Exclusive: Roger Ver Agreed that House of Bitcoin is On Fire in Core’s Meet-up on Sunday
On 11th December 2016 , a meetup organized by Shanghai Blockchain Meetups has seen the presence of Johnson Lau, contributor of Core, Matt Corralo, key developer from Blockstream, Chandler Guo, an angel investor of digital currency, Mikael Wang, CTO of BTCC, Samson Mow, COO of BTCC, Eric Gu, Metaverse‘s founder and a crypto evangelist, and Roger Ver, the world’s first investor in Bitocoin start-ups.
The last Sunday evening of Shanghai’s Lujiazui, the symbol of China’s financial prosperity, has witnessed a meetup where a bunch of people representing two major sides within the bitcoin community to share their thoughts, promote their ideas and convince others.
The meet-up was started by Johnson Lau, a Core contributor and lecturer in Chinese University of Hongkong with his general knowledge speech on the evolution of consensus mechanism in bitcoin. He compared the consensus system between bitcoin and those of traditional financial system. Johnson concluded his speech by saying that “only when consensus is reached could we create the greatest value for Bitcoin”, which has been echoed many times in the discussion time.
Questions were raised after the speech:
Audience: How do you think of BU
Johnson:One really needs to know well whether a potential proposal is really in the interest of you or nor before making a decision on what you want to choose. Now I am a Core contributor, but I will not say BU’s plan shouldn’t be tried and people could simply trust Core. I wish people in the community can have this mentality.
Audience: A big block size hasn’t been an issue during the past 7 years where bitcoin still has attracted people from different areas. But now scaling has become a contentious topic and change, could you tell us your thoughts on this change of trend?
Johnson: Actually block size issue was mentioned before but as there were only small number of people know bitcoin, it didn’t heat up. Some people think as 1MB blocksize is not enough so we need to scale and we can do it easily and quickly. I think what has changed is the amount of transactions but to reach a consensus still remain the rule of bitcoin. Now the scaling plan indeed needs the consensus of the community and the interests of different parties should be taken into account.
8btc: Questions from 8btc’s forum. It is said Core member make decisions on consensus of high degree. We also know that there are people of Core oppose big blockszie plan. Therefore, can we draw a conclusion the that core as a whole will not support big blocksize?
Johnson: No Core member has ever said we will never support bigger blocksize. You may now hear some Core members say they want a small blocksize but they do not represent core as a whole since Core is not a legal entity. Furthermore, these people actually believe eventually the block should be scaled, so scaling for Core is just a matter of schedule. SW is one way of onchain scaling, though I will not claim it’s the ideal solution. By this I mean Core members are for bigger size. But as for how fast the block should be increased, it’s a consensus of the whole community instead of just a consensus of Core. Core is just proposing a safer and more technically feasible plan. The bigger block size issue needs the consensus of not only Core member but of the whole community. Core as whole is just a part of the community, and if Core members themselves could not reach a consensus, it’s even harder for the community to do so. Lastly, though not representing core as whole, I would say it’s still possible for Core to consider scaling plan bigger than SW’s block. Like what I said in my presentation, if the current plan is not good for the interests of some participants, they can choose to quit, to initiate a new proposal on consensus basis or to start an alternative plan.
Matt Corralo’s speech on Fast Internet Bitcoin Relay Engine(FIBRE) is more technical. He tried to prove that FIBRE is amazing for its easiness to run, better compression and better speed through UDP and Forward Error Correction. It is worth noting FIBRE’s speed to relay data on open public network is less than or equal to 10ms plus speed of light in 50% cases and less than or equal to 18ms plus speed of light in 90% cases.
The two speeches were followed by a penal discussion when Roger Ver, the world’s first person to invest in bitcoin, showed up expectedly.
Here are the highlights of the discussions.
Roger: There is lack of Communication between Commercial side and Developing side
Host: Any comment on whether developers get along well with business side?
Roger: There is divide between the developers of the bitcoin and the users that are using bitcoin for actual commerce and payments in terms of their priorities. I do wish people from commerce side can talk more with the developing and engineering side to make sure both sides could be able to align their priorities. I believe all people in the bitcoin community want bitcoin to succeed. So my worry and concern is just that there isn’t enough talk between the two sides
Chandler and Samson: Ethereum’s fork has Resulted in Loss of Trust from the Community
Host: what lessons can be drawn from Ethereum’s fork?
