Gavin Andresen: We Have a Bitcoin Soft Fork Going On – ETA of Increased Block Size “6 Months to a Year”

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April 22, 2015

I saw Gavin Andresen throughout the day, mostly while he was giving a presentation. Though I was lucky enough to sit down with Gavin and Mike (Hearn) during lunch. However their ‘tech speak’ went a bit over my head while I quietly observed and ate the delicious dinner that had been prepared by the venue. It was not until the Blockchain.info after-party that I managed to get Gavin on his own for a little while for a chat and an interview.

What do you hope the audience got from your presentation?

Gavin Andresen: “Whenever I do a presentation, I’m hoping that I don’t bore them, hoping that I do have some information. And today’s presentation was the presentation and a Q & A, and I wholly support the Q & A because I am looking to get as much information from the audience as I give to them. And I get information by the questions they ask, understanding what they understand.

I much prefer to listen than to lecture, so I am always excited to do as much Q & A as I can. As opposed to just getting up there and talking about stuff that people can look up online.”

Are there any questions you were hoping to be asked in your Q & A?

Gavin Andresen: “No, not really, I mean I am always wondering what people are thinking. I think that my job is judging consensus, and I think, given the questions people ask, you can kind of figure out what people are worried about and what we don’t have consensus about.

There was a question today about the centralization of mining, goes back and forth in a session. Obviously one of those questions people care about, so what I have informed is my thinking, and it makes me think, maybe I should think about that some more. So I don’t really go in with pre-conceived notions of I would love to talk about this or that.”

Also Read: DevCore London – What Was It Like?

What are your thoughts on appropriate regulation to attract bitcoin businesses, relative to the UK?

Gavin Andresen: “So today Patrick talked about whenever you introduce trust, there’s kind of a point where you will get regulation. If you think about ordinary consumers, there are all sorts of consumer protection laws. I know there are consumer protection laws in the US, I assume there are similar consumer protection laws here in the UK.

And the reason is that we don’t have time to research every single entity we deal with on a daily basis. We just can’t do due diligence on every single bank, every single store. So regulations spring up to kind of fix that. And I think that’s where it is an appropriate place for some regulation. And whether that’s government regulation or whether that’s informal certification or reputational grant, who knows?

A lot of mainstream people are used to government taking care of certain kinds of regulation, and so I think that is an appropriate place to start. It’s just looking at, what do consumers expect? The appropriate rule for governments. For me, I’d start there and then think about, can you make it more efficient? Is it really necessary? That’s where I think regulation comes in.”

Should the core dev (team) give advice on technical security standards?

Gavin Andresen: “I think some pieces of security standards could manifest in an appropriate role. Make things easier that are very technical. Like, how long do keys need to be secure, you know, really nitty gritty geeky details.

There’s so much more to security than just those nitty gritty geeky details that there are a lot of things that we just don’t have the experience. We don’t run the exchanges; we don’t steal the customer support for a consumer grade wallet. I do get emailed from people who have lost their wallet password, and I have to say “sorry, I can’t help you.”

I think the people who do have that kind of experience, who are at that edge, are the people who should set the standards. As they have so much more relevant experience than people like me, who are really working on the plumbing.”

[divider]CCN[/divider]

Assuming agreement is made, when is your rough ETA (estimated time of arrival) for increased block size?

Gavin Andresen: “I think it would take anywhere from six months to a year to actually roll out that change. We have a soft fork going on, on the network now. I will be looking at how long it takes that to roll out to the majority of the network, to give me a better estimate on that.

And I’m not sure how exactly we would roll out that change. We might actually pick a date and say, eight months from now everybody is going to be validating these bunch of blocks. That would be the proposal, and that actually makes a fair bit of sense, because a hard fork is the kind of change where you need a kind of a flag day when it upgrades. As that kind of change affects both, it effects all footholds, not just the miners.”

How can the media assist in attracting core reviewers and developers?

Gavin Andresen: “I’m not sure if the media has a big role in educating developers anymore. When I was a young developer, there were certain popular magazines, like Bite magazine, where I got lots of information about writing code for computers. And things are so much less centralized now, there’s so much information out there. I don’t have a strong feeling for what could the press, do. That’s a good question, I don’t really know.”

What do you think of London?

Gavin Andresen: “I think London is fantastic. Crazy street layout reminds me of Boston, near back home; it seems pretty easy to get around. Love the bicycles everywhere, the weather has been fantastic since I’ve been here.

I’ve really been enjoying it; I love the mix of the old and the new. It looks like a kind of very dynamic city; you’re not stuck in the past. You get interesting looking skyscrapers next to the Tower of London. And London Bridge and all these other historic things, I think it’s fantastic.”

Joel Dalais: Thank you Gavin.

Gavin Andresen:  “Nice to talk to you.”

We shared a few last words about the Bitcoin Foundation. Gavin asking for my thoughts on its current state and how I think it will develop from here on out. Then I had to say my quick goodbyes and thank our hosts, Nic & Peter (of Blockchain.info), and make my hasty journey to get the last train back to Plymouth.

 

From left to right, the Bitcoin Foundation team, Jinyoung Englund, Patrick Murck, Gavin Andresen, Helen Disney and Cory Fields. Unfortunately, the team will not be the same people as the Foundation develops further, but they have brought us this far and they brought us the most excellent DevCores.

Last modified (UTC): April 22, 2015 13:20

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