And just like that the Bitcoin system asserts it’s decentralization on all participants.
Bitcoin Magazine is confirming that F2POOL has decided for the moment to support the existing consensus rules and abandon it’s support to Hard Fork the protocol.
Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, F2Pool operator Wang Chun confirmed this is indeed the case.
“The rumors are true,” Chun said. “Miners in China were scared by Luke Dashjr’s proof-of-work changing pull request.”
As we just discussed in “Why a Hard Fork should be fought” a minority party must assert it’s position to contest any rule change to the protocol via a Hard Fork by exploring all options. Because a Contentious Hard Fork is effectively a system reset against the interests of the minority, if successful it is centralizing.
Many will view this as obstructionist, and potentially harmful to Bitcoin’s ability to innovate. But in fact this is a momentous development which is showing that Bitcoin is becoming a truly decentralized protocol.
A Hard fork, really is a misleading name. It connotes the idea of a train traveling on the tracks and the conductor makes a decision to change the rail switch, and choose a another track to go down. While the trains directions changes, the passengers cargo and train remains the same. Everyone enjoying a happy trip, maybe the destination changes, but nothing else happened. You can imagine who today we think is the conductors of Bitcoin, and who tomorrow some hope will be the new conductors.
But in reality Bitcoin is supposed to be a decentralized system, and in those systems, its not a train, but a group of participants with guns drawn at each other. More on that later.
In the world of protocols, which Bitcoin is supposed to be, a Hard Fork, is really what a hardware engineer would colloquially call a Rip and Replace, the minute you change one rule that requires a complete network upgrade, you have in fact a new network. Now while the hardware is not changed, the players are the same, the rules of the game have changed and every participant is in effect starting from scratch in a new field.
While we have a distinction between Hard and Soft Forks, and Peter Todd does a great job explaining, the difference. I will discuss, why hard forking, which some celebrate as the epitome of bitcoin resilience is pernicious and dangerous in a decentralized network, particularly if the minority simply accepts it. Hard Forks should be a last resort and should be something self-evident to the network. If they are not it is incumbent on the minority to threaten to break the network if needed.
But before we even state why a minority should fight, consider the following:
Shower thought: Hard Forking a decentralized protocol, means its not very decentralized.
In fact Hard Forks, should be practically impossible in Bitcoin, if it is truly a decentralized network. Consider that in a truly decentralized trust-less network , there is no central authority and the participants do not know each other. How can you signal to an entire network it must replace its protocol at a specific date and time? Who would make this signal?
Take the debate of encryption on the internet as example. Encryption is many different protocols, which some governments now want backdoor access to. Except there is no possible way they can have access to all systems because encryption technology is decentralized and evolving, there is no way to signal to all participants to accept a specific standard. There is no way to even “hard fork” to one standard encryption protocol even if all the governments of the world somehow wanted to. Doesn’t mean they won’t try, but this is the nature of a truly decentralized system. Hard Forks in decentralized systems cannot be imposed they must emerge.
Recall the Y2K bug, for those who weren’t around, it was a potential bug embedded in what was an emergent standard (not dicated or set) of how data was stored in computer systems. Computer systems once deployed operate and exist in decentralized global system. In this case there was was a common practice, of using truncated 2 digit years to save space. So that, a document with the date of October 26, 1985, would be stored as 102685. This worked great for about forty years, particularly in the days when space was measured in bytes and kilobytes. Then around 1995, despite it being a known issue in some circles for years earlier, technology professionals began realizing that in the year 2000, some computers would mistakenly read the date of 01-01-00 as January 1st, 1900. On the face of it not the end of the world, but then people began realizing how date systems were anchors to all kinds of functions within programs and computers, and it became apparent it could be catastrophic. There were concerns people could not get paid, social security checks would not be sent, medical benefits revoked, flight control systems in airlines disabled, traffic signaling systems, banking, on and on. Well once again the governments of the world could not really mandate this change although they attempted via laws and committees. Overall because it was in everyone’s self-interest to avoid a computer failure on January 1st 2000, an emergent hard fork occurred, where pretty much every computer system was either updated or replaced, and still many were not. This is an acceptable hard fork, while the Y2K bug in the end was overblown, it was apparent from game theory that it was not an attempt by one party to gain, but all parties where affected equally and possibly fatally. It was truly a once in a life-time, possible do or die, situation that necessitated a hard fork. This should be the standards for Hard Forks, it should be an unknown event because in a decentralized network where all parties are equal it takes an external event or threat of that no one has control over to signal to all parties equally to change. If not one must conclude the network is not decentralized.
