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NEW YORK (InsideBitcoins) — Although bitcoin is a P2P (peer-to-peer) protocol with a development process based on consensus, there are still a few people in the ecosystem whose words are taken as the gospel. People still turn to Satoshi Nakamoto’s writings when debating certain niche topics related to bitcoin, but Satoshi’s disappearance in 2011 left a vacant spot as the main figurehead behind bitcoin. This is where Gavin Andresen comes into the picture.
Andresen became the de facto “lead” of the bitcoin project after Satoshi’s disappearance, and the community tends to view him as the most qualified individual to turn to when it comes to technical questions about the bitcoin protocol. This position appointed to him by the bitcoin community is one that he often tries to avoid, but it seems that he’s stuck in the spotlight for now.
Andresen recently completed a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) where he was able to reveal some of his thoughts on the most pressing issues in bitcoin today. Here are some of the most important comments made by Andresen throughout the Q&A session.
Dismissive of altcoins
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the AMA was Andresen’s generally dismissive attitute to the altcoin concept. In a response to a question about non-financial uses of the bitcoin blockchain, Gavin stated, “I think the best projects understand that they don’t need to invent a new currency.”
In a separate question, Andresen seemed to dismiss particular altcoins based on proof-of-stake. When asked for his thoughts on the various proof-of-stake algorithms in the wild right now, he simply linked to a paper by Andrew Poelstra entitled Distributed Consensus from Proof of Stake is Impossible.
On a related note, Andresen seems to support the exploration of the sidechains concept by Blockstream.
Bearish on bitcoin toppling governments
Although many bitcoin enthusiasts view the protocol as the final tool needed for a state of cryptoanarchy to flourish, it seems that Andresen doesn’t buy that proposal. When asked about the biggest misconceptions made by the pro-bitcoin camp, he noted, “That bitcoin will topple governments and the powerful. Governments will do what they always do – they will adapt. Well, the worst ones will fail, causing misery and suffering; maybe bitcoin will speed that up a little and mitigate the misery.”
Bitcoin’s incentives for securing the blockchain
My own question for Andresen revolved around the current incentive structure for securing the blockchain. I asked if GHash.io’s voluntary decline in their share of the network hashrate was a sign that the incentive structure for securing the blockchain was “good enough.” Andresen generally agreed, but he went further, noting that the incentives are “good enough for now.” He also went on to say, “Suggestions on making [the incentives for a secure blockchain] better are welcome, but I haven’t seen any suggestions get traction and consensus.”
Coming out of the experimental phase
One last comment of importance in Andresen’s AMA was his stance on bitcoin as an experiment. He has been known to claim that bitcoin is still in the experimental phase, but he was able to clarify the three things that could make bitcoin an established technology. Andresen explained, “We need regulatory clarity, ease of use, and no-single-point-of-failure security. I think we’re very close on all of those things.”
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Photo credit: milos milosevic