Ethereum's advantages for Bitcoin highlight how Ethereum has won the smart contract market for years to come - at a minimum
If you're new to Ethereum, but in love with Bitcoin, you may be thinking, "well, Ethereum is winning now, but Rootstock is still a contender". This topic come up frequently and has been addressed community members quite well. Because posts get censored elsewhere, and deleted over time, I thought I'd reiterate the points here. tl;dr Using Ethereum to create bonded side chains has advantage to Bitcoin holders that cannot be obtained by non-currency agnostic chains (such as the proposed chain called Rootstock). Ethereum is better for Bitcoin, and with PoS, is more secure. Rootstock is currently a proposal to be the path to creating smart contracts with Bitcoin. There is this idea out there called “bitcoin maximalization” in which a some cryptocurrency enthusiasts will only accept Bitcoin as THE blockchain of the future. Well, the challenge with that idea is that, while Bitcoin was the first successful blockchain, it is also slow, expensive, and the least-developed. Bitcoin maximalists believe that will change. They believe that bitcoin will adapt. They think Bitcoin will incorporate more technological innovation and maintain global dominance. Sadly, this belief still holds true for many, despite the clear conflicts between mining, development, and exchanges that have driven the long drawn out block size debate. Bitcoin ability to adapt and incorporate new technology is clearly questionable. One technological revolution brought on by Ethereum has been the smart contract (programmable automated contracts). Ethereum has had a year long monopoly on this innovation, and the monopoly appear to be maintain for the foreseeable future. Bitcoin maximalists do not like that idea. They feel it is a threat to Bitcoin dominance. While bitcoin and Ethereum COULD make lovely music together, the idea that Bitcoin could lose its dominant position (by market cap) is likely true. Ethereum has many more use cases. This doesn’t mean Bitcoin will go extinct. As a streamlined, non-bloated, currency, it may still be very useful, but I digress. What if Bitcoin could simply gain Ethereum’s technological sophistication? Rootstock desires to do just that, well, sort of, and for a piece of the pie. For that reason, it’s often promoted by /Bitcoin (a highly censored bitcoin community similar /btc). So how will Rootstock plan to achieve this? First, understand Rootstock is currently vapor. An idea and an implementation can be worlds apart. At the time of this post, there is not a single line of code on Github, while Ethereum has just matured to "Homestead" and is running perfectly. While some describe Rootstock as “open source”, currently, nothing is open. Ethereum development took years to get where it is today, and the open aspect of the development led to Etherum’s current remarkable sophistication and stable platform. But let’s assume, fairly, that Rootstock does eventually emerge from vapor. Rootstock developers are borrowing some of Ethereum’s technology. Thus, in some sense, some of the work is provided for them thanks to Ethereum. Of course, it is easy to overstate. You can’t just cut and paste Ethereum and have it work. It requires a massive amount of development. So what will Rootstock look like. Currently, they have two major version planned:
1) Smart contract via a 2-way peg,
2) Smart contract by merge mining.
vovobov (throwaway account) had this nice contribution:
Ethereum as a bonded sidechain of Bitcoin with advantages over Rootstock What is a sidechain? According to block stream: A sidechain is a blockchain that validates data from other blockchains Ethereum already does that with BTC Relay. So how about pegged assets?
Two-way peg refers to the mechanism by which coins are transferred between sidechains and back at a fixed or otherwise deterministic exchange rate.
A pegged sidechain is a sidechain whose assets can be imported from and returned to other chains; that is, a sidechain that supports two-way pegged assets.
