Bitcoin: an Innovation or a Religion?
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Bitcoin is today the safest and most solid cryptocurrency on the market. This is basically because it is the original project of Satoshi Nakamoto, which best fits his vision of a decentralized person-to-person economy. Likewise, several of the most influential figures in the crypto space trust and support this project's quality, a fact that covers Bitcoin with a seal of guarantee:
“When I got into Bitcoin, I realized that the most important thing is censorship resistance. It is a new currency that cannot be controlled in any way. That's what gave Bitcoin value (…) It was great back then, the fees were low and the transactions were very fast. But that's not why Bitcoin is valuable.” - Charlie Lee, Founder of Litecoin.
"Every time someone is censored, boom ... they become fans of Bitcoin", "Bitcoin is for protecting their wealth, bitcoin (layer 2) is for coffee.”- Nick Szabo, a computer scientist, legal expert, and cryptographer known for his research on digital contracts and digital currency.
"Bitcoin is the most important invention in the history of the internet.” - Roger Ver, the world's first investor in Bitcoin startups.
Find out about the Bitcoin Revolution and How it Will Shape Our Future.
However, and despite this, there is one fact that cannot be omitted. Bitcoin does not measure up to several factors, specifically when we talk about its flexibility, scalability, and economy.
These are weaknesses that Bitcoin currently has. Not even the Lightning Network represents a definitive solution, because it is in a testing phase. The inventors of Lightning Network even recommend that it should be used prudently.
Check out the article on Bitcoin's Lightning Network, What Is it and How it Works.
This fact is so true that recently through research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, two researchers, Jona Harris and Aviv Zohar, concluded that the Lightning Network is vulnerable to attack.
The potential attack puts the funds of people using the LN at risk, taking advantage of a vulnerability in the payment channels in this network. Attackers would take advantage of the congestion of the Bitcoin network to prevent the closure of the channels and steal the compromised funds.
This investigation called "Flood and loot: a systemic attack on the Lightning Network," was published on June 15 on the servers of Cornell University, in the United States.
Moving forward, the Bitcoiners community must continue to meet and discuss the next steps to take if they want bitcoin to be scalable, the only way for it to be the digital currency of the future.
However, immersed in this controversy that dialogue should have as a premise, it is powerfully striking that when certain personalities of the crypto-cosmo make a self-criticism the Bitcoin, a large part of this community that faithfully believes in the mother cryptocurrency as the only option, is shown on the defensive and even on the offensive, a fact that leads us to think that Bitcoin is not just an Innovation like a car model, a smartphone or PayPal would be, apparently for many, Bitcoin unconsciously or consciously is really a religion.
Proof of this is that ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees made a fascinating reflection through his Twitter social network account on June 17 of this year:
A statement is fair and accurate. Take a look and judge for yourself. Erik Voorhees made this reflection without offending, instead to mediate between two points of view; the Bitcoin maximalists who oppose altcoins and the minimalist who embrace altcoins. However, from the responses he received from fanatic users and Bitcoin maximalist influencers, it became clear that criticism or self-criticism is not well accepted in the Bitcoiners community. Furthermore, the aggressive attitude with which the Bitcoin maximalists responded revealed that we are not talking about innovation, but about a cult, an ideology, a religion incapable of questioning its own belief.
Many people responded against Erik Voorhees tweet. Public figures such as Peter McCormack, Yan Pritzker, and Udi Wertheimer made the harshest criticisms, but most of these can be synthesized with the response of the software engineer Vijay Boyapati, who was the most forceful:
"I am sincerely saddened that the once-great maximalist has become a multicoiner, it is almost as disheartening as if you abandoned your libertarianism and became a statist”.
To which Erik Voorhees replied:
“I used to be absolutely a maximalist. However, as I watched the ecosystem development in many directions, and thought deeply about the issue of decentralization, and became increasingly confident in the future of Bitcoin, I was able to emerge from the dark and narrow cave of Maximalism”.
If we analyze it well, until then Erik Voorhees continued to respond with ethics and composure, until the creator of the Lightning Torch, Hodlnaut, broke with the little diplomacy that Voorhees had left:
At this point, Voorhees responded with what could be a summary of how the rest of the community defines the toxic Maximalism of Bitcoin compared to other cryptocurrencies. This, for Voorhees, has generally been a brake on innovation.
"Maximalism is a tribal religion. We are good, the others are bad. A kind of simplistic mindset that allows for the worst behavior in human society. Bitcoin is part of a decentralized tapestry of experimentation and innovation. Centralizing it under a monolithic totem is for dummies."