Above I stated that if a hard fork attempt is made on the network without self evident consensus then in fact the minority needs to view this as an attack of the network and now has a choice to make.
Consider a simple consensus network of 3 parties. All Parties are in equal position of relative power as they perceive it. The parties are not identical however their benefit received from the network is.
Party A participates for perceived reward Ar
Party B participates for perceived reward Br
Party C participates for perceived reward Cr
The total value of the network reward expressed as Ar+Br+Cr
Party B now determines that if they can change one rule in the system they can receive Reward Br+1, thereby improving their results and those of C, even though they believe it may not benefit party A.
Party A view the change as Ar-1, thereby a loss to them.
Party C views the change as Cr+1, indicating that they will work with B to override A.
The resulting value of the network reward being (Ar-1) +( Br+1) + (Cr+1)
Clearly B and C were correct to engage, even at the expense of A, they benefit, and the network may benefit, assuming their calculations are correct.
Party A has the choice to accept the change, or exit the network. Party A’s only ability to stop the attack is to either affect the value of B and C’s Reward to where one of the attacking party perceives it will be a net loss if it continues. Additionally consider that parties B and C will signal that no matter what A does they expect to be victorious. Although no party in fact knows how one will act and what the result will be until after the process is complete.
A now signals, that in fact it maybe willing to even further impair its own reward if the possibility exists of any way impairing one of the participants own rewards, and the overall network reward. So that for example it becomes (Ar-2) + (Br+1)+ (Cr ), where now even C’s reward expectations can be impacted thereby affecting his expected reward. A has now effectively created the possible scenario that in fact the overall network will lose rewards. Notice that B may still move ahead, because it is still a positive for itself at the expense of the network, but now C sees no gain, and in fact sees possible future impact to the network. (This is common defense for the coin limit where removing the cap in theory would not be possible because A the non-miners would signal that they will suffer greatly thereby impairing the network, by dropping the price of bitcoin and abandoning their investment)
The reason this is legitimate is because all three parties entered the system to play by the same rules, by B and C changing the rules, a new system emerges, A must now choose to stay, exit or signal to B and C that they are wrong and A must show B and C how their assumptions are incorrect.
If Bitcoin permits a Hard Fork of the network, and if a majority can hard fork the network against the wishes of the minority then what is happening is that Majority has effectively discovered a loop hole in the consensus rules and is engaging in a network attack to reward itself from the benefits of the attack. Regardless of how altruistic B claims their intent is, regardless of whether B believes that their solution will bring peace on earth, and caviar dreams and limousines to all, one has to assume in a decentralized system that all participants act out of self interest first, and if one party sees no reason for a consensus rule change and the other party does then more than likely the majority party is looking to increase its benefit at the expense of the minority.
Any result where the minority cedes to the attackers concludes the network is centralized because either A concedes and remains in the network thereby signaling that in fact B and C own the network and will manage future changes to their benefits, or A exits the network which has the same result in centralizing the network to B and C. Only by A successfully signaling that the attack will result in a loss for all can the network be restored to a decentralized state.
Shoot the Hostage
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
In the 1990 cult classic movie Speed with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, the movie deals with a villain, played by the late Dennis Hopper, who masterminds No-Win scenarios, in a game of wits against Keanu’s character a Swat Officer called Jack. Jack must figure out how to catch the villain while escaping his traps, disarming his bombs and not killing civilians in the process. In the famous scene above, Jack in order to stop the villain from taking his partner hostage uses the unconventional tactic of shooting the hostage (his partner) in the knee.
