It's Possible to Increase Bitcoin's Block Size Without a Hard Fork: Blockstream Co-Founder

Mark Friedenbach, a bitcoin developer and co-founder of the popular Blockstream company, has recently revealed a scaling approach he called “forward blocks,” which could essentially help increase BTC’s block size without a hard fork.

Currently, bitcoin can accommodate a small number of transactions per second, and is unable to compete with traditional payment networks such as that of Visa. While some believe the cryptocurrency should scale through a block size increase – which would require a hard fork - others argue this approach will lead to centralization, and prefer other solutions.

A hard fork is essentially a change to the network that isn’t backwards-compatible, meaning all of the cryptocurrency’s users need to upgrade to keep up with the change. A soft fork, on the other hand, can be backwards-compatible.

Friedenbach’s approach, according to a transcript of his presentation at the Scaling Bitcoin workshop, would be able to boost the flagship cryptocurrency’s on-chain transaction capacity through a Proof-of-Work (PoW) alternation achieved through soft forks and “privacy-enhancing alternative ledgers (side chains).”

According to Friedenbach, a former space apps developer at NASA, the forward blocks approach could ultimately help increase the cryptocurrency’s “settlement transactions volume to 3584x current levels,” while improving censorship resistance via sharding.

Here, the developer refers to sharding as a change to the PoW system and a series of developments that would see bitcoin’s blockchain scale. Most cryptocurrency users refer to sharding when mentioning Ethereum’s scaling solution, which would see multiple network computers divide transaction workload between them to scale the blockchain. These two, per Friedenbach, are “largely not” the same.

Speaking to CoinDesk, the former NASA employee noted his approach could help with the scaling debate, as the community often opposes hard forks because of how hard it can be to do them safely. He was quoted as saying:

Forward blocks makes that whole argument pointless. We don't need a hard-fork to scale bitcoin, if and when we decide to do so. It can be accomplished as a soft fork, like SegWit was.

SegWit, as CryptoGlobe covered, was launched one year ago and recently saw its usage go over 50%. During his presentation, he further suggested it could be good to replace bitcoin’s current halving mechanism, which halves block rewards every four years. To him, a more linear approach could be more beneficial to the cryptocurrency, as it wouldn’t suddenly affect the ecosystem.

Notably, Friedenbach reportedly got to his forward blocks approach by starting out thinking about a “development of a dual PoW change where you introduce a new PoW with a soft fork.” While he noted this wasn’t a proposal, it’s a “good place” to start thinking about the solution.

 

A Controversial Solution

While some could look at the former NASA contractor’s approach as revolutionary, CoinDesk reports not everyone is excited about it. Pseudonymous bitcoin developer “Shinobimonkey” was quoted as saying it was a “network attack being called an upgrade.”

Blockstream’s CEO Adam Back noted that “it’s OK,” as discovering mechanisms “can be useful and separate from whether it would be practical technically and in terms of user consensus.” To him, it’s so far just another tool.

Per the news outlet, Friedenbach isn’t advocating to use forward blocks on bitcoin either, but is merely trying to put the option out there. He’s reportedly set to test it on “Freicoin,” an altcoin he created.

John McAfee Calls People Who Fell for His $1 Million Price 'Prediction' for Bitcoin 'Idiots'

Francisco Memoria

Eccentric cybersecurity entrepreneur John McAfee has commented his $1 million bitcoin price prediction made in 2017 on social media, mocking the “idiots” that did not see the “absurd humor” in it.

In a series of tweets, McAfee reminded his followers he was the person who prediction Bitcoin, the “most crippled crypto-tech” would reach $1 million by the end of this year, and added he posted his prediction on the same day he predicted a whale-loving sport would replace surfing as the number one water sport.

While McAfee does mention the supposed sport often on his social media accounts – and has been doing so at least since 2016, he doesn’t appear to have mentioned it the same day he made the price prediction. Nevertheless, he responded to a user asking if he did not see “the absurd humor” in the $1 million bitcoin pride prediction.

He added:

Put a different way: If Bitcoin ever hit $1 mil, it's market cap would be greater than the GDP of the entire North American Continent. What idiot could believe such nonsense?

McAfee had already U-turned on his price prediction earlier this year, when he claimed it was a “ruse to onboard new users” that worked. At the time, he said Bitcoin was “ancient technology” and compared it to Ford’s Model T, questioning whether it could have been the future of cars.

In April, McAfee responded to a user on Twitter by claiming bitcoin is “worthless,” despite making his price prediction back in 2017.  McAfee has since then been criticized for making various price predictions he got wrong – including for altcoins – while some have defended the value of BTC on his feed.

According to The Verge, in 2018 McAfee revealed he charged $105,000 for a promotional cryptocurrency tweet. His promotional crypto tweets started after he unexpectedly helped the price of Verge (XVG) surge with a tweet.

Featured image via Unsplash.