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Think ‘Heretical’ Thoughts: Mike Hearn tells Bitcoin Cash

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM

Early Bitcoin developer Mike Hearn isn’t coming back to the open-source community, but he does have some thoughts on what has transpired since he cut ties with the project in 2016.

Hearn — who now develops distributed ledger technology (DLT) at banking consortium startup R3 — conversed at length about Bitcoin’s blocksize debate and its descent into a blockchain split during a wide-ranging Reddit AMA  held on Thursday.

Though a “big blocker” himself prior to leaving the community, Hearn does not believe that raising the blocksize limit is sufficient to cure Bitcoin Cash of its parent blockchain’s perceived ills — particularly in regard to blockchain governance.

Hearn wrote:

“My view is that Bitcoin Cash strongly resembles the Bitcoin community of 2014. This is not good. That experiment was tried and it didn’t work. It’s tempting to think that what happened was a freak one-off occurrence, but I don’t think it was. I think it was inevitable given the structure and psychological profile of the community at the time. So just trying to ‘get back on track’ as I see it, is nowhere near radical enough.”

Hearn acknowledged that the speed with which Bitcoin Cash built its own infrastructure and community in the wake of the blockchain split was “impressive,” but he argued that the fork was not the victory that many proponents believe.

“The community lost a lot in the Cash split. I realise it may seem like a victory of sorts but in effect the big blockers abandoned everything except the code,” he wrote. “It is astonishing that this event didn’t negatively affect the price, but as noted below this is a double edged sword. It appears that price and utility aren’t linked at all and that avoided a crisis during the Cash split but also causes crises of its own.”

Hearn left the Bitcoin Cash community with a radical proposition: stop treating Satoshi like a god and instead be willing to implement ideas that he and other early Bitcoin developers might have found “heretical.”

“If I could get one message across to you in this session it’s this: be bold. Be willing to accept that what happened was not just bad luck,” he concluded. “Liberate yourselves from just proceeding along the path Satoshi imagined and be willing to think radical, even heretical thoughts.”

Featured image from Shutterstock.