I’ve been working in and around the field of Bitcoin and crypto-currencies for greater than half a decade. Believe me when I say I understand your desire to fully validate your own transactions by operating your own node.
Everybody wants to be able to give something back to the network, and in some small way, operating a node gives us that feeling of altruism. We also feel more secure knowing that we have a complete copy of the blockchain and can make sure that any Bitcoins we receive are real.
In the IT world, we have a simple saying: “You can have perfect security, or perfect usability. You can’t have both.”
Applied to Bitcoin, the people behind the #no2x campaign will tell you we can either have a decentralized network, where anyone can easily operate a node containing a complete archive of the blockchain, and every transaction is fully validated by the parties involved, or we can have a highly centralized network like visa/mastercard where thousands (or tens of thousands) of transactions are processed each second but we must trust a few large corporations.
I’m here to tell you that this logic is bunk. It’s extremist thinking. The reality is, we can (and MUST) find a balance between the two. If we force ourselves down the road of #no2x, we will lose more and more users to other cryptos that work faster and cheaper than Bitcoin. Sure, the price keeps going up. We’ve still got network effect working in our favor. But we’re losing it. If Bitcoin still had the nearly 90% of the market share it had when blocks started filling up, the price would be $9500 instead of only $5700.
Bitcoin miners are not the enemy. The largest miners have collectively invested billions of dollars in the creation of specialized hardware which can only be used to mine Bitcoin. Miners have the most to gain if the price of Bitcoin continues to climb. They have the most to gain if Bitcoin succeeds long term. They have the most to lose if it does not. Everything miners do, they do with the goal of making more money. They make more money if Bitcoin remains dominant. Bitcoin will not remain dominant if only a few more people figure out there are other options which are far cheaper and faster.
Corporations are not the enemy. They too have invested billions on developing infrastructure and services around the Bitcoin economy. They have less to lose if Bitcoin is replaced by a competing crypto-currency, because most of what they’re working on can be migrated to new coins. But there are still costs in migrating services and data over to new coins, and risks that the new coin won’t be as secure (because it’s not backed by as many miners). And of course these corporations have a vested interest in validating all the transactions they are receiving (since they receive far more transactions worth far more money). These corporations are motiviated and can afford to operate nodes that can validate an ever growing blockchain. So their nodes will provide a good source of truth for SPV clients. Even if you don’t trust a specific corporation, an SPV client can cross-reference information it receives from one corporation’s node with the information from any number of others. It’s a virtual guarantee that if a random selection of competing nodes from around the world all agree on something, then it’s true.
You should be asking yourself instead who the real enemies of Bitcoin are. Who does not want Bitcoin to succeed? Who wants to cripple it so that it becomes too costly or too slow? How would they go about doing that?
Are they going to spend billions of dollars on mining hardware so they have a chance of creating a hard fork? Sure some governments could, but for all the hardware they’re adding, there are competing miners who are doing the same thing with the goal of improving the long term survival of Bitcoin. This would be a very expensive attack, with little chance of succeeding.
Are they going to fight tooth-and-nail to increase capacity so more people have direct access to the Bitcoin blockchain while at the same time keeping the transactions costs and confirmation times to a minimum?
Or are they going to spend a few million dollars to hire a select group of influential developers, community leaders, and a troll army, and then have them steer development away from the blockchain and onto 2nd tier solutions that can more easily be regulated, while at the same time making the blockchain itself less reliable and more expensive, and also taking a shot at the miners by declaring them the enemy and changing the narrative to de-emphasize proof-of-work as the solution to creating decentralized sound money.
If you want to know who the enemies are, look no further than the ones who are telling us “No. It can’t be done. It’s not safe. Trust us. We’ll protect you.”