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Blockstream Developer Says Lightning Not To Replace Bitcoin, Explains Its Difference From SegWit

Some of the points made about the Lightning Network in a recent article published on 8btc “builds on a number of very common misconceptions about Lightning” says one of the developers with Montreal-based Blockstream which runs the protocol.

segregated-witness

Christian Decker in an email highlights some of these misconceptions as including the assumption that
Lightning will eventually replace classical Bitcoin transactions completely, making Bitcoin itself obsolete; that it interprets the fact that it can potentially be built on top of other blockchains is detrimental to Bitcoin itself; and that it equates SegWit with activation of Lightning.

While addressing each of the points individually, especially the parts of the article that described Lightning as a payment network that overrides Bitcoin network, Decker says: “Lightning relies heavily on Bitcoin as the base layer that is used to set up channels and settle them after we made a number of updates. We need the strong guarantees that Bitcoin provides us with, namely the double-spend protection, the fungibility of bitcoins and the finality of transactions in the blockchain. Without them it would not be possible to create a Lightning channel, and coins on the channel would be without value. Lightning will not replace Bitcoin, and users will always have the option to transact directly on the blockchain.”

There are however use-cases for which Bitcoin is not fit, he explains further. They include small transactions, with low fees, that have to be confirmed in a matter of seconds. It is for these use-cases that Lightning is being created as a complementary technology that expands the reach of Bitcoin.

“Lightning is a new tool in our toolbox, why would you retire a hammer, just because you got a new screwdriver?”

He asks.

Despite admitting that Lightning can potentially be built on top of various blockchains, Decker maintains that all the Lightning implementations are currently concentrating on Bitcoin.

“We are deeply committed to the Bitcoin ecosystem, and are heavily invested in the future of Bitcoin. Yes,
Lightning can be used as a layer to transfer between various blockchains, however this happens through intermediaries, such as exchanges, on the boundaries of the network, which provide an exchange service between the base currencies. Any coins denominated in a currency are always bound to the corresponding blockchain, so bitcoins never leave the Bitcoin blockchain.”

On the article – a translated version as written by an opinion leader in China’s Bitcoin community, Huang Shiliang – portraying the deployment of SegWit as equal to the deployment of Lightning, Decker says the claim is not true for a reason: SegWit includes a number of fixes that are unrelated to Lightning and opens the possibility of new features, improves the security of the Bitcoin network and help create some headroom for a higher transaction rate.

“On the other hand, Lightning does not need SegWit strictly speaking, the needed changes to the Bitcoin protocol can be implemented in a number of ways. The article attempts to dissuade people from adopting SegWit in order to delay the deployment of Lightning, but not deploying SegWit would only result in a weaker Bitcoin network now, and slightly delay Lightning, potentially giving other blockchains an advantage, because they can deploy Lightning.
“So I can confidently say that not deploying SegWit for the sake of delaying Lightning is a mistake. In fact there is no reason to delay Lightning in the first place, it is a complementary technology to the main Bitcoin network, and furthers Bitcoin’s reach into a number of use-cases that were so far unreachable.”

In October, Blockstream announced it sent the first end-to-end transaction over the Lightning Network to another party through a process that included invoicing a party for Bitcoin and routing the payment through multiple nodes. The test also showed that Lightning moved from the concept to the implementation stage.

COMMENTS(40)

  • Hitchslappy
    7 months ago Hitchslappy

    “The article [by Huang Shiliang] attempts to dissuade people from adopting SegWit in order to delay the deployment of Lightning, but not deploying SegWit would only result in a weaker Bitcoin network now, and slightly delay Lightning, potentially giving other blockchains an advantage, because they can deploy Lightning. So I can confidently say that not deploying SegWit for the sake of delaying Lightning is a mistake. In fact there is no reason to delay Lightning in the first place, it is a complementary technology to the main Bitcoin network, and furthers Bitcoin’s reach into a number of use-cases that were so far unreachable.” – Christian Decker

    Should be clear by this point that Huang Shiliang is not a friend of bitcoin.

