HN thread on Vitalik arguing for simplicity in blockchain design

Choice quotes:

The protocol design must be easy to justify decades and centuries down the line; the technology and parameter choices must be a work of art .

The second ingredient is the culture of uncompromising, steadfast minimalism.

Unfortunately my comment relating it to Grin was downvoted:-(


Imo there are only 2 coins which could fit in this description, btc and grin. And out of those 2 grin is simpler (no scripting language), with more predictable emission rate consequences (halvings + what happens when all coins are mined). I also think btc is not easy to justify because of its emission rate. Not hiding amounts is also a bug to me, whoever would say that banks are going to start revealing amounts for transactions would be called an idiot, yet we seem to be accepting this in crypto.

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I wouldn’t say open amounts is a bug, it’s a different trade-off. Hiding amounts must come with a mathematical assumption which, if broken, may cause a hidden inflation. Open amounts can detect any inflation bug simply by counting the coins. I think a more fair comparison is to simply say that they’re the same core idea implemented in a different setting. Bitcoin is perfectly binding and Grin is perfectly hiding. The users are free to choose how much money they’re willing to keep under each assumption. The two really are an instance of the same system which prioritizes long term security through simplicity, they’re just implementations in a different setting (and Grin had a few years of prior knowledge and newly invented data structures available).


In cryptospace nothing is a problem as long as “number go up”.

Grin has been a real eye-opener for me. The one thing that makes crypto interesting is the fact that human mankind created for the first time something that potentially takes away a monetary system from the ruling class. Its potentially “disrupting” - something cryptobros LOVE to say. Problem is, Bitcoin is shit. I noticed it once i needed to pay > 70€ in fees for a single transaction. Totally Insane. And thats not to mention the environmental destruction it causes due its power consumtion in the same league as the netherlands, the broken privacy model that makes it virtually useless (how can you allow the whole world to know you bought a Dildo with Bitcoin?)…the list of flaws is epic.

I thought: If Bitcoin is obviously unfit for the “take the monetary system away from the ruling class” for many many reasons, there sure must be something that is a better fit for the task. Grin makes in every single aspect much more sense than Bitcoin. However, nobody gives a shit, because the only thing that matters is NUMBER GO UP. Having something that actually solves a problem but makes the NUMBER GO DOWN must be ignored at all costs.
And this is why your post has been downvoted Tromp: There is nothing wrong with it. Its just that:

  1. Either someone hates crypto in general (for obvious reasons) → Person perseives your post as shilling → Downvote.
  2. If you hold Bitcoin or any other Coin in that matter will make you hate a good solution that is not Bitcoin or any other Coin you hold, because it makes the NUMBER GO DOWN ->Downvote.

Thats all there is to the Cryptospace, in the end the crypto-bros are really that simple-minded.

Grin became as small as it is today because its emission makes NUMBER GO DOWN and thats something that you cant have at all if you’re a real crypto bro because Crypto is now an investment. And Grin has the potential to makes all other coins NUMBER GO DOWN since its suited to replace all of them. You cant have that.

In such a poisoned environment that Cryptospace is for some years now, Projects like Grin will always have a hard time. People like Tromp will get downvoted everywhere: Outside the Cryptospace because he help to give birth to an actually working Cryptocurrency …and inside Cryptospace he will be downvoted because Grin makes Bitcoin and co. NUMBER GO DOWN.
For me its another good reason to buy more Grin.

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El Gamal commitments are perfectly binding as well (and computationally hiding).

If Grin were as popular as Bitcoin, it would similarly face huge (1st layer) fees from time to time, as well as huge power consumption.

It’s just not likely to be that popular as its emission discourages speculation.

BTW, bitcoin fees reverted to sane levels for a long time now.


Right, we can flip a switch, but hopefully it never comes to that. I forgot to think about switch commitments in the coinswap and had to check the api call scilio added for creating an output has it encoded. Seems to be ok though from the quick look.

This. It’s important to stay as honest about what Grin can and can’t do. Grin scales better than Bitcoin, but is still far from capable in handling the load of all the users directly on chain. Layer 2 solutions will be needed to scale.

Huge, yes. But approximately a factor 10 lower right, since the hardware is the major investment for the miner. We have to be honest about Grin, so also honest when something is obviously better than is the case for Bitcoin
Grins proof of work solution is obviously better IMO.

