Bitcoin Veteran Peter Todd: Reducing Bitcoin’s Block Size to 300KB Is a “Dumb Idea”

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Peter Todd is a Bitcoin veteran. Describing himself as an Applied Cryptography Consultant, Peter has been interested in digital money ever since he read Adam Back’s seminal Hashcash paper as a teenager. Having spent a lot of time himself thinking about how to create a digital currency - when the bitcoin paper was released in 2009, Peter realized that the solution had been found.

Formerly a Bitcoin Core developer, Peter has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in the space, regularly providing a more technically-based commentary to the changing winds of the crypto scene.

Short, sharp and to the point, Peter answered a few of my questions about bitcoin, crypto more broadly, and what the future holds for the industry.

Avi Rosten: How did you get into crypto?

Peter Todd: Via the Freenet Project, back in highschool. Like any good civics/democracy minded high schooler would be, I believed in freedom of speech and Freenet was an obvious way to promote that.

AR: What are some of the developments in the crypto space in the past couple of years that you find most interesting?

PT: Lightning is probably the biggest one. Monero and Zcash second, although remember that "interesting" doesn't necessarily mean "good".

AR: What do you think about recent talk by some Bitcoin Core developers around reducing Bitcoin's block size?

PT:  Some? I think you mean basically just one, Luke. I think it's a dumb idea that's a mere tweak at high cost.

(Peter explained a little more expansively in this interview for the WhatBitcoinDid Podcast why he doesn’t like small block sizes: “I think his technical arguments for that are good, but I think he doesn’t understand the social side of that, which essentially makes it impossible.")

AR: When the bitcoin block reward eventually goes to 0, will mining fees act as enough of an incentive?

PT: Maybe? Maybe not? It'd certainly have been less risky to have some small perpetual inflation, or at least a Monero-like "tail emission"

AR: What do you think of the Lightning network? Will it enable bitcoin to become a widely-used medium of exchange?

PT: How widely used is widely used? Bitcoin is already a fairly widely-used medium of exchange amongst use-cases that need it - lots of services and people at risk of censorship use it, from Patreon alternatives to file hosting sites.

If you're talking about replacing credit cards and the like, it'll probably never happen.

AR: Do you think Bitcoin should incorporate some privacy features or do you think it would make Bitcoin less useful as financial regulators might then treat it as a privacy coin e.g. Japan's FSA's order to exchanges not to deal with privacy coins?

PT: From a purely technical perspective most of what people think of as "privacy features" are risky to implement, with a high chance of a bug leading to the destruction of the entire system. Monero has already had one inflation bug, and Zcash has had two (including the one caught just prior to initial release).

On the other hand, Bitcoin already has many onchain privacy features, ranging  from the UTXO model to various technical things that make Lightning possible. And on the second layer, having at least some level of privacy isn't just a feature, it's mandatory: without decent privacy you can't get scaling, as to scale you have to make transaction data less widely distributed.

AR: What do you think of the two most recent implementations of the MimbleWimble protocol (Beam and Grin)? If the community decided that Bitcoin needed to have these privacy features, what do you think would be the best way to implement them?

PT: I just don't see that happening for another 5-10 years. These protocols are just too new to trust for something as valuable as the entire Bitcoin system. Better to adopt them as additional layers, as Liquid has done.

AR: If you wanted to work with smart contracts, which of the existing platforms would you use? Ethereum, EOS, TRON, Rootstock (RSK) ...?

PT: They're all bad. Their idea of smart contracts doesn't make much sense for most applications. Lightning is currently the best example of a smart contract system in production, and the on-chain scripts it uses are trivial.

There's very little reason to have complex on-chain smart contract schemes.

AR: What’s your biggest criticism of Ethereum?

PT: See the previous question.

It's just not a model that makes much sense.

AR: How do you think crypto news and media could improve?

I'd say get more competent journalists and give them more time and resources to write articles. But realistically, where's the money to do that going to come from?

