What would need to happen for Bitcoin to fork to a ASIC resistant mining algorithm like RandomX used by Monero for CPU mining only?


The bitcoin community would have to decide that they don't particularly care about having significant security anymore. ASIC-resistance weakens the security of proof of work chains because it eliminates the need to invest in a chain in order to attack it.

Someone who owns lots of expensive ASICs will not want to let them be used to attack the chain they are mining because if they harm that chain, they will significantly reduce the value of their own ASICs. By contrast, if you can mine with commodity hardware, attacking the chain does not significantly reduce the value of your hardware, so you have no real incentive to prevent your hardware being used to attack the chain. Worse, commodity hardware is easy to rent or steal (with malware) to attack a chain.

So the entire bitcoin community without have to change their opinion on how to make a chain secure to a worse opinion.

It's also important to understand the security is a huge limiting factor on price. If the benefit from causing a double spend exceeds the cost of doing a double spend, there will be double spends. Nobody wants that. So market forces will act to keep the benefit of a double spend below the cost of a double spend.

ASIC-resistant algorithms have much lower cost to do double spends (because you don't need to invest in ASICs but can instead rent or hack commodity hardware) so the profit from a double spend must necessarily be much lower. That will mean either waiting for many more confirmations, dropping the price of bitcoin, or some of each. Who wants that?

  • How is ASIC resistance weakening the security of the proof of work? – toolforger Dec 15 '19 at 19:40
  • @toolforger Read what I wrote above. If a chain is not ASIC-resistant, you have to invest in ASICs to attack it, and then attacking it makes your ASICs worthless. If it's ASIC resistant, you can rent access to commodity hardware to attack it and you lose nothing in the attack. It's very hard to rent, borrow, or hack into someone's SHA256d ASICs to attack bitcoin because everyone knows that such an attack makes their expensive ASICs less valuable. You can rent, borrow, or hack CPU time easily. – David Schwartz Dec 15 '19 at 20:58
  • If commodity hardware is useful for mining, then a malicious miner has to outmine a much larger normal user base. Given that I haven't heard of any attacks against ASIC-resistant blockchains, and assuming that such blockchains already do exist and are worth an attack, it seems to me that this outweighs the ability to attack. – toolforger Dec 16 '19 at 5:15
  • @toolforger there have been many attacks against ASIC-resistant chains, cost of ASICs does seem to be a larger factor than ‘a much larger normal userbase’. See: vertcoin, eth classic, verge, etc. In any case, ASIC-resistance leads to more centralization of hashing power, as it is impossible to create an algorithm which is most efficient to mine on commodity hardware. It will always be possible to create optimizations in the hardware, ASIC-resistance just makes it harder to do (which means, less people are capable of doing it = more centralization of mining power). It’s bad all around. – chytrik Dec 18 '19 at 21:49

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