Judas, Manhattan and my great grandfather, or the weight of history

Again, I am not Mike Hearn, so I tease to try and get you to read me through.

Remember the funny shape of one of the thirty pieces of silver that your great great grandfather paid for that flock of sheep back two hundred years ago?  You do not, and it’s probably better that way.  Why, then, is it good that you must know the history of every satoshi down a million blocks ago?  And why would the entire world provide you with storage and display of that trust for free and at your demand whenever you want?  It is neither necessary nor practical.  I would argue that the ability to forget the past and still maintain the present is good, not just necessary.  As things recede into the past, they become foggy and only the most relevant remain in the collective memory.  In fact, we all know how much Judas was paid for betraying Jesus, or what was shelled out for Manhattan or Alaska, but the billions of individual transactions made just a few days ago begin to fade healthily from memory and written records.

If Satoshi’s vision of an intergalactic currency is to be viable, there is no reason why a thousand years from now Darth Vader or Hari Seldon should be able to prove mathematically that I bought a sandwich at Rosario’s two days ago. There is no justification, in my view, to mandate that resources be spent to maintain those records. They could be periodically pruned out from the blockchain, with the appropriate cryptoalgorithms to keep consistency of current unspent outputs.

The prune up should be decentralized and autonomous, of course, but then again, interested parties, say governments, universities or Foundations, might have reasons to keeps parts of history alive and manifest it, either by directly storing them or tendering fees towards its storage.

So another time capsule to Nakamoto-san: “Let the blocks be distributed, not the whole blockchain!”


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One response to “Judas, Manhattan and my great grandfather, or the weight of history

  1. Pingback: Why the problem is not the block size but the blockchain size, the math and the philosophy | Quid

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