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Bitcoin Takeover

Season 2

S2 E8: Giacomo Zucco on Neutrino, The B, and Bitcoin-only conferences

The second season of The Bitcoin Takeover Podcast takes off with a surprise teaser episode involving Italian BTC maximalist Giacomo Zucco.

Throughout the hour-long interview, you will get to find out more information about Mr. Zucco’s opinions on Neutrino and the security of Bitcoin, the efforts that he has made with the B in order to secure funding for developers, and the level of BTC adoption in Northern Italy and Switzerland.

Furthermore, you will get to find out more information about the Understanding Bitcoin Conference, which takes place in Malta between the 5th and the 7th of April 2019.

Enjoy this hour-long interview and expect many more surprises that may or may not involve Wassim Alsindi, Hodlonaut, R. L. Bryer, Chris DeRose, Udi Wertheimer, Pierre Rochard, Brent Philbin, and some surprise guests.

If you don’t want to watch the beautiful Swiss Alps visuals, you may also listen to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify.

According to the 5 Rules of The Bitcoin Takeover Podcast, this second season also pursues an artistic direction. This time, it’s about travelling via train and pretending the beautiful countryside landscapes. In this particular episode, you will be seeing images from a railroad ride from Bologna to Milan, as well as a trip to Switzerland.

Somewhere in the middle you will also find some touristic attractions from Milan, which is Giacomo’s city of origin. You may also find some moment of synchronicity, where the discussions are beautifully complemented by the images. In this regard, it’s just like listening to Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” while watching “The Wizard of Oz”: there are plenty of surprising moments when it all makes sense.

However, this season I won’t be presenting images that were filmed by me. Therefore, since I’m making use of other people’s footage, I feel obliged to give credit:

Tutto Treno: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou2efUpN8o8
Timosha 21: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq6nBBo1o5Y
Pasan Jayasinghe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH52hGy4d7E
Samuel and Audrey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5v1_xpcEjw
Vherra Serano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovhmsKMkU08

If you find this episode useful in any way, you may donate BTC to the following address: 3HLoX356C6VenMfhUJULb5oSZnrsM7LYyX

According to the rules, half of each individual donation is given to the guest (who in turn, can either keep the satoshis or pass them on to a charitable cause of choice).

If you prefer the Lightning Network, you may also send tips via Tippin.me. And if you’re an ardent proponent of Gresham’s law and would rather HODL your sats, feel free to donate $1 of your dirty Uncle Sam fiat on Patreon.

Full Transcript:

Vlad Costea (00:00:01):

Hello and welcome to the Bitcoin Takeover Podcast. I am Vlad. And today my guest is Giacomo Zucco. He is one of the best known Bitcoin maximalists who also embraces very proudly this etiquette of being a maximalist. And he’s involved with many Bitcoin projects like the BHB network. And also he took part in founding the B, which was supposed to be, or is supposed to be, I’m not sure what’s going on with it, but it’s an initiative to support developing and other projects that are related strictly to Bitcoin. And there’s a lot going on with him. If you follow him on Twitter, you’re going to see that he’s up to date with all the big topics and he has an opinion in anything. So that’s why I’m happy to have him here. And also I have interviewed Hodlonaut, not a few episodes before this. And he said that you are one of his idols, so…

Giacomo Zucco (00:01:02):

Hello to everybody. Yeah, I’m very grateful for this introduction. Hodlonaut is a celebrity now. He used to be a pleb like us, but after Jack Dorsey took the torch is now a celebrity. So I’m super honored. Uh no, actually the Lightning network trust torch was a very, very neat idea. Of course it was a glory moment for auto. Now when Jack Dorsey decided to step in at King, but also a lot of other, even more interesting moments, like the moment in which the torch moved from from a Western country to, I took the youth from the U S today to Iran in violation of global money capital restrictions, and then back from Iran to Israel, which is something great. And recently is passing over different I mean, Venezuela and different countries where a Bitcoin is actually forbidden. So the lightning that would torch is a w w was a great thing. And I and I paid back my respect to auto now for this very, very nice idea.

Vlad Costea (00:02:16):

Yeah. I’m happy to have you here. And I know, and I’ve noticed on your Twitter feed that you have quite some interesting opinions about Neutrino, and I don’t mean the company, which was bought by Coinbase and used to be part of the Hacking Team, which supported some authoritarian regimes. It’s about BIP157, if I’m not mistaken. And it’s people like Pierre Rochard who developed the what’s, that’s called lightning launcher?

Giacomo Zucco (00:02:48):

The node luncher yeah,

Vlad Costea (00:02:51):

He is one of the biggest advocates and says that it’s necessary for the development to carry on. So what is your take on this?

Giacomo Zucco (00:03:01):

So, first of all, even I had something to say even about the other neutrino, because this is a little known thing, but the, the neutrino I mean, despite the spyware company Neutrino acquired by Coinbase was actually headquartered in Milan in the same offices of BHB network. And they came to us in order to to be advised for an investment by one of our clients. So we had to do with them a long time ago, we decided to to to suggest our clients not to invest for ethical reasons. And it was a, it was fine to be proven right after a while. So, yeah, I have some interesting anecdotes about them as well, but getting back to the BIP instead and to enter the debate that is raging in a, in Bitcoin Twitter right now the point that some of us are making with us, I don’t just mean observers like me, but also after developers, like, especially Luke Dashjr the Bitcoin developer and Nicolas Dorier the BTCPay BTC Pay S erver developer and, and some other guys UDI and other people that the main point is that neutrino could be bad because it is too good.

Giacomo Zucco (00:04:27):

And this can, can, can look paradoxical, but but it will try to explain. So basically when Satoshi Nakamoto launched Bitcoin, he had the,

Giacomo Zucco (00:04:38):

An idea in mind about

Giacomo Zucco (00:04:40):

Way to to use Bitcoin of on top of very lightweight devices. And his idea was called the SPV, simple protocol verification. So the idea was something like this the light client will not verify the rules of Bitcoin. Eh, they would just get a blockchain block headers from from people’s and they will know that the block headers they received the are valid because if they are not valid, we will implement some kind of fraud, proof, cryptographic, and fraud proofs that are that are possible to prove even without having the blockchain. So some kind of zero knowledge proof in which you can prove that the transactions are included in blocks and blocks themselves are valid in respect to the rules of Bitcoin, even without having the full blockchain, unfortunately this idea didn’t work out.

Giacomo Zucco (00:05:44):

It was impossible to implement it for approves. It may be impossible in general. We still don’t know there are good arguments that, something like that could never be done. And so a guy that that is working and was already working since then, since a while for the R3 server private blockchain scammy company, this guy was called Mike Hearn basically implemented a different idea in which you basically don’t validate anything. You don’t validate the rules of Bitcoin. You just check that your transactions are included by some miners with with the hashrate majority. And if the miners are included with majority the transaction, then you trust that the rules of Bitcoin are respected. Even if you don’t check the respect of the rules yourself. So this was called the SPV mocking, I mean I’m paying tribute to, to Satoshi Nakamoto say idea of simple verification payment, actually SPV is really improper because it’s not the verification anyhow, you don’t verify anything.

Giacomo Zucco (00:06:53):

You just, you just verify that miners in majority are saying that that chain is is a heavier, but you don’t verify the validity at all. And and that’s kind of a thing that is they’re dangerous for the ecosystem, because for example if you remember when the 2X attack on Bitcoin was was ready to be launched, many people working for the attacker case, such as Jeff Garzik and others, they say don’t worry. We will succeed in the tech because even if a Bitcoin full node will reject our 2X blocks as invalid, all the SPV notices. So all the Bitcoin wallet that use this idea from Mike Hearn, they will blindlessly follow the heaviest chain, even if heaviest is chain is embedded. So it’s important to understand that these are, this is not actually the original Bitcoin security model that become security model is that I can use my node to know if a transaction is valid or invalid, and only if one particular transaction.

Giacomo Zucco (00:08:05):

I know if one transactional history is valid. Now I delegate to hash power, not the validity guarantee, but only which one of which one among the valid histories will be the one that I should take into account as fine up. So if you send me two different valid transactions, the hash power ,ajority is only used in Bitcoin to choose which one of the two valid transactions should be the final one in order to avoid the double spending. So even if there is some risk in delegating, this kind of, this kind of dynamic to miners, there is some risk because you can have a 51% attack and you can have double spending, but the risk is very low because the worst thing that a majority of miners could do with this kind of security model would be basically to double spend their own money with some blocks. So let’s assume that Bitmain get control of 50% of 60% or 80% of the network. They can pay to an exchange

Giacomo Zucco (00:09:09):

On a new blockchain that orphanates the other, the other block, and they can get their money, their own money back. So this is the worst they can do. And and it’s kind of problematic, but not really life threatening in for Bitcoin. 

Giacomo Zucco (00:09:26):

On the other hand, on the fake SPV model that Mike Hearn promoted based on bloom filters, if Bitmain has a 50% or 70% or 80%, it was actually close to control,ukind of 90% of hash power, where at a point

Giacomo Zucco (00:09:47):

They can change any kind of rule in Bitcoin and all the clients,

Giacomo Zucco (00:09:51):

It was just blindlessly follow this, this new invalid chain so they can inflate Bitcoin. They can create inflation, they can steal Satoshi’s money. They can steal my money or your money without valid keys. They can do whatever they want. Of course in a model with full nodes, that’s not the case. So this was a debate in Bitcoin for a long time. And a lot of people, were proposing to actually deprecate this function in, in Bitcoin core dysfunction is called a bloom filter. Basically a full node at listens to this kind of light clients when they ask for their, their block header without any kind of validation and the full node, which is validating will provide to light the light clients, the the block headers. So in order to trust the miners without any kind of verification there was some suggestion to to to basically turn off by default these option in Bitcoin core in order not to promote this broken and very dangerous security model. But this this proposal never really made it because mostly because people didn’t want a Bitcoin core developers didn’t want to break down compatibility with wallets using this very bad security model. So they decided to to not deprecate this puncture now enter neutrino

Giacomo Zucco (00:11:18):

Neutrino, and this new BIP is a, is a way better way to do the same thing. So instead of

Giacomo Zucco (00:11:25):

Basically, I’m asking for a full node to give you some particular parts of proofs that you need to know that your transaction is included into the habits, a block, a block at block header chain instead of asking that you basically have some kind of client side client side filters, and and that’s improves

Giacomo Zucco (00:11:48):

The privacy of these interactions very much because in the usual bloom filter their model, the privacy of the user was very, very bad because you have to ask it to other full nodes that you don’t know any kind of information about your your transaction. So these full nodes that you don’t know, they will know everything about your UTXO. So set and such a, of course you can mitigate these, for example, with the fake positives with with basically false flags. But after a while it’s very easy to there to basically to reduce your privacy with bloom filters. With neutrino, privacy is way better. So in a way, neutrino is a is a better version of Mike Hearn’s original idea, which is the, what is the problem? The problem is that being a better it is also worse because it could incentivize even more the the use of this practice over the over the use of full nodes. Let’s consider then there are a lot of people that I know directly that never really decided to run a full node.

Giacomo Zucco (00:12:59):

So, because running a full node requires that you have hardware always connected at your home, which is something that was trivial for people 10 years ago. But right now, many people, even professional professionals and technical people with a technical mindset, many of them, they don’t have a server running at home. They are just using the cloud computing partying, and they’re using cell phones and they are actually not running any server. So there is like a psychological barrier to start acquiring some raspberry or some old Android or, or a server to keep to keep running home. And then he started your full node on your server. There is like a very huge barrier. So many people I know directly were starting to they understood the importance of node, but they were actually procrastinating and procrastinating and procrastinating. And now they are starting to run full nodes because of lighting network, because the way the lightning network works is that mostly you need to run a full node in order to to to receive money and to secure your money in, in channels.

Giacomo Zucco (00:14:10):

Because if you just use a smartphone, you can use a model like the one of eclair, but you can only send money, not receive if you want to receive money. And if you want to secure the money in, in receiving channels, you need a full node. So many people that weren’t running for no one year ago are starting to run full nodes right now, the problem is that neutrino as a proposal is targeting specifically lighting network users with the, with the idea that finally you will be able to to use a Lightning network wallet without your own full node, because it was impossible with a normal bloom filter. And also it was very bad for privacy. But now with neutrino, it will be better for your privacy and more efficient than many other things. And so finally, you can use the alerting network without your footnote, which I argue is a very bad let’s say it’s a very bad priority setting to help people not having full nodes before we finish it helping people to, to, to run actual full nodes.

Giacomo Zucco (00:15:21):

So you will, you will speak with Pierre. Pierre’s Node launcher actually is a very good implementation in my opinion, because the peer will explain what it does better than me, but basically, well, what did the not, not lunch or does is it uses neutrino to trust their mind and majority only for a while. In the, meanwhile it basically synchronize the note from scratch and when the node is fully in sync, it stops trusting minors and it gets back validating everything independently. So the model of, of of Pierre’s node launcher is very, very good. It’s not a bad model at all, but the problem is that Pierre is proposing to have all the Bitcoin core nodes as a defaulter serving a neutrino client site filtering. And that means that while the model of Pierre is very, very good other people that may create a wallets, which are which follow models that are very, very bad, just like the filter, they can use the same feature to promote theirs, that as a fake, as fake security, as a security, see, of course, in which people think they are validating with SPV, but actually they are not validating.

