Re: BitDNS and Generalizing Bitcoin

This is based on a discussion on 11/14/2010 on the IRC channel.


Although there have been attempts to tackle DNS in a distributed way in the past, I don’t think there have been solutions that have fully removed authority from the equation.

If there was such a solution, it probably would have been able to implement bitcoin directly on top of it, and we all know that didn’t happen.

However, it seems possible to create a bitcoin clone (bitDNS) that provides a solution to distributed authority-free name allocation and transfer.

Basically, the system is a copy of bitcoin where miners generate 50 new name mappings of their choosing whenever they win a block.  The name mappings change hands in a way similar to btc.

This system is separate from btc, and it is likely that escrow services will provide a name market in btc, since any such escrow can leverage the two block chains to verify transactions.  Miners can pick names that are already being bid upon with funds in escrow to make sure they are able to sell generated names quickly.

Generalizing Bitcoin: BitX

This is all well and good, but now there are two block chains, and any given miner can only generate for one at a time.  This will be really bad when even more clever applications are developed that require bitcoin-like properties but will be susceptible to attack in their early development.  Enter BitX, designed to support any and every such application on a single block chain.

BitX has a block chain like bitcoin’s.  However, miners choose to distribute arbitrary application data in the following manner:

1) The payload in a block is a mapping from application names to hashes: [“bitcoin”: <hash>, “bitDNS”: <hash>, “bitHaiku”: <hash>, …]

2) Any given block is only allowed to create one new application that does not already appear somewhere in the block chain.  This is to prevent spam.

3) Any given block may omit data for any application.  Similarly to the current situation, miners have a choice as to what transactions to include, and this extends to the choice over which applications to choose to send data for.

4) Application data is transfered separately, so for instance a bitcoin client will never have to care about haikus or DNS names, as it can simply ask someone for the bitcoin payload and make sure it matches the hash in the appropriate block.

5) On the client side, blocks are only ever rejected for an error relating to the previous four points.  In other words, blocks aren’t rejected for carrying a faulty bitcoin payload, because this might result in rejecting valid DNS transfers.  Instead, bitcoin clients accept the most recent block but ignore the invalid bitcoin transactions.

Miners will engage in activities they feel profitable.  For example, miners may not see a profit motive in haikus, but will want to generate DNS names because they can be sold easily.  I think this system could support a very wide range of useful applications while adding only a minimal overhead to the block chain itself.  Application proliferation is kept in check by the interests of the miners themselves.

This also seems to make the block chain more modular, as it separates concerns; the block chain is strictly for creating a universal state of the system for everyone in the world, and application data travels out of band but is verified against the block chain.

One effect of the modularity is that applications can ignore illegal or undesirable application data and only download payloads for the applications they care about.

As a last thought: BitX poses a significant threat to bitcoin, because money may not be the “killer app” for the block chain.  In other words, what happens when bitBeanieBabies becomes bigger than bitcoin?  Suddenly the bitcoin system doesn’t seem as secure.  If both were running on top of BitX, they would enhance each other’s security, and interfere with one another minimally.

Thanks for reading,

I think it would be possible for BitDNS to be a completely separate network and separate block chain, yet share CPU power with Bitcoin.  The only overlap is to make it so miners can search for proof-of-work for both networks simultaneously.

The networks wouldn’t need any coordination.  Miners would subscribe to both networks in parallel.  They would scan SHA such that if they get a hit, they potentially solve both at once.  A solution may be for just one of the networks if one network has a lower difficulty.

I think an external miner could call getwork on both programs and combine the work.  Maybe call Bitcoin, get work from it, hand it to BitDNS getwork to combine into a combined work.

Instead of fragmentation, networks share and augment each other’s total CPU power.  This would solve the problem that if there are multiple networks, they are a danger to each other if the available CPU power gangs up on one.  Instead, all networks in the world would share combined CPU power, increasing the total strength.  It would make it easier for small networks to get started by tapping into a ready base of miners.

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