August 15th was an interesting day for the cryptocurrency community. The debate over the block size increase has escalated into two versions of the Bitcoin protocol: Bitcoin core and Bitcoin XT. On the publication Medium Mike Hearn explains why a full release of Bitcoin XT was made available on the 15th. Hearn explains through the use of Satoshi Nakamoto’s past email transcripts he and others interpret, that Satoshi himself would agree with him. He believes Satoshi would be for the XT fork implementation and describes why
“IN 2011 I FLESHED OUT SATOSHI’S SCALING INTUITIONS WITH A SERIES OF CALCULATIONS: WHAT IF BITCOIN BECAME SO POPULAR IT REPLACED VISA COMPLETELY? THE ANSWER WAS THAT HIS PLAN IS CREDIBLE — YOU’D NEVER NEED MORE THAN A SINGLE COMPUTER, EVEN WITH SUCH A LARGE AMOUNT OF TRAFFIC. I ALSO IMPLEMENTED THE MODE HE TALKED ABOUT, AS HE LEFT BEFORE FINISHING THE WORK.” — MIKE HEARN, CORE DEVELOPER
On the same day, Satoshi Nakamoto or someone posing as the pseudonym has disagreed. A person using Satoshis Vistomail email address claims they have been following the debate closely. Through the developer mailing list Satoshi said that as he watched the debate from the sidelines, he hoped “widespread consensus” would be achieved. With the release of Bitcoin XT 0.11A, Nakamoto says it’s probably not going to happen, calling the fork “very dangerous”. The creator of Bitcoin seems very unpleased that the debate has been this split saying:
“I have been following the recent block size debates through the mailing list. I had hoped the debate would resolve and that a fork proposal would achieve widespread consensus. However, with the formal release of Bitcoin XT 0.11A, this looks unlikely to happen, and so I am forced to share my concerns about this very dangerous fork.”— Satoshi Nakamoto’s Questionable Email
maskerafSatoshi then goes into describing the release of XT as a “pretender-Bitcoin” and questioned developers who have been supposedly following his vision. Nakamoto says when the protocol was designed, the creator made it extremely difficult to alter the rules of consensus “without near unanimous agreement”. The pseudonym says that it was created to be protected from “charismatic leaders” The creator states:
“WHEN I DESIGNED BITCOIN, I DESIGNED IT IN SUCH A WAY AS TO MAKE FUTURE MODIFICATIONS TO THE CONSENSUS RULES DIFFICULT WITHOUT NEAR UNANIMOUS AGREEMENT. BITCOIN WAS DESIGNED TO BE PROTECTED FROM THE INFLUENCE OF CHARISMATIC LEADERS, EVEN IF THEIR NAME IS GAVIN ANDRESEN, BARACK OBAMA, OR SATOSHI NAKAMOTO. NEARLY EVERYONE HAS TO AGREE ON A CHANGE, AND THEY HAVE TO DO IT WITHOUT BEING FORCED OR PRESSURED INTO IT. BY DOING A FORK IN THIS WAY, THESE DEVELOPERS ARE VIOLATING THE “ORIGINAL VISION” THEY CLAIM TO HONOR.”
— SATOSHI NAKAMOTO, QUESTIONABLE EMAIL
XT developer Hearn in the Medium breifing, describes the final points of the debate as “troublesome and heated”. Talking points are mentioned with a lot of Satoshis words through Hearns interpretations. He says that “growth is not a god-given right” and without push from him and others it doesn’t work on its own. Then Hearn asks the question “should Bitcoin grow, even if the network changes its structure as a result?” He thinks from Satoshis old emails that Nakamoto would agree. Saying he would say “yes” and it’s clear from his statements:
THE CURRENT SYSTEM WHERE EVERY USER IS A NETWORK NODE IS NOT THE INTENDED CONFIGURATION FOR LARGE SCALE. THAT WOULD BE LIKE EVERY USENET USER RUNS THEIR OWN NNTP SERVER. THE DESIGN SUPPORTS LETTING USERS JUST BE USERS.— SATOSHI NAKAMOTO, JULY 2010
“Digital Signature or Go Home“
With the fork talk and XT released and the sudden supposed appearance of the great Satoshi the debate has really heated up. Redditors on r/Bitcoin have been up in arms about the discussion and have been in a split on the decision as well. Many are for the block size increase and many are not. Another problem is verifying the validity of Satoshis latest email as it was never signed by a private key. The question of Satoshis emails being signed has been brought up in the past by developer Peter Todd.
Questioning whether or not any of Satoshis emails were verifiably signed. The last time Nakamoto was heard from was when it was stated through the creator’s email that “I am not Dorian”. Again the question of whether the email was real or not came up and probably will anytime it happens. Without a digital signature the crowd as a majority seem to be not buying the email as legit. The statement “Digital Signature or Go Home” is echoing through the forum hallways. The original email post was supposedly deleted from r/bitcoin daily postings. Another posting of a pastebin detailing that it “verified” the email as legitimate has also surfaced. The pastebin transcript says it was a “quick technical analysis” saying it came from the original mailer, but couldn’t verify it was hacked or not.
Another possibility that the email was not genuine was the clear one sided bias against XT. Some feel that it was too coincidental that this email came out following the XT release. That the creator of Bitcoin would not speak about Gavin in such a manner, and mix him with the likes of Barack Obama. Some also wonder if Nakamoto is worried about moving his coins to a new fork. But the question still remains whether it was Satoshi or not. From analyzing the forums most are in disbelief the email was real. The email ends with some pretty hard lined statements about the development of XT and the fork itself. From the email the person claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto is very unhappy saying:
“IF TWO DEVELOPERS CAN FORK BITCOIN AND SUCCEED IN REDEFINING WHAT “BITCOIN” IS, IN THE FACE OF WIDESPREAD TECHNICAL CRITICISM AND THROUGH THE USE OF POPULIST TACTICS, THEN I WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO DECLARE BITCOIN A FAILED PROJECT. BITCOIN WAS MEANT TO BE BOTH TECHNICALLY AND SOCIALLY ROBUST. THIS PRESENT SITUATION HAS BEEN VERY DISAPPOINTING TO WATCH UNFOLD.”
— SATOSHI NAKAMOTO, QUESTIONABLE EMAIL
Immediately after this email from the “Supposed Satoshi” the Bitcoin community has had the fork in their minds as well as statements from Mike Hearn. The debates from core development, investors, and community have been on fire ever since. More so now than before, with each side standing quite firm in what they believe. For now the email is highly contested for being legitimate. It comes with no digital signature and followed immediately after the release of XT and being against it. Bitcoin.com has been on this story from the get go and will continue to follow the debate and fork intently. We will be sure to let the community know what’s happening with the protocol code, developers and so called statements from the Bitcoin creator himself. If Satoshi decides to speak again that is.