This is an idea for an Ethereum contract that makes Bitcoin-backed tokens without any softfork or trusted Bitcoin multisig managers. Instead, Bitcoin IOU's are created on the Ethereum blockchain and backed by Ether bonds which are governed by Ethereum contracts like BTC Relay or price oracles. The Bitcoin IOUs are backed by Bitcoins held by the escrow managers but if they steal/lose the Bitcoins (or refuse to redeem them) the Bonded Escrow Contract will observe their naughty behaviour and sell their Ether bond to redeem the Bitcoins from someone else! Rootstock vs Bonded Escrow Contract on Ethereum There are two methods that Rootstock developers plan to use for issuing Bitcoin IOUs (called "Roots") on their Bitcoin "sidechain". AFAIU the first involves merged mining and a multisig wallet that entrusts a quorum of Bitcoin miners with the entire basket of Bitcoin eggs that were "moved" to the Rootstock chain. The second method requires softforking the Bitcoin blockchain for a two-way peg. Pseudonymous, distributed, untrusted issuers Rootstock dev maaku7:
“It's a known trade-off made by any presently deployable implementation of the 2-way peg. It's also something that we were very upfront about in the sidechains paper, and part of the reason why many of us are so concerned about decentralization of bitcoin mining. In any non-SNARK, non-extension-block version of the 2-way peg a bitcoin node does not perform full validation of the sidechain as part of the consensus rules. Therefore it is perfectly possible (by design) for a threshold majority of the miners / signers to steal the coins in the peg pool, and censor any attempt to stop them. Why by design? Because that's the promise of sidechains: performant permissionless innovation at the cost of SPV trust in the honest majority of signers / miners. Sidechains we are working on (e.g. Alpha, Liquid) and Rootstock, by the looks of it, make use of a fixed set of signers instead of or in addition to reliance on >50% honest hashpower. This is because while less pure, it is ultimately safer to work with known, contracted entities as functionaries rather than 50% hashpower which at the moment is just a small handful of unaccountable people. EDIT: Although obviously the ideal end goal is fully decentralized mining, where creating a 50% hashpower cabal requires organizing thousands of people at minimum. In such a case we may be able to consider a pure SPV peg to have a reasonable security model. But we're a long way from there yet...”
says this about sidechain security:
“In any non-SNARK, non-extension-block version of the 2-way peg a bitcoin node does not perform full validation of the sidechain as part of the consensus rules. Therefore it is perfectly possible (by design) for a threshold majority of the miners / signers to steal the coins in the peg pool, and censor any attempt to stop them. Why by design? Because that's the promise of sidechains: performant permissionless innovation at the cost of SPV trust in the honest majority of signers / miners.”
Ether bonds can remove most of the need for this trust and allow pseudonymous, permissionless participation in issuance and escrow management. Without anonymous, untrusted validators, distributed around the world, Bitcoin is looking more and more like Chinese Liberty Reserve or E-gold. … Bonded sidechains decentralize pegged assets Even with a Bitcoin softfork, Rootstock has just one Bitcoin IOU with all the Bitcoins sitting like a duck in one "wallet". Since Roots are just one Bitcoin IOU from one issuer, they can't be used to back/bond IOUs the way Ether can. If Rootstock's multisig/SPV wallet is robbed by it's signers/miners or (as they always say) hackers, the value of Roots become "zero" along with any asset or contract using Roots. Ether continues to have value if Bitcoins are stolen. Theft just thins out the herd and makes people more cautious. Ether bonds make issuers mostly responsible for their IOUs with IOU holders assuming some risk if Ether loses too much value to Bitcoin. Issuing servers and indie issuers A basic Bonded Escrow Contract is practically complete since BTC Relay does the difficult part. "Bonded Escrow Contract" is completely decentralized and requires no modification to Bitcoin. It would allow anyone to "anonymously" manage Bitcoin escrow wallets or issue Bitcoin IOUs. They only need to obtain Ether for the bond, send it to the Bonded Escrow Contract along with their Bitcoin escrow address and the terms of the IOU they wish to create. Indie issuers don't have to babysit a "server" (that needs to be online all the time) if they create IOU contracts that won't have harsh penalties if they take some time to redeem the tokens. IOU buyers who want faster redemption can buy IOU's from issuing servers. Issuers are free to choose alternatives to SPV such as prediction markets, to verify Bitcoin transactions. Bonded Escrow Contract options Here are some options that the Bonded Escrow Contract could make available: * Designate how much Bitcoin the IOU tokens are to be worth and how much Ether will back them. This may be a fixed rate or it may be based on other Ethereum price oracle contracts. If a price oracle is used the issuer may have to add Ether to prevent the IOU from going into default if the Ether price goes down relative to Bitcoin. * Set exchange or rental rates for the Bitcoin IOUs. These rates may be in Ether and/or Bitcoin and could be based on oracle/derivatives contracts. When IOUs aren't redeemed (right away) What happens if the IOU's are sent back to the issuer but the Bitcoins aren't released right away?
Set grace period where there is no penalty. After this you have these options.
Set the rate of an Ether stream that is sent slowly from the escrow contract until the value of the bonded Ether gets too close to the value of the Bitcoins in escrow. At this point, all the Ether is transfered from the issuer to the "creditor" (or to another contract).
The user who is waiting on the Bitcoins may choose to take some of the bonded Ether instead. This option sets the rate to buy some of the bonded Ether from the Bonded Escrow Contract instead of waiting for the Bitcoins.
