Are Ethereum’s block times better than Bitcoin’s?


What’s up, party people? Chris DeRose here,
community director of the Counterparty Foundation.
Today I’m shooting this video on Miami beach.
It’s on the north end of the beach. It’s Miami
beach still but it’s getting into not quite
Hollywood I don’t know where it is just over
there. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful day and
it’s a good place to talk about Etheorems
block times. More specifically, how are the
Ethereums of block times improvement over
Bitcoins? Or aren’t there? This question was
asked by mmortal03. Mmortal03 this ones for
you. So, I told you a lot about the Ethereum
and I follow the project off and on. But certainly
it’s a crucial time for the project right
now. I think it’s time we start talking about
some of their design decisions. So right off
the bat I know that there’s a much ballyhooed
sort of representation of their block times.
This notion that, I don’t know what their
at now, 12 second block times, or minute block
times, or something like, are wonderful and
are a major improvement. Now, I’m very very
sceptical of those claims for a lot of reasons.
First and foremost, you got to understand,
especially if you’re not a programmer that
the block times themselves could be any number
that you would have wanted in Bitcoin, it’s
just more important for the network to be
on the same page. To have this innovation
that is faster block times, typically consists
of like making a couple of changes to the
source code. Like coin did it I think and
it took them a very trivial amount of time,
maybe there’s five spots they have to change
it. So it’s not like some R&D mission or some
sort of laboratory work that resulted in this
great innovation that was a faster block interval.
The reason why we have ten minute block times
at Bitcoin is because, quite simply, they
are very secure and they have fewer forks.
So, if you have a block interval that is as
low as 12 seconds, or some such thing you
will have more forking. Forking is when the
network splits because two people got the
same result at approximately the same time.
At that point consensus is not on the same
unitary conclusion, but there are in fact
two consensuses fighting at that point that
blocks get larger and larger until they eventually
fold onto one that is faster arriving than
the next. So when you have a shorter confirmation
interval, those times then would exert a great
propensity for the blocks to split. The problem
when you do that of course is that the network
is not in a state of consensus. They may be
very similarly represented blocks, but they
are not identical blocks, and for people to
invest in one branch or another is slightly
risky. So when you have a shorter block time,
right off the bat there’s more risk in that
block time. And a lot of those factors have
to do with the number of people mining, the
speed of internet connections, the speed of
blocks, and the speed of network connections
and some such thing, bandwidth and what not.
So, in the case of Bitcoin, it’s conceivable
that maybe one day, and I don’t think it’s
very likely, but it’s conceivable that they
would lower the block times where we don’t
do it because it’s just not needed.
For people who seem to think that instant
confirmations are what we need, we have solutions
like that in Bitcoin. We have in the form
of insurance, by the way I forgot what bibbet
was, bib 70 I believe, and we will probably
have in other forms, consisting of people
monitoring the mempool. There’s all kinds
of stuff. Lightning network even actually
tackles this to a significant degree. Side
chains may also tackle this to a significant
degree, seeing how that project goes. There
are many solutions, but keeping the heartbeat
up ten minutes adds a lot of security because
that ten minute interval isn’t going to fork
very often and there’s a crap load of action
power that goes into every one of those blocks,
which yes is somewhat analogous to having
a more spectrum sort of representation of
block validity in the terms of hashing strength.
But, nonetheless is much harder to unroll
Bitcoin blocks than it is ether blocks and
all these things.
It’s important to recognize when you’re evaluating
Ethereums claims that these things are not
without their opportunity costs, when you
make these decisions, there’s a reason that
it existed in the first place and it’s very
easy to criticize Bitcoin for saying that
block intervals are not big enough or some
such thing, when you don’t know the rest of
the story and the rest of the story is usually
pretty good. All of the problems that a Ethereum
is going to have in the next couple years,
how ever many years it may be, are problems
that we’ve talked about at length at Bitcoin,
that have been solved at length at Bitcoin,
and that have been worked on at length at
Bitcoin. And the Ethereum community is just
now starting to explore them. So, when they
make these changes, like block intervals that
are faster, they don’t really know the ramifications
yet, they don’t quite know where it’s going.
I think it’s important that people understand
that it’s probably not an innovation. What’s
probably going to happen is you’re going to
have more forking, you’ll have less reliability
in the Ethereum Chain, and on and on. This
doesn’t even get into the notions of what
is the Ethereum Chain, because after all even
that seems to be in a state of flopsis.
The developers have announced that this is
just one phase in a multiphase of deployment
because of the deficiencies they are going
to have immediately with the system. So, I
don’t know we’ll see. But hey, maybe you’re
into Ethereum and you want to comment on this
issue, by all means use the comments below,
I’d love to hear your opinion and check out
my other videos and I’ll talk about Ethereum
on occasion, certainly, Counterparty is my
main interest, but we use Serpent, as well
as the Ethereum, so at some level there’s
a lot of overlap and I certainly would love
to have you around. So subscribe to the channel,
tweet me on Twitter @trosetech, and stick
around. Later party people.

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