Giacomo Zucco (00:16:42):

They are just trusting the completely for everything. The majority of of of the Ash power the, the, the random majority of minors there are, there are two considerations that usually people people make or maybe three consideration. The first one, which I would like to dismiss completely it’s that, well, you know, it’s opensource, it’s permissionless. So if you don’t like it don’t use it, but we will implement it in core any way, because because it’s open source, but that’s not an argument. Bitcoin core doesn’t have the obligation to include any possible feature because it’s open source. We should be concur. Reserve is already a little bit feature creep. I will say there is too much stuff in Bitcoin core. So adding more stuff is not, it’s not actually the best the best thing to do right now, especially if it is controversial.

Giacomo Zucco (00:17:36):

The second argument is that the only alternatives to this kind of stuff, neutrino will be custodian wallet. So people, instead of using lightning network, they just use a service in which other people use like a network on their behalf, just like tippin.me or a, or a blue wallet or Wallet of Satoshi. There are this kind of wallets in which you think you’re using Lightning network, but you are just delegating other people to use the, Lightning Network on your behalf with your money. So which is worse. It’s interesting because I will definitely argue that the the, the, the former is war is worse than the letter. Because when you trust some company for a custodian wallet, at least you, you know, or you should know that you are trusting somebody specific while when you are trusting the mining majority, the, the, the, the, the temporary mining majority, like with the bloom filter or neutrino, you don’t know who you are trusting.

Giacomo Zucco (00:18:39):

Maybe you think you are trusting a decentralized competitive environment, but actually you are trusting a hash rate cartel, like Bitmain or something even worse than it may in the future. So there, there are some points that may will make you argue that instead of a merging neutrino instead of of of the current bloom filter implementation, we should just we should just turn off by default. This kind of, I mean, merge neutrino instead of my current filter, but merge it a while off by default, and only people that knows what they are doing, they can use these these this thing, you know, to maybe get a better better security over a trust that node. So the thing is that imagine when you use Mycellium wallet when you use my Mycellium, what you do is actually trusting mycellium server for validation.

Giacomo Zucco (00:19:37):

You don’t trust them with your private keys, but you trust them with the validation of the rules of Bitcoin, but at least, you know, that there is somebody liable. So if neutrino screws up, but there is a, there is a strong reputational feedback mechanism against the, against mycelium. And that is not the case when you just trusted the mining majority. In that case, there is perfect plausible deniability. There is no body which loses reputation. If the majority of hashrate just follows a I’m invited rules and serves you with invalid rules. So it’s a very complex point. I really hear the arguments of the other sides. Neutrino is a great technology is a great idea, but what will be great, they will, they have to have Neutrino as a way to check against a known server. So if you, if you trust my Mycellium for validation, but then you also check that the majority of the hash power is also including the same transaction, then mycelium. Then that’s a, that’s a good thing because you are you are creating additional, so you three are trusting neutrino, sorry, you are trusting mycelium, but you are using neutrino in order to add a security. But if you just replaced my Mycellium server with that, the majority of hashrate, that’s actually a degradation of your security model. And it’s systemically very, very risky as we, as we have seen with the 2X attack. So I I’ve been quite long, but I hope that I managed to explain my position the better consistently,

Vlad Costea (00:21:15):

If I can summarize in very simple terms, lightning right now is the best thing that has happened to the Bitcoin network security, just because more people are pushed to run their own nodes, just to be able to use lightning. And if we promote BIP 157, not only that we are reducing the incentive for people to run their full node in order to have access to lightning, but we also open the gates to gain theory scenarios that might actually empower miners much more than we should be. Am I getting it right up to this point?

Giacomo Zucco (00:21:51):

Absolutely. Right. That’s the exact point, which doesn’t mean that everything in, in a BIP 157/158 is is a rise, the same risk. I believe the same thing in BIP 157, it use it in another way in as likely as different narrative will be equally beneficial. So if it was promoted as a way to check against some kinds of trusted, a trusted server, it would be not harmful at all and maybe even helpful. But the problem is just the narrative. People is pushing around the narrative that with neutrino you don’t need your full full node anymore in order to run Lightning network. So you are perfectly right. What will be the best thing to happen to Bitcoin? I don’t know if you remember, but since I, since I think 2014 or something like that, people were writing everywhere.

Giacomo Zucco (00:22:45):

We should have a way to monetize validating full node. Because right now miners are awarded about full nodes. Full node runners are not rewarded at all. So we should invent some mechanism to reward the full nodes. Well, I didn’t have to, or surprisingly, it’s very similar to such a mechanism we’d like to net, or you incentivize people to run full node because a, they only alternative is just to use a custodial. So yeah, neutrino if promoted and the, if perceived the, and the effuse as a way to avoid running full nodes could be even could be harmful to Bitcoin actually, which doesn’t mean that the technology is not great. And and and it, it couldn’t be useful if used in the right way.

Vlad Costea (00:23:39):

Yeah. I didn’t give it too much thought up to this point. I just saw some discussions. And I think the, the biggest critic that I saw on Twitter was Udi Wertheimer. And he was very skeptical of the idea. And I guess it’s normal to be conservative when it comes to something like Bitcoin core, which even modified to the slightest extent can lead to unforeseen consequences. And we should not just rush to good ideas and say, Oh, this is so great because that’s what altcoins do. And I remember, I don’t know who told me I don’t follow Verge the project, but their lead developer has pasted the code sequence in their client. And he unwillingly forked the whole system. So he created a fork just because he was lazy and he copied and pasted a sequence of code, and he did something wrong in the process. And it led to a hard fork, which is insane. And that’s not something that should ever happen to Bitcoin. We should consider everything very…

Giacomo Zucco (00:24:50):

We shouldn’t rush anything into Bitcoin, and we shouldn’t add too many things to Bitcoin core also because the problem with Bitcoin core is that it is a reference implementation that somehow defines the protocol because we don’t have a formal protocol for Bitcoin. There is somebody like Peter Todd who will argue that we cannot really have a formal protocol for many, many reasons. So right now it’s a, it’s, it’s a good thing to have different implementation of a wallet, coin selection, fee, estimation, signature systems and, and so on and so on. But if you think about the the consensus part is not a good idea to have different implementation, because if you have a divergence in different implementations, what you want is not that the system goes on, what you want is actually that that everybody stops for a while. I mean, it’s better to have a fault in the system that to have a split in the system, when you talk about consensus.

Giacomo Zucco (00:25:49):

So there was a lot of effort to reduce Bitcoin core to the bare minimum that you need in order to perform a validation following Bitcoin’s rules. And there was the the the Lib consensus effort. Lib consensus was the idea to have a library, to, to turn Bitcoin core into a single library, but Bitcoin consensus, of course, that’s a very difficult thing to do because kind of everything is, is consensus. Even the dimension of the database the blocks you are using somehow can influence consensus. So, so much that there was a, a an accidental fork in Bitcoin an accidental split, because there was a change in the database Berkeley versus a level DB. So so it’s difficult to do that, but we can, should be reduced, not really expand with many, many features.

Giacomo Zucco (00:26:47):

And then there is this this game game, theoretical consideration. I will say that the, the main critics are not just Udi, but also when not that they appeal to authority means anything about just to, just for sake of completeness. The main critics are also Nicolas Dorier. He wrote an article about a neutrino promoting this kind of skepticism. And Peter Todd expressed the same skepticism, where we were discussing neutrino during the Unconfiscatable Conference a few weeks ago. And the other one is Luke Dashjr. He was also very vocal about the risks of this of this choice.

Vlad Costea (00:27:28):

Yeah. And I guess if we get to the area of multiple clients running the same protocol and having different developers working on each client, I guess that’s what Bitcoin Cash is experimenting with right now. And they brag about having multiple clients and stuff like that. But it’s going to be interesting to see as an experiment, how long it takes until just one sequence of code goes wrong and they hard fork without even being aware of it.

Giacomo Zucco (00:27:59):

Yeah. We also had a very clear example in Ethereum with Parity and Geth diverging about, about some additional issues. And of course, Ethereum is supposed to have a formal specification, but the point is that the former specification was not really addressing that kind of disagreement between Parity and Geth. And so what the developers had to do was basically to to communicate explicitly and to choose one version over the other, which is something that especially in the beginning of a project can be done little friction and without without the huge resource of centralization. For example, in Bitcoin, when there was LevelDB versus Berkeley DB mess we had developers speaking with miners, asking them to let the invalid chain go in order to remain on the same chain.

Giacomo Zucco (00:28:58):

So at the beginning of a project that kind of, of coordination level can happen, but in the long run, we cannot absolutely rely on that kind of coordination. Imagine Bitcoin being an actual infrastructure moving a good percentage of of their, their, this planet’s wealth since years and years, so it’s some kind of well established rule. Then you have some kind of incompatibility between a different version of validity, and then you just have what? Thousands and thousands of former and current Bitcoin developers discussing between among them about which version to choose. That’s very dangerous because either they cannot coordinate and then you have an accident split or even worse, they can coordinate easily. And if they can coordinate easily, that means that they are a giant attack surface because then the government knows that that group of developers is easy to coordinate. And so it could be also easy to force or to blackmail or to, or to buy or to buy off or stuff like that.

Vlad Costea (00:30:07):

Yeah. It’s always delicate with this Bitcoin client that we’re trying to keep as pure as possible. I don’t think there is any easy way to govern it. I think definitely that there should be more developers getting interested in it and discovering the technology. And I appreciate the work of people. Like I think Jimmy Song is doing this kind of workshop to help people get interested from a developers perspective and coding for Bitcoin. And it also blows my mind I’m diverging here, but it blows my mind when I see that projects like Wasabi Wallet don’t have proper funding, even though they’re, they are very useful objectively speaking, they increase the fungibility of different outputs. You can have coins from maybe Silk Road, and there was that where mine last week, and they get mixed together in a way that nobody can reject them, which is very good, very useful for Bitcoin.

Vlad Costea (00:31:10):

You don’t really have user-friendly wallets unless they are custodial, or they belong to some kind of big company like Coinbase, which spends a lot of money trying to make it friendly. So it’s difficult in this decentralized economy, just because people are not willing to invest in something that they don’t control. You have companies that want to have the best product of everything available. And when you have a great initiative that actually changes something and maybe is useful for the entire space you’re going to see them struggle. And you even see that kind of situation with Bitcoin core developers who rely on donations just to be able to break even at the end of the month.

Giacomo Zucco (00:31:58):

Yeah. Yeah. You,

Vlad Costea (00:32:00):

You think of people like Barry Silbert, who made a fortune just by investing in Bitcoin and he’s in spending anything, as far as I know, he doesn’t directly fund the developers of Bitcoin, which made him millions of dollars.

Giacomo Zucco (00:32:19):

So at the beginning of, of your introduction of the, of the chat with me, you mentioned that the gain, my, my effort with The B that we presented in September at this point 5 months ago. And the line of thoughts that,uthat that brought me and other people to launch this initiative

Giacomo Zucco (00:32:40):

Was exactly this monetizing good projects in Bitcoin is kind of difficult because I mean, in general, in the open source, in the free open source sector monetization is not trivial because sure you can have one initiative like RedHat in which you basically you use your, your, you invest your money to help for everybody the free open standard, like Linux kernel. And then you offer some kind of services on top when the Linux kernel is everywhere. Like in like, like now on in servers or, or whatever, then you can offer some kind of customization support especially B2B on top. So this model, this model works kind of works, but it doesn’t work in an obvious way. It’s kind of difficult to to establish. And with Bitcoin is the same one it’s even worse because the, the, the best kind of application in Bitcoin, they don’t need any kind and they cannot have any kind of relevant center counterparty.

Giacomo Zucco (00:33:46):

Otherwise it becomes more fragile. For example, the example that I always make is the example of a Bitcoin wallet. You cannot yeah, you have a startup that does that, that makes a good Bitcoin wallet. So startups usually try it on on patents and copyright and intellectual in so-called intellectual property. And you cannot do that in Bitcoin because it’s, it’s against Bitcoin ethos, but it’s also against the best interest of peer review and, and security review. I mean, it’s a completely unsecured to use a wallet in which you don’t have a well-reviewed open source code. So you cannot, you cannot monetize it on intellectual property, so called intellectual property. Then you cannot really ask for fees or put the advertising banners in your wallet, because if you do that and you monetize aggressively people would just fork your open source code, then create another wallet which gets rid of the ads and fees, or just the hijacks the fees and the banners.

Giacomo Zucco (00:34:57):

Then the third, the monetization model is user privacy user private data. So you can have a, you can be Facebook or Google. So basically you, you don’t want monetize aggressively at the beginning, but you collect user data, but a good Bitcoin wallet cannot collect the user data because at the best of the best Bitcoin software in general is a software that respects the privacy of the users in the first place. So it’s very difficult to monetize and and you are right that we have making a lot of money in, in a few kind of in a very few sectors like exchanges, for example, and these, they usually don’t give back much to the open source community so far. So it’s a, it’s kind of sad to see that you mentioned Wasabi.

Giacomo Zucco (00:35:45):

It’s crazy that something as important as Wasabi has problems to to fund developers, it’s also crazy that something as important as BTCPay server has problem to find the developers something like the liberal initiative to create an open source library for Bitcoin. Something like AB core made by Lawrence Nahum, which is a way to run your own a full validating Bitcoin core node on your Android smart TV or, or cell phone. So it’s a very important project, or again, lib consensus that we mentioned before, or a procedure set to, for, to do save your multisig storage All this stuff there is no money to fund it, which is a, which is kind of sad and, and problematic. So the B initiative was created exactly in order to try to, if not solve, at least mitigate this problem. I have to say that after five months of effort, since the presentation in Riga we are finding a lot of very serious legal problems to run something like the B I will we will probably come around these problems, but just to explain you what I’m talking about.

