At the Future of Bitcoin, the alleged Satoshi Craig Wright held a furious talk, which was interrupted by emergent eruptions of applause. What a show in Arnhem!
In the conference room in Arnhem’s WTC few people really believe that Craig Wright is Satoshi. However, the man is an enigma. There might be a tiny chance, that he really is Satoshi, even if this would mean that Satoshi has a fable for faking evidence. More likely, however, is that Wright is a con man, who is extraordinary skillful in spinning nets, mixing facts and lies to entertain the impression that he is the creator of Bitcoin.
But it doesn’t matter. Wright, if he is Satoshi or a con man, is brilliant, and what he does, this way or that way, deserves to get in the books of history. The presentation he gave in Arnhem, finally, was thrilling.
Actually the schedule promised Jon Matonis. Matonis, a large man with glasses and grey hair, entered the stage and shortly presented the company nChain; it will bring radical on-chain scaling and smart contracts to Bitcoin. Then he announced to do something nobody has done before at a Bitcoin conference; he will donate his stage time to someone else. To “the legend of Australia, Bitcoin Dundee; Mister Craig Wright.”
“There is no Limit of Demand? Good.”
And so Craig Wright entered the stage. He is a good speaker, at least one, who knows what to do on stage. He walks back and forth, maintains a strong glance, raises and lowers his voice, does rhetoric breaks, uses controlled, but effective gestures and talks with his own kind of rhythm, which transports a strong urgency. It is obvious that Craig Wright loves to hear himself talk.
The Australian knows very well what the Big Block community, that is meeting in Arnhem, wants to hear. And he is willing to give. He quoted Peter Todd who said, that you can not scale Bitcoin, because there is no limit on demand. Wrights answers:
“Good. I want no limit on demand. I want every single person on this globe using not altcoins, not whatever else, I want them using Bitcoin. I don’t want a shitty argument, people will use it, and it will be bad. Very simple. Very easy. Good.”
That’s it, right? That’s the thing we are all up to, right? The game is about creating hard, independent, free money and gifting it to the world. It’s not about putting the whole blockchain on any Raspberry Pi, “these wincy-cincy insignificant machines.” Bitcoin will scale, Wright promised, and those who miss it because their machine is too small, will be left behind. That’s no Anarcho-Socialism, but merciless Capitalism.
“If you had been in Bitcoin since 2009, and you can’t Afford a $20,000 Node to Help this Network – Piss Off.”
Craig Wright performs the angry Satoshi. In a sweeping blow, he attacked the Core developers for failing to achieve what he planned for Bitcoin.
The cryptocurrency is nearly in its tenth year. $40 billion is nothing. The user interface sucks. The IP-to-IP payment, Satoshi envisioned in the early days, is put out and not substituted. Instead of a merchant-friendly payment protocol, which allows merchants to secure zero-confirmation transactions by propagating them by themselves, they got Replace-By-Fee (RBF). Which is, as Wright puts it, “the biggest piece of shit ever made.”
His presentation gets exciting when he reaches the topic of quadratic scaling. This problem means that you can create a DoS attack on Bitcoin, by building a transaction which has many Signature Operations, the so-called SigOps. Such a monster transaction can, even with a size of 1MB, overload weak nodes. With a size of 4 or 8MB, it can knock out the whole network.
Wright says that quadratic scaling is not a design flaw, but a code flaw from Core. “It was added to Bitcoin; it is easy to fix.” He demonstrated a piece of code and explained, “BU and BitCrust and our team independently picked it and fixed it.”
Bitcoin Unlimited actually fixed the DoS-attack based on quadratic scaling. To do so, the developers limited the number of SigOps each transaction or block. This prevents attacks but does not solve the original issue, the quadratic scaling – other than SegWit, which fixes it for SegWit transactions. So, at the core, Wright’s argument is not completely wrong, but questionable.
But the alleged Satoshi takes this detail to jump to the big issues. At this point, he proves a thrilling, demagogic talent.
He asked, how many SigOps each second he can do. He looked around and answered the question; 500,000 each second. “That’s scale. And yes, that’s a $20,000 machine. Quite frankly, I don’t care about Raspberry pies. If you had been in Bitcoin since 2009, and you can’t afford a $20,000 node to help this network – piss off. And I will say that one again: if you will not do this, if you will not help the network, and if you will not take this thing that is given to you, financial freedom, financial independence, and help people, by spending a little money on a decent network – fuck off!”
