[messaging] Namecoin

Tao Effect contact at taoeffect.com
Fri Aug 22 07:48:31 PDT 2014

On Aug 22, 2014, at 3:25 AM, Trevor Perrin <trevp at trevp.net> wrote:
> How important is it to update the mapping?

It depends on what the mapping is used for.

If it's being used for mapping names to public keys, or for the other purposes that Namecoin is being used, it's critically important.

> Is that enough "power" for the naming authority that
> you'd want proof-of-work consensus, given the real tradeoffs in cost /
> complexity / centralization that come with it?

It's unclear to me what you're asking here, could you clarify?

Also, throughout your writing, it's clear to me that you are using a very different definition of "centralization" than the definition that is being used by the blockchain community. This paragraph shows the distinction clearly:

> So having a "decentralized" proof-of-work process choose the next
> block makes sense.  But that means you need a massive community of
> miners, which is hard to arrange so means fewer block chains, and thus
> a more "centralized" system overall.

In blockchain parlance, how many blockchains there are has little to do with the centralization of the "system overall".

The thing that matters in terms of centralization, is who has what type of control over that blockchain.

Even though there are at this point over 500 different blockchains [1], there could be just one blockchain and it would still be considered a decentralized system by the community if its consensus protocol ensured that no single entity had control over it.

The way you have been using "centralized" is very different from that concept. In your use of the word, it is clear that you are focusing on the number of data sources, not the number of human entities, and I think this distinction should be clearly noted if you are going to use the word that way, otherwise I suspect it will lead to unnecessary confusion and/or arguments.

[1] http://mapofcoins.com

> Stepping back, if proof-of-work isn't needed for block selection,
> doesn't lead to good name allocation, and couples things to a
> complicated mining system so that it's hard to evolve and hard to
> deploy different namespaces, that seems like a good argument for
> abandoning it (for the name-your-public-key use case).

A distinction should be made between abandoning proof-of-work (PoW) and abandoning blockchains altogether.

In your email, you've referred to some type of timestamping authority (TSA), but you did not make clear what you were referring to; whether it was a reference to CT or some other system of your own devising.

It is important to know the exact details of what you are suggesting proof-of-work be replaced with. If it is CT, then I have already listed multiple reasons on what that seems to be a bad idea from a security standpoint.

On the otherhand, if you are expressing a preference for alternative consensus protocols, please be specific about which ones you prefer. There have been many novel advanced in the area of blockchain consensus protocols that even I am not completely familiar with, simply because I haven't had the time yet to research them in detail.

One novel recently introduced consensus protocol is Tezos [2], a blockchain that allows the consensus protocol itself to be amended in a decentralized fashion. Many others (that I've yet to research properly) try to address significant problems like the 51% attack on the network.

As Joseph pointed out in his reply, many are skeptical of any consensus mechanism that doesn't involve PoW, and I include myself among those people, but I am particularly skeptical of proof-of-stake (PoS) based protocols, because those protocols give greater "voting power" to those with larger stakes, and the idea that large stakeholders have no interest in maliciously manipulating currencies to suit their personal interests is, I think, and idea that has been thoroughly debunked by our current financial system.

There are many PoW and PoS consensus protocols, however, and there are also many protocols that don't fit under either of those labels too. The advantages presented by blockchains, I think, warrant greater discussion (in this thread at least) of such protocols.

[2] http://www.tezos.com

Greg Slepak

Please do not email me anything that you are not comfortable also sharing with the NSA.

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