Chandler: I am very familiar with the hard-fork of Ethereum. We support the immutable one and I don’t like rolling back. But fact that Ethereum has split up into 2 chains has resulted in a loss of trust. The original chain of Ethereum has become the fork. It’s really hard to build the trust internationally. Bitcoin now has the international trust. If it forks and even forks many times, there will be no trust anymore.
Samson: I think the fork issue shows we have to be cautious when it comes to hard fork as there are a lot of lessons learned from the Ethereum. One needs to know hard fork is not as simply as it seems to be. Though Ethereum is still operating, you simply can’t gain the trust back. If you still have smart contracts on Ethereum, do you trust they will still be there or there might be risk there of being changed again? I think ETC still has a chance to succeed because it maintains its immutability, which is what tightens the bitcoin community. We just need a strong and immutable chain.
Matt: Bitcoin can provide immutability and security and these are among of the factors that people are excited about Bitcoin. We just need to move the community towards the direction that we all believe in and thus the community will be more aligned. The internet tends to make things look harsh and there are people out there think me and Roger might hate each other and actually we are good friends. (Roger cut in and said he met Matt he was still a kid, laughers from the audience.)
Mikael: Ethereum’s issue has told us to be very careful when it comes to hard fork. If we want the bitcoin to succeed even in the next century, we simply can’t fight internally as fighting will only disrupt the progress. Another point is we are on the stage now here and we are seen as the experts in bitcoin but may 99% of the people off this stage may only know 10% of what’ve known. So we really need to make something really easy for end users who want the mainstream adoption. Ethereum’s price has gone downhill while Bitcoin’s price has gone uphill so it shows clearly Bitcoin is now in good state and we need to be careful on what the eventual form of bitcoin is.
Eric: The House of Bitcoin is On Fire; Bitcoin is not doing good.
Eric just followed after Mikael said Bitcoin is quite good.
Eric: My opinion is that Bitcoin is not doing well. I have to echo what Roger has said on the Bitcoin dream that I also had when I first met bitcoin: be your own bank- fast cross-border payment. Nowadays, it takes like hours for small transactions confirmation. If this happened when I first met bitcoin, I promise I would turn away and I wouldn’t be sitting here as a bitcoiner. So guys please stop debating! The house is on fire and you need to fight the fire first. Then it’s time to discuss whether BU or Core. So when Chandler asked me whether I support Core or BU, I said I just want to fight the fire first. I am not worried about the hard fork thing. If the hard fork plan doesn’t work, let work on the original chain.
Roger：The house of Bitcoin is On Fire; Economic Code of Bitcoin is Being Undermined by Network Congestion.
Host: What are other features and elements of bitcoin that we should focus on outside scaling?
Roger:I am the first person in the entire world to invest in bitcoin start-ups. I was attracted to bitcoin for underlying economic code of it. I have enough technical background to understand the technical side and I also understand the economic side of bitcoin. When I first got involved with bitcoin, transactions were almost free; confirmation was fast; double spending were basically impossible; Bitcoin just worked amazingly well. These are the economic code that has allowed bitcoin to grow from nobody using it to the millions of people in the world. Today, bitcoin is so slow that it takes hours or even days to confirm; it is incredibly expensive than it is used to be; the risk of double spending is so much higher. All the characteristics that have made bitcoin popular are being undermined by network congestion. Besides, there are two ways to scale networks. One is to make the software more efficient and the other is to use better hardware. I feel like developers only want to make better software and they completely ignore the fact that there are much better hardware available than we had when bitcoin came into existence 8 years ago. Therefore, I do think the house of bitcoin is on fire. Before the bitcoin became expensive and slow, nobody talked about hard-fork. Everybody just wanted to be in the same team of bitcoin. Bitcoin used to work so well, so just do not change it. People like me who have devoted time and energy to bitcoin feel terrified by the drastic change of the original economic code of bitcoin. I just wish more people can understand that economic code of bitcoin is just as important as software code. Technologies like lightning work are all good and I look forward to that. But I just want to call upon everybody sitting here to note the economic code of bitcoin has made bitcoin grow from worthless to 12 billion USD and just don’t change it. We need to move forward together with software side and hardware wide to make sure the economic side of bitcoin won’t be altered. I know there are risks in allowing bitcoin to hard-fork, but there also giant risk to change the economic code of bitcoin as well if no action is taken.
Samson: Bitcoin is not on Fire; Fee is not the only Reason for Slow Confirmation
Samson just followed Roger.
