Bitcoin’s Incentive Structure and the Risks of Drivechains
As Bitcoin approaches its 15th year as a live network, the resilience of its incentive structure has been a key factor in its survival through various challenges. The system has withstood internal attacks from developers, business coups, nation states banning it, and other potential catastrophic events. The reason for this resilience lies in the incentives of individual users and how they interact with each other within the complex system.
The Impact of Open and Closed Layers on Mining Incentives
When considering the impact of secondary layers on Bitcoin‘s mining incentives, it is crucial to differentiate between open and closed layers. Open layers require active collaboration and cooperation between participants, while closed layers operate asynchronously, similar to Bitcoin’s base layer.
There is a common belief that layers requiring synchronous cooperation are inherently flawed, while asynchronous non-cooperative layers are considered the ideal solution for scaling. However, the reality may be quite the opposite. Synchronous cooperation, which is often seen as an engineering constraint, can also be viewed as a form of defensive architecture. Layers that require interaction between participants to update their state provide a level of security against external manipulation.
For example, in the case of Lightning channels, only the participants can update the state, and only they can directly benefit from malicious actions on-chain. Miners have no direct control over this process, and their role is similar to that of confirming any other conflicting on-chain transactions.
In contrast, drivechains introduce a different dynamic, where anyone can modify or update the contents of a “transaction,” giving miners an asymmetric advantage in interacting with the layer. This creates a significant difference in how these two types of second layers influence overall network incentives.
The same issue arises with non-federated rollup variants called validiums, which also allow anyone to interact with the system to change or update its state.
In conclusion, any potential alteration to Bitcoin’s incentive structure should be approached with extreme caution and skepticism, as it represents a serious risk to the system’s long-term stability. The resilience of Bitcoin’s incentive structure has been a key factor in its survival, and any changes to this delicate balance should be thoroughly evaluated.
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