Giacomo Zucco (00:36:59):

So right now they are, our goal is to accept donations from established legal entities, like I don’t know an exchange or, or, or a VC company or, or whatever, or, or a financial incumbent. So these these incorporated legal entity has to give money to the foundation. And the foundation has to do basically bounties for developers that will do something important to the ecosystem. So for example, whoever helps Wasabi or BTC pay, or Lib consensus, or the glacier protocol or whatever, they are opentimestamps. So they get this Bitcoin from the foundation as a reward, as a bounty. The problem is that what lawyers told us after the first months of optimism was that the basically we should as a foundation, we will have the obligation to KYC completely the developers, because in theory, let’s assume that you have the company Alice that donates one million dollars for the development of Open Time Stamps or Lib wallet library.

Giacomo Zucco (00:38:19):

So now you have a, the foundation giving a $1 million to these key users that are pseudonymous developers or, or, or,unot so pseudonymous, but anyway, the non KYC developers developing for,ufor these libraries. Ubut what if it turns out that that was just a way for the company Alice to pay the employee Bob uwhile,uwhile avoiding,usocial security taxes and other forms of taxation. So, as you can see, that’s kind of tricky. And a while in some, during September the lawyers, we were in contact with the elitist, and we’re very optimistic about this. It turned out that it’s very difficult to,uto be able to, to,uto gather donations from,ulegal,uparties,uand to,uto give this donation to non KYC entities. And of course, I don’t want to spend my time doing KYC of developers of Bitcoin.

Giacomo Zucco (00:39:20):

I even think that the, the best configuration would be one in which the majority of Bitcoin developers are pseudonymous, Satoshi style. So it’s very antitethic to my, to my idea, to be forced to KYC developers. It’s very, it’s very it’s a, it’s a mess. Of course there, there are some work around, for example, we could just open source the, the website of the B that we built in the last month. And we could have a project exposing Bitcoin, address it directly, and people will be donating Bitcoin directly to them. So in that case, we are just basically a website, a connecting bounty offers with bounty seekers. But the problem with that is that you, I mean, that could work, but I have this, the suspect I’m afraid that it will not be a lot of money because if you are a legal entity or you can donate and write off the donation from your balance sheet, then you can justify the output of money.

Giacomo Zucco (00:40:25):

And actually you can have tax benefits because that’s a donation. But if you if you’d have to send Bitcoin directly to not KYC individuals without any kind of legal entity in the middle, then you cannot write it off as a donation from your balance sheets. And so we will just have a, like a anonymous hodlers donating to anonymous developers, which is fine. It’s very cypherpunk, but it’s also probably not a lot of stuff, not a lot of money. If I, I mean, I would imagine that right now, if I ask the anonymous Bitcoin holders to fund directly some pseudonymous Bitcoin developers, maybe this website would would facilitate the exchange offer $10,000 a year or something like that. With the actual idea of the B to be able to acquire donation from established legal entities, we could probably hope to get something like $1 million a year, which will be way more interesting, but very, very difficult.

Giacomo Zucco (00:41:31):

So right now we are discussing with a BTC pay guy in order to try to move the idea from Lichtenstein to Japan. And I have some contacts with some people in Geneva that are expert of NGO, because if you think about that, what I mean, think about the red cross, what the red cross does is basically getting donation from a legal entities and giving free stuff and free money to people without any kind of KYC. So in theory, it should be possible, but of course, when there is Bitcoin involved, everything is kind of a more, a more dangerous and more delicate. And especially since this is what this is not for profit project for me. So I will not keep a fee of the donation for me. I would just I will give to developers all the money that we receive in the foundation.

Giacomo Zucco (00:42:21):

I mean it’s okay for me to help the ecosystem, but to carry over me all the legal risk of money laundering investigations and of KYC obligation and, and all the red for free is probably not the kind of fun that I like to have. So my, at this point speaking with the other promoters of the B, we decided that before the next Baltic Honeybadger conference, since the idea of the B started informally during a dinner in a Baltic HoneyBager 2017, and then we announced publicly the actual the actual start of the, of the words to make it a real in a Baltic Honeybadger 2018. I think that before Baltic Honeybadger 2019, we will either deliver some big donation to some project or just publishing postmortem explaining why that’s not possible or, or, or not convenient for us. So we’re still in, we’re still not out of the woods with that, but I agree with you that it’s a, it’s one of the most important things in the ecosystem right now to be able to bridge money and good project right now, bad projects can access money very easily, like launching a scammy ICO or launching an altcoin or promoting scams while legit projects, they have a very hard time to get access to some funding.

Vlad Costea (00:43:57):

Also. I think even though the technologies can be really great, we have trouble implementing a great user experience that is easy to understand and easy to use by anyone. And I remember the first time when I tried Wasabi Wallet, that I was a little bit scared, you know, when you, when you put some Bitcoins in there and it just takes them away, and that sends it back to you in small amounts, it’s frightening to see your savings, basically just being run around in a system like that. It was a strange experience.

Giacomo Zucco (00:44:32):

Yeah, there is a urban legend that Bitcoin developers are usually against the good UX. There is some, there could be some some truth in this legend, meaning that very expert developers which are very very professional and advanced about cybersecurity and and open source development. They usually don’t even remember how it feels to be a user without any kind of technical understanding. So it’s difficult for for a good computer science guy to understand the very bad, the knowledge of a, of a random user. So if you are a common line guy with your server up for you to install a wasabi is a, probably a matter of 10 minutes, but if you, if you have to promote Wasabi for a guy that doesn’t have any server at home at all, so they have to install Linux from scratch just around or in this, in this case windows just to run the staff.

Giacomo Zucco (00:45:37):

And then they have to to, to rely on a, on, on a good graphical interface, because they don’t know how to use the command line. So it’s difficult for, I mean, th th the better developer you are on the fundamental things like security, and, and then performance is usually the worst you are for for simple UX, but there is also another other consideration to do to have a bad that UX in this sense for dangerous stuff is kind of good. In my opinion, we, we, we go back to to incentive models and game theory, like, like with Neutrino. So if you have to move an important amount of Bitcoins into some kind of conjoin or Chaumian CoinJoin in wasabi, for example, it’s good that you are scared, so you don’t have to feel it as a very simple, easy, faster, seamless experience.

Giacomo Zucco (00:46:33):

You should be concerned focused. You should read what you’re doing. You should be you should filter out people among people, people that know what they are doing with that. Otherwise people would just lose a lot of money. So for fundamental security, critical activities is kind of good that we don’t have any kind of super easy UX yet, because we don’t want people to be incentivized to shoot in their own feet yet. It will be easier when the, the gradually the, the awareness and education will spread a little bit more, but right now it’s better if you don’t do something, if you don’t know what you are doing in this sense Lightning network is a, is again, one of the best thing that happened to the ecosystem, because in Lightning network by definition, it is a, it is a deprecated today. I did the idea, and

Giacomo Zucco (00:47:30):

Even it’s even like unfeasible to, to put a lot of money into your payment channel. So there is like a natural protection against the against losing a lot of money. And and even in the typical use cases for Lightning network little payments, a fast payments like if you want to play with Satoshi’s place and, and buy some some some pixels you can just fire up your your Lightning network, but you don’t put there a lot of money. So many kinds of UX experiments, they were dangerous from a game theoretical point of view to support with Onchain Bitcoin, because people were going to lose a lot of money. They are not reckless anymore to support in the context of the Lightning network beta, because we all know that it’s a beta, and we all know that we shouldn’t, we even can’t put a lot of money in, in in Lightning channel.

Giacomo Zucco (00:48:31):

So, for example, I remember using for as an experiment, the metamask wallet for Ethereum. I don’t know why I probably, it was like one year ago or something like that. I use meta mask extension for Chrome, and it was a great user experience. And I remember talking with Bitcoin experts and developers, and, and I was like, I mean, why couldn’t you just create a wallet, a browser extension, a Chrome extension, this easy, like meta mask. I mean, all this Ethereum dapp, pseudo decentralized application with a web web web tree or something like that, we could just have a simple centralized website, maybe over top of their own Tor. And we could just start, we could just have a Chrome extension in which we paid to the to the website in a seamless way, in an easy way. And people were answering me well, you know, that would be bad because a lot of people will lose money because a Chrome extensions are not safe.

Giacomo Zucco (00:49:35):

And they in general JavaScript website that they should be activated when you use Tor. So there is a, there is a lot of problems of security, but now that we have Lightning network in the context of the Lightning network, people created the Joule Chrome extension, which is pretty close to a meta mask Ethereum extension. I mean, I wouldn’t even say it’s somehow is inspired by MetaMask in a good way. But now you can experiment with this kind of low security toys and tools, because you are in a context with like the network in which you shouldn’t play with a lot of money by, by default, by design. So you can afford to lose some money and you can afford to centralize a little bit. You can afford to, to make it not really censorship resistant. You, you can you can experiment with trade off more on second layer and even more on third and fourth layer, then you can do on the first layer on first layer, you have to privilege a security decentralization, political independence, censorship resistant and on the, on the, on the upper layers, you can experiment more with a good UX, faster, cheaper and even if you go more risky or more reckless or more centralized, so you are right about the UX.

Giacomo Zucco (00:51:00):

But I think that we are seeing a lot of good UX experiment with lighting that we are not seeing with with the, the layer one. Of course Wasabi is not really one of them because in Wasabi you can put a significant amount of money into a Chaumian CoinJoin. So that’s a scary thing, and it should be a scary thing to do. Uso it’s a, it’s a reasonable, that was, I be still kind of scary to use.

Vlad Costea (00:51:31):

I think I have three more questions for you and given the agreement that we have made that they should last an hour, maybe that it’s a good idea to present them in a sequence and allow you to answer whichever you prefer in the time that we still have. So that I don’t just ask one and end up discussing that for 15 minutes. So usually I ask my guests what it’s like to be a Bitcoin or in your country. And if you can actually survive with only Bitcoin for maybe a week or a month, if you can spend it anywhere. The second question is about your opinion on lightning becoming too dependent on companies that are centralized and how you view this whole idea that at the end of the day, it’s going to be about Casa competing with Nodl competing, maybe with a company that Pierre Rochard creates. And they’re going to be like the Apples and the Microsofts of the second layer of Bitcoin. And the last question is about your involvement. If you have any conferences that you’re attending and projects that you want to promote, because at the end of the day, you’re spending a whole hour here talking to me, and you should at least have this benefit of promoting your work.

Giacomo Zucco (00:52:49):

Thank you. Sure. So let’s start with the first to define, which is my country right now is pretty complex because I live in Switzerland right now since one year, not in Italy anymore. I spent more, most of my personal and professional life in Italy. So if I have to talk with you about Italy first, it’s kind of a, it’s kind of difficult to live only on Bitcoin there with there is a very low merchant adoption inside the country with with a very few, a remarkable exception. One exception is the so called Bitcoin Valley, which is, is a isn’t the North East of Italy and a little city called Rovereto. And if you go to Rovereto, you can spend Bitcoin directly, even with Lightning to buy food everywhere to to buy gas at the gas station. You can even spend Bitcoin inside the Apple, the official Apple store to buy Apple products, because there was like a, the work of visa startup called the inBitcoin, and they made a wonderful work into making Bitcoin locally accepted.

Giacomo Zucco (00:53:54):

There is a bar which pays the employees in Bitcoin, and the employees are spending Bitcoin in the local in local mall and the mall accept Bitcoin to use the Bitcoin to pay for the, for the for the cross provider of the, of the goods. And so there is a sequel, which is great. There are other very few exceptions, like in Rome you can actually pay taxes with Bitcoin and thanks to a startup called Chainside. But in general, I will say it’s very difficult to live on Bitcoin only. Of course if you, if by Bitcoin only your, your, you mean that you don’t use a card that I carry out automatically Bitcoin paid the credit card, like Wirex or Xapo. In Switzerland it’s a little bit better in Zurich area and Zug.

Giacomo Zucco (00:54:47):

Zug is the crypto Valley, which is mostly fake. I mean, it’s just just a PR stand in many regards, but there is a really some kind of a, of easy acceptance. So it’s kind of easy to spend Bitcoin while it’s more difficult in the part of this Switzerland I live in, which is Ticino. Uh the Southern Italian part of Switzerland, where there is a, what is it it’s I mean, the, the city is even accepting taxes in Bitcoin directly. So there is a there, I mean, there are more events in Italy, for sureStill the point of Bitcoin, if you have any alternative so if you have any fiat money, income, and I think that the, I mean, it’s reasonable to assume that many of us are still have some kind of fiat money income.

Giacomo Zucco (00:55:41):

If that’s the case, probably you should spend the fiat money first. Bitcoin is not really conceived to be used mainly in a brick and mortar face-to-face businesses in which you can just use a fiat instead, a, I mean, even if you are in a, in a broken economy like Venezuela, and you have to buy coffee in Venezuela, okay. Maybe the economy’s broken, but if you have Bolivars, you prefer to spend bolivars for buying the coffee. And if you don’t have bolivars anymore, because your bolivars are just worthless because of inflation. Then maybe if you are buying a coffee in Venezuela, you should use the us dollar system. The problem of the us dollar cash in ministry is that you cannot store them efficiently in order to protect the wealth of your family.