In a foreshadowing to the above event the following exchange takes place between Jack and his partner
Partner: All right. Pop quiz. The airport. Gunman with one hostage.
He's using her for cover. He's almost to a plane.
You're 100 feet away.
Jack: Shoot the hostage.
Take her out of the equation.
Go for the good wound. He can't get to the plane with her
You're deeply nuts. You know that?
"Shoot the hostage."
As Hollywood as the scenario is, it is a legitimate game theory option. This is asymmetric warfare, where the opposing force’s only chance of success is to communicate to the larger force that it will pursue unconventional tactics, that were likely not part of the large forces calculations. This can then bring into question if the successful attack of the larger force will provide the results it seeks.
Similarly those who oppose the hard fork maybe forced to signal to the attacking party that they may attempt different techniques which could undermine the overall results, the hostage in this case Bitcoin.
Some would be horrified at this discussion and indeed it is being discussed on reddit. But the reality is in a decentralized network, all participants are free to play by any rules within the consensus, and if they can change it to their benefit than the consensus rules were not properly balanced or decentralization never existed.
One scenario discussed in reddit, is forking to an alternate PoW with all the pending hard fork changes proposed by Core, thereby giving the market 2 clear choices, a 2mb increase via contentious fork, versus a coin that has serious improvements on the bitcoin protocol with a PoW that locks out all existing hardware, while this would lock out hundreds of millions in hashing investment, it opens the possibility of capturing wasted hashing locked away in worth-less altcoins and because it is forking as a last resort, a nuclear option, the only reason a hard fork should ever be attempted, it may signal to the overall market that this new coin is the more decentralized alternative.
The fact is, that the market has incorrectly assumed that core development is a centralizing force for not implementing a hard fork, and in fact it is not. Core Development correctly concluded that Hard Forking a protocol, without the hard fork being emergent and self evident, would be an act of centralization with the potential to break bitcoin, so they did not do it. Additionally, others have mistakenly perceived Core’s inaction as centralization, and are now themselves acting in manner to centralize the network by imposing a consensus change to the network without actual consensus.
Again, unless a self-evident, consensus emerges, the “Oh my god a Giant Metor is Coming”, there is no reason to hard fork an operational consensus protocol. And as such the minority power has every right to pursue all options as much as the majority power.
Now I am not advocating deliberate sabotage, or anything illegal, nor am I spitting sour grapes. But I do believe that in a decentralized system like Bitcoin that decentralization must be maintained at all costs and it is up to each participant to defend that, any party which is acting to exert influence on the others outside of the consensus rules is in fact attacking the network regardless of hashing power. To the extent that people view core development as a centralizing force they have every right to decentralize from them, notice however that core never imposed anything on the network it merely played by the already existing consensus rules.
With each successful hard fork of the network, one has to assume that either independent miners or full nodes have been lost, or combination of both or the network is centralizing on some sort of signaling. Typically the signal being that with each successful contentious fork the winning hashing power will be emboldened to continue attacking the network in successive self-reinforcing victories.
Hard Forks, in effect break the rules of the protocol, it invalidates all previous game decisions made by participants, and in effect creates a new network, with the reality that it is just a matter of time before the rules are invalidated again. Now someone would call this anti-fragile but this is wrong this is run away centralization, and in fact will lead to an inevitable black swan event. Because, the resiliency of the network the counter balance is being attacked and chipped away to accrue benefits to majority, while they are blind to the ever increasing danger of centralization.
This does not even take into account the negative signals to outside forces of seeing what is supposed to be a decentralized censorship-resistant protocol in fact centralizing and ejecting elements out of the system in pursuit of non-participant actors. One of the biggest sponsors of a contentious hard fork is in fact an entity that shouldn’t even exist in a Bitcoin, Coinbase. The fact is if that if the majority of keys where held by independent parties with at least some running full nodes, and bitcoin mining was not 10 guys in a room, contentious hard forks would be impossible to coordinate.
