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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:03 pm

Do you see a chance Bitcoin Core will come to a "consensus" to raise the block size limit in some way after the Hong Kong conference? I seems Mike doesn't think so at all: "Core won’t raise the limit" https://medium.com/@octskyward/on-block ... .dzgubhu3m
Mike and I have been really frustrated by "the other side's" unwillingness to meaningfully engage.

I'm still trying, but (as I said in a private email this morning) it is impossible to collaborate if one side refuses to communicate.
If you could magically force Blockstream to do something *other* than "change their mind", what would it be?

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:04 pm

I was recently taken back completely by two things I couldn't find... (I'll justify why I was trying to find them only as a point of reference)
1. PayPal to BTC (I was paid by an international counterpart to PayPal, I couldn't swop my incoming money to BTC)
2. A decentralized Bitcoin will. (I am a single dad, I have two children, I want to will / bequeath my BTC to my kids, it's not that easy)

My Questions...
A) Do you see potential for the viability in this?
B) Do you see a valid reason why it wouldn't be available?
C) Would you consider working on the development of such services with me? (I'm no developer) [My you dared me to ask anything...haha!]

Finally...
Thank you for giving your time to this, it's a really generous thing to do.

Al
PayPal to BTC has been tried several times in the past, and as far as I know, all the prior attempts were either taken down by PayPal or suffered from too high fraud rates to be sustainable. Criminals LOVE to steal PayPal credentials, and will jump on any method to "cash out" stolen PayPal accounts.

Decentralized Bitcoin will : good question for a lawyer type who understands estate law in whatever country you're in. I think it is pretty clear in most legal jurisdictions that Bitcoin is an asset. If you're looking for Bitcoin to be a good way of sidestepping whatever government-imposed requirements there are on moving assets from you to your children... uhh... "good luck with that." That's something else I don't know nuthin about-- but I think one of the things many governments are fairly good at is enforcing their tax laws. They've got a lot of experience, and if you try to evade the laws it seems to me you will probably just cause headaches for your kids.

Working on such services with you: nope, sorry, busy working down deep on lower level stuff.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:05 pm

Gavin, is there a formal process to stop companies like Miners Center (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/bitcoin-i ... NlYwNzcg--) from scamming people out of their bitcoins? Yes, I know people should be stupid enough to fall for things like this but at the same time shouldn't the community do something to educate people and warn them again things like this? It should be illegal to pretend to be a legitimate organization to prey on the innocent. http://siliconangle.com/blog/2015/11/01 ... is-a-scam/
I don't know. Are there role models we can follow that are effective at keeping scams to a minimum?

For example, last year I got a lot of "Hello sir, we are Windows Technical Support, our systems has detected that your computer has a virus and I am calling to help fix your computer" phone call scams, but I haven't got any recently. Did they give up? Were they shut down?

I think trying to educate people about scams is a good idea... but it is really hard to get people's attention. Maybe it is getting easier in our social-media-saturated world... but, again, I don't know nuthin about how to educate consumers so they don't get ripped off.
Thanks Gavin - I will continue to spread the word and let people within my circle of influence know - such a shame :)

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:07 pm

Thanks to all of your hard work, we owe you a lot. I sincerely hope XT gets a super majority as transactions grow and fee pressure builds. But what would you say to the argument that 75% is not a high enough threshold?
76% would be ok, too...

I like 3/4 majority because it is a clear super-majority and if you look at the distribution of hashing power it means no single big mining pool can single-handedly veto a change.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:08 pm

Do you have any plans to release your own altcoin where you can freely set all the parameters you want without any politics getting in the way?
No.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:10 pm

Seeing all the interesting features brought from the other cryptocurrencies, I wonder what is the one that would be most beneficial to Bitcoin. Let's say you can add any one feature immediately and guaranteed bug-free, which one would it be? turing-complete? privacy? else?
If by "bug-free" you mean no bugs, no performance hit, no increased security risk...

... then better transaction privacy would be the feature on the top of my list.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:12 pm

Mike Hearn claims that miners will switch their vote to BIP 101 if there is no proposal to increase block size from core developers by December.
In talking with miners and companies, one thing I’m hearing repeatedly is “we will wait for the second conference in December. If there’s no progress by then, we’ll switch to BIP 101”.
Is this true?
I believe Mike, he might be the most honest-to-a-fault person in Bitcoin.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:16 pm

Given that miners exist to serve bitcoin (not the other way around), how much weight do you think should be given to the needs/wants of existing miners when considering changes to the bitcoin protocol?
Eleven percent.

