It just occurred to me that the Bitcoin system of production does not need to be controlled at all, not pogrammatically, not even by any rule. What will limit production is the profitability of miners. At this stage of development, Bitcoin is increasing in value, and mining is very profitable. It cannot remain so forever, if production is not limited by absolute quantity. Assume for the sake of discussion that there is no limit. Every miner, to increase profitability, would produce as many Bitcoins per second as he could. There will be over-production, and subsequent inflation (inflation in quantity, and then eventually reduction in value [the alternate “definition” of inflation]). As the value of Bitcoins come down, naturally the profits of miners will come down also, if measured in terms of how much a Bitcoin can buy. The system will tend towards a state of equilibrium, one in which the profitability of miners is throttled by inflation (in the second sense), and the value of every Bitcoin stabilizes.
This absolute limit on quantity is fictitious anyway, and I daresay it is GOOD that it is fictitious.
Let’s say that the miners “collude” among themselves in order to remove the absolute limit on quantity. As the moderator of this forum pointed out here: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=145475.msg1543280#msg1543280, there is really nothing that can stop the miners from changing the quantity rule, except the wallets in everybody else’s possession. What if the miners themselves also start distributing their vesion of the wallet, with compelling advantages to the user? (For example, a version with a much pruned Merkle tree, so that everybody with a smartphone or any handheld device can use it.)
So now the question to ask is, if the limit on quantity is fictitious, what sets Bitcoin apart from any fiat currency in use today? Every fiat currency is controlled by some monopoly, a monopoly necessarily sanctioned and enforced by the state. In Bitcoin’s case, such monopoly does not exist. In Bitcoin’s case, its own market will control its quantity, while any fiat currency is prone to hyper-inflation because its monopolistic structure does not present a feedback mechanism to limit production or “printing”.
The two worries I expressed in my previous blog are in reality no cause for concern. I now believe in Bitcoins much more than I ever did. If a version of the wallet that can run on a handheld becomes available (as I am sure it will, soon enough), then its proliferation will further enhance its own integrity, as I explain here: https://ctapang.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/more-on-bitcoins/.
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I am not too happy with this one blog piece and the other referenced piece. The idea that “forking” is even possible with Bitcoins (see the referenced blog about Bitcoins forking into several incompatible coins) does not make sense. The Bitcoin block chain will remain intact, and it cannot fork. The network will always choose only one way to go if there is a fork, so the other way to go in a fork does not survive. What I should have focused on is the software that runs the network, the Bitcoin software. This software is now used by a multitude of other “alt-coins”. These are the different Unix forks in the metaphor. These alt-coins each has its own block chain.