Giacomo Zucco (00:56:30):

In that case, you need Bitcoin, or you cannot bring US dollars in cash with bags outside Venezuela if you are running away. So for that, you need Bitcoin, you cannot smuggle in dollar cash for for political activists inside Venezuela. So you need Bitcoin for that, but for a face to face normal coffee purchases I’m skeptical that we really need this use Bitcoin. The only cases in which you need to use Bitcoin to buy coffee is when you don’t have anything as in Bitcoin, but this is why the very, I mean, I respect people that are so committed to be all in, literally, but that might mean my wealth is in Bitcoin and just Bitcoin, but my monthly income is partly in fiat. So I, I had to spend fiat first.

Giacomo Zucco (00:57:23):

So it’s not really an issue for me to spend Bitcoin everywhere. I try to save Bitcoin and to spend fiat whatever I can. So the second question was about the centralization risk in Lightning network because of the new the new idea of, for the pre pre bootstrapped Bitcoin full node, like like Node Launcer and Casa and Nodl, and soon enough probably dojo from from Samourai and so on. So I think that I’m kind of optimistic about this because the, the sheer fact that we are already mentioning a lot of competitors in this kind of relatively, super early stage business, which is selling pre-charged full nodes, it’s kind of reassuring. Also getting back to the discussion we had about Neutrino, I prefer that the user trusts Casa hold, knowing that they are trusting Casa Hodl, then the user is trusting an unknown hashrate majority without even knowing who is in control of this hashrate majority right now.

Giacomo Zucco (00:58:40):

So it’s a less dangerous to trust one specific company then to trust a generic hashrate majority systemically, less dangerous, even if easier to sensor locally. So the, the problem is that it would be a problem. I mean, if if Samsung, for example, or Apple started to take a 90% of the market of hardware full nodes, or maybe Intel, or, or even maybe, I don’t know, Ledger or, or some Bitcoin company started to get the, the irrelevant majority of full nodes running on their pre-bootstraped systems, then I think it will become scary. Of course the best thing would be to to have companies providing open source software that you can eventually check against some kind of proof. So if you receive a for example a box from Casa, but you can check which kind of code is running on eater against some kind of open source repository, maybe with a remote, a remote at the station or a defensive mechanism like that.

Giacomo Zucco (00:59:52):

That would be a great improvement. Also, it’s important that we, we do have, yeah, but these kinds of businesses making make it easier to run full nodes, but also some strategy to to run for nodes with totally commodity hardwar., For example, right now, one of your option to Ryan to run a full node is called AB Core, as I was saying before. So you just buy an Android TV, a smart TV, and you run a AB Core on Android. And so or, or you, you just buy an older cell phone with Android, you put an SD card with a good, with a good memory space on this older cell phone. You plug in the cell phone to electricity and connect it to wifi. And now you can run a full node at home in your old cell phone and use your actual cell phone to connect to your full node.

Giacomo Zucco (01:00:45):

So that’s good enough. Unfortunately, you cannot yet do it with lighting. There is not an Android version for a Lightning node yet, but I know the Lawrence of Green address is working. Of course, it’s not a for profit business, so they are doing that in the spare time, but they are willing to work on a Android version, c-lighting. That would be great. Of course, the third strategy of mitigation that you can use is a, is not trustless software but at least provably honest or auditable software. So even if you cannot guarantee that today, Casa node, for example, is doing what they say they are doing software-wise. It’s good that you can open it up and and, and check. I mean people can open it up a raspberry PI and check the actual core software running on it against against some kind of promises from, from the company.

Giacomo Zucco (01:01:50):

So auditability or the software is very, very important. But yeah, in a way you, you have to make, you have to make the game theory work. You cannot have perfect trustlessness. That’s impossible because even if you, I mean, even if I run a Bitcoin core and Electrum personal server plus Electrum a verifiable distribution in an air gapped computer that you bought in cash still, maybe IBM put some kinds of very nasty back door on it before. And some way the version of Electrum that I downloaded is also tampered in a way that allows the Intel processor to sneak peek some of my private keys. I mean, I’m making this up, but you cannot have perfect mathematical certainty of security. What you need to have is to, eh, you, you need to reduce the attack surfaces.

Giacomo Zucco (01:02:51):

If everybody was running hardware by Casa Hodl, that will be worrying. Just like if everybody was on Mt. Gox, it will be worrying if everybody would be connected with the same lightning node that would be worrying. So we have to avoid accesses. Of course. Wwhen when we have, when we add the one ASIC producer controlling it directly, or indirectly, more than 80% of the, of the hashrate power, that was pretty worrying. So far the Casa Node experiment or the Nodl experiment, or the Node Launcher. Actually, I don’t think that Pierre is thinking about monetizing. Pierre is releasing software, not hardware. That means that you don’t have to trust Pierre at all. You just the Node Launcher, which is open source. So you can review that and you can compile it and check the signatures on a Gitian build, and you can just run it on your computer. While a Nodle and Dojo and the Bitseed and Casa Hodl nodes, they require some trust in the hardware they ship to you.

Giacomo Zucco (01:04:00):

Which is kind of, I mean, it’s not easy to do that, right. Because for example, maybe the company is trustworthy, but what about the supply chain? How do you know that nobody tampered with your hardware from the from the distributor, from the producer to, to your home, of course, this is way more critical. We should talk about the hardware wallets. So if you think about the Trezor or a Ledger or Digital Bitbox, in that case, the supply chain attack is very risky because you are using this hardware to protect your private keys. If you’re using your hardware to protect their, the enforcement of Bitcoin rules, that’s, eh, I think it’s an order of magnitude, less scary. The incentive to attack you is still there, but it is not as direct as incentive to attack a hundred wallets.

Giacomo Zucco (01:04:53):

So probably it’s less it’s less important to guarantee the supply chain integrity in Casa hold node than it is in a, in a Trezor, for example. But still there are, there are a lot of things to, to consider in this market. So about the last question that you, that you asked, thank you. Yes, I do have a conference to promote actually is not a for profit conference, not as there is, there is anything bad in doing for profit stuff. We all have to do for profit start in order to live and to improve what we do. But in this case it would be a conference which is paid for. So it’s a, it’s not a free conference, of course, because there are a lot of costs to cover in order to to have the place and the venue and the speakers and everything.

Giacomo Zucco (01:05:42):

And it’s called Understanding Bitcoin. The website is a understanding BTC understandingbtc.com. It will be from the 5th to the 7th of April of next month. So it’s pretty close, but you can still register. We have capacity up to 200 people, and right now I think we are even more than, than half. So yeah, there is space there I’m very happy to organize this conference. I’m organizing it with Adam Back and Tone Vays. The idea was born up in Chile when the three of us were discussing at a table at a conference in Chile, in Santiago. And basically we, we realized that these, we realized that the bread now, Bitcoin conferences are divided in two macro categories. On one hand, you have the technical conferences, which are pretty good, like Breaking Bitcoin, coming up in in, in June, in in Amsterdam.

Giacomo Zucco (01:06:43):

It’s a, it’s a very good conference. You have I mean, you have w you have very good conferences, but they are very technical building on Bitcoin in Lisbon. Some Scaling Bitcoin, they are a bit, or Financial Crypto. There are very technical conferences with very good level, but they are not for normal users. They are conferences in which technical people talks with other technical people. So if you are a typical power user of Bitcoin, which may be, is very interested in topic, you are an enthusiast, you are a promoter and evangelist or a power user, but you are not technical enough. You could feel very you could feel very uncomfortable to go to to listen to a technical conference like that. On the other hand, on the other side of the spectrum, you have this camp conferences.

Giacomo Zucco (01:07:38):

So you have this crypto conference or blockchain conference in which you feel welcome because there is nothing technical to understand. So you can go, you can go there and they will not just talk advanced technology. They will, talk about user experience, political implication, economical implication, a personal investment. They will talk some kind of language that the normal user can understand, but they will not be they will not have a goodfilter against noise and scams and frauds and, and a snake oil and empty buzzwords. So if you go to a normal crypto conference, you can, eh, and you are a normal nontechnical user. You feel that you can under, you can understand, but actually 90% of what you are listening to is bullshit. While if you go to a real technical Bitcoin conference, you,uyou have a very good quality, but you cannot fully appreciate that.

Giacomo Zucco (01:08:38):

So we thought that we would need something in between. We will need something, some kind of conference in which you have the best technical people explaining stuff, but not the debating among themselves about cutting edge technology. So not like a Bitcoin Core meet up with with Greg Maxwell discussing with Sipa about the, the new Schnorr signatures, but instead just the best technical people explaining non-technological people, how to run the best tools and the best practices that are available right now. So for example how to install and run Wasabi safely, how to install and run a full node with Bitcoin Core, or maybe ABCore on your cell phone or,

Giacomo Zucco (01:09:25):

Or maybe how to properly connect a Nodl or Casa device How to run a Lightning network node with c-lighning or lnd, or so on.

Giacomo Zucco (01:09:39):

How to mix your coins with Join Market, for example, which is a very interesting alternative to Wasabi. How to install BTCPay server in order to earn a Bitcoin on your website easily, even with Lightning network. How to run your Lightning Network nodes on Tor instead of on clearnet, so that you preserve your privacy more How to use the Bisq network in order to buy and sell Bitcoin without any kind of KYC or or even more how to broadcast Bitcoin transactions when the internet heavily censored. So how to run of course, on Tor or VPN, but even on now on satellite, the Blockstream satellite or goTenna mesh networks, radio mesh network, and stuff like that. So these three days of conference will be will they will not be either a technical conference for technical guys discussing among themselves, nor it will be a crypto conference where where random scam projects get presented to literate people. It will be experts in the Bitcoin ecosystem explaining how to use the best tools available right now in order to do Bitcoin stuff cool, and, and useful Bitcoin stuff. Of course it’s very difficult to organize it because

Giacomo Zucco (01:11:04):

We are, we are managing a lot of them,

Giacomo Zucco (01:11:07):

The first speaker. So, and it’s kind of difficult to to manage this kind of a, this kind of a great lineup. We will have a Adam Gibson from Join Market and Lawrence Nahum from a Greenaddress, and ABCore, and Adam Ficsor from Wasabi Wladimir van der Laan from Bitcoin Core and and Christian Decker from c-lightning. And well, a lot of, a lot of great people talking, but it’s challenging is the first the first time we tried this experiment and if it goes well, as I hope our intention is to do this kind of stuff, at least every year, in order to have a place where a Bitcoin power users can go and learn about the best tools on the market. Of course, in 2020, the best tools will probably not be the same that in 2019.

Giacomo Zucco (01:12:06):

So we want to make it a yearly conference and Adam Back and myself, we are discussing about the program and Tone Vays, he’s giving a great support for organization and everything. There is a, there is a lot of great guys helping us organizing and moderating the panels and such. So I invite you to take a look at understandingbtc.com and and to come, if, if you think you are inside the target of this kind of conference and to provide feedback. Of course, there will be a free live stream, so you can watch a conference even without coming. But if you come, I mean, the idea is that people should come. The first two days will be for the workshop. The the, the third day would probably be something like something like basically a hackathon, but where people can actually divide into groups and they can try to implement what they learned running this kind of software. So it should be very cool.

Vlad Costea (01:13:14):

Yeah. So when is it because I’ve listened to all these details about what it’s going to be like, and who is participating, but I didn’t memorize the date.

Giacomo Zucco (01:13:23):

So it’s 5th to 7th of April. So on the fifth, and on the sixth, we will have the the actual workshops where we will teach people what to, how to run tools. On the seventh, they will probably be a more traditional kind of conference, and then maybe some people could stay even for the, for the eight for, a final hands-on hackathon. So we are still defining the agenda in a bit. I know it’s very late to refine the agenda because it’s very close, but anyway, the dates are 5-7 of April, and you can find the registration, everything on understandingbtc.com.

Vlad Costea (01:14:05):

That sounds very good if I was around Switzerland or Malta. Is it in Malta, sorry?

Giacomo Zucco (01:14:12):

It’s a Malta. Yeah.

Vlad Costea (01:14:13):

I think of where you are, as opposed to where it’s taking place. If I were in Malta or close to it, or had more money than I do right now, I would definitely come just to meet you guys, even if I just had to sit there and watch you exchange Bitcoins and coinjoin your wallets.

Giacomo Zucco (01:14:33):

Yeah. It should be very good. But please take a look at the live stream and provide feedback, because it’s the first time we would try with such an experiment and maybe we, maybe we are onto some kind of very useful format for conferences.

Vlad Costea (01:14:48):

Yeah. That should be interesting. And I look forward to it. So thank you very much for this interview. It was great. And you raught me a lot of stuff, and you gave me some ideas for articles. I think I’m going to look more into neutrino and see what it’s all about, and then publish something as I should very pressing issue and people are interested.

Giacomo Zucco (01:15:14):

Yeah, it is. And in order to clarify, I think it’s great. It’s great tech and the intention of many of the proposals or the proponents are very good. And especially Pierre, his Node launcher is great. And and even the, the work that Olaoluwa Osuntokun (roasbeef) did on Neutrino is a great work, very useful for, for, for Bitcoin. The problem is just being sure about the right incentives here, not, not about not using the tech.

