Builders on Wall Street: Bitcoin Devs Host Lightning Hack Day


It has been described as "not a normal conference".

Of course, the speakers went to the podium to present their futuristic ideas – a key element of the numerous cryptocurrency conferences in space. But the Lightning Hackday, which took place in the heart of Wall Street on October 27 and 28, was the most tempting of a community-led effort with heavy coding.

During the two-day event, a hackathon was buzzing in the background. Tiny computers called Raspberry Pis have littered the tables and the developers have muttered to one another how to change the rules of the system and at the same time do not interrupt the incentive schemes.

This eclectic configuration is perhaps to be expected from a group of hackers who build what they hope is the future of money.

Bitcoin's lightning strike network is still in its infancy, but many hope it will solve the underlying problems of larger bitcoins – which is simply too slow and clumsy, and therefore does not fit well for a future of mass adoption – at least, that is , without the help of a second layer.

"For those of you who do not know, blockchains are sucking," said Chris Stewart, an engineer of the blockchain data provider SuredBits, when he started his speech.

That said, he and other developers hope the flash network will change this.

The passions were so high, in fact, that it was difficult to keep track of all the different projects on the floor. But one thing bound them all together: the interest in building the potential of technology as a payment mechanism for daily purchases.

In fact, the Lightning Labs engineer, Alex Bosworth, admitted that the "killer app" of lightning – what makes it mainstream – could be that simple.

"I do not know what the killer app is, maybe buying a cupcake is," Bosworth told the attendees during his speech.

Ideas, friend

Bosworth, although he suspects the best ideas for using lightning have not yet been created.

To make a comparison, he argued that the first developers behind Linux, the popular open-source operating system, could never guess how far the code would come.

"They were thinking" Oh will this be deployed in a billion phones? " he said, implying that they probably did not – and could not – have that kind of foresight when he was deployed for the first time.

As such, Bosworth told the developers not to keep their big ideas a secret. And he took his own advice, sharing his many ideas on how lightning can be used in unique ways. For example, he believes that lightning can be used as a "monetized data layer", with some tweaking of the underlying software.

Right now, the flash works by going around "small tests" that are essentially "meaningless random data," Bosworth said. "But we could turn it into meaningful data," he added.

An idea: use lightning to pass small pieces of a file, so that when they are reunited they recreate the complete file.

Bosworth also argued that lightning could be used to pay for greater privacy of payments and fuel a wave of "self-organizing" games, though, as Bosworth was pissing off an idea after idea, it was hard to keep up with the operation of these features in practice.

Still, it was just a developer who shared ideas at the event.

Originally from Japan, Nayuta CEO Kenichi Kurimoto presented a "lightning-optimized" implementation for the "Internet of Things" or the wide range of devices, from cars to televisions, that have enhanced features thanks to the Internet connection .

He sees great potential in this case of use, claiming that these connected machines could one day send payments between them. And with that, imagine that a "money owned by anyone" (ie bitcoin) will play a key role, since payments can be so cheap and various devices can perform them without the need for a third party.

Returning to the basics

But with all the futuristic ideas, going to the past, another fulcrum of Hackday's lightning was simply making the lightning easier to use.

"There's a lot to do, but there's also", said Toby Algya, bitcoin enthusiast, laughing at how difficult it is to create lightning. "I'm just trying to make lightning work, this is my personal challenge for the day."

In this regard, developers are still thinking about the lower level, which could one day help with these kinds of problems. For example, a tool called a "lightning autopilot" could make things easier by automating the transition where users need to set up a "channel" to use the network.

For example, Rene Pickhardt, a lightning developer and data science consultant, is working in this field and claims that these kinds of design questions are important to answer in advance.

"Why is it important to think about it beforehand? If we create lightning for a couple of years, we might find that topology is not great," he said.

While Pickhardt offered some ideas to Lightning Hackday, he noted that no solution is perfect because there is a "compromise between privacy and the quality of recommendations".

In a related note, some key lightning developers will meet in Australia next week to discuss the future of project specifications. Pickhardt noted that the future of the autopilot, including its implementation, is something high on their list to be discussed.

Bosworth echoed this sentiment, stating that these kinds of technical changes are so important that he is about to dwell on his great ideas – for now, at least – focus on them. Case in point: recently joined the full-time Lightning Labs to work on the appearance of software nuts and bolts.

"There are so many interesting things that can be built on lightning, it's important that the underlying protocol works well," he said, concluding:

"My priority is to bring her there."

Image of the statue of a fearless girl by Renee Leibler

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