At the Scaling Bitcoin conference, I managed to catch up with the Chief Scientist at Bitcoin Unlimited, shortly after their incredible presentation for the Gigablock Testnet results.
To recap, following the removal of some software related bottlenecks, Bitcoin was capable of propagating 1 gigabyte blocks successfully. VISA level transaction capacity is provably achievable on modern day desktop PCs.
Dr Peter Rizun who often posts his thoughts on his Medium blog, is a physicist and entrepreneur, hailing from Vancouver, Canada. He has written various papers concerning his thoughts on the Bitcoin network, but perhaps one of the most interesting I found was the blocksize debate paper on “A Transaction Fee Market Exists Without a Block Size Limit”. In my first meeting with Dr Rizun, I was surprised to see that he genuinely comes across as a very warm, well meaning individual. Down to earth, and very eager to have a chat, and discuss his thoughts.
We discussed the gigablock testnet results, and what it meant for Segwit (BTC), and Bitcoin(BCH). Peter lamented on past difficulties, and the troubles experienced as a result of the censorship war. To place this into perspective, Bitcoin Unlimited was the leading client, far ahead of Bitcoin Core’s segwit client, prior to the New York Agreement (NYA). The signatories of the NYA saw enough steam power to swing the vote away, and implement Segwit. Core immediately saw this as a victory, and hailed this as a success of the UASF initiative.
This discussion was only days prior to the cancellation of the Segwit2x chain – so do bare this in mind. Here is an excerpt of the discussion below:
Eli: Do you think the NYA agreement ruin things for Bitcoin Unlimited?
Peter: I don’t think Segwit2x ruined things. Bitcoin Unlimited is still a client that will follow that chain. To me the Segwit2x thing seemed like a reasonable compromise, let’s see what happens.
Eli: People have already started changing their minds, how suitable are such agreements? Do you think miner signalling is the best way to make determinations?
Peter: People can back out of agreements. Even when miners are signalling… the only way to really know is if someone is producing a block. You can’t make that not true…
Eli: So what do you think is the best way of reaching consensus on matters?
Peter: I really don’t know what the best way is….
Eli: How confident are you on Segwit2x winning out?
Peter: (sighs) …if you asked me a few months ago, I would have said I was 85% confident… Now, I’m not so certain. I’m much less confident, maybe 55%, I’m not sure. It could go either way.
Eli: Do you think a failure on Segwit2x would be a good thing for Bitcoin Cash?
Peter: It would definitely be a good thing for Bitcoin Cash. There are a lot of people who share my point of view, and we believe that financially, this will benefit Bitcoin Cash.
Eli: Why are they so obsessed with keeping the transaction capacity so limited?
Peter: (shakes head) it’s a mystery… I mean Blockstream has a business model that is based on making off-chain transactions, so that has a lot to do with it. They fail to understand where Bitcoin’s security model comes from… I recall ‘jstolfi’, a bitcoin skeptic, he once wrote a post about how Satoshi’s Bitcoin had a very different security model to anything that was out there. Most protocols required well meaning volunteers, but you had Bitcoin which took advantage of people’s greed.
Eli: That’s right, miners are incentivised to fight for profit, which secures the system.
Peter: I think this concept makes many of the original cypherpunks very uncomfortable.
Eli: Let’s talk a little about the testnet results… You managed to attain VISA level scalability. But you also mentioned that you need 50,000 transactions per second for global adoption…
Peter: On standard computers, VISA level is achievable. The base number of 50,000 for global adoption will require server farms, but 1GB blocks are very much doable on today’s desktop computers, and today’s infrastructure.
Eli: Obviously a big part of this has been the information war… can you tell me a little about that from your experience?
Peter: The information war is a huge battle – more than I thought. In 2014 the Bitcoin community was cohesive… then things started going really bad. Theymos (r/bitcoin & bitcointalk moderator) changed in a big way, and he exacerbated things by censoring.
Eli: It’s strange that it has been so effective…
Peter: I must admit, I feel I’ve lost a bit of faith in humanity because we all thought that’s gonna fail, but the censorship was really effective….
Eli: The EDA fix for Bitcoin Cash is coming, how do you see this changing things?
Peter: The EDA was broken, and nobody was enjoying that… the market certainly didn’t seem to like it. It’s a difficult problem (being the minority chain). I don’t think the problem is going to go away completely, but it will be fixed by a factor of say 10…
The following day I did manage to catch up with Roger Ver also, and I’m looking forward to sharing the details of that interview tomorrow.