Concerns About Drivechains and Miner Incentives

Over the years, my concerns regarding the potential impact of drivechains and miner incentives have been a significant topic of discussion. I believe it is crucial for the cryptocurrency community to understand the associated risks. bitcoin has been operational for almost 15 years, and it has demonstrated robustness against various threats such as developer coups, internal attacks, and business coups. The resilience of its incentive structure and the collaboration among invested users have been the key reasons for its survival.

However, any factors that could significantly alter the balance of these incentives should be approached with extreme caution and skepticism, as it could lead to a system failure.

Closed Versus Open Layers

When considering mining incentives and the impact of secondary layers on bitcoin, it is crucial to distinguish between open and closed layers. An open layer requires active collaboration and cooperation among participants, while a closed layer can function asynchronously. This distinction has significant implications for the effect of new bitcoin layers on mining incentives.

Many people believe that layers requiring synchronous cooperation are inherently flawed, while asynchronous non-cooperative layers are ideal for scaling. However, I argue that the opposite is true

Implications of Synchronous Cooperation

Layers requiring synchronous cooperation, such as Lightning channels, are often perceived as having engineering constraints and limitations. However, I believe that this requirement for synchronous cooperation can be viewed as a form of defensive architecture. It prevents malicious actions by participants outside of the layer, ultimately protecting miner incentives.

Drivechains and Miner Asymmetric Advantage

When it comes to drivechains, miners have an asymmetric advantage in interacting with the layer over other participants. Unlike Lightning channels, where miners have limited control over state updates, drivechains allow miners to preferentially benefit or prevent specific transactions. They have total control over the contents of sidechain blocks every time they mine a mainchain block, giving them an unprecedented level of authority.

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This dynamic also applies to other open second layer systems, such as validiums. In these systems, any miner could update the state with valid transactions and hold the data needed to exit the system hostage, posing a significant risk to network incentives.

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