Vlad Costea (01:15:44):

Right. I guess there’s a lot to read about it. I found some Reddit threads while you’re speaking of it, and there is one called PSA, and I’m going to begin with that one and also read the proposal. So thank you very much. This was enlightening. And if you’re in Romania, there’s also a conference around here and

Giacomo Zucco (01:16:05):

Yeah, yeah. I know I was invited for the next fall, if I’m not mistaken. And I am I mean, I have to check the logistics, but I think I will be there

Vlad Costea (01:16:15):

Really. That’s really awesome because I’m also trying to get there, just that I get to meet Peter Todd and the people who are participating and might be there. I think also Pierre Rochard has more or less confirmed that. That’s awesome.

Giacomo Zucco (01:16:33):

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It was fun. Thank you.

Vlad Costea (01:16:39):

So thank you very much. This was great. And maybe that in some other season, we have many more topics to discuss and I’m going to invite you and you are going to express your always controversial to some extent opinions, but sure. This space is great as you have all these voices and all these people who present all the sides and older risks. And I think that some of our politicians should take notice how it should be working on how no change sometimes means that the system works. And you shouldn’t rush into creating chaos just because you have this vanity to create reform or be remembered as having some kind of legacy.

Giacomo Zucco (01:17:25):

Yeah, I will. I would like to say to politicians that they should just learn to learn to code and and wait for the takeover of Bitcoin over their political system. So I’m sorry, guys. Sorry for your loss.

Vlad Costea (01:17:40):

Vlad Costea (00:00:01):

Hello and welcome to the Bitcoin Takeover Podcast. I am Vlad. And today my guest is Giacomo Zucco. He is one of the best known Bitcoin maximalists who also embraces very proudly this etiquette of being a maximalist. And he’s involved with many Bitcoin projects like the BHB network. And also he took part in founding the B, which was supposed to be, or is supposed to be, I’m not sure what’s going on with it, but it’s an initiative to support developing and other projects that are related strictly to Bitcoin. And there’s a lot going on with him. If you follow him on Twitter, you’re going to see that he’s up to date with all the big topics and he has an opinion in anything. So that’s why I’m happy to have him here. And also I have interviewed Hodlonaut, not a few episodes before this. And he said that you are one of his idols, so…

Giacomo Zucco (00:01:02):

Hello to everybody. Yeah, I’m very grateful for this introduction. Hodlonaut is a celebrity now. He used to be a pleb like us, but after Jack Dorsey took the torch is now a celebrity. So I’m super honored. Uh no, actually the Lightning network trust torch was a very, very neat idea. Of course it was a glory moment for auto. Now when Jack Dorsey decided to step in at King, but also a lot of other, even more interesting moments, like the moment in which the torch moved from from a Western country to, I took the youth from the U S today to Iran in violation of global money capital restrictions, and then back from Iran to Israel, which is something great. And recently is passing over different I mean, Venezuela and different countries where a Bitcoin is actually forbidden. So the lightning that would torch is a w w was a great thing. And I and I paid back my respect to auto now for this very, very nice idea.

Vlad Costea (00:02:16):

Yeah. I’m happy to have you here. And I know, and I’ve noticed on your Twitter feed that you have quite some interesting opinions about Neutrino, and I don’t mean the company, which was bought by Coinbase and used to be part of the Hacking Team, which supported some authoritarian regimes. It’s about BIP157, if I’m not mistaken. And it’s people like Pierre Rochard who developed the what’s, that’s called lightning launcher?

Giacomo Zucco (00:02:48):

The node luncher yeah,

Vlad Costea (00:02:51):

He is one of the biggest advocates and says that it’s necessary for the development to carry on. So what is your take on this?

Giacomo Zucco (00:03:01):

So, first of all, even I had something to say even about the other neutrino, because this is a little known thing, but the, the neutrino I mean, despite the spyware company Neutrino acquired by Coinbase was actually headquartered in Milan in the same offices of BHB network. And they came to us in order to to be advised for an investment by one of our clients. So we had to do with them a long time ago, we decided to to to suggest our clients not to invest for ethical reasons. And it was a, it was fine to be proven right after a while. So, yeah, I have some interesting anecdotes about them as well, but getting back to the BIP instead and to enter the debate that is raging in a, in Bitcoin Twitter right now the point that some of us are making with us, I don’t just mean observers like me, but also after developers, like, especially Luke Dashjr the Bitcoin developer and Nicolas Dorier the BTCPay BTC Pay S erver developer and, and some other guys UDI and other people that the main point is that neutrino could be bad because it is too good.

Giacomo Zucco (00:04:27):

And this can, can, can look paradoxical, but but it will try to explain. So basically when Satoshi Nakamoto launched Bitcoin, he had the,

Giacomo Zucco (00:04:38):

An idea in mind about

Giacomo Zucco (00:04:40):

Way to to use Bitcoin of on top of very lightweight devices. And his idea was called the SPV, simple protocol verification. So the idea was something like this the light client will not verify the rules of Bitcoin. Eh, they would just get a blockchain block headers from from people’s and they will know that the block headers they received the are valid because if they are not valid, we will implement some kind of fraud, proof, cryptographic, and fraud proofs that are that are possible to prove even without having the blockchain. So some kind of zero knowledge proof in which you can prove that the transactions are included in blocks and blocks themselves are valid in respect to the rules of Bitcoin, even without having the full blockchain, unfortunately this idea didn’t work out.

Giacomo Zucco (00:05:44):

It was impossible to implement it for approves. It may be impossible in general. We still don’t know there are good arguments that, something like that could never be done. And so a guy that that is working and was already working since then, since a while for the R3 server private blockchain scammy company, this guy was called Mike Hearn basically implemented a different idea in which you basically don’t validate anything. You don’t validate the rules of Bitcoin. You just check that your transactions are included by some miners with with the hashrate majority. And if the miners are included with majority the transaction, then you trust that the rules of Bitcoin are respected. Even if you don’t check the respect of the rules yourself. So this was called the SPV mocking, I mean I’m paying tribute to, to Satoshi Nakamoto say idea of simple verification payment, actually SPV is really improper because it’s not the verification anyhow, you don’t verify anything.

Giacomo Zucco (00:06:53):

You just, you just verify that miners in majority are saying that that chain is is a heavier, but you don’t verify the validity at all. And and that’s kind of a thing that is they’re dangerous for the ecosystem, because for example if you remember when the 2X attack on Bitcoin was was ready to be launched, many people working for the attacker case, such as Jeff Garzik and others, they say don’t worry. We will succeed in the tech because even if a Bitcoin full node will reject our 2X blocks as invalid, all the SPV notices. So all the Bitcoin wallet that use this idea from Mike Hearn, they will blindlessly follow the heaviest chain, even if heaviest is chain is embedded. So it’s important to understand that these are, this is not actually the original Bitcoin security model that become security model is that I can use my node to know if a transaction is valid or invalid, and only if one particular transaction.

Giacomo Zucco (00:08:05):

I know if one transactional history is valid. Now I delegate to hash power, not the validity guarantee, but only which one of which one among the valid histories will be the one that I should take into account as fine up. So if you send me two different valid transactions, the hash power ,ajority is only used in Bitcoin to choose which one of the two valid transactions should be the final one in order to avoid the double spending. So even if there is some risk in delegating, this kind of, this kind of dynamic to miners, there is some risk because you can have a 51% attack and you can have double spending, but the risk is very low because the worst thing that a majority of miners could do with this kind of security model would be basically to double spend their own money with some blocks. So let’s assume that Bitmain get control of 50% of 60% or 80% of the network. They can pay to an exchange

Giacomo Zucco (00:09:09):

On a new blockchain that orphanates the other, the other block, and they can get their money, their own money back. So this is the worst they can do. And and it’s kind of problematic, but not really life threatening in for Bitcoin. 

Giacomo Zucco (00:09:26):

On the other hand, on the fake SPV model that Mike Hearn promoted based on bloom filters, if Bitmain has a 50% or 70% or 80%, it was actually close to control,ukind of 90% of hash power, where at a point

Giacomo Zucco (00:09:47):

They can change any kind of rule in Bitcoin and all the clients,

Giacomo Zucco (00:09:51):

It was just blindlessly follow this, this new invalid chain so they can inflate Bitcoin. They can create inflation, they can steal Satoshi’s money. They can steal my money or your money without valid keys. They can do whatever they want. Of course in a model with full nodes, that’s not the case. So this was a debate in Bitcoin for a long time. And a lot of people, were proposing to actually deprecate this function in, in Bitcoin core dysfunction is called a bloom filter. Basically a full node at listens to this kind of light clients when they ask for their, their block header without any kind of validation and the full node, which is validating will provide to light the light clients, the the block headers. So in order to trust the miners without any kind of verification there was some suggestion to to to basically turn off by default these option in Bitcoin core in order not to promote this broken and very dangerous security model. But this this proposal never really made it because mostly because people didn’t want a Bitcoin core developers didn’t want to break down compatibility with wallets using this very bad security model. So they decided to to not deprecate this puncture now enter neutrino

Giacomo Zucco (00:11:18):

Neutrino, and this new BIP is a, is a way better way to do the same thing. So instead of

Giacomo Zucco (00:11:25):

Basically, I’m asking for a full node to give you some particular parts of proofs that you need to know that your transaction is included into the habits, a block, a block at block header chain instead of asking that you basically have some kind of client side client side filters, and and that’s improves

Giacomo Zucco (00:11:48):

The privacy of these interactions very much because in the usual bloom filter their model, the privacy of the user was very, very bad because you have to ask it to other full nodes that you don’t know any kind of information about your your transaction. So these full nodes that you don’t know, they will know everything about your UTXO. So set and such a, of course you can mitigate these, for example, with the fake positives with with basically false flags. But after a while it’s very easy to there to basically to reduce your privacy with bloom filters. With neutrino, privacy is way better. So in a way, neutrino is a is a better version of Mike Hearn’s original idea, which is the, what is the problem? The problem is that being a better it is also worse because it could incentivize even more the the use of this practice over the over the use of full nodes. Let’s consider then there are a lot of people that I know directly that never really decided to run a full node.

Giacomo Zucco (00:12:59):

So, because running a full node requires that you have hardware always connected at your home, which is something that was trivial for people 10 years ago. But right now, many people, even professional professionals and technical people with a technical mindset, many of them, they don’t have a server running at home. They are just using the cloud computing partying, and they’re using cell phones and they are actually not running any server. So there is like a psychological barrier to start acquiring some raspberry or some old Android or, or a server to keep to keep running home. And then he started your full node on your server. There is like a very huge barrier. So many people I know directly were starting to they understood the importance of node, but they were actually procrastinating and procrastinating and procrastinating. And now they are starting to run full nodes because of lighting network, because the way the lightning network works is that mostly you need to run a full node in order to to to receive money and to secure your money in, in channels.

Giacomo Zucco (00:14:10):

Because if you just use a smartphone, you can use a model like the one of eclair, but you can only send money, not receive if you want to receive money. And if you want to secure the money in, in receiving channels, you need a full node. So many people that weren’t running for no one year ago are starting to run full nodes right now, the problem is that neutrino as a proposal is targeting specifically lighting network users with the, with the idea that finally you will be able to to use a Lightning network wallet without your own full node, because it was impossible with a normal bloom filter. And also it was very bad for privacy. But now with neutrino, it will be better for your privacy and more efficient than many other things. And so finally, you can use the alerting network without your footnote, which I argue is a very bad let’s say it’s a very bad priority setting to help people not having full nodes before we finish it helping people to, to, to run actual full nodes.

Giacomo Zucco (00:15:21):

So you will, you will speak with Pierre. Pierre’s Node launcher actually is a very good implementation in my opinion, because the peer will explain what it does better than me, but basically, well, what did the not, not lunch or does is it uses neutrino to trust their mind and majority only for a while. In the, meanwhile it basically synchronize the note from scratch and when the node is fully in sync, it stops trusting minors and it gets back validating everything independently. So the model of, of of Pierre’s node launcher is very, very good. It’s not a bad model at all, but the problem is that Pierre is proposing to have all the Bitcoin core nodes as a defaulter serving a neutrino client site filtering. And that means that while the model of Pierre is very, very good other people that may create a wallets, which are which follow models that are very, very bad, just like the filter, they can use the same feature to promote theirs, that as a fake, as fake security, as a security, see, of course, in which people think they are validating with SPV, but actually they are not validating.

Giacomo Zucco (00:16:42):

They are just trusting the completely for everything. The majority of of of the Ash power the, the, the random majority of minors there are, there are two considerations that usually people people make or maybe three consideration. The first one, which I would like to dismiss completely it’s that, well, you know, it’s opensource, it’s permissionless. So if you don’t like it don’t use it, but we will implement it in core any way, because because it’s open source, but that’s not an argument. Bitcoin core doesn’t have the obligation to include any possible feature because it’s open source. We should be concur. Reserve is already a little bit feature creep. I will say there is too much stuff in Bitcoin core. So adding more stuff is not, it’s not actually the best the best thing to do right now, especially if it is controversial.

Giacomo Zucco (00:17:36):

The second argument is that the only alternatives to this kind of stuff, neutrino will be custodian wallet. So people, instead of using lightning network, they just use a service in which other people use like a network on their behalf, just like tippin.me or a, or a blue wallet or Wallet of Satoshi. There are this kind of wallets in which you think you’re using Lightning network, but you are just delegating other people to use the, Lightning Network on your behalf with your money. So which is worse. It’s interesting because I will definitely argue that the the, the, the former is war is worse than the letter. Because when you trust some company for a custodian wallet, at least you, you know, or you should know that you are trusting somebody specific while when you are trusting the mining majority, the, the, the, the, the temporary mining majority, like with the bloom filter or neutrino, you don’t know who you are trusting.

