🍴 A Bitcoin Soft Fork?

Bitcoin developers made their pitch for what's next!

6 May 2024 · Block Height 842,300 · Bitcoin Price $63K

Last week was huge for Bitcoin, and it wasn’t related to price.

Blockspace Media had boots on the ground for BTC++, a Bitcoin developer conference where there was a surprising amount of positive discussion towards a potential soft fork. Follow below for quick hits, charts, pods and an update on a future (?) Bitcoin soft fork!

Quick Hits

Chart of the Week

Bitcoin dominance floats around 54%, gaining on the altcoin market.

A Bitcoin soft fork?

Blockspace had boots on the ground this past week in Austin, Texas for BTC++, a technical Bitcoin conference with notable attendees like Peter Todd and Andrew Poelstra.

This year’s theme was “Bitcoin Script.” Or, what can Bitcoin developers do with the current script set up or a change to Bitcoin’s script to make Bitcoin more performant. In other words, a soft fork!

It’s been over 3 years since Bitcoin’s last soft fork with the Taproot upgrade. Since then it has been difficult to get broad developer consensus on what might be next for Bitcoin, meanwhile the Bitcoin HODL camp (AKA ossification) crowd seemed to have dominated the narrative. At least until this past week!

Devs do something! Bitcoin++ held multiple talks about bringing back older scripts, or even adding new ones like OP_CAT, OP_CTV or OP_LNHANCE.

The opening talk by Blockstream developer Rusty Russell set the stage, appropriately called “The Great Script Restoration Project”.

Bitcoin script has over 100 opcodes, but the orginal Satoshi client had far more which were removed for various security concerns. Rusty proposes bringing back those opcodes, requiring a soft fork.

Why is this a big deal? Bitcoin soft forks & hard forks are often contentious to say the least. Forks require broad support across multiple stakeholders in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Typically, a soft fork would begin as a discussion among developers but then have to be accepted & endorsed by a majority (or supermajority) of miners, users, other stakeholders.

developers → miners → users

The limitation for additional forks the past several years has primarily been that all proposals couldn’t even get into the “developer” stage. This is because developers haven’t been able to agree on anything for one reason or another. The Taproot Wizard’s we’re even able to make a board game out of the confusing rule set, AKA “BIP Land.”

Our main takeaway is that the discussion is actually progressing forwards for the first time in years and it no longer looks like a pipe dream to pass the first hurdle of “broad developer support for a Bitcoin soft fork.” Don’t be surprised to see additional social pressure for OP_CAT or another project this year as developers start issuing signet tests, bug bounties and more!

Blockspace Podcasts

🎙️ It’s Name Was OP_CAT

(YouTube) In this week’s Mining Pod, Charlie, Matt, Will and special guest Walt Smith of Cyber Fund discuss the talks from Bitcoin developer conference Bitcoin ++ in Austin, Texas, with special focus on new soft forks for Bitcoin that could bring more programmability on-chain.

🎙️Laser Eyes Stay On With Allen Farrington

(YouTube) Allen Farrington, co-founder of Axiom, discusses Bitcoin scaling, the role of venture capital in Bitcoin's ecosystem, his thoughts on DeFi, NFTs, and stablecoins, and the potential for Bitcoin to supplant fiat money. He also shares his insights on the ordinals debate and the future of Bitcoin infrastructure.

🎙️How to Build a Bitcoin Rollup: Citrea

(YouTube) Chainway & Citrea founder, Orkun Kılıç, explains how his team at Chainway is building the first ZK rollup on Bitcoin: Citrea.

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