bitcoin network unreliable

Since attending the invite-only Satoshi Roundtable last week, Gavin Andresen, the Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation has offered some reflection on the happenings on his blog.

As is to be expected, Andresen mainly focused on the main subject of the weekend, which was the very hot topic of increasing the Bitcoin block size to 2MB. The issue has been contentious in both public and private forums for many months and leading up to recent issues with Bitcoin transaction delays and some very bad press about Bitcoin as a whole. Many hoped that what would result from the roundtable is the leaders being a step closer to a consensus on a good short and long term strategy is from best and brightest minds within the Bitcoin community.

Due to the nature of the discussions, which were under the “Chatham House Rule,” no names, identities or affiliations can be disclosed by the attendees, however a full list of who attended can be found on the event’s website. It’s surprisingly fair and diplomatic on both sides, probably in the interest of preserving relatively civil discussions around this matter, that anonymity in these talks could be achieved. It’s also well in like with the ethos that much of Bitcoin is all about.

Andresen mentioned how there was a relatively small amount of people at this “roundtable,” approximately 75 in total. Of that number, only about 30% of them represented in favor of the “Hong Kong Compromise” from a few weeks ago where Segregated Witness and the longer-term hard fork would be achieved past 2017. The rest of the group was in favor of the immediate block size increase proposed by the hard fork of Bitcoin Classic.

The post goes on to talk about how if the block size isn’t immediately increased and a consensus cannot be reached, that those in the community who are seeking to hold out for a more “elegant” solution to the scaling problem will have a very poor situation on their hand by the time they come up with their desired solution.

Specifically, Andresen mentions the possibility that the entire Bitcoin community could see exchanges, miners and merchants moving to a highly centralized clearing agreement model. He believes that this will indicate an unhealthy Bitcoin network that will be even slower, less reliable and more vulnerable to attacks.

They believe more theoretically elegant (but technically complicated) off-chain solutions like the Lightning Network are a better long-term scaling solution, and they believe that by resisting a simple limit increase we will get to that long-term solution faster… They are wrong.

Andresen, like many others in the industry, including Brian Armstrong  believe that the efforts being desperately put forth to increase the block size are not short sighted and are in fact being made to ensure that there’s still a functioning Bitcoin network still left around when the time frame of when the rest of the community intends to act under the current “Hong Kong Compromise.”

Update: Bruce Fenton’s inclusion alongside Brian Armstrong has been edited after Fenton reached out to reveal that he was neutral in the debate.

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