View profile

Larry's Newsletter - Issue #7

Welcome to this week's Scaling Bitcoin roundup edition! I'll be deviating slightly from my regular fo

Larry Salibra

December 14 · Issue #7 · View online
The most interesting things I've seen in blockchain, tech, and our decentralizing world as seen from the world's border with China.

Welcome to this week’s Scaling Bitcoin roundup edition! I’ll be deviating slightly from my regular format to share with you some of what happened at the event. Back to our regularly scheduled newsletter next week!

Last week, I talked briefly about Day 1 of Scaling Bitcoin in Hong Kong. It turned out the real meat and potatoes portion of the event was the discussion groups in the afternoon of Day 2.
We broke out into four rooms, the main room and three training rooms at Cyberport. Each room had an agenda of topics to be discussed or talks to be given that was generated earlier by attendees.
The discussion groups were held under Chatam House Rule, meaning that anything that was said during the groups was not allowed to be attributed to the speaker. The idea was to provide an environment where people could speak frankly and openly without worrying about outside perception of their opinions.
I initially stayed in the main room for about an hour before wandering outside to join a spontaneous discussion group that had formed on the veranda, and, finally, ending my journey in training room three where a round table between the miners and the core developers had taken shape.
Quotes from the Main room
I am going to share some comments I heard during my time in the main room. Their speakers will remain anonymous. My comments are beneath the quotes which are in italics

In response to a question about what we should do:
“I think we should do nothing and keep having talks until someone figures out how to scale bitcoin” 
Based on the identity of the speaker, I interpreted this to mean we shouldn’t change the block size until we can find a way to increase the transaction capacity of bitcoin in such a way that that a doubling of transaction capacity results in something less than a doubling in block size. We also shouldn’t change anything that increases Bitcoin’s centralization.
Others interrupted this statement as an attempt to prevent progress.

On private blockchains and centralization:
“Once you’re willing to trust people, other solutions work really, really, really well.”
“Everything else would be true except for this minor bit where they can turn it off”
Bitcoin’s innovation is that you can have trust with having to trust other people. Private blockchains require you to trust other people. If you’re going to trust other people, there are usually better tools than a blockchain to solve your problem.  
“Centralization starts working really well. It’s very non-obvious what the problem is”
It was really easy to create the first version of Facebook. We didn’t realize that it would become so important as to be a target for government censorship or an enforcer of real names until many years later.  
The million dollar question is how much decentralization do we want and where should it go.

On centralization and data integrity:
“We don’t have a system where there’s any punishment for not validating”
“Let’s make it fail fast”
Building decentralization into solutions at the beginning is much harder. It’s not evident if companies that try to do this will be successful in commercializing their efforts quickly enough and staying alive long enough to grow. 
“We don’t have a system where the problems are obvious at the beginning”
Have ever found yourself following someone on Twitter that you don’t remember following? Have you ever found that one of your tweets or Facebook posts disappeared unexpectedly? 
Right now our centralized services little incentive to maintain integrity of data with which they are entrusted. When they change or lose data that we provide, it’s rarely obvious to users and when it is, user rarely have proof to support their claims.
The Miner Roundtable
Work quickly spread throughout the conference that something big was happening in training room three…miners and core devs were making progress and coming to consensus. It was history in the making.
Walking into the standing room only room, you could feel the gravity of the discussion in the air. Miners were seated on the right of a horseshoe-shaped table facing core developers on the left. At the front of the room was a giant white pad of paper where the moderators would record agenda points or items of consensus reached.
Every question and comment was translated into both Chinese and English by the moderators before discussion was allowed to continue to ensure no one felt left out by lack of linguistic ability. 
This was a meeting of the decision makers of a multi billion dollar economy that has no geographic boundaries. They were discussing the variables available to help their economy grow and the metrics that each stakeholder felt deserved consideration. Everyone in the room was a central banker - a central banker in a decentralized economy.
Unlike traditional geographically-based, you-just-happened-to-be-born-here, government backed by monopoly on violence, the Bitcoin economy is voluntary and opt in. The technology and the math behind Bitcoin makes it so no one person can make a decision. It’s like democracy without the executive decisions, states of emergency or supreme court rulings. That’s both scary and empowering.
Will this method of decision making work? Can you disconnect a currency or source of truth from government based on borders? If you could, would you even want to? I’m not sure…but I’m very excited to play my small role in this Bitcoin experiment. The future looks bright.
The Genesis Block
You, my dear newsletter reader, are among the first to see my post on The Genesis Block. Don’t forget to scroll down to see the video…and let me know if it doesn’t work!
The Genesis Block
Coming week
I’ll be in Taipei this coming week from December 14th to the 21st. If you’re there and want to meet up or know anyone that I should meet, hit reply and let me know! 
Did you enjoy this issue?
If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue
Appartisan Limited, 1104 Crawford House, 70 Queen's Road Central, HK, Hong Kong