Giacomo Zucco (00:18:39):

Maybe you think you are trusting a decentralized competitive environment, but actually you are trusting a hash rate cartel, like Bitmain or something even worse than it may in the future. So there, there are some points that may will make you argue that instead of a merging neutrino instead of of of the current bloom filter implementation, we should just we should just turn off by default. This kind of, I mean, merge neutrino instead of my current filter, but merge it a while off by default, and only people that knows what they are doing, they can use these these this thing, you know, to maybe get a better better security over a trust that node. So the thing is that imagine when you use Mycellium wallet when you use my Mycellium, what you do is actually trusting mycellium server for validation.

Giacomo Zucco (00:19:37):

You don’t trust them with your private keys, but you trust them with the validation of the rules of Bitcoin, but at least, you know, that there is somebody liable. So if neutrino screws up, but there is a, there is a strong reputational feedback mechanism against the, against mycelium. And that is not the case when you just trusted the mining majority. In that case, there is perfect plausible deniability. There is no body which loses reputation. If the majority of hashrate just follows a I’m invited rules and serves you with invalid rules. So it’s a very complex point. I really hear the arguments of the other sides. Neutrino is a great technology is a great idea, but what will be great, they will, they have to have Neutrino as a way to check against a known server. So if you, if you trust my Mycellium for validation, but then you also check that the majority of the hash power is also including the same transaction, then mycelium. Then that’s a, that’s a good thing because you are you are creating additional, so you three are trusting neutrino, sorry, you are trusting mycelium, but you are using neutrino in order to add a security. But if you just replaced my Mycellium server with that, the majority of hashrate, that’s actually a degradation of your security model. And it’s systemically very, very risky as we, as we have seen with the 2X attack. So I I’ve been quite long, but I hope that I managed to explain my position the better consistently,

Vlad Costea (00:21:15):

If I can summarize in very simple terms, lightning right now is the best thing that has happened to the Bitcoin network security, just because more people are pushed to run their own nodes, just to be able to use lightning. And if we promote BIP 157, not only that we are reducing the incentive for people to run their full node in order to have access to lightning, but we also open the gates to gain theory scenarios that might actually empower miners much more than we should be. Am I getting it right up to this point?

Giacomo Zucco (00:21:51):

Absolutely. Right. That’s the exact point, which doesn’t mean that everything in, in a BIP 157/158 is is a rise, the same risk. I believe the same thing in BIP 157, it use it in another way in as likely as different narrative will be equally beneficial. So if it was promoted as a way to check against some kinds of trusted, a trusted server, it would be not harmful at all and maybe even helpful. But the problem is just the narrative. People is pushing around the narrative that with neutrino you don’t need your full full node anymore in order to run Lightning network. So you are perfectly right. What will be the best thing to happen to Bitcoin? I don’t know if you remember, but since I, since I think 2014 or something like that, people were writing everywhere.

Giacomo Zucco (00:22:45):

We should have a way to monetize validating full node. Because right now miners are awarded about full nodes. Full node runners are not rewarded at all. So we should invent some mechanism to reward the full nodes. Well, I didn’t have to, or surprisingly, it’s very similar to such a mechanism we’d like to net, or you incentivize people to run full node because a, they only alternative is just to use a custodial. So yeah, neutrino if promoted and the, if perceived the, and the effuse as a way to avoid running full nodes could be even could be harmful to Bitcoin actually, which doesn’t mean that the technology is not great. And and and it, it couldn’t be useful if used in the right way.

Vlad Costea (00:23:39):

Yeah. I didn’t give it too much thought up to this point. I just saw some discussions. And I think the, the biggest critic that I saw on Twitter was Udi Wertheimer. And he was very skeptical of the idea. And I guess it’s normal to be conservative when it comes to something like Bitcoin core, which even modified to the slightest extent can lead to unforeseen consequences. And we should not just rush to good ideas and say, Oh, this is so great because that’s what altcoins do. And I remember, I don’t know who told me I don’t follow Verge the project, but their lead developer has pasted the code sequence in their client. And he unwillingly forked the whole system. So he created a fork just because he was lazy and he copied and pasted a sequence of code, and he did something wrong in the process. And it led to a hard fork, which is insane. And that’s not something that should ever happen to Bitcoin. We should consider everything very…

Giacomo Zucco (00:24:50):

We shouldn’t rush anything into Bitcoin, and we shouldn’t add too many things to Bitcoin core also because the problem with Bitcoin core is that it is a reference implementation that somehow defines the protocol because we don’t have a formal protocol for Bitcoin. There is somebody like Peter Todd who will argue that we cannot really have a formal protocol for many, many reasons. So right now it’s a, it’s, it’s a good thing to have different implementation of a wallet, coin selection, fee, estimation, signature systems and, and so on and so on. But if you think about the the consensus part is not a good idea to have different implementation, because if you have a divergence in different implementations, what you want is not that the system goes on, what you want is actually that that everybody stops for a while. I mean, it’s better to have a fault in the system that to have a split in the system, when you talk about consensus.

Giacomo Zucco (00:25:49):

So there was a lot of effort to reduce Bitcoin core to the bare minimum that you need in order to perform a validation following Bitcoin’s rules. And there was the the the Lib consensus effort. Lib consensus was the idea to have a library, to, to turn Bitcoin core into a single library, but Bitcoin consensus, of course, that’s a very difficult thing to do because kind of everything is, is consensus. Even the dimension of the database the blocks you are using somehow can influence consensus. So, so much that there was a, a an accidental fork in Bitcoin an accidental split, because there was a change in the database Berkeley versus a level DB. So so it’s difficult to do that, but we can, should be reduced, not really expand with many, many features.

Giacomo Zucco (00:26:47):

And then there is this this game game, theoretical consideration. I will say that the, the main critics are not just Udi, but also when not that they appeal to authority means anything about just to, just for sake of completeness. The main critics are also Nicolas Dorier. He wrote an article about a neutrino promoting this kind of skepticism. And Peter Todd expressed the same skepticism, where we were discussing neutrino during the Unconfiscatable Conference a few weeks ago. And the other one is Luke Dashjr. He was also very vocal about the risks of this of this choice.

Vlad Costea (00:27:28):

Yeah. And I guess if we get to the area of multiple clients running the same protocol and having different developers working on each client, I guess that’s what Bitcoin Cash is experimenting with right now. And they brag about having multiple clients and stuff like that. But it’s going to be interesting to see as an experiment, how long it takes until just one sequence of code goes wrong and they hard fork without even being aware of it.

Giacomo Zucco (00:27:59):

Yeah. We also had a very clear example in Ethereum with Parity and Geth diverging about, about some additional issues. And of course, Ethereum is supposed to have a formal specification, but the point is that the former specification was not really addressing that kind of disagreement between Parity and Geth. And so what the developers had to do was basically to to communicate explicitly and to choose one version over the other, which is something that especially in the beginning of a project can be done little friction and without without the huge resource of centralization. For example, in Bitcoin, when there was LevelDB versus Berkeley DB mess we had developers speaking with miners, asking them to let the invalid chain go in order to remain on the same chain.

Giacomo Zucco (00:28:58):

So at the beginning of a project that kind of, of coordination level can happen, but in the long run, we cannot absolutely rely on that kind of coordination. Imagine Bitcoin being an actual infrastructure moving a good percentage of of their, their, this planet’s wealth since years and years, so it’s some kind of well established rule. Then you have some kind of incompatibility between a different version of validity, and then you just have what? Thousands and thousands of former and current Bitcoin developers discussing between among them about which version to choose. That’s very dangerous because either they cannot coordinate and then you have an accident split or even worse, they can coordinate easily. And if they can coordinate easily, that means that they are a giant attack surface because then the government knows that that group of developers is easy to coordinate. And so it could be also easy to force or to blackmail or to, or to buy or to buy off or stuff like that.

Vlad Costea (00:30:07):

Yeah. It’s always delicate with this Bitcoin client that we’re trying to keep as pure as possible. I don’t think there is any easy way to govern it. I think definitely that there should be more developers getting interested in it and discovering the technology. And I appreciate the work of people. Like I think Jimmy Song is doing this kind of workshop to help people get interested from a developers perspective and coding for Bitcoin. And it also blows my mind I’m diverging here, but it blows my mind when I see that projects like Wasabi Wallet don’t have proper funding, even though they’re, they are very useful objectively speaking, they increase the fungibility of different outputs. You can have coins from maybe Silk Road, and there was that where mine last week, and they get mixed together in a way that nobody can reject them, which is very good, very useful for Bitcoin.

Vlad Costea (00:31:10):

You don’t really have user-friendly wallets unless they are custodial, or they belong to some kind of big company like Coinbase, which spends a lot of money trying to make it friendly. So it’s difficult in this decentralized economy, just because people are not willing to invest in something that they don’t control. You have companies that want to have the best product of everything available. And when you have a great initiative that actually changes something and maybe is useful for the entire space you’re going to see them struggle. And you even see that kind of situation with Bitcoin core developers who rely on donations just to be able to break even at the end of the month.

Giacomo Zucco (00:31:58):

Yeah. Yeah. You,

Vlad Costea (00:32:00):

You think of people like Barry Silbert, who made a fortune just by investing in Bitcoin and he’s in spending anything, as far as I know, he doesn’t directly fund the developers of Bitcoin, which made him millions of dollars.

Giacomo Zucco (00:32:19):

So at the beginning of, of your introduction of the, of the chat with me, you mentioned that the gain, my, my effort with The B that we presented in September at this point 5 months ago. And the line of thoughts that,uthat that brought me and other people to launch this initiative

Giacomo Zucco (00:32:40):

Was exactly this monetizing good projects in Bitcoin is kind of difficult because I mean, in general, in the open source, in the free open source sector monetization is not trivial because sure you can have one initiative like RedHat in which you basically you use your, your, you invest your money to help for everybody the free open standard, like Linux kernel. And then you offer some kind of services on top when the Linux kernel is everywhere. Like in like, like now on in servers or, or whatever, then you can offer some kind of customization support especially B2B on top. So this model, this model works kind of works, but it doesn’t work in an obvious way. It’s kind of difficult to to establish. And with Bitcoin is the same one it’s even worse because the, the, the best kind of application in Bitcoin, they don’t need any kind and they cannot have any kind of relevant center counterparty.

Giacomo Zucco (00:33:46):

Otherwise it becomes more fragile. For example, the example that I always make is the example of a Bitcoin wallet. You cannot yeah, you have a startup that does that, that makes a good Bitcoin wallet. So startups usually try it on on patents and copyright and intellectual in so-called intellectual property. And you cannot do that in Bitcoin because it’s, it’s against Bitcoin ethos, but it’s also against the best interest of peer review and, and security review. I mean, it’s a completely unsecured to use a wallet in which you don’t have a well-reviewed open source code. So you cannot, you cannot monetize it on intellectual property, so called intellectual property. Then you cannot really ask for fees or put the advertising banners in your wallet, because if you do that and you monetize aggressively people would just fork your open source code, then create another wallet which gets rid of the ads and fees, or just the hijacks the fees and the banners.

Giacomo Zucco (00:34:57):

Then the third, the monetization model is user privacy user private data. So you can have a, you can be Facebook or Google. So basically you, you don’t want monetize aggressively at the beginning, but you collect user data, but a good Bitcoin wallet cannot collect the user data because at the best of the best Bitcoin software in general is a software that respects the privacy of the users in the first place. So it’s very difficult to monetize and and you are right that we have making a lot of money in, in a few kind of in a very few sectors like exchanges, for example, and these, they usually don’t give back much to the open source community so far. So it’s a, it’s kind of sad to see that you mentioned Wasabi.

Giacomo Zucco (00:35:45):

It’s crazy that something as important as Wasabi has problems to to fund developers, it’s also crazy that something as important as BTCPay server has problem to find the developers something like the liberal initiative to create an open source library for Bitcoin. Something like AB core made by Lawrence Nahum, which is a way to run your own a full validating Bitcoin core node on your Android smart TV or, or cell phone. So it’s a very important project, or again, lib consensus that we mentioned before, or a procedure set to, for, to do save your multisig storage All this stuff there is no money to fund it, which is a, which is kind of sad and, and problematic. So the B initiative was created exactly in order to try to, if not solve, at least mitigate this problem. I have to say that after five months of effort, since the presentation in Riga we are finding a lot of very serious legal problems to run something like the B I will we will probably come around these problems, but just to explain you what I’m talking about.

Giacomo Zucco (00:36:59):

So right now they are, our goal is to accept donations from established legal entities, like I don’t know an exchange or, or, or a VC company or, or whatever, or, or a financial incumbent. So these these incorporated legal entity has to give money to the foundation. And the foundation has to do basically bounties for developers that will do something important to the ecosystem. So for example, whoever helps Wasabi or BTC pay, or Lib consensus, or the glacier protocol or whatever, they are opentimestamps. So they get this Bitcoin from the foundation as a reward, as a bounty. The problem is that what lawyers told us after the first months of optimism was that the basically we should as a foundation, we will have the obligation to KYC completely the developers, because in theory, let’s assume that you have the company Alice that donates one million dollars for the development of Open Time Stamps or Lib wallet library.