(with the other eleven percents weighted to users, pool owners, merchants, exchanges, developers and other-uses-piggybacking-on-the-blockchain-people).

Seriously, miners needs/wants should definitely be considered-- they secure the network and have invested a lot of time and money. "Must not obsolete existing mining hardware" is, I think, a hard-and-fast requirement for any proposal to change Bitcoin.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:17 pm

Gavin, thanks for all that you have done for Bitcoin. My question is, what is being built into bitcoin core code to help protect our privacy? Is privacy an important topic that is being addressed? How about mixers, etc that is on by default as part of the core code? Thanks.
Last edited by BronxR on Sat Dec 05, 2015 5:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:20 pm

In order to advance Bitcoin adoption rates for merchants, there has to be a concerted industry effort. BitPay spent huge on this effort but unfortunately their great campaigns have not had legs. Who do you think should take on the responsibility of leading the members of the "Bitcoin Industry" in efforts to embrace and educate the retail industry. My efforts to get the BF to do this have been unsuccessful.

Thanks for doing the AMA and thanks for hosting it Roger!

Brett Russell
I don't think Bitcoin adoption will advance among merchants until their customers have bitcoin to spend-- so that's the part of the puzzle that I think needs the most work.

How will an ordinary person, going about their everyday business of living their life, obtain some bitcoin? Or what will motivate them to go out of their way to get some?

I don't know the answer, but until there IS an answer I think pushing more merchant adoption for brick&mortar merchants will be mostly a waste of time (there's a better case to be made for online merchants who want to sell their products to a worldwide audience).

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:21 pm

Hey Gavin, I sincerely believe you're one of the great computer scientists of our time. Who do you think would best play you in a theatrical adaptation of Bitcoin / your life?

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:25 pm

Do you think there should eventually be only 1 cryptocurrency or do you think having 2-3 main cryptocurrencies is good to have some competition and room for the free market to decide at least on that level (I think the market can't decide the direction bitcoin is going right now as a small group of people has the power to shape it as they want).

If you think alternative currencies have their value, do you think bitcoin should make a side chain between e.g. ethereum and bitcoin possible?
I think there will be one dominant cryptocurrency, with others obeying some sort of power law (e.g. second-most-popular will have maybe 1/10'th the popularity, third 1/100'th, etc).

I might be wrong-- I was surprised to see people who wanted to express something about their identity by the currency they use (see Dogecoin). I can imagine a future where liberals use a GreenCoin and conservatives use a PatriotCoin ...

I'm not sure by what you mean "should bitcoin make a sidechain" -- anybody who want can make a sidechain for whatever purpose they want (and I think I read recently that somebody has already created a sidechain that uses bitcoin as the currency but is otherwise the same as ethereum....).

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:27 pm

Gavin how do you feel about the development of "permissioned" blockchains? Do you think there is innovation within these centralized ledger concepts?

~ Thanks Jamie R.
I told a reporter just a couple days ago I probably should write a blog post on the whole permissioned blockchain idea....

Here's what I told him:
I think blockchains-without-a-new-currency is a different engineering design space than either Bitcoin or traditional replicated databases.

A lot of bitcoiners think that design space either isn't interesting or is impossible to make work; I think they're wrong. I think you can bootstrap a blockchain with a fixed set of gatekeepers who jointly agree on rules for what transactions are allowed on the network, what transactions are valid, for how to add, delete or replace new gatekeepers. And I think that makes sense if you have a set of gatekeepers that trust each other to collectively be honest... but don't necessarily trust each other one-to-one.

I know some academics who think the banks are just re-inventing replicated database technologies. They might be correct, although I think most replicated database technologies haven't evolved in the incredibly dynamic, adversary-filled environment of the open source, runs-on-the-open-Internet, anybody-can-run-a-node Bitcoin blockchain.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:28 pm

Hey Gavin I have two questions if you don't mind answering :)

First you said in an earlier post you liked bitcoin because it gets all of the incentives right, but as an aspiring economist I see a huge gap in an incentive for developers to further develop underlying features without bias from companies in the space who employ the developers (the blockstream argument). Do you think this is a problem that will solve itself or do you believe we need the early adopters and those who have greatly financially benefited from bitcoin to help fix this problem?

Also, what is your opinion on the fidelity effect Garzik talked about where companies are looking for bitcoin alternatives or not even thinking about using it due to the lack of tx/s to support their use cases? If you could rate from 1-10 10 being the most urgent, how important is it to raise the block size at this moment in time?

