It's Possible to Increase Bitcoin's Block Size Without a Hard Fork: Blockstream Co-Founder

Mark Friedenbach, a bitcoin developer and co-founder of the popular Blockstream company, has recently revealed a scaling approach he called “forward blocks,” which could essentially help increase BTC’s block size without a hard fork.

Currently, bitcoin can accommodate a small number of transactions per second, and is unable to compete with traditional payment networks such as that of Visa. While some believe the cryptocurrency should scale through a block size increase – which would require a hard fork - others argue this approach will lead to centralization, and prefer other solutions.

A hard fork is essentially a change to the network that isn’t backwards-compatible, meaning all of the cryptocurrency’s users need to upgrade to keep up with the change. A soft fork, on the other hand, can be backwards-compatible.

Friedenbach’s approach, according to a transcript of his presentation at the Scaling Bitcoin workshop, would be able to boost the flagship cryptocurrency’s on-chain transaction capacity through a Proof-of-Work (PoW) alternation achieved through soft forks and “privacy-enhancing alternative ledgers (side chains).”

According to Friedenbach, a former space apps developer at NASA, the forward blocks approach could ultimately help increase the cryptocurrency’s “settlement transactions volume to 3584x current levels,” while improving censorship resistance via sharding.

Here, the developer refers to sharding as a change to the PoW system and a series of developments that would see bitcoin’s blockchain scale. Most cryptocurrency users refer to sharding when mentioning Ethereum’s scaling solution, which would see multiple network computers divide transaction workload between them to scale the blockchain. These two, per Friedenbach, are “largely not” the same.

Speaking to CoinDesk, the former NASA employee noted his approach could help with the scaling debate, as the community often opposes hard forks because of how hard it can be to do them safely. He was quoted as saying:

Forward blocks makes that whole argument pointless. We don't need a hard-fork to scale bitcoin, if and when we decide to do so. It can be accomplished as a soft fork, like SegWit was.

SegWit, as CryptoGlobe covered, was launched one year ago and recently saw its usage go over 50%. During his presentation, he further suggested it could be good to replace bitcoin’s current halving mechanism, which halves block rewards every four years. To him, a more linear approach could be more beneficial to the cryptocurrency, as it wouldn’t suddenly affect the ecosystem.

Notably, Friedenbach reportedly got to his forward blocks approach by starting out thinking about a “development of a dual PoW change where you introduce a new PoW with a soft fork.” While he noted this wasn’t a proposal, it’s a “good place” to start thinking about the solution.

 

A Controversial Solution

While some could look at the former NASA contractor’s approach as revolutionary, CoinDesk reports not everyone is excited about it. Pseudonymous bitcoin developer “Shinobimonkey” was quoted as saying it was a “network attack being called an upgrade.”

Blockstream’s CEO Adam Back noted that “it’s OK,” as discovering mechanisms “can be useful and separate from whether it would be practical technically and in terms of user consensus.” To him, it’s so far just another tool.

Per the news outlet, Friedenbach isn’t advocating to use forward blocks on bitcoin either, but is merely trying to put the option out there. He’s reportedly set to test it on “Freicoin,” an altcoin he created.

Nearly Half of Justin Sun's Recent Followers May Be 'Bots,' Research Finds

  • Many of Tron founder, Justin Sun's recent followers on Twitter may be 'fake" accounts. 
  • This, according to recent research conducted by Twitter user Geoff Golberg.

A recent analysis conducted by Geoff Golberg, an online researcher, has revealed that a large percentage of TRON Foundation founder Justin Sun’s Twitter followers might be fake and/or bot accounts. According to Golberg’s investigation, many of Sun’s mostly new followers on Twitter are accounts that appear to be only a few days old.

As first reported by TrustNodes, there are around 50,000 new Twitter accounts that recently started following Sun, a former Ripple Labs employee. Significantly, Golberg’s research analysis found that approximately 20,000 of Sun’s new followers had accounts which were created in the past 24 hours. These “zero day" accounts mostly had no or very few followers and many of them had never even tweeted any messages.

Twitter Accounts Following Sun Created This Month

Golberg, whose research efforts are mainly focused on detecting manipulative or exploitative activities by Twitter bots, confirmed via the microblogging platform that approximately 20,000 of Justin Sun’s “most recent 50,000 Twitter followers are accounts which were created this month.”

Examining the accounts a bit more carefully revealed many of them have a string of eight digits after their display name. This, Golberg argued, may suggest such accounts were quickly created by some type of automated software. Notably, the researcher mapped the suspicious accounts by the date they were created and found that the majority of them are most likely fake.

On several occasions, the Tron founder has bragged about surpassing Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin in terms of followers on Twitter. However, a detailed investigation reportedly conducted by an auditing website has found that about 90% of accounts following Sun had various “URL issues” and that nearly 70% of such accounts had “suspiciously small number of followers.”

Research Methodology May Not Reveal 100% Accurate Results

Additionally, roughly half, or 50%, of the Twitter accounts created were only an average of 3 months old, the auditor noted. These same suspicious accounts also appear to have very low levels of engagement on the social media network as the majority, 60%, are following very few other Twitter accounts.

According to TrustNodes, the research methodology used involved obtaining a sample of 2,000 of Sun’s 1.01 million followers. As acknowledged by the researchers, there is potentially some level or percentage error in their estimates - given the relatively small sample size.