Giacomo Zucco (00:38:19):

So now you have a, the foundation giving a $1 million to these key users that are pseudonymous developers or, or, or,unot so pseudonymous, but anyway, the non KYC developers developing for,ufor these libraries. Ubut what if it turns out that that was just a way for the company Alice to pay the employee Bob uwhile,uwhile avoiding,usocial security taxes and other forms of taxation. So, as you can see, that’s kind of tricky. And a while in some, during September the lawyers, we were in contact with the elitist, and we’re very optimistic about this. It turned out that it’s very difficult to,uto be able to, to,uto gather donations from,ulegal,uparties,uand to,uto give this donation to non KYC entities. And of course, I don’t want to spend my time doing KYC of developers of Bitcoin.

Giacomo Zucco (00:39:20):

I even think that the, the best configuration would be one in which the majority of Bitcoin developers are pseudonymous, Satoshi style. So it’s very antitethic to my, to my idea, to be forced to KYC developers. It’s very, it’s very it’s a, it’s a mess. Of course there, there are some work around, for example, we could just open source the, the website of the B that we built in the last month. And we could have a project exposing Bitcoin, address it directly, and people will be donating Bitcoin directly to them. So in that case, we are just basically a website, a connecting bounty offers with bounty seekers. But the problem with that is that you, I mean, that could work, but I have this, the suspect I’m afraid that it will not be a lot of money because if you are a legal entity or you can donate and write off the donation from your balance sheet, then you can justify the output of money.

Giacomo Zucco (00:40:25):

And actually you can have tax benefits because that’s a donation. But if you if you’d have to send Bitcoin directly to not KYC individuals without any kind of legal entity in the middle, then you cannot write it off as a donation from your balance sheets. And so we will just have a, like a anonymous hodlers donating to anonymous developers, which is fine. It’s very cypherpunk, but it’s also probably not a lot of stuff, not a lot of money. If I, I mean, I would imagine that right now, if I ask the anonymous Bitcoin holders to fund directly some pseudonymous Bitcoin developers, maybe this website would would facilitate the exchange offer $10,000 a year or something like that. With the actual idea of the B to be able to acquire donation from established legal entities, we could probably hope to get something like $1 million a year, which will be way more interesting, but very, very difficult.

Giacomo Zucco (00:41:31):

So right now we are discussing with a BTC pay guy in order to try to move the idea from Lichtenstein to Japan. And I have some contacts with some people in Geneva that are expert of NGO, because if you think about that, what I mean, think about the red cross, what the red cross does is basically getting donation from a legal entities and giving free stuff and free money to people without any kind of KYC. So in theory, it should be possible, but of course, when there is Bitcoin involved, everything is kind of a more, a more dangerous and more delicate. And especially since this is what this is not for profit project for me. So I will not keep a fee of the donation for me. I would just I will give to developers all the money that we receive in the foundation.

Giacomo Zucco (00:42:21):

I mean it’s okay for me to help the ecosystem, but to carry over me all the legal risk of money laundering investigations and of KYC obligation and, and all the red for free is probably not the kind of fun that I like to have. So my, at this point speaking with the other promoters of the B, we decided that before the next Baltic Honeybadger conference, since the idea of the B started informally during a dinner in a Baltic HoneyBager 2017, and then we announced publicly the actual the actual start of the, of the words to make it a real in a Baltic Honeybadger 2018. I think that before Baltic Honeybadger 2019, we will either deliver some big donation to some project or just publishing postmortem explaining why that’s not possible or, or, or not convenient for us. So we’re still in, we’re still not out of the woods with that, but I agree with you that it’s a, it’s one of the most important things in the ecosystem right now to be able to bridge money and good project right now, bad projects can access money very easily, like launching a scammy ICO or launching an altcoin or promoting scams while legit projects, they have a very hard time to get access to some funding.

Vlad Costea (00:43:57):

Also. I think even though the technologies can be really great, we have trouble implementing a great user experience that is easy to understand and easy to use by anyone. And I remember the first time when I tried Wasabi Wallet, that I was a little bit scared, you know, when you, when you put some Bitcoins in there and it just takes them away, and that sends it back to you in small amounts, it’s frightening to see your savings, basically just being run around in a system like that. It was a strange experience.

Giacomo Zucco (00:44:32):

Yeah, there is a urban legend that Bitcoin developers are usually against the good UX. There is some, there could be some some truth in this legend, meaning that very expert developers which are very very professional and advanced about cybersecurity and and open source development. They usually don’t even remember how it feels to be a user without any kind of technical understanding. So it’s difficult for for a good computer science guy to understand the very bad, the knowledge of a, of a random user. So if you are a common line guy with your server up for you to install a wasabi is a, probably a matter of 10 minutes, but if you, if you have to promote Wasabi for a guy that doesn’t have any server at home at all, so they have to install Linux from scratch just around or in this, in this case windows just to run the staff.

Giacomo Zucco (00:45:37):

And then they have to to, to rely on a, on, on a good graphical interface, because they don’t know how to use the command line. So it’s difficult for, I mean, th th the better developer you are on the fundamental things like security, and, and then performance is usually the worst you are for for simple UX, but there is also another other consideration to do to have a bad that UX in this sense for dangerous stuff is kind of good. In my opinion, we, we, we go back to to incentive models and game theory, like, like with Neutrino. So if you have to move an important amount of Bitcoins into some kind of conjoin or Chaumian CoinJoin in wasabi, for example, it’s good that you are scared, so you don’t have to feel it as a very simple, easy, faster, seamless experience.

Giacomo Zucco (00:46:33):

You should be concerned focused. You should read what you’re doing. You should be you should filter out people among people, people that know what they are doing with that. Otherwise people would just lose a lot of money. So for fundamental security, critical activities is kind of good that we don’t have any kind of super easy UX yet, because we don’t want people to be incentivized to shoot in their own feet yet. It will be easier when the, the gradually the, the awareness and education will spread a little bit more, but right now it’s better if you don’t do something, if you don’t know what you are doing in this sense Lightning network is a, is again, one of the best thing that happened to the ecosystem, because in Lightning network by definition, it is a, it is a deprecated today. I did the idea, and

Giacomo Zucco (00:47:30):

Even it’s even like unfeasible to, to put a lot of money into your payment channel. So there is like a natural protection against the against losing a lot of money. And and even in the typical use cases for Lightning network little payments, a fast payments like if you want to play with Satoshi’s place and, and buy some some some pixels you can just fire up your your Lightning network, but you don’t put there a lot of money. So many kinds of UX experiments, they were dangerous from a game theoretical point of view to support with Onchain Bitcoin, because people were going to lose a lot of money. They are not reckless anymore to support in the context of the Lightning network beta, because we all know that it’s a beta, and we all know that we shouldn’t, we even can’t put a lot of money in, in in Lightning channel.

Giacomo Zucco (00:48:31):

So, for example, I remember using for as an experiment, the metamask wallet for Ethereum. I don’t know why I probably, it was like one year ago or something like that. I use meta mask extension for Chrome, and it was a great user experience. And I remember talking with Bitcoin experts and developers, and, and I was like, I mean, why couldn’t you just create a wallet, a browser extension, a Chrome extension, this easy, like meta mask. I mean, all this Ethereum dapp, pseudo decentralized application with a web web web tree or something like that, we could just have a simple centralized website, maybe over top of their own Tor. And we could just start, we could just have a Chrome extension in which we paid to the to the website in a seamless way, in an easy way. And people were answering me well, you know, that would be bad because a lot of people will lose money because a Chrome extensions are not safe.

Giacomo Zucco (00:49:35):

And they in general JavaScript website that they should be activated when you use Tor. So there is a, there is a lot of problems of security, but now that we have Lightning network in the context of the Lightning network, people created the Joule Chrome extension, which is pretty close to a meta mask Ethereum extension. I mean, I wouldn’t even say it’s somehow is inspired by MetaMask in a good way. But now you can experiment with this kind of low security toys and tools, because you are in a context with like the network in which you shouldn’t play with a lot of money by, by default, by design. So you can afford to lose some money and you can afford to centralize a little bit. You can afford to, to make it not really censorship resistant. You, you can you can experiment with trade off more on second layer and even more on third and fourth layer, then you can do on the first layer on first layer, you have to privilege a security decentralization, political independence, censorship resistant and on the, on the, on the upper layers, you can experiment more with a good UX, faster, cheaper and even if you go more risky or more reckless or more centralized, so you are right about the UX.

Giacomo Zucco (00:51:00):

But I think that we are seeing a lot of good UX experiment with lighting that we are not seeing with with the, the layer one. Of course Wasabi is not really one of them because in Wasabi you can put a significant amount of money into a Chaumian CoinJoin. So that’s a scary thing, and it should be a scary thing to do. Uso it’s a, it’s a reasonable, that was, I be still kind of scary to use.

Vlad Costea (00:51:31):

I think I have three more questions for you and given the agreement that we have made that they should last an hour, maybe that it’s a good idea to present them in a sequence and allow you to answer whichever you prefer in the time that we still have. So that I don’t just ask one and end up discussing that for 15 minutes. So usually I ask my guests what it’s like to be a Bitcoin or in your country. And if you can actually survive with only Bitcoin for maybe a week or a month, if you can spend it anywhere. The second question is about your opinion on lightning becoming too dependent on companies that are centralized and how you view this whole idea that at the end of the day, it’s going to be about Casa competing with Nodl competing, maybe with a company that Pierre Rochard creates. And they’re going to be like the Apples and the Microsofts of the second layer of Bitcoin. And the last question is about your involvement. If you have any conferences that you’re attending and projects that you want to promote, because at the end of the day, you’re spending a whole hour here talking to me, and you should at least have this benefit of promoting your work.

Giacomo Zucco (00:52:49):

Thank you. Sure. So let’s start with the first to define, which is my country right now is pretty complex because I live in Switzerland right now since one year, not in Italy anymore. I spent more, most of my personal and professional life in Italy. So if I have to talk with you about Italy first, it’s kind of a, it’s kind of difficult to live only on Bitcoin there with there is a very low merchant adoption inside the country with with a very few, a remarkable exception. One exception is the so called Bitcoin Valley, which is, is a isn’t the North East of Italy and a little city called Rovereto. And if you go to Rovereto, you can spend Bitcoin directly, even with Lightning to buy food everywhere to to buy gas at the gas station. You can even spend Bitcoin inside the Apple, the official Apple store to buy Apple products, because there was like a, the work of visa startup called the inBitcoin, and they made a wonderful work into making Bitcoin locally accepted.

Giacomo Zucco (00:53:54):

There is a bar which pays the employees in Bitcoin, and the employees are spending Bitcoin in the local in local mall and the mall accept Bitcoin to use the Bitcoin to pay for the, for the for the cross provider of the, of the goods. And so there is a sequel, which is great. There are other very few exceptions, like in Rome you can actually pay taxes with Bitcoin and thanks to a startup called Chainside. But in general, I will say it’s very difficult to live on Bitcoin only. Of course if you, if by Bitcoin only your, your, you mean that you don’t use a card that I carry out automatically Bitcoin paid the credit card, like Wirex or Xapo. In Switzerland it’s a little bit better in Zurich area and Zug.

Giacomo Zucco (00:54:47):

Zug is the crypto Valley, which is mostly fake. I mean, it’s just just a PR stand in many regards, but there is a really some kind of a, of easy acceptance. So it’s kind of easy to spend Bitcoin while it’s more difficult in the part of this Switzerland I live in, which is Ticino. Uh the Southern Italian part of Switzerland, where there is a, what is it it’s I mean, the, the city is even accepting taxes in Bitcoin directly. So there is a there, I mean, there are more events in Italy, for sureStill the point of Bitcoin, if you have any alternative so if you have any fiat money, income, and I think that the, I mean, it’s reasonable to assume that many of us are still have some kind of fiat money income.

Giacomo Zucco (00:55:41):

If that’s the case, probably you should spend the fiat money first. Bitcoin is not really conceived to be used mainly in a brick and mortar face-to-face businesses in which you can just use a fiat instead, a, I mean, even if you are in a, in a broken economy like Venezuela, and you have to buy coffee in Venezuela, okay. Maybe the economy’s broken, but if you have Bolivars, you prefer to spend bolivars for buying the coffee. And if you don’t have bolivars anymore, because your bolivars are just worthless because of inflation. Then maybe if you are buying a coffee in Venezuela, you should use the us dollar system. The problem of the us dollar cash in ministry is that you cannot store them efficiently in order to protect the wealth of your family.

Giacomo Zucco (00:56:30):

In that case, you need Bitcoin, or you cannot bring US dollars in cash with bags outside Venezuela if you are running away. So for that, you need Bitcoin, you cannot smuggle in dollar cash for for political activists inside Venezuela. So you need Bitcoin for that, but for a face to face normal coffee purchases I’m skeptical that we really need this use Bitcoin. The only cases in which you need to use Bitcoin to buy coffee is when you don’t have anything as in Bitcoin, but this is why the very, I mean, I respect people that are so committed to be all in, literally, but that might mean my wealth is in Bitcoin and just Bitcoin, but my monthly income is partly in fiat. So I, I had to spend fiat first.

Giacomo Zucco (00:57:23):

So it’s not really an issue for me to spend Bitcoin everywhere. I try to save Bitcoin and to spend fiat whatever I can. So the second question was about the centralization risk in Lightning network because of the new the new idea of, for the pre pre bootstrapped Bitcoin full node, like like Node Launcer and Casa and Nodl, and soon enough probably dojo from from Samourai and so on. So I think that I’m kind of optimistic about this because the, the sheer fact that we are already mentioning a lot of competitors in this kind of relatively, super early stage business, which is selling pre-charged full nodes, it’s kind of reassuring. Also getting back to the discussion we had about Neutrino, I prefer that the user trusts Casa hold, knowing that they are trusting Casa Hodl, then the user is trusting an unknown hashrate majority without even knowing who is in control of this hashrate majority right now.

