Bitcoin Amsterdam Highlights Obstacles to Consensus on Improvement Proposals

Bitcoin’s core developers have long disagreed over Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs) to address the protocol’s issues, as was evident during a lively panel discussion during Bitcoin Amsterdam 2023.

Longtime Bitcoin developers Paul Sztorc and Peter Todd highlighted this in Amsterdam, with the latter being highly critical of Sztorc’s work in Bitcoin. continued development of Drivechains.

Sztorc’s LayerTwo Labs has been working on the BIP-300 for almost six years, which pleads for creation of layer 2 side chains that have the potential to solve several problems without requiring changes to the base layer of the Bitcoin protocol.

The ensuing, sometimes heated debate, with Todd speaking about Sztorc, highlighted the difficulty of reaching consensus on BIPs that could potentially improve the overall functionality of the Bitcoin protocol.

Jameson Lopp, co-founder and chief technology officer of Bitcoin (BTC), custody firm Casa, weighed in on the issue during an in-depth interview with Coin telegraph at the conference, saying the speed of protocol improvements and changes had slowed more than he would have liked .

This has changed somewhat in recent weeks with the emergence of new projects like BitVM And Spider Chain as Lopp explains, which leads him to believe that some proposed soft forks could well be beneficial for the future of the protocol:

“In general, I think Bitcoin should implement features that will improve its ability to be what you might call a crypto accumulator. Bitcoin is expected to enable features that will enhance the capacity of second layers.

Lopp adds that any potential “hardcore ossification” advocated by some maximalists in the past would have stifled the innovation that led to the creation of solutions like the Lightning Network that helped the Bitcoin network better process transactions.

“Lightning wouldn’t really be possible without OP_CLTV. This might have been possible, but really clunky without SegWit. And without OP_CSV, it would not be possible to have indefinite-lived Lightning channels.

Lopp was referring to CHECKSEQUENCEVERIFY (OP_CSV) and CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY (OP_CLTV) — two BIPs which were created to facilitate payment channels in the form of soft forks. OP_CLTV was written by Todd, describing a Bitcoin operation code that makes the result of a transaction unusable until some point in the future.

Lopp adds that while Bitcoin’s protocol may become static due to a lack of consensus on base layer improvement proposals, developers will likely continue to build in a way that does not require permissions:

“If it’s not possible to implement a solution that can be optimally implemented at the base layer at the base protocol level, then typically what we ultimately see happening is solutions that are somehow integrated in many cases.”

The Casa director believes that if Bitcoin does not continue to evolve, users will inevitably turn to storing and using BTC through a “handful of Bitcoin banks, aka custodians and exchanges,” leading to significant tradeoffs:

“So these are IOUs, right? This is not the future any of us want to see.

As Coin telegraph previously reported, Bitcoin supporters and analysts at Bitcoin Amsterdam 2023 highlighted the growing importance of cryptocurrency value proposition and the characteristics of hard money in a prolonged bear market.

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