Who and What Will Determine Bitcoin’s Destiny in 2018

Who and What Will Determine Bitcoin’s Destiny in 2018

The year of 2017 has been full of ups and downs for the bitcoin industry. And, as usual, the future of this cryptocurrency cannot be predicted easily. So instead of focusing on explosive value growth and forks failure, let’s better concentrate on people who stood behind the most prominent cryptocurrency and weak points in the sphere, as they have all the chances to determine bitcoin’s future.

Block Size and Forks

In the early November, the Scaling Bitcoin conference was organized in cooperation with The University of Stanford, which assembled developers, people in business and scientists from the field of the blockchain. During the event, the probability of Bitcoin Core optimizations was discussed as well as layer 2 proposals. However, as the javascript developer Ariel Deschapell points out in his article for the Coindesk, the participants of the conference ignored the disputable topics like block size and forks. In particular, it comes to the launch Segwit2X fork, which failed just a week after the event.

“As a result, and for better or worse, bitcoin would not increase its base block size. The incompatible vision of much larger block size limits for bitcoin would for now embody itself only in the bitcoin cash blockchain,” Deschapell explained. “This has led to many predictions that bitcoin cash and other alternative cryptocurrencies will overtake bitcoin as its block size limit becomes a bottleneck for adoption.”

Nevertheless, most participants agreed on the issue of the lack of developers’ education in the field.

Lack of Time and Professionals

Concerning the above-mentioned obstacle, the organizers of the Scaling Bitcoin also established The Dev++ workshop. Such famous names stood behind the workshop presentations as MIT's Thaddeus Dryja, developer Jimmy Song, Bitcoin Core contributor John Newberry and more. The course that they offered regarded the cryptographic basics of bitcoin as well as the theory and implementation of second-layer networks.

The workshop also pointed out at another problem in the blockchain technology which is just time. Dryja was asked whether a minor Lightning Network feature, which is a proposed solution to the bitcoin scalability problem, had been implemented yet.

"No. I had the idea over a year ago and just haven’t had the time to implement it... But it’s all open source so if anyone wants to make a pull request, like, please. That would be awesome. I just haven’t had the time," he answered.

The CEO of Lightning Elizabeth Stark played along with him, mentioning that the time is a real bottleneck in this case:

"There are 10 or fewer full time developers working across all implementations of Lightning. Getting more contributors and people building out the protocol would certainly help move things along."

“Lost” in Appraisal

Another concern in the bitcoin-related field is the appraisal of developers’ ideas and proposals. Bitcoin Core contributor Peter Todd once said: "You can never really know if something is secure. You only know when it’s been exploited and no longer secure."

It means that the only option which can show what finally functions and what doesn’t is the traditional method of trial and error. So no definite changes are expected in bitcoin’s foreseeable future unless there are enough of skilled developers who will agree on extra research in the sphere.

Though Path

Besides time and need for fresh talent, there is one more bottleneck in the development of bright future of bitcoin. Deschapell emphasizes that it is the intimidation is the biggest barrier for any student who aspires to master software development. But what each of them has to remember is that the most straightforward way for a developer to contribute to the repository is to review Bitcoin Core code.

“There is a very good reason for Bitcoin Core's rigorous approach to code quality, and achieving the knowledge level of contributors like Pieter Wuille and John Newberry may indeed seem daunting. However every programmer has to start somewhere, and it’s a massive mistake for aspiring blockchain developers to confuse the high bar of this single repository with the level of ability needed to make meaningful contributions to the larger ecosystem,” Deschapell stated.

One of the best ways for greener developers is to join projects besides Bitcoin Core. For example, it would be advantageous to join the currently developing Lightning network, which would use an off-chain protocol.

"Luckily it's a lot easier to learn how to build Lightning apps than to learn how to get involved in protocol development,” Elisabeth Stark pointed out. “That said, getting into Lightning app development can actually be a good entry point to learning more about the protocol."

Developing this kind of digital infrastructure is crucial not only for the bitcoin industry in general, bit for the developers with little skills too.

Brace for Future

No matter how Bitcoin Core or the Lightning Network is going to be developed, Deschapell believes that it lays with people, the artificers, who will determine the flow of the bitcoin industry in 2018.