Giacomo Zucco (00:58:40):

So it’s a less dangerous to trust one specific company then to trust a generic hashrate majority systemically, less dangerous, even if easier to sensor locally. So the, the problem is that it would be a problem. I mean, if if Samsung, for example, or Apple started to take a 90% of the market of hardware full nodes, or maybe Intel, or, or even maybe, I don’t know, Ledger or, or some Bitcoin company started to get the, the irrelevant majority of full nodes running on their pre-bootstraped systems, then I think it will become scary. Of course the best thing would be to to have companies providing open source software that you can eventually check against some kind of proof. So if you receive a for example a box from Casa, but you can check which kind of code is running on eater against some kind of open source repository, maybe with a remote, a remote at the station or a defensive mechanism like that.

Giacomo Zucco (00:59:52):

That would be a great improvement. Also, it’s important that we, we do have, yeah, but these kinds of businesses making make it easier to run full nodes, but also some strategy to to run for nodes with totally commodity hardwar., For example, right now, one of your option to Ryan to run a full node is called AB Core, as I was saying before. So you just buy an Android TV, a smart TV, and you run a AB Core on Android. And so or, or you, you just buy an older cell phone with Android, you put an SD card with a good, with a good memory space on this older cell phone. You plug in the cell phone to electricity and connect it to wifi. And now you can run a full node at home in your old cell phone and use your actual cell phone to connect to your full node.

Giacomo Zucco (01:00:45):

So that’s good enough. Unfortunately, you cannot yet do it with lighting. There is not an Android version for a Lightning node yet, but I know the Lawrence of Green address is working. Of course, it’s not a for profit business, so they are doing that in the spare time, but they are willing to work on a Android version, c-lighting. That would be great. Of course, the third strategy of mitigation that you can use is a, is not trustless software but at least provably honest or auditable software. So even if you cannot guarantee that today, Casa node, for example, is doing what they say they are doing software-wise. It’s good that you can open it up and and, and check. I mean people can open it up a raspberry PI and check the actual core software running on it against against some kind of promises from, from the company.

Giacomo Zucco (01:01:50):

So auditability or the software is very, very important. But yeah, in a way you, you have to make, you have to make the game theory work. You cannot have perfect trustlessness. That’s impossible because even if you, I mean, even if I run a Bitcoin core and Electrum personal server plus Electrum a verifiable distribution in an air gapped computer that you bought in cash still, maybe IBM put some kinds of very nasty back door on it before. And some way the version of Electrum that I downloaded is also tampered in a way that allows the Intel processor to sneak peek some of my private keys. I mean, I’m making this up, but you cannot have perfect mathematical certainty of security. What you need to have is to, eh, you, you need to reduce the attack surfaces.

Giacomo Zucco (01:02:51):

If everybody was running hardware by Casa Hodl, that will be worrying. Just like if everybody was on Mt. Gox, it will be worrying if everybody would be connected with the same lightning node that would be worrying. So we have to avoid accesses. Of course. Wwhen when we have, when we add the one ASIC producer controlling it directly, or indirectly, more than 80% of the, of the hashrate power, that was pretty worrying. So far the Casa Node experiment or the Nodl experiment, or the Node Launcher. Actually, I don’t think that Pierre is thinking about monetizing. Pierre is releasing software, not hardware. That means that you don’t have to trust Pierre at all. You just the Node Launcher, which is open source. So you can review that and you can compile it and check the signatures on a Gitian build, and you can just run it on your computer. While a Nodle and Dojo and the Bitseed and Casa Hodl nodes, they require some trust in the hardware they ship to you.

Giacomo Zucco (01:04:00):

Which is kind of, I mean, it’s not easy to do that, right. Because for example, maybe the company is trustworthy, but what about the supply chain? How do you know that nobody tampered with your hardware from the from the distributor, from the producer to, to your home, of course, this is way more critical. We should talk about the hardware wallets. So if you think about the Trezor or a Ledger or Digital Bitbox, in that case, the supply chain attack is very risky because you are using this hardware to protect your private keys. If you’re using your hardware to protect their, the enforcement of Bitcoin rules, that’s, eh, I think it’s an order of magnitude, less scary. The incentive to attack you is still there, but it is not as direct as incentive to attack a hundred wallets.

Giacomo Zucco (01:04:53):

So probably it’s less it’s less important to guarantee the supply chain integrity in Casa hold node than it is in a, in a Trezor, for example. But still there are, there are a lot of things to, to consider in this market. So about the last question that you, that you asked, thank you. Yes, I do have a conference to promote actually is not a for profit conference, not as there is, there is anything bad in doing for profit stuff. We all have to do for profit start in order to live and to improve what we do. But in this case it would be a conference which is paid for. So it’s a, it’s not a free conference, of course, because there are a lot of costs to cover in order to to have the place and the venue and the speakers and everything.

Giacomo Zucco (01:05:42):

And it’s called Understanding Bitcoin. The website is a understanding BTC understandingbtc.com. It will be from the 5th to the 7th of April of next month. So it’s pretty close, but you can still register. We have capacity up to 200 people, and right now I think we are even more than, than half. So yeah, there is space there I’m very happy to organize this conference. I’m organizing it with Adam Back and Tone Vays. The idea was born up in Chile when the three of us were discussing at a table at a conference in Chile, in Santiago. And basically we, we realized that these, we realized that the bread now, Bitcoin conferences are divided in two macro categories. On one hand, you have the technical conferences, which are pretty good, like Breaking Bitcoin, coming up in in, in June, in in Amsterdam.

Giacomo Zucco (01:06:43):

It’s a, it’s a very good conference. You have I mean, you have w you have very good conferences, but they are very technical building on Bitcoin in Lisbon. Some Scaling Bitcoin, they are a bit, or Financial Crypto. There are very technical conferences with very good level, but they are not for normal users. They are conferences in which technical people talks with other technical people. So if you are a typical power user of Bitcoin, which may be, is very interested in topic, you are an enthusiast, you are a promoter and evangelist or a power user, but you are not technical enough. You could feel very you could feel very uncomfortable to go to to listen to a technical conference like that. On the other hand, on the other side of the spectrum, you have this camp conferences.

Giacomo Zucco (01:07:38):

So you have this crypto conference or blockchain conference in which you feel welcome because there is nothing technical to understand. So you can go, you can go there and they will not just talk advanced technology. They will, talk about user experience, political implication, economical implication, a personal investment. They will talk some kind of language that the normal user can understand, but they will not be they will not have a goodfilter against noise and scams and frauds and, and a snake oil and empty buzzwords. So if you go to a normal crypto conference, you can, eh, and you are a normal nontechnical user. You feel that you can under, you can understand, but actually 90% of what you are listening to is bullshit. While if you go to a real technical Bitcoin conference, you,uyou have a very good quality, but you cannot fully appreciate that.

Giacomo Zucco (01:08:38):

So we thought that we would need something in between. We will need something, some kind of conference in which you have the best technical people explaining stuff, but not the debating among themselves about cutting edge technology. So not like a Bitcoin Core meet up with with Greg Maxwell discussing with Sipa about the, the new Schnorr signatures, but instead just the best technical people explaining non-technological people, how to run the best tools and the best practices that are available right now. So for example how to install and run Wasabi safely, how to install and run a full node with Bitcoin Core, or maybe ABCore on your cell phone or,

Giacomo Zucco (01:09:25):

Or maybe how to properly connect a Nodl or Casa device How to run a Lightning network node with c-lighning or lnd, or so on.

Giacomo Zucco (01:09:39):

How to mix your coins with Join Market, for example, which is a very interesting alternative to Wasabi. How to install BTCPay server in order to earn a Bitcoin on your website easily, even with Lightning network. How to run your Lightning Network nodes on Tor instead of on clearnet, so that you preserve your privacy more How to use the Bisq network in order to buy and sell Bitcoin without any kind of KYC or or even more how to broadcast Bitcoin transactions when the internet heavily censored. So how to run of course, on Tor or VPN, but even on now on satellite, the Blockstream satellite or goTenna mesh networks, radio mesh network, and stuff like that. So these three days of conference will be will they will not be either a technical conference for technical guys discussing among themselves, nor it will be a crypto conference where where random scam projects get presented to literate people. It will be experts in the Bitcoin ecosystem explaining how to use the best tools available right now in order to do Bitcoin stuff cool, and, and useful Bitcoin stuff. Of course it’s very difficult to organize it because

Giacomo Zucco (01:11:04):

We are, we are managing a lot of them,

Giacomo Zucco (01:11:07):

The first speaker. So, and it’s kind of difficult to to manage this kind of a, this kind of a great lineup. We will have a Adam Gibson from Join Market and Lawrence Nahum from a Greenaddress, and ABCore, and Adam Ficsor from Wasabi Wladimir van der Laan from Bitcoin Core and and Christian Decker from c-lightning. And well, a lot of, a lot of great people talking, but it’s challenging is the first the first time we tried this experiment and if it goes well, as I hope our intention is to do this kind of stuff, at least every year, in order to have a place where a Bitcoin power users can go and learn about the best tools on the market. Of course, in 2020, the best tools will probably not be the same that in 2019.

Giacomo Zucco (01:12:06):

So we want to make it a yearly conference and Adam Back and myself, we are discussing about the program and Tone Vays, he’s giving a great support for organization and everything. There is a, there is a lot of great guys helping us organizing and moderating the panels and such. So I invite you to take a look at understandingbtc.com and and to come, if, if you think you are inside the target of this kind of conference and to provide feedback. Of course, there will be a free live stream, so you can watch a conference even without coming. But if you come, I mean, the idea is that people should come. The first two days will be for the workshop. The the, the third day would probably be something like something like basically a hackathon, but where people can actually divide into groups and they can try to implement what they learned running this kind of software. So it should be very cool.

Vlad Costea (01:13:14):

Yeah. So when is it because I’ve listened to all these details about what it’s going to be like, and who is participating, but I didn’t memorize the date.

Giacomo Zucco (01:13:23):

So it’s 5th to 7th of April. So on the fifth, and on the sixth, we will have the the actual workshops where we will teach people what to, how to run tools. On the seventh, they will probably be a more traditional kind of conference, and then maybe some people could stay even for the, for the eight for, a final hands-on hackathon. So we are still defining the agenda in a bit. I know it’s very late to refine the agenda because it’s very close, but anyway, the dates are 5-7 of April, and you can find the registration, everything on understandingbtc.com.

Vlad Costea (01:14:05):

That sounds very good if I was around Switzerland or Malta. Is it in Malta, sorry?

Giacomo Zucco (01:14:12):

It’s a Malta. Yeah.

Vlad Costea (01:14:13):

I think of where you are, as opposed to where it’s taking place. If I were in Malta or close to it, or had more money than I do right now, I would definitely come just to meet you guys, even if I just had to sit there and watch you exchange Bitcoins and coinjoin your wallets.

Giacomo Zucco (01:14:33):

Yeah. It should be very good. But please take a look at the live stream and provide feedback, because it’s the first time we would try with such an experiment and maybe we, maybe we are onto some kind of very useful format for conferences.

Vlad Costea (01:14:48):

Yeah. That should be interesting. And I look forward to it. So thank you very much for this interview. It was great. And you raught me a lot of stuff, and you gave me some ideas for articles. I think I’m going to look more into neutrino and see what it’s all about, and then publish something as I should very pressing issue and people are interested.

Giacomo Zucco (01:15:14):

Yeah, it is. And in order to clarify, I think it’s great. It’s great tech and the intention of many of the proposals or the proponents are very good. And especially Pierre, his Node launcher is great. And and even the, the work that Olaoluwa Osuntokun (roasbeef) did on Neutrino is a great work, very useful for, for, for Bitcoin. The problem is just being sure about the right incentives here, not, not about not using the tech.

Vlad Costea (01:15:44):

Right. I guess there’s a lot to read about it. I found some Reddit threads while you’re speaking of it, and there is one called PSA, and I’m going to begin with that one and also read the proposal. So thank you very much. This was enlightening. And if you’re in Romania, there’s also a conference around here and

Giacomo Zucco (01:16:05):

Yeah, yeah. I know I was invited for the next fall, if I’m not mistaken. And I am I mean, I have to check the logistics, but I think I will be there

Vlad Costea (01:16:15):

Really. That’s really awesome because I’m also trying to get there, just that I get to meet Peter Todd and the people who are participating and might be there. I think also Pierre Rochard has more or less confirmed that. That’s awesome.

Giacomo Zucco (01:16:33):

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It was fun. Thank you.

Vlad Costea (01:16:39):

So thank you very much. This was great. And maybe that in some other season, we have many more topics to discuss and I’m going to invite you and you are going to express your always controversial to some extent opinions, but sure. This space is great as you have all these voices and all these people who present all the sides and older risks. And I think that some of our politicians should take notice how it should be working on how no change sometimes means that the system works. And you shouldn’t rush into creating chaos just because you have this vanity to create reform or be remembered as having some kind of legacy.

Giacomo Zucco (01:17:25):

Yeah, I will. I would like to say to politicians that they should just learn to learn to code and and wait for the takeover of Bitcoin over their political system. So I’m sorry, guys. Sorry for your loss.

Vlad Costea (01:17:40):

Yeah. I look forward to that. So I’ll see you later. See you later. Bye. Bye.

Vlad Costea
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