The contract may automatically use the Ether to buy Bitcoins from a more reliable issuer. Or the creditor may be given the option to do this manually.
In more recent news: Rootstock devs (RSK) clarified that instead of creating a token, like Ether, which is sold to the public to fund initial development. With Rootstock, “every time a person or a corporation runs a smart contract on RSK, 80% of the fuel paid goes to the miners and the remaining 20% to RSK Labs, so we can continue the development of the open source platform”. In other words, Rootstock is a sidechain business venture centrally controlled by RSK. Unlike Ethereum, it is NOT a public resource. This does not foster independent, open source, development, such as what we are seeing with ventures like Ethcore and Consensys and well, the many many other Ethereum developers well deserving of attention. If you’re planning to build on Rootstock, RSK labs get a cut of your expenses. Enjoy having a new boss. That doesn’t exist with Ethereum!!! The Ethereum Foundation started the enterprise, but Ethereum development is already much bigger than a single foundation. sjalq also makes these fair comments:
2-way decentralized pegs do not yet exit.
People are not going to be very elated about the FedPeg, but I don't suspect this will do much to inhibit RSK token exchange. ShapeShift will for instance allow for an RSK to BTC exchange.
It merge mines with Bitcoin. OI VE! Talk about an anti-feature. This exposes RootStock to all the problems associate with the great firewall while trying to accomplish sub 10sec block times? What if it becomes obvious that RootStock is now worth more than Bitcoin and Bitcoin becomes this empty shell that does nothing but "burn" Bitcoins into RootStock?
RSK trades at 1:1 to the Bitcoin. Think about this for a second. It's like going to college, studying a medical degree for 10 years and then equally distributing your income to all your family members and extended family. Even if RootStock is faster, better, more secure than Ethereum. This one single "feature" cripples it. The RootStock ecosystem will never see most of this value. They are giving all their money to rich Bitcoiners who took no risk building their network. ...
It doesn't much matter that it is EVM compatible. I can launch another Ethereum blockchain today with no token value. The problem isn't compatibility but the value of the state of the blockchain. IE Digix will not only have to relaunch their network on RSK but they'll have to import and close off their state on Ethereum or write and move to Bitcoin.
All the features they build can be forked by building a network that isn't 20% more expensive to fund it's development. RootStock will basically get a RootStock of its own.
Add to this is that Ethereum's PoS will be far more scalable, with Casper development reaching high levels of sophistication. Basically, unless you absolutely refuse to hold anything but Bitcoin, there is no reason to ever use what's proposed for Rootstock. It's less capable, less secure, less scalable, more centralized, and will be two years behind Ethereum's remarkable network effect (at a minimum). Ethereum's monopoly is going no where for the foreseeable future. Update: March 18th 2016 What About Counterparty?
In most repects, Counterparty's model has the exact same issues as Rootstock's outlined above, so it's the same problems as that described above. Unlike Rootstock, there will be an altcoin, but instead of currency agnostics, it's connected only to bitcoin.
Counterparty is also greatly limited by bitcoin's slow blocktime.
Detail discussion here.. Basically, Counterparty's model is a model that the Ethereum founders abandoned because it is a technologically poor decision.
"many ex-xcp developers who are migrating to Ethereum due to ease of development and better tools. [such as Bitnation] ... Also I don't understand the advantage of counterparty 'using Bitcoin': they also have their own token and their own Blockchain, what is gained by having a ten minute block time?"
"The 'there's only one Blockchain' crowd is what we call 'Bitcoin maximalism'. I think this is more a political position than a pragmatic one: Ethereum Blockchain is secure and created from the ground up for contracts. Counterparty is hack trying to put them into a Blockchain that wasn't made for it and doesn't seem to want contracts. I do wish them the best, I just never saw their software stack."
"... they claimed they had cloned us and then the next day Vitalik answered that he had implemented counterparty in X lines of codes in ethereum."
VB response to "What Ethereum can do that Counterparty cannot"
<15s block time
Light client support
Lack of exposure to Bitcoin development politics (personally, I think this point alone is enough to outweigh whatever 8x difference in dollars wasted per hour on PoW the maximalists like to wave around, and was the original reason for not making ethereum itself a bitcoin-based metacoin)
Lack of exposure to the possibility of Paul Sztorc convincing bitcoin miners that XCP decreases the value of BTC and so should be censored by miners.
