The Fight for On-Blockchain Bitcoin Scaling Soldiers On

By September 2, 2016Bitcoin Business

A web conference this week found a notable selection of industry thought leaders exploring lesser-publicized challenges and solutions for bitcoin scaling. Following a longer conference in June, Tuesday’s "encore edition" of OnChain Scaling saw presentations from Bloq co-founder Jeff Garzik; Cornell professor Emin Gün Sirer; and Berger Singerman counsel Andrew Hinkes. A byproduct of the long-running block size debate , the event has emerged as a way to highlight proposed technical changes designed to be made to the bitcoin blockchain directly, rather than through a top-layer solution. Though a topic of controversy, the latter path to expanding the network has proved the preferred choice for Bitcoin Core, the network’s largely volunteer developer group. To date, these members of the development community have largely promoted and prioritized efforts such as sidechains and the Lightning Network, which would move transactions off of the main blockchain to achieve greater transaction capacity. In this light, it was perhaps Garzik who criticized Bitcoin Core’s approach most strongly, arguing it goes so far as to be undemocratic. By not proposing changes to network participants in a way that allows them to select from two versions of the blockchain, he asserted that Bitcoin Core has become a central authority for decision-making. Garzik told the audience: "A tiny few choosing bitcion economics is anti bitcoin’s ethos." Garzik’s statements give voice to some in the bitcoin community who argue that the in-progress top-level networks might not work as well as planned, and that on-chain solutions, while more difficult to engineer, are equally worthy of exploration. While on-chain scaling advocates are perhaps best-known for advocating for an increase to the block size, the three talks offered diverse views on bitcoin’s challenges, touching on alternative bitcoin protocols and the legality of ethereum’s recent hard fork . Soft fork skepticism Overall, […]

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