Supporting a Minority Chain
With a majority Schelling point
When I first got serious about Cryptocurrency I was enamored with the idea of smart contracts. Uninterruptible and sovereign agreements between those who wanted them and impossible to affect from external sources. I believed this to be fact, an unchanging rule that we could not violate, that would even be technically hard to violate.
I then found that this was untrue. In fact it is trivial to mutate Cryptocurrencies even today. You need a handful of exchanges to agree and almost any change will go through.
Economic nodes matter more than miners, and when they agree with each other they even matter more than users. Users get indirect representation by choosing to abandon exchanges, but if they have no recourse then they have little power. Few will abandon a Cryptocurrency itself in most circumstances.
For what it’s worth economic nodes largely do not care, they will run whatever the developers give them and whatever they think their users want. Developers hold incredible power in this ecosystem, having more than one group of unassociated developers, or making social norms to never change consensus via hard fork, are the only ways to curb this power.
So why support a minority chain?
What we’re doing when we choose the minority chain and all the additional challenges that come with it is upholding fundamental principles of Cryptocurrencies. We are exercising fork choice, we are exercising rough consensus, and we are choosing to stick with a Schelling point that is agnostic to any given chain or system.
We are expressly ignoring Schelling points around economic nodes and choosing to exercise and preserve the freedom that Cryptocurrency grants us.
We believe that consensus is not retroactive and that new rules cannot affect old. In government these are called ex post facto laws, and are so important they’re expressly forbidden in the constitutions of a substantial amount of countries.
Ultimately this is vital to the future of Cryptocurrency, and an underappreciated Schelling point because we’ve become accustomed to not having to worry about rules being changed under our feet. These beliefs need to be defended and further solidified in this nascent ecosystem or we lose vital characteristics of Cryptocurrency. Not everything can rest on Bitcoin’s shoulders. Bitcoin cannot be a single point of failure.