Now Hard Forks would clearly have less risk again, if they did not have a centralizing effect, or they where a net neutral, i.e. to address a catastrophic bug, a protocol flaw. However those would still come with potential new changes and unintended consequences, but they are pursued when the alternative is typically fatal to the network.
The 1mB limit as stupid and arbitrary as it may be is not a flaw, it does not break bitcoin, and in fact blocksize is inherent to bitcoin, since it was imposed by Satoshi on the network, so one cannot say that a catastrophe has been avoided by doubling a number.
As we previously discussed in a Dangerous Path Ahead, nothing good will come from this contentious hard fork of Bitcoin, and the laughable 2mb increase may come at irreparable harm to bitcoin and its claims to be a decentralized censorship-resistant currency.
We are a victim of our own success, and I fear that the pressures brought about from bitcoins growth are rushing us headlong into one manufactured crisis after another, that may lead to more centralization.
Already, we may be setting a dangerous precedent of pushing through a contentious hard fork with a low limit, something that has never been done before. Peter Todd makes a reasoned case why Soft-forking with a high threshold, should be the standard, because it is the safer approach and insures that the entire network upgrades at its own pace, not via threat.
It’s clear that raising the block limit is contentious, and galvanizes Bitcoiners on both sides of the debate. A contentious fork combined with a low threshold creates a real risk that this can cause problems for the network during the reorganization. One has to ask, at what threshold is a contentious hard fork not viewed as an attack on the network?
Advocates for raising the limit argue that it is strangling Bitcoin’s growth. That hitting the limit has the potential to cause an economic change in Bitcoin with rising transaction fees and that this arbitrary limit implies central planning or artificial scarcity. However raising the limit places a greater resource burden on the network, particularly on node operators who receive no compensation for running nodes. The concerns are that raising the block limit will lead to greater centralization.
In many ways we already see a divergent bitcoin system, one with actual participants, that run nodes, hold keys, and one where the participants have ceded their votes and trust to third parties, where they face all the same rules, regulations and loss of privacy that come with the current system. These third parties in effect have pooled the votes of hundreds of thousands if not millions of participants under the banner the “economic majority”. However is this how Bitcoin was intended, while Satoshi advocated SPV wallets, the keys where retained with the user, and theoretically acted as independent users. The idea of trusted third parties holding they keys of hundreds of thousands if not millions of user and making decision on their behalf begs the question, is Bitcoin already too centralized?
Despite the headlines, Bitcoin is not broken, it works. Bitcoin rejects no one, there is no account subscription limit, we have not run out of invitations. Instead we have half-truths being pushed by some who don’t like the current development process, and by some whose business model is based on a walled Bitcoin economy. Is their sense of urgency driven because bitcoin is not delivering the right growth numbers or because of the perceived competition from a Paper Tiger Consortium?
The only chance Bitcoin has of achieving Satoshi’s goals, is of thoughtful moderate growth, where Decentralization is put first, and then growth. It’s not up to anyone to decide when Bitcoin will achieve the target of global dominance, or even a 100 million users. That is up to Bitcoin, but if we keep it free and de-centralized it will market itself and it will get there.
When Satoshi was challenged, that cryptography could not achieve political goals, he responded with a realist view, but one grounded in cypherpunk ideals:
“You will not find a solution to political problems in cryptography.”
Yes, but we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years. Governments are good at cutting off the heads of a centrally controlled networks like Napster, but pure P2P networks like Gnutella and Tor seem to be holding their own.
This response made clear what Satoshi’s intentions for Bitcoin were. Satoshi did not create Bitcoin merely as a tool for speculation, to make people wealthy, or to fund new companies. Bitcoin was built to liberate, to establish a new frontier for those who believed in individual liberty.
