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Issue #478: bip-taproot

May 7, 2019
Marty's Ƀent

Issue #478: bip-taproot

Well, there it is. The first official Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) that, if approved, would bring Schnorr signatures to Bitcoin, among a number of other potentially great upgrades that - if combined - could help make the network more efficient, a bit more private, and more robust. This is something we've been covering in this rag for quite a while, so it's exciting to finally see a BIP in the wild.

This particular BIP from Pieter Wuille is a package deal of Schnorr, MAST (Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees), Taproot, and Graftroot, among other things. On paper, this is a package deal that would make the 2012 Miami Heat blush. With that being said, now begins the process of tradeoff debates, code review, and informing Bitcoin users about the changes and tradeoffs that would come if this code is merged.

While it is exciting to finally see a BIP for these improvements, I believe it is important to temper our excitement with a healthy dose of skepticism and adversarial thinking. Ideally, all of these proposed changes provide a net benefit in the tradeoffs department, do not introduce complexity or bugs into the codebase, and are able to be merged in one fell swoop in an attempt to decrease the potential for social friction in the future via more soft forks. This would be a perfect world. However, we all know the world isn't perfect, especially when it comes to software. Scrutiny is imperative. Rember freaks, complacency kills.

If this BIP gets churned through the gauntlet and comes out the other side with consensus from Bitcoin users, full node operators, and miners; I believe it will be the most important upgrade in Bitcoin's history up to this point because it takes the biggest leap towards ossification I have observed to date.

I am under the impression that Bitcoin could work as is into perpetuity. It wouldn't be ideal, but it would work. If the perceived efficiency, privacy, and robustness gains from the above BIP were to come to fruition, I believe Bitcoin would be at a point where we would be tightening screws instead of replacing parts.

Let's see if it makes it through the gauntlet...

Final thought...

A natural alarm clock is the best alarm clock.


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