S5 E8: Eric Voskuil on Libbitcoin Development, Cryptoeconomics Book & Austrian Economics

Eric Voskuil is the kind of Bitcoin developer whose understanding transcends computer science. Not only that he is a C++ wizard, but he is also an avid reader of Austrian economics and often references works by Mises and Rothbard.

As a matter of fact, Voskuil (whose correct pronunciation is “foss-kuyl”) refers to economics as an “axiomatic system” – a hard science that can be studied in a framework which works regardless of human subjectivity and behaviorism (more about this view at 33:25).

As he explains in this interview, Voskuil considers that Bitcoin transaction fees are an essential part of the network’s censorship resistance and decentralization. The increasing cost is not an issue, but a fundamental component which ensures financial sustainability and therefore base layer security.

Voskuil is best known in the Bitcoin space for the contributions that he has made to the Libbitcoin project. As he explains, Libbitcoin isn’t just another clone or port, but an entire rewriting of the Bitcoin Core software to bring certain optimizations. The software currently doesn’t have a graphical interface, but is very useful to miners that seek to maximize storage efficiency.

As he mentions during the interview around the 6:30 mark, one of his breakthroughs with Libbitcoin involves moving files that otherwise get stored in the limited RAM to the hard drive. This optimization saves operation costs, since the latter type of memory is more inexpensive.

“I think [that] not being a professional programmer or software engineer, Satoshi fell prey to one of the patterns which is common in software development: premature optimization” – Eric Voskuil

Yet Voskuil combines his passion for writing code with an affinity for Austrian economics. In conversation, he successfully blurs the lines between software engineering and market dynamics. And it was perhaps this inter-disciplinary approach of his that led to the publishing of “Cryptoeconomics“.

Interestingly, the book is a collection of unrelated articles that Voskuil has been publishing in the Libbitcoin-System GitHub repository for years. But it all came together and started to look more cohesive in recent months and thanks to contributions from people such as James Chang, a printed version is ready to ship whenever the pandemic ends.

Unlike Saifedean’s “The Bitcoin Standard”, “Cryptoeconomics” doesn’t have a central narrative or interlink phenomena to establish an ideological standpoint. Instead, it features a rational and ideologically-detached approach that some people may find blasphemous.

Furthermore, “Cryptoeconomics” is already available for free on GitHub. Therefore, purchasing the book is only a way to support the author and keep a physical copy that withstands any possible revisions.

Listen to Eric Voskuil on iTunes and Spotify!

Time stamps:

00:47 – Intro

02:00 – For how long has Eric Voskuil worked on Libbitcoin?

04:00 – Why are Bitcoin repository ports created?

6:30 – Breakthroughs made by Libbitcoin

12:10 – Eric Voskuil’s more advanced activity in Bitcoin

15:43 – Performance optimization

20:51 – Satoshi Nakamoto wasn’t a professional programmer

25:15 – Is Eric Voskuil a computer scientist or an economist?

28:10 – Austrian economics

29:30 – Credit and economic production

33:25 – Misean economics as an axiomatic system

38:54 – S2F (Stock to Flow) is not Austrian

42:20 – Price cannot be proven economically 

44:01 – The value proposition of Bitcoin as money

44:27 – Why store of value is subjective 

45:53 – Lunar fallacy

48:50 – Eric Voskuil’s Cryptoeconomics

50:52 – The Cryptoeconomics books

52:43 – Musing over censorship resistance for a year

54:15 – Economic rational explanation for censorship resistance

56:40 – James Chang’s contributions to the Cryptoeconomics book

59:20 – Cryptoeconomics vs The Bitcoin Standard

1:02:00 – Combining Libbitcoin and Cryptoeconomics

1:06:54 – Bitcoin took years to understand

1:09:20 – Bitcoin security

1:14:16 – Why Trezor offers the best security

1:22:37 – CB750 break pedal

1:24:20 – Is hyperbitcoinization possible?

1:26:38 – Cryptoeconomics on Amazon?

1:27:46 – Improving Bitcoin Privacy

1:29:34 – Take-aways from Vietnam conference

1:33:17 – What happens to Bitcoin if the internet gets regionalized?

1:34:49 – Why the Blockstream Satellite doesn’t solve problems

1:38:56 – The US government as a threat model

1:40:52 – Resilience vs privacy

1:42:37 – Outlawing Bitcoin development threatens devs?

1:51:44 – Bitcoin is not a gambling device

1:53:40 – Libbitcoin institute donations

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Written by Vlad Costea
I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?