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What information does the bitcoin network & blockchain actually log about the miners themselves, such as hardware-specs/OS/hashing-rate/etc.? And how backwards compatible are the protocols?

For example, if I went back in time to 2010, with a modern bitcoin miner program, running on a modern computer with an RTX 4090, or one of those fancy ASICs or something, and connected it up to the Bitcoin network, would it even work? Would anyone even notice that something was odd? Or would I be broadcasting myself as a time traveler? What could a time traveler do to remain unnoticed? Set up a mining pool and just cycle through mining addresses?

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What information does the bitcoin network & blockchain actually log about the miners themselves, such as hardware-specs/OS/hashing-rate/etc.?

None of that is logged. Miners may choose to make themselves publicly known, and/or to publish stats/information about their mining setups. But none of that is done at the network/blockchain level, in fact the bitcoin protocol requires no information from miners. Some miners choose to include some identifying information in the coinbase transaction extranonce, but there is no requirement to do so, and also no reason to assume that the information published there is in fact truthful, anyways.

As far as the bitcoin network is concerned, a miner simply needs to publish a valid block to the network in order to extend the chain.

So if you travelled back in time and wanted to participate as a miner, you would just need to submit a valid block to the network, which would be possible even if you were using modern ASIC hardware. All upgrades to the bitcoin network have been backwards-compatible soft forks, so you shouldn't have much trouble creating a historically valid block (though you could just run legacy software to create block templates, that you could then hash on using your modern hardware).

Note: given that the legacy network wouldn't be aware of soft-fork rule changes, you'd perhaps have to be careful about the sorts of transactions included in your block. For example, if you included a transaction that included segwit outputs, the other network nodes wouldn't understand the (modern) rules governing the spending of those transactions (ie, they would likely be stolen due to being 'anyone can spend' in the eyes of legacy nodes).

Would anyone even notice that something was odd?

Given the many-orders-of-magnitude improvements that modern ASICs have over legacy hardware, we'd expect that the time-travelling miner could likely find a majority of blocks extremely quickly, until the network difficulty adjusted to account for this. After a difficulty adjustment, the time-travelling miner would still assumedly find a majority of blocks, but at the expected rate of 10 minutes on average. Other miners on the network would notice, since their share of blocks would be greatly diminished (though it wouldn't necessarily be clear that this was due to a single new miner contributing a massive amount of hashpower).

If the time-travelling miner wanted to conceal their position of power, they could simply cycle their mining setup on and off, in order to not win 'too many' blocks.

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  • This is really interesting, thanks. That makes a lot of sense.
    – Yurelle
    Apr 14, 2023 at 4:16
  • Oh, wow! You weren't kidding! I just did some googling. A popular modern ASCI the "AntMiner S19 Pro" can do 110 Trillion Hashes per second (TH/s). According to this site: blockchain.com/explorer/charts/hash-rate that's higher than the hashing power of the entire bitcoin network as recently as June 2nd, 2013 (108.661 TH/s). Holy Crap! In July of 2010, the total hashpower was only 0.001 TH/s, and by December 30th, it had exploded up to a mere 0.115 TH/s. If you ran a modern ASIC in 2010, you could get basically every single block. JEEZ!
    – Yurelle
    Apr 14, 2023 at 4:21
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The Bitcoin network itself does not "know" information about miners in the sense of personal details, identities, or physical locations. Instead, it is a decentralized system that relies on a consensus algorithm to validate transactions and maintain a distributed ledger called the blockchain.

When miners compete to solve complex mathematical problems and confirm transactions, they submit their solutions to the network. These solutions include the miner's public key or their Bitcoin address, but no personally identifiable information is tied to it. The network only sees the address and validates the submitted solution.

If a time traveler were to participate in Bitcoin mining, the network itself would not be able to detect them based on their mining activities alone, as it only sees the solutions and the linked public addresses. However, if the time traveler were to somehow introduce advanced technology or methods that drastically changed the mining landscape or the network's overall performance, this could raise suspicions among the community.

It is important to note that the time traveler's activities outside the Bitcoin network, such as on social media, forums, or through personal interactions, could potentially reveal their identity or unusual knowledge. However, this is not related to the information that the Bitcoin network itself "knows" about miners.

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