Samson: I think better wallet software and better fee estimation are where we can work on. I believe better fee estimation will help with the long confirmation time. I also think true technologies can also allow cheap bitcoin transactions for everybody. Roger has talked about economic code and one code of bitcoin is that bitcoin cannot be free indefinitely. The unfortunate part of bitcoin is that fees will go high as the price of bitcoin increases. So one needs to expect that.
I don’t think bitcoin’s house is on fire, I think Ethreum’s house is on fire. If you look at the market sentiment there, people are still buying bitcoin crazily especially in light of the economic policies in India and situation in Venezuela. So you can’t ignore the fact that the price of bitcoin is up and just say the costs of transactions are up. And you should also consider the fact that massive transactions will cost more than small transaction. It’s a more complex topic than you just say” it costs a lot”.
Also, bitcoin confirmation times are not reliable. The current system of current state is not really good for payments. It can be used to make payments, but it’s not ideal. Sometimes we may go for hours without a block being found. It has nothing to do with fees but It’s just a nature of the system.
Roger: What Matters is Transaction Throughput Capacity instead of Blocksize
Host: How do you think blocksize issue?
Roger: I think what matters is not the blocksize but the transaction throughput capacity of bitcoin that matters. For guys like Matt and other developers who are trying to increase the throughput capacity, I want to say thank you. But right now it’s been so clear that there are fundamental changes of the economic code of bitcoin. Double-spending is likely now; the fees for transactions are really going up astronomically even you think the price is also “high”. But actually if the economic code or the fundamental changes of bitcoin are not altered like now, the price could have been much higher. Economists will understand that one needs to notice both what is seen and what isn’t seen. What we can see here is that price of bitcoin has gone up. What is not seen here is that what the price of bitcoin could have been if bitcoin had maintained it low cost, fast confirmation and low risk of double spending.
I have talked a lot with VCs and I found them holding back and waiting they are wondering why bitcoin is operating at 100% capacity. What would happen if more VCs got involved? Any engineer will be stunned if their systems are running at 100% capacity for 6 months. It’s absolutely insanity. Tough there are huge differences between bitcoin network and other computer network, but there are still lots of similarities between bitcoin and them. All the problems like high fees, slow confirmation are the direct results of bitcoin running at 100% capacity. We should work to make sure that we always have excess capacity. Bitcoin price only needs to double in terms of fiat money every 4 years to maintain the same level of network security as we have today. It’ doesn’t matter how high fees, high risk of double-spending and slow confirmation but we just need to solve them really quick as there are thousand alt coins out there.
Roger:BU’s Plan is the One to Quickly Fix the Problem
Roger: To be honest, I like BU because I think they are the closest to maintaining the economic code of Bitcoin. But I don’t dislike Bitcoin Core; I don’t dislike bitcoin Core. What we need is to have something that can maintain bitcoin’s economic code. These economic code are undeniable. It’s a wonderful Cinderella story for some tiny computer projects on the internet to turn into a 12 billion worth industry plus billions surrounding it. This is Sunday evening, but we are all here talking about bitcoin. This is because the software code and the economic code of bitcoin. We need to everything we can to maintain the economic code that has brought bitcoin a success in the first place. Currently BU has the best plan for it. BU’s plan can allow the block to increase pretty much right away. Lighting and sidechain are all exciting but they are not ready yet.
Samson: We can’t have constant excess capacity
Eric: Samson is Biased or He just doesn’t Know How Bitcoin Works
Roger: Core camp does not have sense of emergency
Also on blocksize.
Samson: Increasing the blocksize actually has costs. The costs are on the entire network. Bitcoin for different people could be different things. Some people buy them for assets so they don’t care how fast they transact. Some people just want use it to trade anonymously. So if you increase the blocksize, it’s like everyone will sacrifice: everyone has to increase their data storage. Forcing others is a dangerous surgery. That’s why I said we need a consensus. One element of consensus is patience. We have to wait and grow slowly and make sure everyone is on board otherwise there will be people to be left behind.
Increasing the blocksize not only increase the need for hard drive storage space, it also makes it harder for a new entrant to bitcoin to synchronize on blockchain. We’ve been working on ethereum pool. Ethereum block chain is pretty massive and it’s really not easy to synchronize. There are delays and there are additional costs except the more hard-drive space. It also costs more to broadcast on bigger block chain. So though you don’t want change the economic code of blockchain, you also don’t want to change other things that comes with the increasing blockchain. Increasing the blocksize to 2 MB now may reduce the confirmation time from 3 hours to 2 hours…
Roger cut in said: It’s actually 10 minutes.
