While crypto fanatics have been buzzing with news about bitcoin price surges and Facebook’s introduction of its digital currency libra, the Bitcoin 2019 conference brought together some of the most significant people in the BTC community for a two-day event to discuss the current and future state of Bitcoin.
Among the conference speakers were Scott Stornetta, chief scientist at Yugen Partners, and Blockstream CEO Adam Back, the creator of Hashcash.
These two crypto scientists are particularly notable because they were directly cited by Satoshi Nakamoto in the Bitcoin white paper. At Bitcoin 2019, they came together for a discussion with Bitcoin YouTuber Naomi Brockwell about their contributions to the creation of Bitcoin and where they foresee the original cryptocurrency going in the years to come.
Stornetta’s Contributions to the Development of Blockchain
Stornetta co-authored three papers cited in Bitcoin’s white paper and was one of the first people working on creating a system that did not require people to trust a central authority. In the early days of Bitcoin, Stornetta realized there was a problem with recording transactions, so he suggested the creation of immutable records in order to track all bitcoin transactions.
“We’re going to not be able to know the difference between an old bit and a new bit, and all of the world’s records are going to be in bits, and that’s going to create a crisis of credibility,” as Stornetta described the problem during his conference panel.
According to Stornetta, he and Stuart Haber, who is also credited with the creation of blockchain technology, were struggling to solve the problem, so they decided to create a publication that would prove it is impossible to build an immutable record without a central authority. In writing it, Stornetta said they were able to figure out how they could build an immutable record with the use of a blockchain.
Back’s “Proof-of-Work” Concept
In 1997, Adam Back introduced Hashcash, a “proof-of-work” system that would help users of the internet detect and avoid spam email. Hashcash worked to ensure users were only accepting emails from others who provided proof that an effort was made to send the email.
The “proof-of-work” concept was carried over into the world of Bitcoin to enable competitive mining of blocks. By using a trial-and-error method to mine bitcoin, miners that are able to verify proof of their work and successfully mine a block are rewarded with bitcoin as payment.
“Satoshi made use of the hashcash idea to create the mining,” Stornetta said. “It’s easy to see in hindsight huge incentives were needed to kickstart (bitcoin).”
The Future of Bitcoin
For Stornetta, the future of Bitcoin is broad and diverse. Stornetta told the audience at the conference that he is a “fundamental believer” in crypto technologies and their ability to level the playing field.
“I am not a crypto anarchist, but I certainly am a crypto libertarian, and I think we are going to get the world that we want and that we deserve, we just need to find a path that leads from A to B,” Stornetta said.
Stornetta said he believes distributed ledger technologies will continue to advance and diversify in the future, and that he sees a potential for other currencies besides bitcoin to flourish.
“It doesn’t all just have to be about money, of course,” Stornetta said to the crowd. “I’m a big fan of the distributed ledger and how that can create quantization and tokenization of assets … I just think we’re gonna see such a broadening and diversification of this.”
“A New Paradigm”
Back also touched on the quick development of cryptocurrency technologies and the challenges of keeping up with the pace of new ideas and implementations of them, even for technical people. Back discussed how there are still areas of innovation that have yet to be realized. He further noted that blockchain and bearer electronic cash are new building blocks that have implications with smart contracts.
“Basically, it’s like picking up a new programming language with a new paradigm, and it takes a lot of people to natively understand it and reach the conclusion of what kind of conclusions you can build with it,” Back said.
Back mentioned the development of the Lightning Network and state chains to further his point about how advancements within crypto technology are being made at a rapid rate. He also discussed his reasoning for why multiple cryptocurrencies may not be a necessity in the long run.
“In terms of coins, I tend to view it as sort of like TCP/IP — that there’s one interoperable standard,” Back said. “Any kind of innovation can be adopted in layers or, ultimately, people can import Bitcoin’s UTXO set to another data structure if a new data structure is found.”
Disclaimer: Bitcoin 2019 was produced by BTC Inc, the parent company of Bitcoin Magazine.