Thanks !

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:29 pm


Mike and I have been really frustrated by "the other side's" unwillingness to meaningfully engage.

I'm still trying, but (as I said in a private email this morning) it is impossible to collaborate if one side refuses to communicate.
If you could magically force Blockstream to do something *other* than "change their mind", what would it be?
"Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

I really want to stop falling into the negative, energy-sapping dynamic of "Gavin proposes something, then instead of everybody working to make it better people just find reasons not to like it."

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:34 pm

Hey Gavin,

Two quick questions (one big and one small(er))

1) It always felt to me, in the months leading up to last August, that the clear popular majority was in favor of larger blocksizes and even BitcoinXT (it still feels that way on /r/Bitcoin). It was surprising then that so few people adopted XT (or BIP101) nodes and so few miners mined BIP101 blocks. Do you have any thoughts on why it turned out that way? Are people just slow to update their software?

2) For some reason I thought transaction malleability was a no-brainer we-all-want-this-fixed-asap issue... what has held it back from being implemented?

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:34 pm

Gavin, thanks for all that you have done for Bitcoin. My question is, what is being built into bitcoin core code to help protect our privacy? Is privacy an important topic that is being addressed? How about mixers, etc that is on by default as part of the core code? Thanks.
The reference implementation's wallet code should be rewritten to be more scalable and private-- Jonas Schnelli has some rewriting plans, but it is a big, dangerous task.

I'd actually vote for the core code doing less, and leaving it to specialized wallet implementors to create really good, privacy-preserving bitcoin wallets.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:36 pm

Hi Gavin... My question is regarding the much discussed block size controversy. I have seen that the discussion has done round about mainly BIP 100 & BIP 101. But, there have not been much discussion regarding BIP 105 & BIP 106. I'd like to know your opinion regarding these two.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:38 pm

First you said in an earlier post you liked bitcoin because it gets all of the incentives right, but as an aspiring economist I see a huge gap in an incentive for developers to further develop underlying features without bias from companies in the space who employ the developers (the blockstream argument). Do you think this is a problem that will solve itself or do you believe we need the early adopters and those who have greatly financially benefited from bitcoin to help fix this problem?

Also, what is your opinion on the fidelity effect Garzik talked about where companies are looking for bitcoin alternatives or not even thinking about using it due to the lack of tx/s to support their use cases? If you could rate from 1-10 10 being the most urgent, how important is it to raise the block size at this moment in time?
RE: bias from companies who employ developers: I think that's a problem that will work itself out. It won't be perfect, but it is exactly the same problem pops up with all the open protocols and technologies that we all rely on.

If you have a role model technology/protocol that solves that problem really well, I'd love to hear about it.

I think resolving the maximum block size issue should be the number one priority; I'd rate it 7-out-of-10 on the urgency scale.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:39 pm

Hey Gavin, I sincerely believe you're one of the great computer scientists of our time. Who do you think would best play you in a theatrical adaptation of Bitcoin / your life?
Myself, of course.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:40 pm

Hey Gavin,

Thank you for all the work you have put into Bitcoin!

Here are my questions:

1. Do you think that bitcoin can help the NGO sector (global) acquire additional funding? What do you think are the biggest advantages of using bitcoin for donations? Can you think of any drawbacks?

2. Do you have a favorite sci-fi or non-fiction book/novel?

Thank you for your time!

Regards,
Vladislav Dramaliev
"Send a bit of hope!"
https://bithope.org

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:47 pm

Two quick questions (one big and one small(er))

1) It always felt to me, in the months leading up to last August, that the clear popular majority was in favor of larger blocksizes and even BitcoinXT (it still feels that way on /r/Bitcoin). It was surprising then that so few people adopted XT (or BIP101) nodes and so few miners mined BIP101 blocks. Do you have any thoughts on why it turned out that way? Are people just slow to update their software?

2) For some reason I thought transaction malleability was a no-brainer we-all-want-this-fixed-asap issue... what has held it back from being implemented?
1) People REALLY want developer consensus, and are still hoping that consensus will appear after the December meeting in Hong Kong. I hope so too, but I'm pretty pessimistic at the moment.

2) Slow progress on deciding exactly HOW to roll out malleability fixes (discussion of the 'versionbits' BIP is still chugging along). I think core development would benefit from more "it is better to make an imperfect decision quickly than to take forever to make the perfect decision" but I also know how much responsibility is dumped on the core committer's shoulders, so understand why they're being so conservative and careful.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:49 pm

What is your opinion on BIP 100?