But I understand your being humble and not shilling the algorithm you created😉.

I don’t know how much lower, but certainly don’t expect it to be that much lower. We’d have to wait for competitive development of advanced Grin ASICs with the full 512+ MB SRAM on die to see how much the costs ultimately shift from electricity to hardware.

By all the differences in design it is often not easy to see which way is better or simpler.

How can you measure or know what is the better solution?

  • Progress Freeness within the block-time
  • ASIC-time-bound to prevent short time 51% attacks
  • ASIC resistance to decentralize to become people-bound
  • energie bound to decentralize physically
  • Progress Freeness in the initial design Idea
  • empirical success

  • Some aspect exclude each other. Grin has some beautiful simple seeming design parameters, but are they at least pareto efficient? What is better not changing consensus rules, Hard-fork, Soft-fork or restart on any change? I think first and last solution is simper than the two in-between. But Soft-fork can dominate the first, and the last is only a special case of Hard-fork.

People should keep in their home at least an axe since We live in a dangerous world, where there are plenty of bad-faith actors who do not listen to compassion and reason, anyways…

I don’t believe that to be a “maximalist” is something good. I often see the “Bitcoin fix this” phrase in cases that are not remotely true. I met few miners from Venezuela, they were mining Bitcoin few years ago and it was perfect for them, they were making a lot profits and giving the middle finger to Maduro and the Commies. Mining Bitcoin in Venezuela is actually not a good idea today because the huge amount of resources you need to do it right now, los pacos will eventually get you and it won’t be funny for you, but for a protected comrade will be awesome because they will steal your hardware and the comrade will then either sell it or use it for himself. People became too paranoid. I do not know what happened to ZCash in Venezuela, the last thing I heard was that ZCash was running few projects there, specially to bring usability for everyone in hostile environments like Venezuela.

Maximalists will just ignore that and will repeat the same thing: “Bitcoin fix this”. Recently the “European Union Parliament” voted in favor verifying the identity of every individual behind an “unhosted wallet” that interacts with Exchanges, while any transaction greater than 1.000€ would need to be reported to authorities. Where an “unhosted wallet” is a crypto-asset wallet address that is in the custody of a private user, this means that they’re going after regular people.

I still don’t know what wrong’s with people and AR15s… also, I don’t understand the relationship between AR15s and censorship? but I don’t know if Vitalik sees himself as someone who tries to “unite with anyone to do good and with no one to do evil” or what… but I would say this… we have seen how Russians are now being censured left and right for the sin of being born in Russia. Now, whom I trust less? the hippy wanting to be liked by everyone or the anarcho-capitalist with AR15s and axes? Let me tell you this, I will never trust the hippy wanting to be liked by everyone. I think Vitalik implied the same in the article, but it is confusing to me because he probably think that he wants to build “bridges”. Wasabi Wallet, a privacy-oriented bitcoin-only wallet, has announced it will start introducing censorship methods into its mixing procedures… will Maximalists say: “Bitcoin fix this” again?

Maximalists went from “Bitcoin is the new money” to “Bitcoin is the new gold”. Some maximalists will reject the idea of China taking over the US Empire, they will argue that “no one will trust China”, but they fail to acknowledged the 600 US military bases around the world and the long list of wars involving the United States. No one says: “I use USD because I trust the USA government”, what usually happens is that US bomb the shit out of countries and force them to trade in USD or else. How Bitcoin will fix this? Maximalists is now using El Salvador as their shiny example, but the El Salvador’s implementation is by far the worst Bitcoin implementations ever. Citizens do not own the keys, they also need to KYC using face recognition and a huge database with everybody’s IDs. The Police arrested a bunch of people taking advantage of Bitcoin’s volatility, why? because the only party allowed to take advantage of volatility is Bukele’s brother… but “Bitcoin fix this”, right? it is fun to see Bukele making fun of everyone on Twitter, but I swear if I hear a Maximalist saying “Bitcoin fix this” again in the case of El Salvador, I could probably do the same that Will Smith did to Chris Rock during the Oscars.

I can go on and on, but I’ve made my case: Bitcoin maximalists lost their minds, I’ve seen people tripping on shrooms with more nuance than a Bitcoin maximalist.

I believe we need a really strong culture that actively resists and fights assimilation into the mainstream every time it tries to assert its hegemony. So, be brave, fight for your values, but don’t be a maximalist.