From lawmakers to blockchain enthusiasts, many people misinterpret the Bitcoin whitepaper. In his latest blog post, Dr. Craig Wright explores one of the biggest misconceptions across blockchain networks, that node operators can and should have a vote on the changes being made to the base protocol. However, this is not the case, and if people understood, or even read, the Bitcoin whitepaper, they would know this.
“Section 4 of the white paper mentions voting,” said Dr. Wright. “[…] The section talks about the problems of allowing everybody to vote based on an IP address or even a machine itself. And it goes further, if you think about it: humans can be ‘sybil’d’.”
If nodes could vote on action items that can significantly impact the protocol, it could be problematic. Nodes voting could easily lead to collusion or node operators could be paid-off by others to vote in a certain way. Dr. Wright was aware of these possible attack vectors when he wrote the Bitcoin whitepaper so he made sure that it did not mention nodes having a vote in some sort of network governance system.
Instead, nodes are meant to fulfill their purpose of creating and validating blocks before broadcasting them to other nodes. Node operators are not supposed to–and are not defined as entities that–decide how a protocol should be governed; however, if we wanted to say that node operators “vote” we would say that they vote on the truthfulness of blocks.
“In effect, nodes only have one vote: they vote to be honest, or they vote to be criminals. If they vote to be criminals, they do so in a system that records their crime and their deceptions in an evidentiary manner. The security of Bitcoin is not cryptographic; it is a combination of game theory and law and publicised auditable information. Nodes do not vote on changing the protocol. It is straightforward: nodes vote to enforce the rules. They don’t vote to create the rules; Bitcoin nodes enforce the rules.”
BTC, BCH, Ethereum, and any other blockchain network that lets participants vote on the way the protocol should be governed have it wrong. It is far too easy to game a blockchain-node based voting system, and there are not enough node operators to ensure that the voting that takes place is “fair.”
To learn more about the function blockchain nodes are meant to serve as defined in the Bitcoin whitepaper, you are going to want to read Dr. Wright’s latest blog post, “The Myth of Bitcoin as a Voting System,” to find out more.