    I hope Christian’s response to his article was translated into Chinese and circulated on 8btc.com!

    • BashCo
      7 months ago BashCo

      After reading the original article by Huang Shiliang, I can understand why Decker felt compelled to highlight a few of the glaring misconceptions.

      Be Firmly and Openly against SegeWit and Lightning

      His thesis seems to be that Lightning Network should not allow atomic transactions between separate blockchains, because doing so would dampen the network effect of Bitcoin, and ultimately cause Lightning to become the Layer 1 protocol (???). His conclusion is that Segwit, being necessary for Lightning Network (it’s not), must not be activated until there is a ‘solution’ to prevent cross-chain transactions.

      It’s true that Lightning Network could facilitate transactions between different cryptos. It’s sort of analogous to the barter system: I want to trade my grain for some meat, but the butcher doesn’t need any grain. The baker needs grain though, and uses it to bake bread. I agree to give my grain to the baker, in exchange for the baker giving some bread to my butcher, who gives me the meat I originally wanted. Everyone is happy.

      On the same level, perhaps I want to send Vitalik Buterin some money, but I don’t have a bitcoin payment channel open with him. But I have a bitcoin payment channel open with Andreas, and he has a litecoin payment channel open with Charlie Lee, and Charlie has an Ethereum payment channel open with Vitalik. In theory, the Lightning Network could transmit my value to Vitalik while using each token as a medium of exchange between two individual counterparties. Everyone is happy.

      The severe leap of logic made by Mr Huang in his article is that routing payments across different tokens somehow makes Bitcoin an obsolete secondary protocol, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’re sending Christmas gifts to your family via UPS, do you really care if UPS decides to off-load a portion of the journey to FedEx in order to get your packages delivered in time? No, probably not, assuming the gifts are delivered safely.

      So much of this is still theoretical and we’ll need to see what role cross-token swaps will play in Lightning Network, but a few things are certain: Lightning Network doesn’t need Segwit, and blocking Segwit won’t stop Lightning Network. There’s also no way that Lightning Network would replace Bitcoin as a Layer 1 protocol. LN will greatly expand Bitcoin’s network effect, and payment channels must settle to their respective blockchain, end of story.

      • veintiuno
        7 months ago veintiuno

        It’s true that Lightning Network could facilitate transactions between different cryptos. It’s sort of analogous to the barter system: I want to trade my grain for some meat, but the butcher doesn’t need any grain. The baker needs grain though, and uses it to bake bread. I agree to give my grain to the baker, in exchange for the baker giving some bread to my butcher, who gives me the meat I originally wanted. Everyone is happy.

        On the same level, perhaps I want to send Vitalik Buterin some money, but I don’t have a bitcoin payment channel open with him. But I have a bitcoin payment channel open with Andreas, and he has a litecoin payment channel open with Charlie Lee, and Charlie has an Ethereum payment channel open with Vitalik. In theory, the Lightning Network could transmit my value to Vitalik while using each token as a medium of exchange between two individual counterparties. Everyone is happy.

        With all due respect, everyone was not happy – modern money was invented to solve expensive inefficiency associated with this primitive-style barter system you describe. Szabo wrote a pretty influential paper on this issue here: http://web.archive.org/web/20140926194831/http://szabo.best.vwh.net/shell.html

        “Primitive money was not modern money as we know it. It took on some of the function modern money now performs, but its form was that of heirlooms, jewelry, and other collectibles. The use of these is so ancient that the desires to explore, collect, make, display, appraise, carefully store, and trade collectibles are human universals — to some extent instincts. This constellation of human desires might be called the collecting instinct. Searching for the raw materials, such as shells and teeth, and manufacturing of collectibles took up a considerable portion of many ancient humans’ time, just as many modern humans expend substantial resources on these activities as hobbies. The results for our ancient forebears were the first secure forms of embodied value very different from concrete utility — and the forerunner of today’s money.”

