Satoshi, I Don’t Agree (If That’s Even You)

Over the weekend, Bitcoin Reddit erupted into an all out cyber war. Accusations were thrown around that the moderators were censoring the forums, popular users attacked each other, and things really took a turn when Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, allegedly posted on a forum about what was taking place.

The issue at hand is pretty technical, but it revolves around one fundamental issue: changing the Bitcoin code. This isn’t the first time it’s been discussed but it’s the first time things have gotten this serious. Two of the core developers proposed something called a Hardfork, which would essentially create a new Bitcoin with updated code.

The miners who agree with this and opt to run the new software would be using the new Bitcoin while those who don’t would be using the old Bitcoin. Miners essentially have control of the network because of their ability to vote on code updates and choose which version to implement.

Here is what Satoshi allegedly wrote:

“I know almost for certain that there is no consensus to the change in XT because Bitcoin core developers Wladamir, Greg, and Pieter are opposed to it. That’s enough to block consensus. And it works both ways: if Gavin and Mike are strongly opposed to Pieter’s BIP, then this will also block consensus on that BIP. Other than the core devs, big Bitcoin companies (especially Coinbase, BitPay, and exchanges) could block consensus, as could large groups of average users who are collectively capable of making reasonable arguments and exerting economic force.”

“The developers of this pretender-Bitcoin claim to be following my original vision, but nothing could be further from the truth. 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 honour.”

“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.”

Now, I want to first say, I have tremendous respect for the Satoshi Nakamoto who invented Bitcoin. But there is still debate on whether or not this is even him commenting. Secondly, in my opinion, he is wrong. Regardless of who it really is posting, that position is incorrect.

We don’t support BitcoinXT, but we aren’t against what it represents. We support freedom, choice, and decentralization because that’s what Bitcoin is about. If you take that away, you don’t really have Bitcoin at all. Satoshi’s claim that two people have taken control of Bitcoin, by a means of a popularity contest, are unfounded. BitcoinXT has not achieved 51% of the mining power or any significant percentage of the running nodes. But if it does, it will have been the choice of miners and node operators. Not because one or two people decided to fork the code. At Airbitz we use an alternative implementation of Bitcoin called Libbitcoin. Like Bitcoin XT, it is a different code base with different people in charge of maintaining it and deciding what changes to Bitcoin make it into Libbitcoin. This brings about a richer, more democratic ecosystem than having a single implementation like Bitcoin Core.

I believe in Bitcoin because of what it brings to the world and its potential to change it. Along with my staff, we’ve dedicated our life to Bitcoin; not for financial reward, but because we see that Bitcoin solves a massive problem in the world. That problem is that money is controlled by a select few people who have influenced laws so they can legally be custodians of your hard earned dollar.

Bitcoin empowers you to have a choice if you want to control your own money without a third party. It empowers miners to power a network that no one can control. And it empowers people to have a secure financial connection to anyone else in the world.

Bitcoin gives people the power to choose. And no one, not Satoshi Nakamoto, Janet Yellen, or myself, has the right to take that choice away from them. The community needs to ensure that at all times, choice is protected. If we take away the ability for people to chose, we are no better than what we seek to eliminate by growing Bitcoin.

So, Satoshi, if that’s really you, you invented Bitcoin because you want to empower people. If people don’t have the freedom to choose, how is it any different than fiat money controlled by a government?

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