On April 5 the former bitcoin core developer Mike Hearn came back to do an Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) on the Reddit forum /r/btc. It’s been a while since Hearn has chatted with the bitcoin community, and one could say he left the development scene a few years ago due to the vitriolic strife over the scaling debate. Hearn explains ever since the birth of the Bitcoin Cash network he’s been getting a lot of emails asking him to return and help develop the nascent BCH blockchain.
Mike Hearn Discusses Bitcoin Cash and His Project Corda With the Community
Mike Hearn is a well-known figure within the bitcoin community, as he was the first developer to author the Bitcoinj client a library that uses Java and connects with the bitcoin network. Further, Hearn has talked with Satoshi Nakamoto numerous times over email communications. The developer was also a contributor to the bitcoin core development team and he left in January 2016 due to the scaling debate, and rising network fees. Since then Hearn has joined the banked-backed R3 Cev project, and he’s been building a distributed ledger project called ‘Corda.’
Hearn has a lot to say about Corda throughout his AMA and says the project “scales a lot better than bitcoin, even though bitcoin could have scaled to the levels needed for large payment networks with enough work and time.” Hearn explains that this is possible because Corda doesn’t use the Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism. Corda doesn’t have a native cryptocurrency as Hearn says the protocol is an app platform much like ethereum so coins can be created on top of the Corda ledger.
‘Worth Considering How Frequently You Want to Hard Fork’
Hearn then discusses what he thinks about the past hard forks and even the latest May 15 fork slated to bump the block size up to 32 MB.
“Hard forking is an implementation mechanism, not a governance mechanism. Governance is a process, and often an institution, for arriving at a decision — A hard fork is just the software event that makes it real,” Hearn states during his scheduled AMA. “I note with some alarm that bitcoin cash is planning a timed hard fork in just one month, with no attempt to measure support or whether people are ready or even agree — The content is not going to be controversial in this community now, but a lot of organisations would find it hard to schedule and test a software upgrade on one month’s notice,” he adds.
There’s a risk that miners who do upgrade will be split onto a minority chain by accident even if everyone intends to upgrade, and have to roll back, making them even more conservative than they already are.
Bitcoin Cash Strongly Resembles the Bitcoin Community of 2014
Hearn then goes on to respond to another question and reveals that he thinks the bitcoin cash ecosystem strongly resembles the BTC community back in 2014. He tells the /r/btc AMA participants to “liberate themselves from just proceeding along the path Satoshi imagined and be willing to think radical, even heretical thoughts.”
“That experiment [Bitcoin] was tried and it didn’t work. It’s tempting to think that what happened was a freak one-off occurrence, but I don’t think it was,” the former core developer states. “I think it was inevitable given the structure and psychological profile of the community at the time. So just trying to ‘get back on track’ as I see it, is nowhere near radical enough.”
The developer says the bitcoin cash community does need to address methods to deal with certain conflicts. Hearn states the conflicts as being:
- Bitter, enduring conflicts between two opposing camps of roughly equal size who can never make up.
- Very different attitudes towards perceived experts, intellectuals, towards academic qualifications etc.
- A win-at-any-cost mentality by one of the camps.
- Different views on the validity of the preferences of the majority / “will of the people” etc.
These conflicts cannot be avoided but they can be contained and channeled. If the bitcoin community doesn’t establish systems for containing this conflict it will arise again over some issue that appears superficially different to the block size debate, but underneath looks much the same.
Hearn further states he won’t be joining the current developers working on bitcoin cash network and plans to continue exploring his Corda project.
What do you think about Mike Hearn’s /r/btc forum AMA? Let us know what you think about Hearn’s responses in the comments below.
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