I am not arguing for or against the block limit. Personally I believe it needs to go up and it will in time, but I leave the debate to those who know.
54 developers signed a road map that has actual code, that was deliberate, thoughtful, and balanced the risks; of a bitcoin that is strangled by technical limits vs one that grows at the expense of decentralization. But sadly, due to recent events some have abandoned the road map.
What we should all be against, is artificial timelines, manufactured threats, and propaganda campaigns which takes a process that should be a deliberate and thoughtful, guided by science, math and empiricism and turn into next quarter’s deliverable.
Satoshi always offered a balanced view, they recognized that some micro transactions, would not be processed, and at the same time eventually data farms may evolve to process bitcoin transactions. But these were things to evolve over time as Bitcoin emerged as a dominant system and the risk of it being co-opted by internal and external forces were lessened. Satoshi never set specific timelines, though they did make a prediction early on that some form of E-cash could be in use within 10 years,
I would be surprised if 10 years from now we’re not using
electronic currency in some way, now that we know a way to do it that won’t inevitably get dumbed down when the trusted third party gets cold feet.
However predictions aside, one may presume that based on Satoshi’s own actions, their vision was to unfold over decades, not mere years.
Satoshi worked on Bitcoin privately for years before going public, they set the distribution of Bitcoins to occur over 100 years, they envisioned that 100,000 independent nodes would support the bitcoin network.
Only 7 years in and many in this community have espoused unrealistic expectations that bitcoin would take over the world like the latest social media app. This short sighted view does an extreme disservice to what Bitcoin’s original intent was. In fact, Satoshi themselves, advocated against rapid expansion of bitcoin
“No, don’t ‘bring it on.’ The project needs to grow gradually so the software can be strengthened along the way. I make this appeal to WikiLeaks not to try to use bitcoin. Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change, and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.
This was not a one-time appeal, this was in-line with Satoshi’s development process from day one, from the gentleman’s agreement to keep GPU mining at bay, to implement the 1mb limit, and then their rejection of early appeals to lift the limit, because it was bad marketing.
Think about that, someone proposed that a technical decision be made in order to meet a marketing goal? Sound familiar? Developers should be careful about driving technical decisions based off marketing appeal, or even what the “competition” maybe doing. If Bitcoin owns the decentralized currency space, it will never need to worry about marketing.
Satoshi’s actions and continued in-action point to a person that had long term views and may have even appeared to have sacrificed personal gains in order to serve Bitcoin’s growth.
Time and again, Satoshi made technical decisions, driven by keeping bitcoin decentralized, not by political decisions or artificial goals.
So many are now espousing the dangerous meme, that Bitcoin is anti-fragile and can survive any type of contentious hard fork. “Lets test it and find out”, “if Bitcoin has to rely on altruism, it will fail” have been common response to opponents of the hard fork. Or now the idea that we need multiple Bitcoin implementations to compete. But it’s not even clear how that would work, are forks coming quarterly now, do we try hard forks at 60%, 55%. What does that say to the stability and immutability of the network? Does Bitcoin development devolve into a media campaign, where there is now a continuous battle to win hearts and minds on coding, something that is kind of hard to explain over twitter.
I am not claiming that Bitcoin Code is some tome to be interpreted by a council of elders, but we must be very careful how we proceed. Immutability, and Stability are also core tenets of Bitcoin, there has always been a community agreement, that hard forks would not be done if they were contentious, because of the risk of undermining that. It is hard to argue for someone to store their life saving on a network, if this weeks 60% fork accidentally froze you out of it for 2 days. Sure Bitcoin keeps working, but is that stability?
It also says something about how centralized Bitcoin is already, when 3 developers who have had limited contribution to the code base in recent years, have now galvanized a portion of the community to attempt a hard fork in a manner that’s never been done before.
But it’s not clear how a migration to a competitive development cycle will actually work, How often are participants going to be politicked by developers to adopt their new changes, and vice versa. How could Bitcoin function via some kind of cola war. It has always be understood that competitive forks of Bitcoin were alt-coins. Some compare it to Linux Development which has separate flavors, but that’s a false comparison since you cannot run multiple Bitcoin networks.
