10 years ago, an elusive entity operating under the psudonym Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the world to the Bitcoin network, a cypherpunk’s vision for an alternate financial system. But before the world could adequately make sense of this shadowy figure’s intentions, Satoshi vanished, and despite immense public and state-level scrutiny has managed to evade detection to this day. Since Satoshi’s departure, many have attempted to propose their own interpretations of Satoshi’s vision for a decentralized global financial system, some of these attempts include alternate consensus models, ‘smart contract’ functionality, special validator nodes, and dramatically increased transaction throughput capabilities, among many others. But what WAS Satoshi trying to achieve?
The most logical place to begin in attempting to answer that question would be in identifying what truly distinguished Bitcoin from its incumbent alternatives. Did Satoshi set out to introduce a decentralized alternative free of intermediaries and central control, or merely a contemporary continuation of the status quo? The question should be rhetorical, yet increasingly we appear to be witnessing a departure from this original vision. Too often we witness projects straying from this vision through forcing new features at the expense of network decentralization and resilliency. The desire to attract ‘adoption’ is all too often the justification for these antithetical sacrifices. But are their intentions sincere, or merely attempts to place lipstick on a pig in the hopes of attracting a greater fool? Is adoption our primary purpose? Should all adoption be considered equal?
History is littered with countless examples of great businesses, networks, and platforms that crumbled under the weight of excessive adoption, why should ours be any different? As Nietzsche so eloquently put it: “he who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying”. Adoption must occur as development permits, and not the other way around. To those so craving of adoption that they would compromise on their ideals, I ask: what is the purpose of luring users to a platform they are not yet capable of using? what good is a feature that would cripple a network? and what is the purpose of an alternate financial system if it is merely an inferior version of what already exists?
We are not here for a Silicon Valley social experiment. We are not here for more of what already exists. We are here because we believed in the vision of a decentralized financial system, free of the rent-seeking behavior and opaque central management that has plagued the systems of old. We are not here to “move fast and break things”, we must remember that code has consequences - and considered in the context of a global financial system, those consequences are substantial. We must grow responsibly.
Like all great things, decentralization is not achieved without cost. We must understand and accept these costs. We must not compromise.