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Don't validators make XRP centralized?

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3 hours ago, xrpmen said:

so pretty much there would be a hard fork in xrp.  like say 51% of the hash power in bitcoin was malicious, users could just change the mining algorithm and hard fork off to a new network, right?

No, that is not entirely correct, or is it?  Each rippled - both validators and non-validators choose for themselves which UNL they wants to follow. So if no one in the old network changes his UNL, then the old network and also the exchanges/wallets will stick with the old network. The other network will fork off and will create its own ledger. It's not a matter of majority, but a matter of choice. You cannot force anyone to make that same choice

Edited by jn_r

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44 minutes ago, xrpmen said:

in bitcoin, anybody can be a miner

That is a myth. If you happen to live in a jurisdiction where electricity and mining hardware is more expensive than in China (which is the rest of the world, basically), you cannot join the mining game and not lose money.

Not just that. You also need to run the exact same software version that other miners run. That makes less than a handful admins of the Bitcoin github repository effectively a central authority of the network. Also check out lines 121 - 127 of chainparams.cpp for Bitcoin's  little dirty secret equivalent of the UNL.

As for the rest, I can only recommend following JoelKatz on twitter, or read his twitter history. He has debated this topic at length, and brilliantly. My conclusion is that even in the current state of the network, XRP ledger is more decentralized than Bitcoin. An important question to ask yourself is not to blindly focus on decentralization, but on why you want such decentralization, and what properties that you want a decentralized payment system to have.

Even if the current network is not practically fully decentralized right now, the fact that Ripple's central authority over the network can be removed with nothing more than a simple text config file edit, is an essential attribute of the system that makes the network effectively decentralized today. More on that front is in the pipeline.

Edited by lucky

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5 minutes ago, jn_r said:

No, that is not entirely correct, or is it?  Each rippled - both validators and non-validators choose for themselves which UNL they wants to follow. So if no one in the old network changes his UNL, then the old network and also the exchanges/wallets will stick with the old network. The other network will fork off and will create its own ledger. It's not a matter of majority, but a matter of choice

if 7 billion people spin up validators, add each other on their UNL (not the 112 current validators), they would fork off.  pretty sure that's how it works.

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2 minutes ago, xrpmen said:

if 7 billion people spin up validators, add each other on their UNL (not the 112 current validators), they would fork off.  pretty sure that's how it works.

yep, I agree with that. It's the choice of those 7 billion people to create a new fork and stick with that new fork.

If we (the whole ripple/XRP community and attached businesses) decide together to kick out Ripple, we could do just that :-)

Edited by jn_r

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7 minutes ago, lucky said:

That is a myth. If you happen to live in a jurisdiction where electricity and mining hardware is more expensive than in China (which is the rest of the world, basically), you cannot join the mining game and not lose money.

Not just that. You also need to run the exact same software version that other miners run. That makes less than a handful admins of the Bitcoin github repository effectively a central authority of the network. Also check out lines 121 - 127 of chainparams.cpp for Bitcoin's  little dirty secret equivalent of the UNL.

As for the rest, I can only recommend following JoelKatz on twitter, or read his twitter history. He has debated this topic at length, and brilliantly. My conclusion is that even in the current state of the network, XRP ledger is more decentralized than Bitcoin. An important question to ask yourself is not to blindly focus on decentralization, but on why you want such decentralization, and what properties that you want a decentralized payment system to have.

Even if the current network is not practically fully decentralized right now, the fact that Ripple's central authority over the network can be removed with nothing more than a simple text config file edit, is an essential attribute of the system that makes the network effectively decentralized today. More on that front is in the pipeline.

man, all this is very confusing. you realize most ppl (including most ppl in crypto) don't know how to detect this kind of info about the decentralization aspects of btc/xrp/etc nor even care? it's crazy. i honestly have been trying to narrow it down and it's very difficult.  as a n00b, the only thing i have been able to detect as major differences between xrp and btc is that xrp is fast/cheap/noMining but the entire supply was pre-minted, and btc is slow/expensive/uses a lot of energy/but more fairly distributed in comparison to xrp (it isnt perfect distribution either but more fair than xrp).

