Are there Different Kinds of Immutability?
What's up, party people? Chris DeRose here, Community Director of the Counterparty Foundation. On today's video, we have a question that was asked to us by Wayne Vaughn. Wayne, how are you doing? I always love seeing you at the conferences. This question is going to be answered here in, I guess, this is roughly the Wilton Manors neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale. And the question is this, "Is there a difference between types of immutability?" "Is immutability separated into weak and strong forms of immutability?" "Or is immutability instead a dichotomy of yes and no, it is or isn't a thing?" This is what I think about a lot, really. Immutability is a feature that is typically constrained to an actual context, the context being whatever environment you have.
In many cases, immutability is a constant that isn't a programming language. And then the environment for that context is perhaps an asserted variable like Pi or something like that. And that's enforced by the actual interpreter. There's typically what we saw immutability done in classroom computer science literature within the sake of a run time. We've never really had immutability in the sense that this existed outside that system in a decentralized way. So now we have to ask ourselves, "Well, what is the concept of immutability in such a system.
" So in Bitcoin we have this amazing standard for immutability, and this standard is six years running strong, no double spends of any note. Of course, we've had reorders and things like that but by and large no real immutability. Then you compare that, perhaps, to these new systems, things that are proof of stake based, things that are, I don't know, permissioned ledgers and things like that. And you ask yourself what degree of immutability did those systems offer? Certainly, I believe that they're significantly inferior, and I believe that first off, right off the bat if you need permission then you don't quite understand what we have. Any permissions that we have in these classical systems and classical run time environments, whereby the permission came from the interpreter or some such thing. Now, you're going to have to extrapolate to some degree and say to yourself, "Okay, what do we know about stake systems?" Well, there's a number of papers about theoretical attacks off the bat, most of which have been fairly well substantiated.
I forgot who has published those but the Bitcoin Wizards actually compiled a big list of what those are. You can see right off the bat there's a lot of reasons to be doubtful, but you see that also that immutability typically comes from entropy in the history. So the entropy in the history of the chain is a little bit different than work based systems where immutability is secured by the actual burning of value. There's a lot that goes into it in general, but at least in my mind there is plenty of room for concern. We shall see, bottom line, what degree is offered by these systems. But if you know that you are dealing with a problem that right off the bat needs immutability, the other question that it brings to is well, what is the cost of these other alternative systems compared to Bitcoin.
We know Bitcoin is the gold standard of immutability. It's protected by burning of energy. It is protected by a million dollars a day or more of burning of energy whereas these other systems have very little going into them and the cost is comparatively similar. I don't know what's a good one off the bat. It would be BitShares or one of these types of things that are stake based, and let's say even if the price is half or a third, even a hundredth of the Bitcoin price, the amount of risk that you have in that chain is almost certainly reflected in that. It is a hundred times more risky, or more, actually.
I think, it's significantly more. We see this and people talk about the price of Bitcoin maybe being a bit onerous for some settlement purposes. At three cents per transaction, you're getting the most immutable system that is ever been known to man that is asserted in a decentralized way without an authority. I think that that is probably really the standard that matters. It's hard for me to envision why you would choose an alternate chain, when you have such great options right there, cheap and easy. Typically, the reason you're doing it is because you don't want to say the word, Bitcoin.
You don't want to feel like you missed out on the whole Bitcoin train. I don't know. Tell me what you think when you're watching this video, Wayne, do you like this content? Do you have some opinions? For anybody else watching it, let me know what your thoughts are below. Did I miss something? Did I forget somebody? Did I leave something out? I'd love to hear from you. You can always tweet me @Derosetech on Tweeter. And that's it.
Peace out, party people.