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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:09 pm

I was wondering what it's like working with MIT Media Labs? What's been your experience so far, do you work on campus?
I'm actually looking for advice or role models for how pragmatic geeks like me can best interact with the world's smartest professors and students. It's not a role I've had before, and I'm trying to figure it out.

I don't work on campus, I work a couple hours West of campus in Amherst, MA.

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:12 pm

Hi Gavin, mega thanks for all your work and for participating in this AMA.

Do you think the R3 blockchain being adopted by a consortium of banks presents a threat to Bitcoin? Short/Medium/Long term.

Also, do you think there is a legitimate place for it alongside Bitcoin?

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:13 pm

Hi Gavin,

do you still work/code in a bureau above a little shop? I read that in a book :)

(Thx for doing so much for bitcoin!)

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:14 pm

BIP105 is complicated and too little (8MB max? What's the justification for that number?)
Well, I disagree with the unreasonable 8mb lock too. But, there is a 32mb lock in BIP 100 and a 32 GB lock in BIP 101 as well. For me, all these are magic number.
And I find BIP106 hard to parse; two proposals squashed into one BIP is a bad idea.
It is just a draft and it is not hard to consider it as two different BIP, say BIP 106a & BIP 106b. BIP 100 & BIP 103 does not even exist in proposed BIP format under Bitcoin Github repo.
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.
Is that a logic to deny a logical idea? Let us assume, the author does not even know how to code. So, what? If he has a logical idea, that wont be discussed and coded in, if accepted? There are many BIPs in Github repo written by one person and coded by another. That does not make any difference.
I find it hard to take seriously anybody who is only willing to do the easy part.
We are not discussing the person. We are discussing the idea...

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:15 pm

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?
1) Before we get to "derive in a few seconds" we'll be at "derive in a few hundred thousand years". That's the point where we should start worrying about it. It is very possible large-scale quantum computing turns out to be impossible, so worrying about it now would be a waste of time, in my humble opinion.

2) BIP101 is exponential growth for twenty years (following the exponential growth trends in technology). I think Lightning is a fantastic idea and it should happen, and have repeatedly said I think we need both. Why would we choose to put all our scaling eggs in one basket if we don't have to?

3) I don't know nuthin about architecting bitcoin exchanges. But in general the more dependencies you pile up, the more fragile your technology stack....

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:15 pm

I think it is more complicated than necessary, and I'm a big fan of KISS.
Sign of true genius ;-)

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:16 pm

What do you think about OP_RETURN protocols like Counterparty or any other protocol that relies heavily on using OP_RETURN to store data into the block chain? I see you've identified Coin Secrets as a good use of it:

https://twitter.com/gavinandresen/statu ... 3203719169.

What do you see as good uses of the OP_RETURN? Is it primarily just a begrudgingly given concession to people who wanted to use bitcoin for other reasons, or is it a natural extension of the network?

While already prune-able, is it at all likely that OP_RETURN will be removed? Is that likelihood related more to the "weight" of the OP_RETURN as measured in bytes or in dollars? ie: Someone has issued company shares with an OP_RETURN protocol and those shares are worth much more than the bitcoin that is used to transfer them around - that'd be dollar weight as opposed to byte "weight".

What do you think of burning bitcoin / proof-of-burn? Is this an original sin or something that happens anyways through lost private keys.

I guess any of those, or anything tangentially relating to those since I'm relying on some OP_RETURN protocols, but unsure of its staying power.

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:17 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).
Thanks for that Gavin.

Just a followup comment from me. Thanks again for taking time here.

Classic cause&effect.. It is interesting that many uninitiated consumers and merchants often comment they have no reason to "buy" or "accept" bitcoin because there is nowhere to spend it and merchants claim they cannot use it - lack of vendor support. So merchants opt to have the payment processors convert Bitcoin to FIAT so merchants can pay their bills... and the cycle continues. You wrote: ".... Or what will motivate them to go out of their way to get some?" Answer: Merchants who ACCEPT BITCOIN and may then offer a product or service that they will ONLY sell for Bitcoin or will offer discounts in the same way they may discount cash. Merchants are incentivized by a number of important components - no significant transact fees, no chargebacks, no need for a payment intermediary. Consumers or "ordinary people" are NOT INCENTIVIZED to use Bitcoin because Bitcoin is cash and offers none of the consumer protection that credit cards offer. Many in the Bitcoin community mistakenly make the parallel to credit cards. When a consumer uses a credit card they use the issuing banks money and the issuing bank takes all the risk. The consumer pays for that with premiums to price.

More Merchants, More Bitcoin Demand.

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:21 pm

- 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?
I attended the last Core IRC meeting, but said nothing either because I didn't think what was being discussed was a high priority or because I didn't have anything to add to the conversation.

I've been doing prep work for optimizing information propagation between nodes, although I keep getting interrupted by travel so progress has been slow (I'm headed to Ireland tomorrow). The first rule when starting optimization work is to make sure you have good benchmarking infrastructure in place to measure results-- I can't count the number of times I've made a change to code that I was certain would increase performance and it turned out to either have no effect or make something slower.

