of an empty block on the original chain is considered a safe hard-fork, as Bitcoin Unlimited has done to change their proof-of-work.

During the current week, discussions among different members of the community and developers of Bitcoin Core were revolving around the proposed change in the Proof of Work algorithm. The heated debate about changing the algorithm has given rise to controversial arguments. A lot of people in the bitcoin community are of the opinion that proof-of-work consensus mechanism is a basis of bitcoin’s code and it should never be changed. Whereas, the group proposing a change is scared of the de facto control. They have triggered the discussion by setting up a BTC proof-of-work Initiative website and a Twitter account to further promote the idea.

It is mentioned on the website that bitcoin has failed to provide a scaling solution due to high fees charged by miners and mining of empty blocks that causes network congestion. Therefore, if the change is implemented, not only will the bitcoin community be able to scale the network, but will also be in a position to get rid of these miners.

The Rising Controversy

As soon as the idea started floating in the market, it gave rise to a controversy. George Kikvadze, a Bitfury employee, criticized the change and called it an irresponsible move. He said that even if there is a remote possibility of the change to take place, those who initiated the idea are not going to be spared, because a serious legal action will be taken against them. Furthermore, he said in one of his Tweets that they will protect the multi-billion bitcoin industry at any cost.

Is it a Highly Risky Step or a Not So Controversial Move?

Another bitcoin developer who supported the idea is Peter Todd. He tweeted that having a change implemented is a reasonable backup plan, keeping in mind how some miners are threatening more than fifty percent attacks against bitcoin. Although, his Tweet was in favor of the idea, yet, he is of the opinion that changing the mechanism is very risky and so the step should only be taken if the attack actually happens.

A large number of individuals who are big supporters of bitcoin did not approve of the idea, whereas, there are some who believe it should be further explored. Another group of people believed that this measure should only be considered a last resort in case everything else fails. One of the Reddit users expressed his concern by calling it a massive controversial change. But Luke Jr., a bitcoin developer, did not agree. He said that it is a lot less controversial compared to block size increase and whatever the case may be, it is not a promotion of client software, in fact, it is simply a consensus building.

The advocate of the change also said that it is not an act against the miners. Instead, the initiative is taken as an ethical requirement to have a well-defined and planned hard fork. All in all, having a change in the proof of work algorithm is a very sensitive topic and it is yet to be seen whether such debates will go further or not.

About Author: Adil Adeel, Data Analyst at CoinBanks trading platform.

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