        • BashCo
          7 months ago BashCo

          Don’t take the barter analogy too literally. It’s just an illustrative mechanism. Cross-chain atomic swaps are likely to be instant and completely transparent to the sender and receiver. But this whole concept of a Lighting Network that’s compatible with other cryptos (as if that’s a bad thing?) is a bit of a distracting scare tactic.

          If the tech allows it, why shouldn’t Lightning Network utilize cross-token routing where efficient?

          Furthermore, why is the author trying to play political games with Segwit by spreading misinformation and fear mongering about Lightning Network?

      • waxwing
        7 months ago waxwing

        His thesis seems to be that Lightning Network should not allow atomic transactions between separate blockchains

        Lol, so what’s his proposal exactly? Ban hash functions? 🙂

        • BashCo
          7 months ago BashCo

          Yeah, pretty much… Except I don’t see any proposal, only poo-pooing Segwit in new and obscure ways. He’s saying that two people can’t be allowed to transact between themselves (or enter into contracts). His issue is that Lightning Network is too permissionless, and he thinks that a robust Lightning Network is bad for bitcoin. And therefore Segwit is bad?

          ¯(ツ)/¯

          • nullc
            7 months ago nullc

            I’ve seen a fair amount of this– attacking lightning for incidental effects which already exist and cannot be blocked, even though they may not exist in lightning in practice. E.g. cross network payments are possible, but more complicated– it may well be that no one ever implements them: they probably won’t unless some altcoin raises itself out of obscurity on its own basis first.

            Beyond the cross chain atomic payments (a possibility in Bitcoin first mentioned by Satoshi), another major thing they’ve been trying to argue is that Lightning would improve privacy… as if tools like CoinJoin (and tumblebit and centralized anonymity services) didn’t already exist.

      • steb2k
        7 months ago steb2k

        Ive not heard of LN being used for cross blockchain transactions…how exactly would that work?! Where does the exchange rate come from?

      • mmeijeri
        7 months ago mmeijeri

        With arguments like that I always wonder if these are real concerns the author has or whether he is deliberately spreading FUD.

  • Lite_Coin_Guy
    7 months ago Lite_Coin_Guy

    some basic education for the chinese members.

    • cryptovessel
      7 months ago cryptovessel

      https://www.reddit.com/r/litecoin/comments/5fkju2/litecoin_and_lightning_network/

      Don’t you thing Lightning Network is big opportunity for LTC and other alt coins?

      charles lee : It definitely is. You can make cross chain payments between Bitcoin and Litecoin lightening networks.

      This is why I’m a huge advocate for Lightening and why I am pushing to get SegWit activated on Litecoin and Bitcoin. Lightening needs SegWit to be effective. Well, to be exact, it needs a maleability fix and I believe it’s best accomplished with a softfork SegWit.

  • Playful12
    7 months ago Playful12

    Yea! Please send this article to the miners! Go Segwit!

  • thorjag
    7 months ago thorjag

    In other news: TCP is not to replace IP.

    • snek_o7
      7 months ago snek_o7

      Yes but I read that blockstram core will make everyone pay fees for LN the miners will stop mining and we will have to hand over control to blockstram core and thermos! We need to fire blockstram core, decentralize development and rely on emergant consensus instead of centrally dictated limits! Only then can all hodlers drive a lambo. Join us on rbtc for more detailed information on how to make one bitcoin = 100kUSD(hint: we only need 10MB blocks)! Let’s make the 99% rich instead of blockstram core and thermos!

      • joecoin
        7 months ago joecoin

        Please go back to rbtc. There you can repeat that nonsense over and over again and get lots of upvotes. Here people will only roll their eyes about it and will not stop developng Bitcoin further anyways.

        • snek_o7
          7 months ago snek_o7

          but you guys are going against what satoshi promised

          • joecoin
            7 months ago joecoin

            Lightning was suggested by Satoshi himself.

