The concept of a blockchain “dark forest” has been popularized recently by Ethereum and the existence of front-running bots that will copy any profitable transaction pending for submission.
The bots are able to assess if any given transaction that just entered the mempool can be replicated, and they will immediately publish their own copy with a much higher gas fee, which virtually guarantees that they will be the first to claim it. The term “dark forest” is inspired from a sci-fi novel and indicates a place where detection means instant death — or in this case loss of funds.
In Ethereum, this usually happens with public smart contracts that for some reason came in control of funds. Dan Robinson from Paradigm Capital demonstrated one such case with money mistakenly sent to a contract address. These types of bots also threw a wrench into Bancor’s vulnerability mitigation plan in June.
Bitcoin (BTC) does not have smart contracts to front-run, but