Bitcoin SV and the return to Genesis

Bitcoin SV and the return to Genesis

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Bitcoin is a global network, ledger and unit of account, created and released by Satoshi Nakamoto in early 2009. The network is a distributed set of nodes which each compete for the right to extend the ledger in a leaderless contest that involves performing proof of work on the most recent set of transactions that users have sent onto the network.

Since the creation of the Genesis block, the Bitcoin network has undergone a tumultuous decade, with miners who understand the long term game being forced to twice migrate the protocol onto separate and distinct systems to prevent the introduction of irreversible features that would catastrophically impact the legality and utility of the network over the long term. As a consequence, there are now three networks that compete for the minds of Bitcoiners around the world, Bitcoin Core (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin SV (BSV). All three share a common history prior to August 2017 when the first network split occurs, but only one of them is building a system with the potential to deliver utility at global scale.

The SV in Bitcoin SV stands for ‘Satoshi Vision,’ with the stated goal of the developers building the client systems that miners use to mine the blocks of transactions that extend the ledger beginning to revert the protocol as closely as possible to the original version 0.1 code that Satoshi Nakamoto used when the network connected its first peers. When Bitcoin was first released, the software that ran the network was minimal, speedy and most notably, had no artificial limits on what could be done inside transactions or during the block creation process. The unbounded potential of this system did not last long, with system limits on transaction size, script templates, block size and more, quickly dampening and eventually crushing the potential of the system.

The 10 years that led up to the creation of the Bitcoin SV network as a new home for the Bitcoin protocol were not kind to the client. Developers who did not understand the original vision of Satoshi Nakamoto worked against the system to stamp their own changes on the protocol. In most cases, these changes were based on the misconception that Bitcoin is a system that uses technology to control its economics rather than an economic system that incentivises technological progress. It is interesting to note that the speculative frenzy that occurred in late 2017/early 2018 came at a time when the Bitcoin Core network’s usability was at an all time low, with instances of people paying several hundreds of dollars to have single transactions written to the ledger.

Since the Bitcoin SV network was formed, the mining community have made it very clear that the Bitcoin protocol is now set in stone, and that the only changes moving forward will be to remove impediments to usability such as limits on transactions, disabled features and more. A lot of progress has already been made in peeling away ill-conceived and unnecessary limits, providing fertile ground for innovators to build upon the protocol. In February 2019, the mining community came together to extend the 223 byte limit on data carrier outputs out to 100 kilobytes (a 400 fold increase), prompting an explosion of progress and application development. Subsequent upgrades have increased the default maximum block size up to 2 gigabytes and to optimise the performance of mining functions.

These, however, are a microcosm of the upcoming Genesis upgrade which promises to take Bitcoin back to its original unbounded design, giving developers, entrepreneurs and users the freedom to focus on how best to use the protocol without needing to think about arbitrary barriers and limitations.

Some of the updates that are coming include:

· Unbounded block limits (Miners will set their own limits and compete to provide the best service)
· Removal of limitations on data-carrier size
· Re-enablement of opcodes such as OP_MUL, OP_VER and more
· A return to the original functionality of the OP_RETURN opcode, enabling deep flexibility and scope in the Bitcoin scripting language
· Removal of the 25 transaction chain limits that hamper innovation in many of the apps being developed today
· Removal of the ‘isStandard’ test that disallows transactions using complex scripts in their outputs in favour of a small set of ‘standard’ transactions which only perform very basic functions
· Sunset Pay to Script Hash which was the only way to create transactions that did not conform to the restrictive ‘isStandard’ schemas
· Sunset OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY and OP_CHECKSEQUENCEVERIFY which are unnecessary additions to the stable set of Bitcoin opcodes
· Revert nSequence functionality to enable the implementation of Payment Channels as originally intended

On top of these changes will come a complete re-base of the Bitcoin SV client software with the intention of preparing miners for rapid, exponential growth in transaction numbers. The code will allow individual miner to exert control over the parameters they want to use to best monetise their investment. This includes stipulating and advertising minimum acceptable fees, specifying maximum block sizes, transaction sizes and more.

As Bitcoin returns to Genesis, the Bitcoin SV developers will yield power to the true stewards of the Bitcoin protocol, the miners who build the infrastructure and provide the network as a service open to all users. As corporate, for profit entities, the genesis upgrade delivers them the right to self-determine in honest competition with each other to expand the capacity of the Bitcoin ledger ready for global adoption.

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