Lack of artificially low block size limit
Has a coherent long-term scalability roadmap
Just to throw a bitcoin maximalist argument right back at them, ETH has way better liquidity than XCP so there's less overhead in acquiring the token to pay fees (alongside other network effects like developer tools, user community, etc)
We have DELEGATECALL implemented, they as I understand don't
VB does give Counterparty one benefit
"That said, counterparty is more closely linked to the bitcoin blockchain, so it's easier to make crowdsales that accept bitcoin directly; that's the primary point in favor of a bitcoin blockchain-based metacoin. Though now btcrelay makes up for quite a bit of that difference."
Not to mention that the LISK contracts will be stored in plaintext, which means they'll be vastly more expensive to publish.
OK, so Bitcoin focused smart contracts and LISK are bad ideas, but sometimes bad ideas win, after all, bla bla "network effect" Ethereum already has its own network effect within the smart contract space. Bitcoin is far behind. There really is no mechanism to catch up. At this time, there appears to be just as much fresh money going into Ethereum development as Bitcoin, if not more (200+ project and counting) and over a billion dollars in investments estimated this year by Vinay Gupta. Bitcoin is certainly used as a currency in more places, but its use as a currency is still pretty much a joke. An Ethereum credit card would make this "currency network effect" absolutely pointless. What people don't seem to get it that Bitcoin's market cap is larger as an artifact of it being around longer, but soon, that will change. The amount of new investment in Ethereum, the number of devs deeply involved in Ethereum projects, has already made Bitcoin's history irrelevant. It seems very obvious to me. In my opinion, it really is over already. Ethereum has already won its place as the primary public blockchain. It's just a matter of time before people realize it. And some very clever investors, already have.
"All of the Bitcoiners were political 1st. And then they became technical. Whereas the Ethereum guys were very much technical first, and then became political." -Vinay Gupta
"[Ethereum guys] got led in by the concept of smart contracts and all the decentralized politics built in around that. But I think that that emphasis, whether political first or technical first, is a huge driver. Because the Ethereum community generally speaking is pretty typical for nerds. It's much like a Linux user group. The Bitcoin stuff on the other hand is a very typical space for hard core libertarians.” “Cryptocurrency is a frontier, and it's a frontier that requires an enormous technical complexity to survive,” Gupta said. “As a result, what you get is very very smart, very forward looking, very risk hungry technical people in huge numbers. And that's genuinely a unique environment, that doesn't happen very often, and when it does happen, you tend to get explosive breakthroughs in technology.” These futurists will one day be right; it is just a matter of when. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rahulsingireddy/2017/10/18/this-revolution-will-be-tokenized/
Apr 11, 2014-[VIDEO 3:10]Bitcoin cannot be divorced from pre-existing political theory to solve governance issues - TLDW - Smart Bitcoin'ers that want to solve governance should not be reading code. They should read up on economics. By Vinay Gupta
"Until the bitcoin community admits that it's got political problems rather than technical problems; their trapped." - Vinay Gupta
Some great discussion in his video, and he closes with the quote above. Considering this was filmed before the whole blocksize debate erupted I find it incredibly insightful. While I'm for an increase in the block size, the political problems that have come up are much more important to solve. Political "consensus", as it relates to Bitcoin, has broad and varying meaning to different members of the community. It would be great if we came out of this with a process that allows for inclusive progress rather then circular debate and fragmentation.
Vinay Gupta is the founder of Hexayurt.Capital, a fund which invests in creating the Internet of Agreements. He was instrumental in creating the Dubai Blockchain Strategy, project managed the ... Vinay Gupta knows pandemics. And he knows how to deal with crises. When he researched the most effective way that society should respond to flu-like outbreaks, Gupta identified a concept that had not yet gone mainstream, “social distancing,” and wrote that social distancing is “one of the few tangible measures an ordinary person can take to increase their odds of survival.” Vinay Gupta is CEO of Mattereum, an Ethereum-based physical asset management platform. He coordinated the Ethereum launch process and first worked in cryptocurrencies in the 1990s. This essay is part of CoinDesk’s “Internet 2030” series exploring the ongoing digital revolution. That was one Bitcoin theory of change. It seems improbable now, as it did before, despite the current risk of ... Vinay Gupta is CEO of Mattereum, an Ethereum-based physical asset management platform. He coordinated the Ethereum launch process and first worked in cryptocurrencies in the 1990s. Vinay Gupta knows pandemics. And he knows how to deal with crises. When he researched the most effective way that society should respond to flu-like outbreaks, Gupta identified a concept that had not yet gone mainstream, “social distancing,” and wrote that social distancing is “one of the few tangible measures an ordinary person can take […]
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