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Great video on Bitcoin protocol development & philosophy
This was a discussion between MIT Digital Currency Initiative's Neha Narula and Lightning Lab's Elizabeth Stark that happened a few days ago about Bitcoin development. I think as investors/traders it's important for us to stay up to date on what is happening in the development of the tech in order to make good trading/investing decisions. Here are the most significant quotes, in my opinion (most from Neha): 3:12 - On protocol development
I think that there are four key areas to think about when you think about what's happening in Bitcoin core and what kinds of updates are being made. I've been listening along this morning its been a lot about bitcoin as an asset and digital currency as an asset class. Now we're going to talk about it as a technology, which id what it was originally and what it always will be and what the asset class depends on. I think the key thing to remember with Bitcoin is that they're always trying to improve four key areas: Better privacy, which makes it harder to censor transactions. Better performance which makes it easier to run a full node and therefore makes the network more decentralized. Better robustness, making it harder to attack in general. And then, functionality.
4:32 - On development philosophy
Another big part of the philosophy I think and something that's driving a lot of the new functionality changes is we really need to minimize what goes on chain. So this is in pretty stark contrast to a lot of smart contract platforms which execute every step of every smart contract on chain. It's like you take the program you want to run, you put the whole thing on the chain. Bitcoin's going for a slightly different approach, that approach is let's do as little on chain as possible. [Stark asks where this originated from, if Satoshi had some of these ideas] Yea, I think whoever designed Bitcoin script was definitely thinking a lot about this. It comes from the fact that, A blockchain is replicated across thousands of nodes, and hopefully one day millions if not billions of nodes, you can't execute everything that way you gotta be really careful you gotta think about what goes on chain. I think that's part of the ethos, and that's where we see things like Taproot/Schnorr.
5:37 - On what Taproot/Schnorr is 6:43 - On the speed of Bitcoin development
Bitcoin development is a little slow, but the reason is because there's nobody in charge..and people care a lot about robustness and they really care about doing good code review and making sure that this stuff is solid before it gets in.
7:30 - More on the philosophy of development
The base chain needs to be as simple as possible and needs to have the hooks necessary to support higher level functionality, that's the idea. [Stark comments on not having the complexity in the middle of the network]. We're building bitcoin to be around for centuries. The idea here is you put as little as possible into that base layer. You don't want to involve the base layer, you don't want to be constantly be re-writing the base layer. You want to have a base layer that is really, really robust. Something we've seen a lot is complexity is really the enemy of security. If you have a very complicated protocol, if you have really complicated functionality, guess what? That's a huge attack surface. The whole point of this technology is to be secure. We're removing the trusted third party, we're relying on cryptography and software and so that really needs to be secure, and sometimes I just think people do not take that seriously enough.
10:07 - More on the philosophy of development
We are building software that is supposed to run for a very long time. If there's anything that I can tell people about today, it's to tell them about this philosophy, this mindset of trying to build software that is super robust. And that's sort of the interesting thing that have been happening in Bitcoin development too, like one big change is removing code. They removed openSSL which is a library for a lot of cryptographic function and this was super celebrated because a third party library is a source of bugs, a source of consensus failure, people have different versions on their machine. So removing this was a huge win, actually. Makes the network more secure.
11:07 - On mainstream adoption and what that means 13:20 - On funding open-source development 15:21 - On the Lightning Network (goes until end) Side note: In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why Bitcoin has and will continue to succeed: there are word-class developers and scientists improving the protocol. I mean, just look at these people's fucking pedigrees:
Stark previously taught at Stanford and Yale University about the future of the internet, and was a visiting fellow at Yale’s Information Society Project...She has advised startups ranging from decentralized technology to AI and was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Stanford StartX. Stark holds a J.D. from Harvard.
Neha attended Dartmouth College and earned her B.A. in computer science and mathematics in 2003. She recieved he M.S. in computer science from MIT as well as her Ph.D. from MIT in 2015. Her doctoral thesis was titled Parallel Execution for Conflicting Transcactions. For over seven and a half years, Neha was a Senior Software Engineer at Google. In the summer of 2012, Neha was a Data Scientist at Digg. She has been a Director of Research of Digital Currency at the MIT Media Lab since 2016 and the Director of the MIT Digital Currency Initiative since 2017.
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