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:21 pm

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.
With all due respect, and a ton is due, doesn't this also apply to the block size debate too?

I believe the crux of the debate comes down to the bandwidth implications of larger blocks as it pertains to non-datacenter hosted nodes in places (including first world countries) with caps and expensive pay per GB pricing, and over TOR.

I'd really appreciate your thoughts. It seems intuitive to me that this is the primary issue yet many seem to skirt around it mention how cheap hard drive space is neglecting the expense and other issues, like transmission delays, with respect to higher bandwidth requirements.

Thanks for your dedicated work to this community and for taking on a very difficult job.

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:24 pm

Do you think the R3 blockchain being adopted by a consortium of banks presents a threat to Bitcoin? Short/Medium/Long term.

Also, do you think there is a legitimate place for it alongside Bitcoin?
No, not a threat, it is a different engineering design space.

Yes, I think there's a place for highly controlled blockchains. Whether they are "legitimate" or not... depends on what you mean by "legitimate."

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:31 pm

What do you think about OP_RETURN protocols like Counterparty or any other protocol that relies heavily on using OP_RETURN to store data into the block chain? I see you've identified Coin Secrets as a good use of it:

https://twitter.com/gavinandresen/statu ... 3203719169.

What do you see as good uses of the OP_RETURN? Is it primarily just a begrudgingly given concession to people who wanted to use bitcoin for other reasons, or is it a natural extension of the network?

While already prune-able, is it at all likely that OP_RETURN will be removed? Is that likelihood related more to the "weight" of the OP_RETURN as measured in bytes or in dollars? ie: Someone has issued company shares with an OP_RETURN protocol and those shares are worth much more than the bitcoin that is used to transfer them around - that'd be dollar weight as opposed to byte "weight".

What do you think of burning bitcoin / proof-of-burn? Is this an original sin or something that happens anyways through lost private keys.

I guess any of those, or anything tangentially relating to those since I'm relying on some OP_RETURN protocols, but unsure of its staying power.
I think it is fine to use the blockchain as a very secure, distributed timestamping mechanism for small pieces of data. As an "anchor" for lots of data that is stored somewhere else.

I don't think OP_RETURN is likely to be removed, but it is possible in the future it will be difficult to find a node willing to send you a full block eleven years ago so you can find an OP_RETURN output you're interested in. It is possible to design protocols that are self-proving and scalable, you should do that. (I have no idea if Counterparty is/does, I haven't looked)

I don't like proof-of-burn, much better to arrange to give the coins to miners so the network gets more secure and they're returned to circulation (easier if we get OP_CHECKSEQUENCEVERIFY or something similar....).

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:35 pm

I believe the crux of the debate comes down to the bandwidth implications of larger blocks as it pertains to non-datacenter hosted nodes in places (including first world countries) with caps and expensive pay per GB pricing, and over TOR.
Sure, and that's why BIP101 started with "what is reasonable for somebody with a somewhat-above-average Internet connection."

The average web page is over 1 megabyte these days. The average global internet connection speed is over 5Mbps.

One megabyte blocks every ten minutes are just ridiculously tiny unless you've decided to live someplace in the boonies with really bad Internet service.

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:36 pm

1. Do you have any suggestion regarding how mining can be decentralized again?

2. If blocksize is not raised above 1mb, will you leave bitcoin core development?

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:40 pm

Hello Gavin,I am glad that you take part in forum and give the opportunity to the members to converse with you,some people for their own reasons they tried to turn the members of the bitcoin community against you and I am so sorry for this..You have done lot concerning the development of bitcoin and this can not be disputed nobody..
I personally believe that should soon be an increase in the limit of the block size.
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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:42 pm

Sure, and that's why BIP101 started with "what is reasonable for somebody with a somewhat-above-average Internet connection."
So basically BIP101 makes an assumption that people with for example 1Mbps upstream or using TOR are not going to be able to host nodes?

I just want that to be clear to people if that is the case as it seems somewhat important.

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:45 pm

No, not a threat, it is a different engineering design space.

Yes, I think there's a place for highly controlled blockchains. Whether they are "legitimate" or not... depends on what you mean by "legitimate."
Gotcha. Last question...

Do you think a consortium of banks could build a blockchain (that they control exclusively) capable of rivaling bitcoin?
Or do you think the widespread decentralised nature of bitcoin protects it from such potential threats?

Thanks again, much respect.
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Re: I'm Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin geek. Ask me anything!

Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:48 pm

Hi Gavin,

thanks for hosting this AMA.


Can't recall the URL, but you had a blog post once describing a deterministic way of putting together blocks (because the transactions are already there in everyone's mempool, so it would help with the slow propagation of bigger blocks). This would be a great addition to the protocol to keep latency low while increasing the blocksize.

I haven't really seen this topic in the blocksize debates. Is this something you're still researching, or is this something that's worth pursuing? What do the "decentralists" think of it?

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:00 pm

Hi Gavin,

thanks for taking the time today and for supporting freedom in general.