It appears to me that it would be dangerous to have the ability to not only not increase blocksize when its needed but actually reduce blocksize, that becomes a possibility under BIP 100 right?

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:50 pm

Hi Gavin,

I was wondering what it's like working with MIT Media Labs? What's been your experience so far, do you work on campus?

Thanks for everything you do!

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:56 pm

Hi Gavin... My question is regarding the much discussed block size controversy. I have seen that the discussion has done round about mainly BIP 100 & BIP 101. But, there have not been much discussion regarding BIP 105 & BIP 106. I'd like to know your opinion regarding these two.
I don't like either of those proposals.

BIP105 is complicated and too little (8MB max? What's the justification for that number?)
And I find BIP106 hard to parse; two proposals squashed into one BIP is a bad idea.

The IETF has a requirement that there be working code behind an RFC, and I think the BIP process would be better if it had a similar requirement.

It is easy to write a BIP.
It is harder to implement whatever you've proposed.
And it is even harder still to convince anybody else to run the code you've proposed.

I find it hard to take seriously anybody who is only willing to do the easy part.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:58 pm

Hi Gavin,
Firstly thanks for everything you're doing in the bitcoin space!
I have 3 questions.
1) Imagine quantum computers or whatever were able to derive the private key from EC public keys in a few seconds... would there be anything we should be considering adding now to harden any old addresses that have been reused and have their public key exposed already? E.g. add an option that would allow miners to receive a PoW value included with transactions where the public key has previously been exposed in the blockchain to hinder mass cracking?
2) Do you see Lightning network/sidechains/etc. as an imperative addition before bitcoin's mainstream adoption or will linear scaling with larger blocks actually going to be ok for exponential growth?
3) If you were writing a bitcoin exchange website now, would you drive it with a 3rd party layer library like bitcore/bitgo or would you still suggest RPC/REST direct to bitcoind/xt?

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:01 pm

[since you already answered one of my questions, feel free to skip this one unless you're really bored and out of other questions]

Q: In an earlier email to you about UTXO growth, I said "hey, it shouldn't grow forever because the smallest txn is 1 satoshi, and so the theoretical maximum UTXO size would be 21 quadrillion * some constant"). A colleague of mine worked out this max UTXO size to be a hundreds of petabytes I believe. Not great, but doable by the huge data centers of today and perhaps modest data centers 10-20 years from now. Then you told me that 0 satoshi txns are valid, and so the UTXO can keep growing forever... what would be so bad about limiting transactions to at least 1 satoshi? Why would anyone be opposed to that constraint?

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:06 pm

1. Do you think that bitcoin can help the NGO sector (global) acquire additional funding? What do you think are the biggest advantages of using bitcoin for donations? Can you think of any drawbacks?

2. Do you have a favorite sci-fi or non-fiction book/novel?
1. "Additional funding" -- maybe.

So whenever I think about a question like this, I break it down into two questions:

a) Will people decide to stop spending money on something bad, and instead give it to a NGO that will (presumably) spend it on doing good?

If it is easier to donate with Bitcoin than spending money on cigarettes, sure, maybe Bitcoin will help the NGO sector get a bigger share of the wealth pie. My favorite charity these days is givedirectly.org (they do accept bitcoin).

And I think about:

b) Will Bitcoin make the money pie grow, by eliminating inefficiencies or making people more productive?

I think the answer to that is yes, and it will help the NGO sector (but will also help all the other sectors-- if people spend less time talking to their banks about international wire transfers and more time being productive, they might spend the extra wealth on both more cigarettes AND more charity...).

2. Favorite books/novels:

Sci-fi: I loved the Diamond Age. Favorite recent sci-fi book was The Martian (movie was great, too).

I read Amanda Palmer's "The Art of Giving" recently and liked it a lot.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:06 pm

What is your opinion on BIP 100?

It appears to me that it would be dangerous to have the ability to not only not increase blocksize when its needed but actually reduce blocksize, that becomes a possibility under BIP 100 right?
I think BIP 100 would work OK.

I think it is more complicated than necessary, and I'm a big fan of KISS.

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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:07 pm

Thanks for everything you've done Gavin!

- One question that always pops up on my IRC meeting write-up: "where's Gavin?"
I felt you where met with quite a bit of negativity towards your idea of storing the blockchain on a content distribution network after the first meeting, did that have anything to with why we don't see you there anymore, or other reasons?

- What are you currently working on?

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