Already in the past, antecedents of this type have been raised, which reinforce the hypothesis of Bitcoin's Maximalism compared to other alternatives, that hurtful and religious behavior to which Voorhees refers:
- Galaxy Digital Holdings CEO Mike Novogratz said about altcoins, "they are a lot of garbage."
Arthur Hayes, the CEO of BitMex, one of the world's leading exchanges, referred to Ripple's currency XRP as "dog excrement" in disdain that it is at least worth more than zero. Although it is clear that XRP is not a good example because it is a centralized cryptocurrency. Yet, the comment was derogatory and out of place, giving it a horrible image.
- "BCH and BSV are worthless bullshit, says Bitcoin.org founder."
Does bitcoin have the merits to be the best cryptocurrency in the crypto-cosmo?
Bitcoin is the original project of Satoshi Nakamoto and the number one cryptocurrency in the world. Indeed, it is the foundation for other cryptocurrencies, the most trustworthy and credible, and has the most significant market cap. But does BTC really deserve to be number one?
To catalog the leadership of technology, the first thing to do is identify and analyze the merits that scientifically tell us why this innovation is the best of all, such as the safest car in the world, the best Smartphone, etc.
However, this is not something that we can appreciate with Bitcoin, since if we delve and analyze each of the factors that should make it worthy of first place, we can see that many of these merits do not exist.
An example of this is that many cryptocurrencies far exceed Bitcoin in various point of view:
- Bitcoin: Approximately 1 hour (depending on the rate).
- XRP: 3-5 seconds.
- Stellar: 3-5 seconds.
- IOTA: 3-5 seconds.
- Bitcoin: $ 5-6 USD (average).
- XRP: $ 0.0000020 USD.
- Stellar: $ 0.0000009 USD.
- IOTA: $ 0 USD.
Transactions / second:
- Bitcoin: 7
- XRP: 1500
- Stellar: 1000
- IOTA: 1000
Security and decentralization were almost the only two factors in which Bitcoin used to be superior. Still, this is already in question, since currently, the Proof of Work protocol begins to be questioned in various ways. It is accused of monopolizing crypto mining because pools and mining companies (farms) concentrate power.
Security is also questioned when even one of the most influential characters in the crypto-cosmo, such as Vitalik Buterin, calls such security into question.
Buterin believes that although the Proof of Work is considered safe, under this scenario, only the risk of an alleged attack is considered from the investment-reward business perspective. However, influential and notorious parties such as governments, are not being considered, or amateur hackers who are not only looking for money but a demonstration of strength and power.
"What about attackers who have a really big extra protocol incentive, or just want to watch the world burn? It could be the government. Or hackers who want to have fun. The criticism here says that we are assuming that we have these participants motivated by financial incentives. What if there are people who just want to break the thing regardless?"
Regarding the migration of Ethereum from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake, Buterin adds:
"Proof of Stake will make Ethereum much more secure and scalable."
Read the article on Smart Contracts, the Ethereum Powered Innovation That Will Change the World.
Buterin closed with a statement that answers the whole question of the conflict between the religious maximalists of Bitcoin and multi coins:
"Satoshi created a really cool, and now we can build great things on top of that."
This last reflection by Vitalik Buterin seems the most sensible of all, it recognizes how wonderful Bitcoin has been and all the history it has brought with it. It also reflects how the world of finance has changed, showing humanity a libertarian path and a philosophy decentralized, but the same time recognizing that Bitcoin cannot remain stagnant.
Solutions that could well adapt to Bitcoin, or better yet, the crypto-community, especially the maximalists, could allow the diversification of the market in decentralized cryptocurrencies. Adoption will not harm bitcoin since it encourages healthy competition between projects within the crypto-cosmo, something that can only be converted into improvements at all levels as it happens in all markets in the world.
Just as PayPal competes with Western Union and Payoneer, or Chevrolet with Toyota or Volkswagen, or Apple with Samsung or Huawei, this competition, far from harm, would result in the strengthening of a market and innovation that is optimized daily.
In contrast, a Bitcoin that is not optimized because it is blindly considered "the all-powerful", only allows for technological stagnation, a fact that can only result in Bitcoin not having sufficient scientific merits to be effectively the best cryptocurrency in the world. This fact only clarifies that the only thing that keeps it as the number one cryptocurrency in the world is: the faith of its followers.
Here are the reflections and change of vision of Erik Voorhees, from going from being a religious maximalist of Bitcoin to an altcoin advocate that values the benefits and virtues of other decentralized projects. He tried to make all members of the crypto-community see that the crypto-markets strength and future are in Bitcoin, and in the development of serious projects called Altcoins.