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  1. Mark Friedenbach

    Future of Freicoin

    If you came here expecting an authoritative declaration of where Freicoin is headed, prepare to be disappointed. Freicoin is not led from above, it is and must be organized from the grassroots--the user base. It is you that sets the direction of Freicoin and my intention in posting this is to rekindle an open discussion about where freicoin is headed, and what our priorities should be. Updated Freicoin Core There are a few consensus bugs that freicoin is currently exposed to. The most egregious bugs can be fixed by backporting fixes to the 0.8 branch and doing an emergency release. This is presently Jorge and my highest priority, and you should expect a soft-fork release implementing these fixes very soon. There are a lot of other security bug fixes that are not so easily back ported however, as well as valuable new features and performance updates in the latest Bitcoin Core releases. It is our intention to finish the 0.9 port, then move quite rapidly to 0.10 and then 0.11, and having Freicoin keep up with the Bitcoin release schedule thereafter. There was a while in the past where we kept up a good release cadence, sometimes having freicoin releases the very same day as bitcoin. While I accept responsibility for letting this slide over the past 12 months, one of the difficulties we encountered while we were keeping up was a lack of testing by the freicoin community of our release candidates. It would be absolutely irresponsible of us to do an official release from a code base that had not been adequately tested by multiple individuals in a variety of deployment environments. This is what held up the 0.9 release and what will continue to hold up future releases of Freicoin Core. We need testers. Please consider volunteering a few hours of your time around each release downloading & building the Freicoin Core wallet, and taking it for a test drive. This is a way in which anyone can give back to freicoin development without requiring any specific skillset. New features As you may know, a good chunk of the code Jorge and I work with on a daily basis is now open-source as part of the sidechain elements project. We have explicit permission from our employer baked into our work agreements to allow us to port these features to freicoin as they are released. Many of the features that have already been released we feel freicoin would benefit greatly from, and intend to integrate into freicoin in due time. These features include: Lock-time improvements. Written by Peter Todd and yours truly, these are soft-fork enhancements which improve the utility of lock-time (allowing trustless micropayment channel setup, for example). These are soft-fork changes and ready to deploy today, although they are presently receiving review by the bitcoin community. Native assets. Also known as: freimarkets. Adds explicit asset coloring and corresponding accounting rules, and makes the transaction format more expressive so as to support pre-signed offers and other financial contracts necessary for a peer-to-peer exchange. Only the most basic version is implemented so far, and it is a hard-fork change. Segregated witness. Eliminates malleability concerns entirely, as well as yields significant performance enhancements to syncing the historical block chain. This is a hard-fork change, and currently undergoing minor improvements. Confidential transactions. Allows selective disclosure of an output's value. Observers watching the chain have limited information about the values being transacted, thereby achieving an increased level of privacy. This is a hard-fork change, and currently undergoing major improvements. A non-disclosed method for non-interactive CoinJoin. This is a hard-fork change, and presently still on the drawing board. More details to emerge as this is released as part of sidechain elements.There are other features being worked on for the sidechain elements project we feel freicoin would benefit greatly from. For example, script replacement. However these are large multi-year projects and I'm confining this update to things which could be deployed to freicoin in the relatively short term. Merged mining The freicoin initial issuance is almost paid out. At some point after the initial issuance is complete, we would like to hard-fork freicoin to allow an improved form of merged mining -- allowing a single proof of work to secure both bitcoin and freicoin at the same time. This will at long last eliminate the difficulties we have had in building and maintaining a stable and secure hash rate. This will unfortunately have a devastating effect on the grassroots freicoin mining community that presently exists. Although investments in mining ASICs will not be recoverable, it may be possible to restart, for a while, a "GPU mining" initiative by using foundation funds to pay for work performed for reputable scientific distributed compute project, e.g. [email protected] More on that in a moment. The Foundation Finally, the contentious point that most people want clarity on. What is going to happen with the foundation funds, now that they are almost entirely generated and almost entirely undistributed? And once they are distributed, what is the plan for the foundation afterwards? Let's take these in turn, starting with what has gone before: The past When it was first decided that there would be a foundation to distribute a portion of the initial issuance, there was no plan for distributing the coins. Rather, there was a preference to NOT distribute the coins entirely to a subset of early adopters via mining, and a requirement that these funds be distributed in a decentralized way, although no decentralized alternatives to mining had been proposed yet. Ultimately two fair decentralized distribution mechanisms were discovered, and work has begun to start issuance via those methods. The first approved distribution mechanism was the community and non-profit donation matching program presently being run on This achieves decentralization because donors select the recipients of foundation funds via their own contributions. It however requires some oversight to prevent emptying of the foundation funds by a bad actor. So far approximately 150k freicoins have been distributed via the donation matching program, and a further 900k is obligated. However the obligated funds have been delayed until such time as the donation matching program can be re-implemented to prevent theft of Foundation funds. The second approved distribution mechanism was the payment of opt-in participants of a volunteer-compute projects for the social good, such as [email protected] Participants would opt-in to running a daemon on their computer which injects payment invoices into the completed work units submitted to the @Home project. Foundation servers then scan these work units for invoices and pay out to the addresses contained within in proportion to the points earned by the submitting user over some interval. This has not been deployed yet simply due to time constraints in getting the code written. The present There is need for a programmer to re-write the donation matching script. This requires only rudimentary computer science knowledge. If you or someone you know meets these qualifications and would like to contribute their time (unpaid), please let me know. There is a need for a programmer to write the @Home issuance mechanism. This requires a moderate amount of computer science knowledge, including an ability to scrape and parse information from HTML sources. If you or someone you know meets these qualifications and would like to contribute their time (unpaid), please let me know. We are open to approving new distribution mechanisms in the future, but the mechanism for distribution must be fair and decentralized. Alternatively, we may approve a series of prizes for the funds, but only if awarding of the prize purse is done in a provably fair and unbiased manor, e.g. by smart contract. The future There seems to be two major concerns regarding the future of the Freicoin Foundation: What happens at the end of the 3-year issuance period? Nothing out of the ordinary. It was a hope, but never an expectation that the foundation funds would be fully issued during this time period. The foundation will continue to operate as long as funds are available. What happens when the foundation funds are exhausted? The foundation will cease to exist, having completed its only purpose of carrying out its portion of the initial issuance. There is no expectation that the foundation will continue to exist as an active entity after its original goals are achieved. Conclusion Freicoin belongs to the people who use it. Jorge and I have some ideas for where we would like the project to go -- expanding scope, and pulling in new users. But it is you, the people using freicoin, who hold the ultimate authority over its direction. I open the floor for discussion.