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1 minute ago, xrpmen said:

if 7 billion people spin up validators, add each other on their UNL (not the 112 current validators), they would fork off.  pretty sure that's how it works.

Yes, that's how it is supposed to work. I would not call that a fork though. It's just 7 billion people not listening to 112 validators.

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3 minutes ago, lucky said:

Yes, that's how it is supposed to work. I would not call that a fork though. It's just 7 billion people not listening to 112 validators.

but it is a fork because the original network does not agree with the 7 billion pp network. they're now two separate "chains"/coins

Edited by xrpmen

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12 minutes ago, xrpmen said:

but it is a fork because the original network does not agree with the 7 billion pp network. they're now two separate "chains"/coins

Yes, there will be the coin that 7 billion people use, and the coin that 112 people use. Obviously the second one is pretty useless, for other things than a beer-accounting system among friends, so I would not call that a coin. And hence, it's not really a fork, it's a shift of validators in the network. Anyway, such behavior of a decentralized payment system is desirable. It would be undesirable if 112 people could dictate the properties of a system that 7 billion people are using, without the possibility of a majority of these 7 billion users to have things their way. With XRP ledger, that possibility is built-in, and that's what makes it effectively decentralized.

Edited by lucky

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8 minutes ago, lucky said:

Yes, there will be the coin that 7 billion people use, and the coin that 112 people use. Obviously the second one is pretty useless, for other things than a beer-accounting system among friends, so I would not call that a coin. And hence, it's not really a fork, it's a shift of validators in the network. Anyway, such behavior of a decentralized payment system is desirable. It would be undesirable if 112 people could dictate the properties of a system that 7 billion people are using, without the possibility of a majority of these 7 billion users to have things their way. With XRP ledger, that possibility is built-in, and that's what makes it effectively decentralized.

what do u mean it's a shift of validators in the network? it's either the original network XRP or it's a new forked new network new coin.  we agree it's the latter, yes?  so exchanges would need to list XRP1 and XRP2, two different coins that are each their own network now separate from each other

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1 minute ago, xrpmen said:

what do u mean it's a shift of validators in the network? it's either the original network XRP or it's a new forked new network new coin.  we agree it's the latter, yes?  so exchanges would need to list XRP1 and XRP2, two different coins that are each their own network now separate from each other

In your example it is obvious that exchanges would not list the version with only 122 users alongside the version with 7 billion users.

If there ever will be a real ideological fork in the road, comparable with big blocks / small blocks, and there will be sufficient support for both sides of the ideological fork, then yes, the network will split. As it should. It is supposed to work that way. The market will then decide which ledger will gain the most support and survive.

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3 minutes ago, xrpmen said:

what do u mean it's a shift of validators in the network? it's either the original network XRP or it's a new forked new network new coin.  we agree it's the latter, yes?  so exchanges would need to list XRP1 and XRP2, two different coins that are each their own network now separate from each other

It is important to understand that the success of any technology-based endeavor is not just dependent on the underlying technological mechanisms, the resources that are channeled into creating awareness for a platform, getting adoption through educating stakeholders and users, etc, are very crucial.

As an analogy, there are many successful tech platforms and companies today - Microsoft, Facebook, Netflix, Alibaba, etc. If one decides to build a Facebook-clone and call it Facebook2, could he do it? Sure he could but a large part of whether Facebook2 becomes as successful as the original Facebook hinges on whether sufficient resources can be put into it so that it gains traction and achieves critical mass. 

In theory it sounds simple, build a clone and get mass adoption. However reality cannot be more different. Many have tried that and failed. Technology is but one part of the whole picture, and even that itself has to evolve over time as needs and requirements of the users change. 

So XRP2, XRP3, XRP4, ... XRPn could be invented but the crux of the matter is how these new creations can gain enough support to matter. It is possible that one of these may surpass the original if sufficient resources are injected to grow it but that would also require the original XRP (and the initiatives that support it) to remain static and not evolve at the same time.

Never say never, but looking at the fast-growing ecosystem that XRP now has, there is plenty that a forked initiative needs to accomplish in order to catch up with it.