In a highly decentralized Bitcoin network, all these concerns are irrelevant. Bitcoin’s anti-fragility works if the majority of the community makes rational decisions that are in their self-interest, driven presumably by bettering the network and reflected in an appreciating bitcoin price. However what happens with a declining bitcoin price, where investments have been made and not realized, where external fiscal pressures may drive a core group of participants to make short term decisions that may be beneficial to them only, even if has the potential to damage the network in the long run. The key to mitigating these risks is decentralization, the greater the decentralization the less likely that bad actors can coalesce and effect the entire network, or the less likely that fatal decisions can arise.
Centralization is a runaway affect, once unleashed it is impossible to contain. If I get to vote to grant myself more votes, guess what? The only way the market can correct too much centralization in Bitcoin is by abandoning it to another system. Clearly we don’t want to get to that point. Some would argue that signal would pause bad actors, but that has never been the case, in fact human history shows that run away panics are self-fulfilling cycles. Interestingly, Ethereum price has seen a rapid rise in the past week from .99 cents USD to over $1.55, as the Bitcoin price has collapsed, are we already seeing this process play out? Too many make the dangerous assumption that at this early stage, of the network, any decision can be made and we will somehow be insulated from bad consequences. Clearly even Satoshi’s own actions contradicted that line of thinking.
So yes, altruism is part of Bitcoin and in fact that it is what brought us bitcoin. Satoshi did not rush out and create “defensive” patents on bitcoin technology as some bitcoin companies have (we now rely on their altruism that they won’t abuse those patents). Satoshi, did not wall off licensing, or create a consulting model around Bitcoin code (models that are being discussed). As far as we know they didn’t line up VC capital before releasing the code, they didn’t take pre-mine orders for preconfigured GPU’s, and then mine with those GPUs, before delivering them, they could have done all those things, and more. Some would say these things were not done because it would have affected Bitcoin’s value, but the fact is that these things have happened in Bitcoin and other networks.
The fact is that then and now, the community of Bitcoin relies on altruism; from the Bitcoin Relay Network, to volunteer teams of developers. The reason for this is that Bitcoin is still growing, and still a small community.
Bitcoin will only work if the majority of participants, ideally all of them, believe that a decentralized censorship-resistance system is needed. That is the experiment, if in the end, a majority decide we really don’t need the decentralization that much, and that Satoshi was a nice person(s), but a little high minded, and instead we vote for centralization, or mistakenly believe that somehow bitcoin can self-correct on centralization, well then then as Satoshi put it, our “ few years” are up.
It’s interesting that the very moment that world may be on the brink of another financial crisis, we are having our own crisis. Bitcoin was created to provide a lifeboat, a way to exit the current financial system. Yet at the very moment that the world maybe turning to our community for a way out from the madness, we are at risk of sinking the lifeboat.
Regardless what you think of block size debate. Mike Hearn and his tactics have done nothing but pollute the well. He has been intransigent in development, his proposals were routinely shut down because they were horrible on a technical level, he had many dangerous ideas which undermined the very concept of Bitcoin. When he made no traction with his idea, he created his own Bitcoin client.
Because that wasn’t enough he began politicking users to switch to his client. When users found no technical benefit or improvement over his client and failed to adopt it, that wasn’t enough. He then found a tool which he could use to drive a wedge into the community, and drive adoption to his client or so he thought, the block size. Rather than offer constructive support to this issue, he recruited Gavin and others to create this imaginary war that did not exist, of a Bitcoin mafia vs the people. Coincidentally, it was during this time that he became concerned with the block size, that the spam attacks on the network began happening. Heckuva coincidence.
Mike in his dramatic style made the proclamation that bitcoin is forking. He completely introduced a new level of politics to Bitcoin beyond what it had ever experienced. In addition, Mike has managed to make the scaling issue, a complex technical issue, into something that is a political litmus test, like abortion, or gun control, something that was sorely missing in a technical community.
