2016 May 3rd "Bitcoins : failed experiment or currency of the future?"
03/05/2016Bitcoins : failed experiment or currency of the future?
“Why BITCOIN matters” – Soriée Technique organized by IEEE student branch Leuven and FITCE.be
On Tuesday the 3th of May, the IEEE student branch Leuven and FITCE Belgium organized a Soirée Technique on hot topic “Bitcoins” at ESAT KU Leuven in Heverlee with some 50 participants, and two speakers who are top notch Bitcoin specialists:
Why bitcoin matters - Alan Szepieniec, COSIC, KU Leuven, Belgium
Before addressing the question why Bitcoin matters, Alan first went through the story of several predecessors of Bitcoin and explained why they did not see wide adoption.
Then he briefly introduced the technology behind Bitcoin and explained to the audience why both academia and the industry are so enthusiastic about the blockchain technology. He underlined that Blockchain is a security device who’s power derives from the fact that miners are rewarded.
The value of Bitcoin is recalculated about every half second.
Ending his presentation Alan provided some examples of its usage and talked about the current limitation and obstacles.
Safely upgrading the bitcoin network: why and how - Pieter Wuille, co-founder at Blockstream, Switzerland.
Pieter Wuille is a Bitcoin Core developer and the co-founder of Blockstream. He is #2 in terms of commits to Bitcoin Core and is responsible for important improvements to Bitcoin like BIP 66, libsecp256k1, and Segregated Witness. He obtained his PhD from KU Leuven Computer Science Department in 2011. Worked at Google till August 2014, until he co-founded Blockstream in September 2014.
Pieter explained Blockchain and how you have to solve challenging problems to mine, and have the opportunity to create a new block. Blockchain is designed to resist control.
On average a new block is generated every 10 minutes, and the computing power needed to do so is increasing steeply (on average 60%/month). If you find the solution to create a new block, you can broadcast the new block and earn currency (BTC) as a reward for having found the block. The mining reward is adapted to ensure there are never more than 21M BTC in existence. In order to secretly create a new block, you need to involve more than 50% of total (increasing) computational power.
Blockchain is a means for transacting. A long list of possible applications of Blockchain are given. Quite impressive, going from cadastral registry, stock options to management of IP, but Bitcoin will e.g. in the short term certainly not replace the Euro.
Pieter Wuille then passionately talks about the Blockchain software, and how the consensus rules and software could be updated without breaking the chain and network. It is easy to make more things invalid, but fixes that render unvalid things valid are very hard. This means that with every update, the operation region for new software updates is getting smaller and smaller. With OP_EVAL luckily a lot of freedom is created for making scripts that are backwards compatible. Until 2012, rules were changed and it was hoped that the majority of the miners would update, without means to check consistency in the network. Then, it was decided to ask miners to indicate they have upgraded the block version. The definite switch only intervenes if 50% of miners have upgraded. In addition to the consistency in the network, it should be possible to implement multiple upgrades proposed by different parties in parallel, proposed in random order. Finally, Pieter finally also refers to some very soon to be expected updates in the network: Lightning, MAST, signature aggregation, confidential transactions, zero-knowledge proofs.
Afterwards, there is a very lively discussion about the bitcoins, their value, their technology and use for everyday payments.
Interesting to note is that both speakers are convinced that Craig Wright, which recently told BBC that he was Satoshi Nakamoto, is not the inventor of Bitcoin.
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