At this moment, wild applause erupted. Bitcoin can afford to scale. Stop thinking so little.
“You’re all getting it wrong. Node count is shit. It has zero relevance.”
All this is just a piece of this turbulent talk. Wright jumped through the topics; Moore’s Law (is our friend), transaction fees as flood controls (like envisioned by Satoshi in the original release), the velocity of money (which scales the price), Sidechains (which undermine Bitcoin’s security model). Wright explains that Bitcoin is Turing Complete because it’s script system has two stacks (which is, at least, an interesting argument), and then he claimed to have run a self-evolving code in Bitcoin, which has been killed by high fees.
Shortly later, he presented one of these intriguing thoughts which maybe are typical for him. He explains, that all the models, with which the network is analyzed are wrong. It is not about nodes, but about connections!:
“It is the connectivity between the graph that matters. So, you’re all getting it wrong. Very simple. You do node count. Node count is shit. It has zero relevance… Bitcoin, the actual model; dense. There is a distance of 1.32. Small World. It is bigger than a small world model. It is not a mash. You send one transaction, in two 2.3 seconds, once it hits the network, 99.8 percent of the hash power has your transactions, it can need five seconds to reach every Raspberry, but that doesn’t matter…”
Why is this important? First, it is an interesting idea to think of a network not in nodes but edges. Second, it touches the block size debate – and here it’s all about it – at several points. It eliminates worries that the network might lag when blocks grow too big since a small world network is capable of managing high capacities without lagging. Then it weights into the long-standing debate, who is the king – nodes or miners – and how do you measure the importance. Wright’s approach dwarfs all those ideas that pump up SegWit or BIP148 by calling on node counts.
But that is not all. Wright uses this perspective to take shots against the Lightning Network:
“This is what people think it is, this is what lightning is, a mesh, with lots of little hops, central nodes, etcetera, … the mathematics behind Sybil attacks, any network with a distance of more than three hops can be attacked. That’s mathematically proven. Lightning can have 18 hops, not eight, 18… Bitcoin has a distance under three.”
Is he onto something? It is hard to say. Mathematically, he might be right. But also you have to take into perspective, that Lightning requires funds to open a connection – which is a channel – so it is not possible to spam it with pseudo nodes. Also, you can’t easily fake data, like in other networks, since you need to sign any transaction and any channel. So this argument, again, is not completely perfect.
A Mining Pool that Does Not Accept SegWit Transactions
Also, Wright bashed SegWit. One of the alleged advantages of SegWit is that you can better prune Signatures without harming the integrity of the transaction. But, Wright argues, why would you? Merchants need to keep the signatures, as they are a needed part of the documentation. “What’s the purpose of making something deletable, you don’t want to delete,” he asked. But also, you can add; why should merchants document the signatures of people they don’t do business with?
SegWit, Wright goes on, needs 400 percent of capacity to reach the same effect as a block size increase. Presented without context, this is nothing but a lie and the lowest point in Wright’s presentation. At best, it indicated that he does not understand SegWit. But he should.
Nevertheless, Wright announced to fight SegWit actively. He promised to soon launch a mining pool, with at least 20 percent of the network’s hash rate, which will not confirm SegWit transactions. So SegWit transactions will be slower than legacy transactions.
Also, Wright announced to release a Bitcoin framework with nChain. This eliminates the block size limit but introduces a flood control with fees. Additionally, nChain’s framework promises to build the infrastructure for shares addresses and new payment stream for merchants.
But right now, not a single line of code of nChain is available.
So, what now? Is he Satoshi? Or a Con man?
There is one thing, you can say for sure about Wright’s talk; it was excellent entertainment, tailored for everybody who finds themselves deep in the block size debate. Big cinema. Very dense, but always to the point and surprisingly twisted.
On the bottom of the arguments, at the floor of facts, Wright sometimes appears to be fuzzy or wrong. That’s why some experts say he is a trickster or a con man, someone, who fools people with superficial technical knowledge into believing that he knows much more than he really does.
At the end of the day, it is not important. Both sides of the story, Wright as a crazy Satoshi with strange habits, or Wright as a con man playing Satoshi, are fascinating. The man does something big and genius. And all this does not change that some of the things he said, are just true.