the book of satoshi

The Collected Writings of Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto


Chapter 73

On Bitcoin XT

The last time Satoshi broke his silence occurred when a news article wrongly identified Satoshi Nakamoto as a Japanese-American man living in California. Whether that was the real Satoshi or someone who might have compromised his account at that time is unknown. Satoshi denied this claim with a short "I am not Dorian Nakamoto". 16 months later we have another post using an email address that is known to have been used by Satoshi in the past. If it is Satoshi, he states his perspective on the creation of an alternative Bitcoin software (ie: a bitcoin fork) called Bitcoin XT, promoted by Gavin Andresen among others.

The main issue regarding the fork originate on the issue related to the size of Bitcoin's blockchain. Each block have a limit in size of 1 Megabyte which effectively implies a maximum number of transactions that miners can record in every block. With such value, it sets a ceiling of around 7 Bitcoin transactions per second. There was no consensus on changes to the existing software, and in particular to the size of the block, as such, a few decided to create this alternative Bitcoin that will re-use the existing block chain. At some point in the future, a hard fork will happen where a set of miners and nodes will be running on the original Bitcoin software while the Bitcoin XT miners and node will be operating on their own network. If this fork do happen, any who owns bitcoins from Bitcoin software will also owns the same amount of bitcoinxt.

Satoshi felt disappointed enough about the situation that he published another post to express his view against this fork.

Below is the information provided about Bitcoin XT :

Bitcoin XT Fork

Satoshi Nakamoto at Sat, 15 Aug 2015 17:43:54 UTC

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.

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.

They use my old writings to make claims about what Bitcoin was supposed to be. However I acknowledge that a lot has changed since that time, and new knowledge has been gained that contradicts some of my early opinions. For example I didn't anticipate pooled mining and its effects on the security of the network. Making Bitcoin a competitive monetary system while also preserving its security properties is not a trivial problem, and we should take more time to come up with a robust solution. I suspect we need a better incentive for users to run nodes instead of relying solely on altruism.

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.