As if merely raising the block limit would fix Bitcoin’s problem in his eyes. Mike is smart enough to know that wasn’t the case, but it didn’t matter because by turning something complex into something simple, he was able to sell the story, to people who weren’t interested in the technical nuances, but wanted something to hang their beliefs on. His ideas were perfect fodder to those adopters who were suffering in Bitcoin’s long bear market. Mike had the answer, bitcoin is suffering because the devs refuse to scale it. Mike Hearn had a simple solution, just change a number, its so easy, any lay person can see that. Clearly if you opposed such a simple change you had ulterior motives, the people in opposition where trying to steal bitcoin.
Mike worked in front and behind the scenes like a dogged politician to create this imaginary timetable that bitcoin was about to explode and collapse, watch the price he said. Creating sensationalist media posts that were technically flawed, and painted bookworm engineers, who have done nothing but work in the best interest of Bitcoin, as scheming backroom politicians who were co-opting bitcoin for their meglo-maniacal ambitions (project much Mike?) When the time table for Bitcoin’s, life or death decision came and went, and bitcoin did not collapse, and no one adopted his client, he cried foul. Ironically, Mike laments that Bitcoin is the hands of 10 developers (not true) yet he had appointed himself the benevolent dictator of his coin Bitcoin-XT.
Why was the Bitcoin community not falling on its sword and adopting his plans? It’s probably because again, the secret cabal was conspiring to suppress his ideas. His ideas which were spammed over social media, which got thousands of page views, which generated hundreds if not thousands of hours of discussion. Despite all this, no-one knew that Mike had this beautiful solution to rescue bitcoin, all because this evil mafia conspired to deny freedom to Bitcoiners around the world and keep his ideas a secret.
Meanwhile actual developers are moving forward with proposals that will scale bitcoin but Mike says that isn’t enough. Despite his incessant nagging, driving XTers to brigade every bitcoin discussion, ruining technical discussions in the development mailing list. That still wasn’t enough. Nope, unless Mike Hearn got his way, Bitcoin is a failed experiment. Mike Hearn’s goal was never about Bitcoin, it was about wrecking Bitcoin. There is no way you can reconcile his tactics with someone who put Bitcoin first.
No one had previously proposed forking Bitcoin to their own client, without calling it an altcoin or alternate implementation. Even Garzik was clear about in discussion with Satoshi himself. Mike was the first to introduce the idea that creating your own implementation of Bitcoin, which is not compatible with other implementations, and changes a core function of bitcoin with something as low as 75% approval, was not an alt version of bitcoin but was still Bitcoin. Amazing, He has attempted to change what was an accepted and understand aspect of Bitcoin.
Now forking Bitcoin is a grand idea, Bitcoin forks for everyone. Forking Bitcoin is not something new, it has been around since day one, and the community had agreed that a fork of Bitcoin, without unanimous consensus, was an Altcoin.
People who care about bitcoin do not promote Altcoins because it’s clear this would fracture Bitcoin and undermine the very method in which bitcoin secures itself. But in Mike’s world people should undermine their investment in order to get a better investment.
Bitcoin has shown that the economic consensus mechanism works, that the consensus will respect the protocol. That if the time to change the protocol comes, it will be a change that is readily apparent, and will be adopted unanimously (Mike, that means without opposition.) Because from an economic interest it makes no sense to undermine bitcoin by fracturing it. And so surprise, suprise, bitcoin participants are making rational economic decisions. Bitcoin is not a democracy where 51% rules. In fact that is Bitcoin in a state of attack.
Still the very fact that Bitcoin has continued to function, and even begun to rise again precisely when it was supposed to be collapsing, was a slap in the face to Mike Hearn. So the final stroke a front page NYT , “you can’t fire me I quit ” announcement with a dramatic companion post all over social media, as If Bitcoin has lost some key intellectual power.