Eric (to Samson): You are so biased.
Samson: I am not being biased.
Eric and Roger: then you just don’t understand how bitcoin works. 2 MB can just reduce the confirmation time to 10 minutes.
Samson: Then how do miners make money if all transactions are free?
Eric: You know how mining pools are making money? They are making wild money right now.Now you know what I can do to make my bitcoin transactions fast? I have to pay 1 bitcoin. Then my transaction can go through right away. This is not the purpose of Bitcoin. I am against this.
Mikael: Mining pool’s business is very competitive in China. We have seen other pools slash fees for the big miners then what can we do? Either we follow them or we will be out of business. If we don’t have the fees, it will be very hard for mining pools to operate.
Roger: I do find some frustration in the discussion. The bitcoin has been operating at 100% capacity for 6 months but there are still lack of emergency from the Core camp. We knew 8 years ago that the block will going to be full as more people use them. My biggest fear when I first thought that bitcoin can change the world is that it somehow will undermine the control of money of every single government. I think the best way to avoid any risk from the government is to make bitcoin popular around the world as quickly as possible. It’s easy for government to belittle bitcoin as the tool of drug dealer or other bad people. But if billions of people accept bitcoin, there will be no reason for any government to say bitcoin is for bad people.
Eric: Developers, Do Please Read Some Economic Books.
Eric: I just want to add more. I think everyone should have a say in bitcoin. But now developers have too bigger say in this decision. Do you guys, developers, even know monetary policies? Do you guys even know economics? Bitcoin is not a computer project anymore. So guys, before you touch the codes, read some economics. Otherwise, hands off.
Johnson: Censorship-resistance is equally important as fast speed and low fees
Johnson: For me Bitcoin is more about censorship-resistance or the ability to monitor the full ledger without trouble in terms of economic code. I have to point out that actually in the current financial system there are already tools that are cheap and fast. Like China’s Alipay or Wechat, which can handle tens of millions worth transactions in China’s new year. I mean if bitcoin is just about fast and cheap transactions, then we already have something like that. But bitcoin is unique as it is immutable. In human civilization there has never been a thing like this like one’s memory will never be taken. This is also why I am involved in the project. So we need a balance between different demands to make sure all the unique characteristics won’t be lost after any consensus change
Roger: SegeWit is good; Voice against it and Core Shouldn’t be Censored on Reddit
When it comes to Segewit which has gained support but not been implemented as expected, Roger says: The most immediate thing to enhance the transaction throughput capacity is to increase the block size. The Segewit has been promoted in the past weeks as a short-term scaling thing. The added throughput capacity is just an extra bonus as SegeWit’s main purpose is just to end Bitcoin’s malleability. So Segewit for me provides small amount of scaling only if you get 95% of the network’s mining powers to adopt it. Bitcoin.com is not going to actively promote Segewit, but it will not block SegeWit, either.
Besides, it will surprise the SegeWit proponents that there are on-going suppression on the opinions on the most popular platform- Reddit. But unfortunately, the guys in charge of r/bitcoin literally delete any posts that criticize Core team or SegeWit. I think this does tremendous disturbance to the bitcoin community as a whole. It also does tremendous disturbance to the Core team that the censorship or deletion is in support of, too. SegeWit is like the product on the network, but you guys (Core’s team) may also the surprised by how slow the update(of SW) are. I think they are the direct results of the suppressions and deletions on the opinions on the biggest English discussion platform. People should be allowed to discuss issues online freely. If some people have dissenting opinions, tell them why you are wrong and don’t silence their opinions.
Eric: I think SegeWit is just a band-aid instead of a cure. So for this,Yes, I am for SegeWit. But If it cannot’ fundamentally solve the problem, I won’t support it.
Samson: I think SW is good. I think the wallets especially the hardware wallets are all excited about SW. They are part of the community as well. I think the current activation speed is fine. Besides, Core developers are blamed for many things. But they really don’t control what we can to. They don’t force any people though they think SW is technological improvements
Mikael: SW is here available. It enables the instant transaction throughput. It’s one of the fire extinguisher. I will encourage people to use it.
Note: Opinions in the article only represent the speakers and 8btc news does not necessarily share these views.