Amir Taaki was one of the first developers to start working on Bitcoin in the early days of the open-source project and is perhaps best known for his work on Dark Wallet, and his interest in the technology has always been political in nature. It was the use of Bitcoin as a political tool, as illustrated by Silk Road, that has maintained Taaki’s interest over the years.
In two recent interviews on The Tatiana Show and The Crypto Show, Taaki shared some of his views on the current state of Bitcoin. During various points of the interviews, Taaki discussed the power struggle for the heart of Bitcoin, the need to preserve Bitcoin’s core values, and his thoughts on practical use cases of this technology.
A Power Struggle for the Heart of Bitcoin
During both interviews, Taaki spoke about a power struggle for the heart of Bitcoin in terms of the developers behind the open-source project versus other entities in the ecosystem. Taaki described his support for Bitcoin researcher Peter Todd and the various contributors to Bitcoin Core on multiple occasions.
From Taaki’s perspective, the debate over Bitcoin protocol development is between those who view Bitcoin as a revolutionary technology to challenge the central banks and those who simply see it as a payments innovation.
“With the Blockstream guys and Peter Todd, I have a lot of faith in those people,” said Taaki on The Tatiana Show. “I was involved in Bitcoin since the very beginning, so I interacted with a lot of different people, I know what their personalities are, what their personal motivations are. I kind of think that most of the guys who are on that side have a pure intent, which is an intent for Bitcoin, not for their own personal gain, not to elevate themselves. A lot of them even existed in the shadows or even had the chance to gain power at different points but didn’t really fight to take power over Bitcoin.”
In Taaki’s view, those who are unable to make informed decisions regarding which changes to the Bitcoin protocol to support only need to look at the people who are supporting each of the various proposals.
“When you have a guy like Peter Todd who is on one side and then you have people like Gavin [Andresen] and Roger Ver and other people on the other side, then it’s pretty clear which side to support,” said Taaki on The Crypto Show.
“The developers who [have] worked on Bitcoin since its very beginning and got nothing personally out of working on Bitcoin — that work on Bitcoin because they believe in it based on principle — yeah I trust those guys,” added Taaki.
Taaki specifically mentioned former Bitcoin Core lead maintainer Gavin Andresen as someone who “tried to dominate the development process through titles rather than an organization of people and a governance process” due to his work at the Bitcoin Foundation. Some of the key contributors to Bitcoin Core shared similar criticisms of Andresen in a recent CoinDesk article.
It should be noted that the original Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) that outlined the governance process for protocol development was authored by Taaki, although it has since been replaced by BIP 2.
Bitcoin’s Values Need to Be Preserved
Although Taaki expressed his belief that Bitcoin had just transcended “one really big power struggle for the heart of Bitcoin as a technology” during his appearance on The Tatiana Show, the New York Agreement (also known as SegWit2x) was announced not long after the interview took place. There have been hints that some of the signers of the agreement are more interested in “firing” the group of developers that contribute to Bitcoin Core than anything else.
“What me and Cody [Wilson did with Dark Wallet] was — there was a side of Bitcoin that was just about [opposition to] the central banks and there was another side opposing that with different values to us,” said Taaki on The Tatiana Show. “Basically, we’ve managed to get over that, and those values that were at the core of Bitcoin have been preserved. But it’s not enough to simply preserve Bitcoin as it is or what it is.”
In Taaki’s view, the politics and philosophy behind Bitcoin need to be preserved on a continual basis, and those values also need to find their way in the Bitcoin Core codebase.
“It’s a dangerous moment because, if Bitcoin continues how it is, it’s just going to kind of meander around and then it’s going to fizzle out because it doesn’t pull people forwards toward something greater,” Taaki added.
Thoughts on Bitcoin vs Ethereum
Taaki also shared his thoughts on the current state of Ethereum during his appearances on The Crypto Show and The Tatiana Show. In his view, Ethereum is an example of developers going to their computers to escape the real world and creating toys instead of practical applications that can have an impact on the world.
“They’re developing a lot of cool toys, [but] it’s not really fulfilling a coherent need,” said Taaki on The Crypto Show. “That’s the biggest problem with Ethereum. I respect [Ethereum creator] Vitalik [Buterin] for his technical knowledge, but there’s no social knowledge behind it.”
According to Taaki, he has always stuck with Bitcoin because it has “solved very real, practical problems that face humanity now.”
“Bitcoin is a political tool to actually change the society, to excise these real problems at the root of the society,” said Taaki on The Tatiana Show.