The Benevolent Dictator

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4 months ago
Topics: Bitcoin Cash

Contrary to popular belief, Roger Ver did not create Bitcoin Cash. In fact, he only came to support the project well after it was launched. So who created BCH? The long answer is that there were a handful of people involved. The short and simple answer? Amaury Sechet.

Amaury Sechet is the lead developer of Bitcoin ABC, a full node implementation of the Bitcoin Cash protocol. As such, he refers to himself as the benevolent dictator of Bitcoin ABC, a moniker I have only recently come to understand.

Let me start by stating that I wasn't always an Amaury fan. Like many, I questioned his leadership skills, to the point where I even accused him of holding BCH for hostage, which he didn't take too kindly as you can see here:

Some might say this is a perfect example of why they don’t like him. But thinking back now, his response was understandable. For more than two years, Amaury has dedicated himself to the Bitcoin Cash project when he could easily be working for more money at a company like Facebook, where he did in fact work for 4 years. BCH is his baby, and to accuse someone of holding their own baby hostage is something worth getting pissed off about. It would probably be more concerning if such an accusation didn’t piss him off. (I later apologized and he immediately accepted my apology, which is a good sign since someone who easily forgives is someone who is benevolent and doesn't tend to hold a grudge.)

All this to say that I don’t want you to think I'm someone who worships our developers, or is afraid to question authority, but someone who is willing to admit when they were wrong.

I was wrong about Amaury, and unfortunately, I think this is still the case for many in the BCH community.

My initial impression of him was that he seemed like a smart guy, but not having a technical background myself, I took his achievements for granted. I thought, how hard can it be to fork the code and change a number to increase the block size? After all, Charlie Lee forked BTC, changed the block time interval, and created Litecoin. But the more I learned, the more I realized that what Amaury did was in another class. BCH is a minority fork using the same mining algorithm as BTC. For all intents and purposes, BCH should not have survived this long, but not only has it survived, it is now a top four coin that attracts world class developers from around the world.

The team at Bitcoin ABC have led us through 4 major upgrades, a hash war, and managed to save us from potential disasters such as the bug found after the May 2019 upgrade, as well as the EDA back in 2017. Yes, ideally those things would have been caught before they even happened, but the point is they guided us through those problems, and so far have given us no reason to question their ability. In addition, along with the help of many other independent developers, Bitcoin ABC has allowed BCH to evolve into what it is today. We are constantly seeing new projects being built on the network, and I believe Vin Armani was right when he tweeted: “Only possible on BCH because of the foresight of the roadmap.” 

But let’s put aside protocol development for now. Let’s say you already concede that Amaury is a computer science wizard and you have no qualms with his coding ability. You just don’t like him as a leader because you’ve heard how hard he can be to work with, or how he complains about the lack of funding, or the way he airs our dirty laundry in public. I get it. I used to feel the same way. I thought, man why can’t he be more encouraging, more inclusive, more optimistic? But now I realize that’s the role of a cheerleader, not a true leader.

To his credit, Amaury kept his mouth shut for a long time with the hope that key people could resolve their differences internally and move the project forward. But when those same people are constantly trying to derail your work, and forcing the project to go sideways, you are left with no choice but to let the community at large see what is really happening. This is the position he was forced into, ultimately leading to his presentation at the Bitcoin Cash City Conference.

Like many of you, his talk opened my eyes to how valuable he is to this community. I even took the time to transcribe his speech and make it available for others to read (https://read.cash/@Cain/transcript-of-amaury-sechet-presenting-at-the-bitcoin-cash-city-conference-9519-1b714ba6).

I don’t think I was alone in this regard. Recently, Vin Armani posted a video titled “Bitcoin Cash: The Wheel Turns” and in it he discusses the conflict brewing in our community. Rather than outright telling us how he views the situation, he wants us to recognize what’s important, so we learn from the mistakes made throughout history. Vin’s video was soon followed by Jonald Fyookball’s essay “On Bitcoin Governance: Achieving Our Goals, Preventing Protocol Capture, and Avoiding Community Splits”. In that essay, as well as a follow-up interview he did with Coinspice, Jonald lays out what he believes is happening and is a little more overt in his messaging. He states:

“Truly benevolent dictators do not seek control for control’s sake, and instead attempt to foster a culture of inclusiveness and collaboration because that is in the best interests of the coin. But it is not always beneficial to include everyone, particularly those that demonstrate power-seeking behavior.”

He concludes his essay with four guiding principles to help our community best move forward, the last of which is: "4. Have good schelling points.” I think at this moment in our history, Amaury Sechet and Bitcoin ABC need to be our schelling point. We need to rally around this team and support them while fighting against those who work to sabotage their efforts. I'm not suggesting we blindly follow everything they say, but that until they give us reason to no longer trust them, they remain our best option for reaching our goals.

Amaury’s foresight is what’s gotten us here. He predicted the failure of Segwit 2x, leading him to fork the code to create BCH in the first place. When he saw the damage that would be caused by the presence of Craig Wright, the community failed to heed his warnings in time. Now he is calling on us to open our eyes to bad actors that willingly, or unwillingly, damage our cause, and I think it is in our best interest to listen.

Over the last couple of years, Bitcoin Cash has worked hard to position itself as the fourth largest cryptocurrency by market cap behind BTC, ETH, and XRP. As of today, we are still valued at less than 50% of XRP, and barely 3% of BTC. But one thing we have in our favor is that we are trying to be something those other three projects are not. We don’t strive to be digital gold, or a world computer, or a centralized settlement layer for the banking system,  but simply peer-to-peer electronic cash for the world.

Thank you for reading.

Below are links to Vin’s video as well as the Coinspice interview of Jonald.


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The team at Bitcoin ABC have led us through 4 major upgrades, a hash war, and managed to save us from potential disasters such as the bug found after the May 2019 upgrade, as well as the EDA back in 2017.

This is a very interesting view on the world.

What actually happened is that those upgrades were team-efforts. People that would not be called part of ABC did a lot of the heavy lifting. They all made sure their code was merged into the ABC codebase, but it would be wrong to give the ABC team credit for all of this.

The bug you say they saved us from was not present in other implementations. Maybe avoiding a bug should count more than fixing one? Because in that case practically all other running implementations did a better job.

The EDA was another one where people saw the problems, and explained them in details, far before it started being an issue. The fun forgotten fact is that ABC got a tech-review from nChain on the EDA algorithm he wrote himself and merged based on this.

Sound leadership there, for sure!

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3 months ago

Hi, Cain! Awesome article.

A small tip: you can use "> " (greater than sign, then space) for the quotes - it should look better.

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4 months ago

thanks. noted.

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4 months ago
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