            Why do you post such a nonsense? Why do you have the need to waste the lifetime of people here on this sub? Why do we have to correct this nonsense over and over again? Why dont you go back to rbtc?

          • supermari0
            7 months ago supermari0

            Why do you post such a nonsense?

            Made up his mind too early and can’t accept he’s wrong.

            edit: actually, I think he’s supposed to be a caricature of a /r/btc poster(?)

          • Lejitz
            7 months ago Lejitz

            actually, I think he’s supposed to be a caricature of a /r/btc poster(?)

            I suspected that, but his caricature is practically indistinguishable from the real thing.

          • HomeSurgeon
            7 months ago HomeSurgeon

            Yes, Poe’s Law is a thing. u/joecoin is probably a parody of an r/bitcoin poster. You never can tell.

          • elfof4sky
            7 months ago elfof4sky

            I’ve made up my mind that I don’t trust people that don’t allow discussion. I’m not technically inclined to understand the debate but I know the difference between right and wrong and there are seriously sinister elements on this side of the fence. So be you right or wrong sadly I don’t trust you and that is your forum’s doing.

          • supermari0
            7 months ago supermari0

            I’m not asking you to trust me. Make up your own mind. Bonus points if you stick to facts.

          • elfof4sky
            7 months ago elfof4sky

            I have been trying to make up my mind. It’s complicated. If facts win a debate why is there still a debate?

          • supermari0
            7 months ago supermari0

            If facts win a debate why is there still a debate?

            Because apparently facts don’t count for much anymore.

          • Karma9000
            7 months ago Karma9000

            Facts are just starting points, the basis for agreement of an objective reality. Debate is about analyzing those facts along with subjective criteria (values, morals) to come to a conclusion. Different conclusions can come from different subjective perspectives of the same facts. Conclusions can differ amongst reasonable people, and so debate continues.

          • waxwing
            7 months ago waxwing

            I’ve made up my mind that I don’t trust people that don’t allow discussion.

            If only we could replace trust with having code that’s open source, and digital signatures that can be cryptographically verified instead of trusted.

            The moderation policy of this forum has absolutely nothing to do with Bitcoin…

          • joecoin
            7 months ago joecoin

            Nobody here is not allowing discussion.

            In fact you are allowed to post the nonsense you are posting here.

            And there is no fence. There is a bunch of Bitcoin banks like coinbase, circle, blockchain.info and xapo who see their hundreds of millions of venture capital melt away if they do not make it impossible for people to run their own node and be their own bank and by abusing the blockchain for free for their businesses.

            NOBODY ELSE, especially nobody with even a little more technical understanding than you thinks lightning networks are somehow not a huge step forward for a p2p currency.

          • Lite_Coin_Guy
            7 months ago Lite_Coin_Guy

            he recieves money for doing it? 🙂

        • aqwa_
          7 months ago aqwa_

          Cmon guys it’s a joke -_-

          • 2cool2fish
            7 months ago 2cool2fish

            He forgot the /p for parody.

          • bitcoinpauls
            7 months ago bitcoinpauls

            unfortunately, i think he doesn’t meant it as a joke.

        • nullc
          7 months ago nullc

          I also sometimes cannot distinguish fake rbtcers from actual rbtcers.

      • linktype
        7 months ago linktype

        This is /r/btc and /u/memorydealers aka Roger Ver vision

      • Lite_Coin_Guy
        7 months ago Lite_Coin_Guy

        100kUSD(hint: we only need 10MB blocks)! Let’s make the 99% rich instead of blockstram core and thermos!

        your logic is compelling…. but iam too smart for that – ;-D ! still hilarious, like a comic character.

    • saucerys
      7 months ago saucerys

      But TCP isnt internet!