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12 hours ago, xrpmen said:

i agree. i'm trying to find out why bitcoin didn't just use a UNL and nix the mining instead of using XRP's model, tho. surely satoshi must've thought of XRP's model before creating bitcoin and discarded it for a certain reason.

Blockchain is just one way of solving for what Satoshi himself sometimes called "Timechain". (Order of transactions rather than order of blocks) 

Consensus is another way to solve for that. On the decentralization aspect, it kind of starts at the opposite end. Sorry for the stupid metaphor, but if we want to minimize overlap of friends and puppy haters: 

BTC: "I want to make sure none of my friends hate puppies. I designed a complicated system that ensures they can't turn into puppy haters." 

XRP: "I also want to make sure none of my friends hate puppies. If one of them hates puppies, they're not my friend anymore." 

No wonder maximalists hate XRP with a passion -- it's an Egg of Columbus type solution to the core problem (order of events consensus). 

I personally don't believe Satoshi "must have thought of the XRP model and discarded it for a reason". The man had enough to think about as it was, and it sounds sensible that Bitcoin invited enough attention for someone to think of a better solution. 

However, both are logical arguments to make. In any case, the discussion would be an absolute mess if we didn't agree on the order of events! It is fundamental to how we think and argue: 

13 hours ago, lucky said:

XRP was created after Bitcoin

This whole thread made me think of this tweet: https://twitter.com/ercwl/status/1069089996244574209 and ensuing discussion. He's being hypothetical, and it reads like sarcasm at first, but it hits fairly close to home. 

 

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Hey, XRP 2 has already been created and it's owned by Ripple. (I'm joking, but also kind of telling the truth, because "XRP II, Inc." is a wholly owned subsidiary that manages Ripple's XRP assets.)

I do think that the decentralization of the XRP Ledger's validators this year has prompted some of the most introspection in cryptocurrency and decentralization on a conceptual level that we've had since the earliest days. It really makes you wonder, "What is decentralization?" and more importantly, "What's the point of decentralization?" Like this post:

It's all about the power structure. Who has the power to make the rules? Who has to follow?

I've been thinking yesterday that achieving consensus in a blockchain is a good start but ultimately it's an incomplete solution.

If you can't recognize when everyone agrees, then you can't do much in the way of business and trade. A consensus algorithm—whether proof of work, XRP Ledger consensus, or otherwise—handles this case. But the world changes, people change, so your actual consensus doesn't last forever. What happens when you can't agree? One possibility is tyranny of the majority. Whichever group is slightly larger or has slightly more (mining/political/whatever) power gets to dictate the rules, and everyone else can either abide or do no business.

Another possibility is incompatible forks. As @jcdenton puts it, "If you hate puppies, you're not my friend anymore." We've already seen this happen in Bitcoin more than once as the block size wars and whatnot have gone on. Over time the number of forks is bound to increase as people realize some of their wants and needs are mutually incompatible. Sadly, proof-of-work requires that any fork have sufficient size or it's vulnerable to manipulation and attack by individuals or small organizations. Ironically, XRP Ledger consensus makes it safe to maintain forks of much smaller size... but for whatever reason the Stellar debacle is the only time the XRP ecosystem has really seen the need to fracture (and really a lot of that is just Jed wanting to do things his way)... yet. I think it's inevitable that if XRP stays around and grows, a hard-fork between incompatible visions for the technology will happen someday, just like it will for any other coin of sufficient size.

Did you think I was going to end this post on that bleak note? Nah, because there's at least one other visionary who reached a similar conclusion and said, "Well, the problem is really that all the ledgers are incompatible with each other" and invented a compatibility layer to link them all. So after people finally stop trying to get everyone to agree to the same thing, then move on from not talking to each other, they're finally able to agree to disagree and still do business.

Whatever the future is for the crypto ecosystem, the larger money supply has to be interconnected to be useful.

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9 minutes ago, mDuo13 said:

I think it's inevitable that if XRP stays around and grows, a hard-fork between incompatible visions for the technology will happen someday, just like it will for any other coin of sufficient size.

Might a fork that leads to an elastic monetary base be an option? Ripple's escrow stash will perform some version of this for many years, but ultimately the total number of XRP is set, and doesn't need to be. 

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