Prominent Chinese engineer, blogger and investor Jiang Zhuoer has thrown support behind ‘Extension Blocks’ as a solution to Bitcoin scaling. In particular, he wrote today, Extension Blocks would overcome some key points of opposition to both SegWit and Bitcoin Unlimited.
Best of Both Worlds?
Posting on Chinese social media, Jiang said the Extension Blocks option is preferable for the following reasons: it follows a similar data structure to SegWit, and is also implemented via a soft fork. Perhaps most importantly, it avoids the trepidation many feel about Unlimited’s flexible block sizes by keeping them fixed.
Purse.io CEO Andrew Lee announced a working model for Extension Blocks in early April, saying “the quality of scaling proposals was deteriorating”. The concept was first floated by Johnson Lau in 2013 as “auxiliary blocks”. These header-less blocks act as a layer on top of regular transaction blocks, adding extra transactions by resolving them with one transaction at the end of the regular block.
Extension Blocks are opt-in, and also support Lightning Networks and smart contracts on the Bitcoin Blockchain. According to Lee, this solution does not run in opposition to other scaling solutions and is not meant to antagonize any current development team.
Why They Listen to Jiang Zhuoer in China
Jiang is well-known in the Chinese bitcoin mining industry. He has reportedly invested “millions” of dollars into mining operations, and is a frequent commentator on Chinese messaging services like Weibo.
He is also known as a fierce opponent of SegWit and over-reliance on Bitcoin Core developers. Late last year he stated that SegWit was doomed, and “will never ever be activated”.
Although Extension Blocks themselves do not oppose Bitcoin Core, Jiang often has. In a November 2016 article that was widely shared inside and outside China, he said Chinese bitcoiners mistrusted Core’s monopoly on Bitcoin protocol development the same way Chinese citizens mistrusted centralized economic planning:
“Just look at the history of Communism and the possible millions of deaths associated with it. A vicious fruit of a vicious mentality. Why in China’s Big Leap in the 60s we saw millions of deaths of peasants? Because they were restricted to their own land by the low level party bodies and the household registration system, preventing them from fleeing their land. There’s no option but to starve to death.”
He said he was confident SegWit would never activate, even with 75% signaling support. “Got an issue? Show me your money,” he concluded.
Additionally, he noted, F2Pool had signaled support for Extension Blocks and website BTC.top is running it on a test chain.
Time will tell if most bitcoin users (and importantly, miners) support such a compromise solution. Since many arguments revolve around the level of trust in the rival development teams, that could remain an important factor.
Do Extension Blocks offer a worthy compromise solution to Bitcoin scaling? Or is it just one more option to argue over? Let’s hear your thoughts.
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