Do you think there is a need for a more centralized bitcoin governing body in order to achieve consensus on important topics like block size or transaction malleability? Do you think that if someone or a group of people take more time to explain and visualize the problem and potential solution things could be decided more efficiently. Or it is ok as it is now - spontaneous order will emerge when shit hits the fan (blocks get full or something really threatens the network).

Thank you!
Blagovest Belev

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:03 pm

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.
They always say "The real technology behind Bitcoin is the Blockchain". What even is a blockchain? Did Satoshi use the word blockchain in the White Paper? I can't see how a 'blockchain without a currency' is anything but a shared database. IMO, 'Uploaded to the blockchain' will eventually imply Bitcoin's Blockchain (Although it think it'd be cooler if it said 'Uploaded to Bitcoin' ;) ). But I agree with you that this is probably the first time these shared ledger systems have had to innovate in 30 years, and there's a market for that somewhere.

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:12 pm

Hi, thanks for doing this AMA.

Do you see blockchains changing significantly any time soon? I'm thinking along the lines of Tangle but basically things other than single monolithic chains becoming the more popular implementations.
Bitcoin maximalism is a lot like saying Debian-stable is the only distro and anyone using Debian-testing is a traitor. Rock solid systems have their place and so do advanced features, https://www.dash.org/

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:22 pm


Sure, and that's why BIP101 started with "what is reasonable for somebody with a somewhat-above-average Internet connection."
Please forgive me if I'm missing it but I don't see that language anywhere in the BIP. Am I looking in the right place? :

https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/ma ... .mediawiki

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:53 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.
Gavin

In the Liquid press release today seen here: https://blockstream.com/2015/11/02/liqu ... p-and-faq/, it says:
Additionally, Liquid includes Confidential Transactions to maintain the privacy of transaction amounts. Whereas alternative methods of multiparty settlement often leak company-specific transaction information to central parties or other entities, transfers within Liquid retain commercially confidentiality.
With Confidential Transactions working on a sidechain, what roadblocks do you see in getting this implemented in core? What can the community do to help spur movement to get this merged into core?

For those who want more detail (not you Gavin, im sure you know the detail), Confidential Transactions info here: https://people.xiph.org/~greg/confidential_values.txt

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:53 pm


Sure, and that's why BIP101 started with "what is reasonable for somebody with a somewhat-above-average Internet connection."
Please forgive me if I'm missing it but I don't see that language anywhere in the BIP. Am I looking in the right place? :

https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/ma ... .mediawiki

He also had a series of blog posts going into further detail on his blog at http://gavinandresen.ninja/

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:03 pm

Hi Gavin!

My recollection of your major projects in Bitcoin are: 1. multisignature transactions in 2014, and 2. increase block size in 2015. What will you focus on in 2016? (Assuming, for this question, that the block size increase issue is settled one way or another.)

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:04 pm


I'm actually looking for advice or role models for how pragmatic geeks like me can best interact with the world's smartest professors and students. It's not a role I've had before, and I'm trying to figure it out.
As a high school student looking at colleges, I'm not sure if I have any helpful advice to share.

What are your thoughts on MIT's college atmosphere and opportunities? What areas of computer science and tech would be the most beneficial to study if Bitcoin tech development is the end goal?

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:06 pm

Hey Gavin,
Do you see the halving having any major impact to the ecosystem? Ever worry that miners will not be getting paid enough in the long run or that fees will be astronomical putting off many new users to make up for having less of a block reward?

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:26 pm

I see competing requirements for bitcoin full nodes. For example, Low latency for fast block propagation but bandwidth shaping for home nodes and xmit/recv capping for quantity limited plans. Yet these "limited" nodes can still be valuable. For example, they can easily service SPV wallet requests.

How can we evolve the bitcoin network to optimize the node's role to its capabilities? Does it make sense to have completely different protocols (like the miner's fast propagation network) to handle different capabilities? Will multiple protocols have positive or detrimental effects (and what would some of those be)?

Anyway, just some things I've been thinking about and would be interested in any of your thoughts on these matters...
Great questions!

I think specialization is inevitable as the Bitcoin ecosystem matures, so I think we WILL see special protocols and software for miners versus people who want to run fully validating nodes at home.

I think that's a good thing, and will have positive effects. Eleven diverse networks running different protocols would be more robust than the one we have now....
So long as interoperability is maintained and they provide the same level of robust security across protocols for the 11 different chains.

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:46 pm

Hi Gavin. Thanks for doing this.

Question: I see you've been inactive on bitcointalk.org, have you given up on them? If so, why? Is it because theymos' stance on XT?

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

Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:53 pm

Hi Gavin and thank you and the team for the great work you've been doing for Bitcoin,
For somebody learning to code , and wanting to go into writing smart contracts and contributing to the cryptocurrencies community , where do I start?
Any specific programming languages I should master?
How deep my knowledge of cryptography and distributed networks be?
Any specific cryptocurrency resources I should look into ?
Which direction you see the need for coders is going (smart contracts, ethereal, banking? ,,, sorry for the last word :D )

best wishes, Keep up the great work
Asim

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