Sorry Mike, but Bitcoin is not yours to fail .
The best thing that could happen to Bitcoin and Mike Hearn is a final divorce, though messy it has been. But has Mike really left us? Something tells me he hasn’t. Instead Mike’s new job will be to further the new meme that Bitcoin is a failed experiment and he should know because he was a “lead” developer who worked directly with Satoshi.
And for proof, this morning I watched the Brookings Institute Webstream of their conference Beyond the Blockchain,. The very first thing thing Charley Cooper of R3 CEV (Mike’s new employer) brought up was how Bitcoin was failed according to Mike Hearn, how Bitcoin was not going anywhere and that the future was private block chains.
So let’s congratulate Mike on his new role, where he will work to undermine bitcoin at every turn in front of regulators, banks, VCs and the public. At least now Mike can stop pretending what his real goal has been all along.
Because this has never been about raising the block limit or about or about a technical issue. This has been about co-opting Bitcoin into either Mike Hearn’s coin, or something more nefarious, on behalf of greater powers.
Mike, Good Luck, Stay Strong; I wish you the best.
Gavin Andresen former Lead Bitcoin Developer, posted his thoughts on all the new Bitcoin implementations that have been proposed recently.
Almost two years ago, when I stepped down as lead maintainer for Bitcoin Core,
I wrote: I’m pleased to be able to focus more on protocol-level, cross-implementation issues and less on issues specific to the Bitcoin Core software.
I’d still like to focus on protocol-level, cross-implementation issues but lately I’ve been distracted and have generated a lot of controversy (and hurt feelings) by helping out with some other implementations (first XT, latelyBitcoin Classic, maybe Bitcoin Unlimited soon.
Madness! Chaos! ANARCHY! … I hear some people say, but there is a method to my madness.
The continued conflict between those who demand an quick increase in blocksize and support BitcoinXT or BIP 101 proposals heated up over the weekend when Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong announced over twitter that they are experimenting with BitcoinXT Nodes.
In response a user on reddit and github Cobra-Bitcoin, linked to their pull request to remove Coinbase from the chose your Wallet page on Bitcoin.org
Coinbase is now running Bitcoin XT in their production servers. XT is an contentious hard fork attempt that will create a new altcoin and split the community and blockchain should it ever go into effect. If this ever happens, Coinbase’s customers may find that they no longer own any actual Bitcoin.
This pull request removes Coinbase from the “Choose your Wallet” page to protect new users from being on the wrong end of a blockchain fork. Bitcoin.org should only promote Bitcoin services. Companies that use XT don’t meet this criteria because they support forking off the blockchain and switching to a new incompatible currency without broad consensus.
Bitcoin Core has already announced a road map to address scalability concerns. I don’t see why@barmstrong feels the need to try to promote XT in this way. Almost all of the Bitcoin technical community supports the announced road map. It’s not like things aren’t moving forward.
I’ll merge this soon. Feedback is always appreciated though.
The pull request was approved and merged around 10 AM EST on Dec 27th. As a result Coinbase has been removed from the bitcoin.org website as recommend bitcoin wallet and service.
My thoughts; these sideshow dramas will fall away once actual code is committed to bitcoin showing some scaling. Looking through the Bitcoin-Dev mail list you can see concrete discussions and work being done. In the meantime lots of popcorn will be consumed.
Charlie Lee creator of litecoin makes his case for a conservative approach in regard to blocksize increases. And why he doesn’t support BIP101 the current proposal for blocksize scaling submitted by Gavin Andresen
I first discovered Bitcoin in early 2011. Like many, I thought it was brilliant. Bitcoin transactions were decentralized…
Essentially, early Bitcoin users get the cake and eat it too. Unfortunately, this won’t last. By design, the block rewards halves every 4 years and will trend towards zero. As that happens, we will have to choose which of these 5 core Bitcoin features (decentralized, secure, fast, cheap, and unlimited) we are most willing to sacrifice. I will use an analogy to paint the picture for why this is the case.