  • Edict_18
    7 months ago Edict_18

    Wow sneak, spot on impersonation. You had me, 100%

  • BashCo
    7 months ago BashCo

    I don’t know exactly how it would work in practice, and only know about the concept from listening to developer talks. But I imagine the exchange rate may require an oracle, and maybe the counterparties could agree to an exchange rate when opening their payment channel. Aside from the exchange rate, I think the most practical way would be for some nodes to become hybrid nodes that maintain payment channels for multiple blockchains.

    Let’s say hypothetically Litecoin beats Bitcoin to delivering Segwit/Lightning, and the network expands very quickly, with thousands of Lightning nodes operating Litecoin payment channels. Finally, Bitcoin delivers on Lightning, and I want to send you some Bitcoin, but we don’t have our own payment channel yet, so we have to figure out a route.

    Even though there might not be enough Bitcoin LN channels for my transaction to reach you, it’s possible that a hybrid node operating both Bitcoin and Litecoin channels could use existing Litecoin channels to transverse the network to another hybrid node.

    As I said, it’s all theoretical… I don’t know how an autonomous network would route payments across a hybrid network in the real world. As nullc said above, it’s possible that nobody ever implements this…. which is all the more reason why using it as a scare tactic is so silly.

  • Lite_Coin_Guy
    7 months ago Lite_Coin_Guy

    i think that too. you can read this kind of stuff 100 times on the other subreddit. jstoffi is doing some night shifts i guess 😉

  • Lite_Coin_Guy
    7 months ago Lite_Coin_Guy

    redditor for 7 days

  • coinjaf
    7 months ago coinjaf

    why is there still a debate?

    In reality there isn’t anymore. It was basically over when Pieter announced SegWit as soft fork at the HK Scaling conference.

    And by that I mean the debate regarding the first step. Future steps are debated on an ongoing basis while new data is being gathered, experimental software is being written and tested, ideas are refined, etc. There are many different options for further steps, some complementary, some competing, some high priority, some lower. Some simple, some more complex. All of them not in a huge hurry (compared to that first step) and most of them depend on SegWit (or make much more sense after SegWit).

    Now as for the debate you think there is. Two points.

    Ignorance. There are people who still think the earth is flat, surely, you’re not calling that a debate anymore? Moon hoaxers. UFO’s, climate change… endless list.

    Ulterior motives. Money, power, fame. This often drives from the ignorance above, and profits from it at the same time.

    How do you see which side of a “debate” falls into the above 2 categories and which doesn’t? Science.

    You see if you can verify as much of the claims made by the parties as you possibly can. While keeping an open mind on the ones you can’t verify (because of your vantage point or knowledge). That can be hard, but in a lot of cases you can quickly catch one side sinking into blatant lies, outright denials of obvious facts and convoluted unnecessary conspiracy theories. That side can then quickly be discarded completely. Nothing is lost from completely ignoring them. Life’s too short to waste more time on them. There are too many other people to listen to, they deserve a chance first.

    The only danger in the above strategy is that you need know your own boundaries and limitations regarding your knowledge and keeping and open mind. If the subject is not your area of expertise you have to be more careful and take more time.

    Remember the liars are trying their best to call the other side liars. Those who misquote the most are the loudest at claiming the other side is misquoting. Those who fabricate/misread statistics are the loudest at claiming the other side is doctoring statistics. They know what they’re doing. Their goal is (at best) to strengthen their cemented ignorance or (more likely) confuse the hell out of you (eventually for profit). They’re trying to get you to think they caught the other side in a lie and therefore you should discard them (as per the rules above).

    If you hear someone say: “we had 2 feet of snow fall yesterday therefore global warming is debunked.” you know he doesn’t understand simple things like averages up to whole complex (possibly outside your area of expertise) things like climate models. And you can also see that he’s making that claim in a dishonest tone, he could have said “at least in my area, this year, we had a lot of snow, I don’t have data on the rest of the planet and don’t know how all the models work, but if global warming is a thing, I have at least one data point that’s an outlier.”

    Same with block size. “My home internet connection can easily download 1GB in 10 minutes and I have a 2 TB hard disk, so raise the block size already.”

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