Bitcoin and Friends Episode 2 Addresses Silk Road, Bitcoin's Case to Be Sound Money

Francisco Memoria

The second episode of the popular show Bitcoin and Friends, available on CoinMarketApp, has addressed some of the cryptocurrency’s first use cases, as well as its current battle with the U.S. dollar and other fiat currencies.

The show’s second episode starts off with a character called Pal Fifty, which resembles Hal Finney, passing away before telling Bitcoin and his entourage they need ot seek the cryptocurrency’s whitepaper.

In a heartfelt conversation shortly after Mitalik Buterin, a leading character representing Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, tells Bitcoin its potential goes beyond money alone, and its father – Satoshi Nakamoto – doesn’t have to be the one to guide him. After some soul searching, we see Mitalk start to work on Ethereum (ETH).

As the story develops we see Jones, a car dealer turned drug dealer voiced by rap artist Petey Pablo, gets his power cut off. When he goes out to sell more drugs he finds his clients don’t need any. Later one, the show makes it clear they’ve ben buying their supply off of the dark web, through the now-defunct marketplace Silk Road.

The Silk Road was one of the first catalysts for Bitcoin’s popularity as the pseudonymous cryptocurrency was used to buy and sell drugs – and other items – on the platform. Its founder, Ross Ulbricht, received a double-life sentence for running the platform.

Bitcoin then starts throwing up more often small bitcoins, making it clear the cryptocurrency’s network is growing. In reality, more miners on the network mean it’s more secure and reliable. While the BTC network is now over a decade old, it has never been compromised.

Halfway through the episode we see Satoshi Nakamoto again. The cryptocurrency’s creator makes it clear to the Bitcoin character, while he’s high on cocaine, he needs to finds himself as “answers freely given are worth little.”

During this conversation, Satoshi gives Bitcoin four weapons: the Divisibility Dagger, the Portability Pack of Teleportability, the Shield of Durability, and the Sword of Scarcity to “cut through all the lies and FUD you will face.”

Bitcoin’s Battle With the U.S. Dollar

Nakamoto then tells Bitcoin he needs to “follow the light.” The character’s path sees him end up at a “Freedom Fest” in which gold and silver are used as the de-facto currency. After getting into some trouble, a general, Ross Fullbrick – representing Ross Ulbricht - rescues Bitcoin and explains gold and silver have their flaws, and that BTC is the future of money for freedom-loving individuals.

Per his words:

Bitcoin is the natural evolution of money into a digital gold standard. We don’t live in a physical world anymore boys. We need a means through which we can transfer value across the internet, anywhere, anytime, freely. Without the state, the religion of our time, impeding our freedoms.

What ensues is Bitcoin entering the “Economania,” an event that sees currencies compete for a championship belt. Gold, the Freedom Fest’s representative, never won, as it always loses to the U.S. dollar.

We then see the Dollar Bot beat gold once again. Bitcoin, using the weapons Satoshi gave him, which represent characteristics BTC has the USD doesn’t, beat the Dollar bot. The episode ends with a big bank representative receiving a call warning him about Bitcoin.

The Cryptocurrency Space’s Cartoon

The cartoon’s style seemingly resembles that of shows like South Park, Family Guy, and more. It has a sense of humor that can’t be appreciated by all, but has so far been well-received by the cryptocurrency community.

Contacted by CryptoGlobe on what feedback the show received, the show’s team noted:

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive for both episodes. We're thrilled to see that we have a very loyal and motivated fanbase and we can't thank everyone enough for donations, gifts of time and talent, and so on. This project is growing into a community effort and we hope to see that support continue to grow.

On where they got inspiration for the show, its creator, Uncle Chris, and producer Broccoli Rob, revealed they initially had an idea for an advertisement that would see actors use large cryptocurrency-related costumes. While that never happened, Chris later contacted Robert on an idea for a Bitcoin cartoon which “quickly grew into a multi-season outline [show].”

Featured image via Bitcoin and Friends, YouTube