Former Bitcoin Core developer Jeremy Rubin wants to perform a Miner Activated Soft Fork (MASF) and has submitted BIP-119 for it. This would mean a significant change to an operation code and introduce so-called “covenants”, a new type of conditional transactions.
Jeremy Rubin wants to put the BIP-119 through the Speedy Trial
BIP stands for Bitcoin Improvement Proposal and describes a code change request in the Bitcoin protocol.
Although most development tasks do not require reconciliation, changes to the protocol still go through a BIP before the implementation is accepted or rejected.
Now, with issue BIP-119, Rubin has presented the aforementioned ballot proposal to the community and urges a quick decision.
The BIP requires a fork when there are changes in the consensus mechanism. This has happened in the past via SegWit and Taproot.
Will BIP-119 come via Speedy Trial?
See Github for the full list of BIPs, including Jeremy Rubin’s. However, the list for BIP 119 does not include Rubin’s name. Instead, Mark Friedenbach, Kalle Alm, and BtcDrak are listed there as owners. BIP-119 has the subject MERKLEBRANCHVERIFY listed.
Great explanation of MERKLEBRANCHVERIFY and how it can enable merklized abstract syntax trees and other Bitcoin features https://t.co/RpkKBwNlAh pic.twitter.com/nhe8U9WdpA
—Jameson Lopp (@lopp) September 21, 2017
According to Rubin, the Speedy Trial should be finished by the end of July. Until then, miners should report if the voting process could be successful.
There had already been a successful Speedy Trial at Taproot and it should now also quickly lead to the desired success.
The mentioned proposal concerns a new operational CTV, the OP_CheckTemplateVerify. A new piece of code that enables new use cases for the network by adding a basic type of convention or smart contract.
The solution would primarily appeal to large financial institutions, which could use it to give their customers greater creative freedom. They would also have better security guarantees when moving large amounts of bitcoins.
many are satisfied with where #bitcoin it is because he enriched them.
I will not be satisfied until we are all free.
— void (@JeremyRubin) January 2, 2022
Will Rubin push user-enabled soft fork on Bitcoin?
Jeremy Rubin is now trying to get miners to participate in OP_CTV to finally make it official.
As a user-activated soft fork (UASF), this fork uses the Speedy Trial activation method, where miners have 3 months to signal whether they want to push the upgrade or not.
What are alliances?
Covenants are a category of proposed Bitcoin consensus changes that allow the script to prevent an authorized backer from spending money on certain other scripts.
Typically, a contract can only allow output for a specific set of whitelisted scripts. These include, among others, returning Bitcoin to the user’s own balance or spending it on a staking address which only allows spending on any address after a certain period of time.
Alliances work with deleted keys, making them a handy tool for designing alliance protocols.
They restrict transactions as to the use of the value they transfer and expand financial instruments into Bitcoin.
Simply put, a covenant is a mechanism to enforce conditions regarding control over bitcoins and where they can be transferred.
How do alliances work?
Custody of Bitcoin forms the heart of the network infrastructure for digital assets and is characterized by the use of so-called keys.
These keys generate signatures that can spend bitcoins. Key management therefore determines how digital assets should be stored and secured.
If a user wants to spend bitcoin, they must execute the digital signature and send the transaction to the network. Technically, a bitcoin transaction is a reference to an unspent expense that the user is allowed to spend.
This also includes restrictions on where and when newly created assets in the form of UTXO can go.
UTXOs are unspent transaction outputs, which are the outputs of a transaction that have not yet been spent. Bitcoin conventions now restrict the contractual nature of Bitcoin transactions.
It is a type of debt agreement that imposes a promise as to whether or not certain activities will be carried out. And that’s even if the user has the key to the bitcoins they want to spend.
For whom are alliances interesting?
The application is primarily of interest to banks, as they can, for example, enter into a loan agreement with a company on the condition that the debt will be repaid if the company’s cash flow to equity ratio falls to a certain level.
Another practical example is fees, because with covenants the transaction can only be executed if the fees fall below a specified level.
So far, covenants cannot be implemented on Bitcoin. The problem with covenants is that there is no way to automatically block delivery of a specific UTXO to another transaction without running the security risk of the UTXO being consumed in another transaction.
What are the advantages of alliances?
- They offer a number of new ways to program Bitcoin by allowing predefinition rather than just input control.
- CTVs allow programmatic enforcement of restrictions without requiring manual participant interaction. This increases the reliability of the agreement.
- Some of the features include security, privacy, and scalability enhancements.
- CTV could introduce payout pools, where a group of people share a single UTXO and confidently redistribute the funds among themselves.
BIP-119 too complicated for minors?
90% of miners should accept BIP-119. Then the nodes could be upgraded. Jeremy Rubin invented the Sapio programming language and runs Judica, a research and development company. His company would therefore benefit considerably from the introduction of the BIP-119.
Bitcoin programmer Jimmy Song considers 90% approval highly unlikely. In an unrepresentative poll via Twitter, 54% said they oppose OP_CTV and Speedy Trial. 15% support OP_CTV but rejected the quick test.
What is your opinion on OP_CTV? (ST = rapid test)
— Jimmy Song (송재준) (@jimmysong) April 24, 2022
Song speculated that the unusually low vote count (it usually attracts thousands of votes in a typical Twitter poll) suggests that few people understand BIP-119.
What are the reviews of the BIP-119 saying?
Most don’t see a Speedy Trial as a good idea again. Also, many believe there is no pressing need for the soft fork right now.
They also claim that the Sapio programming language, which was developed specifically for this purpose, is still under development. One of the main characteristics of the Bitcoin network is its methodical approach.
It provides security and guaranteed correctness to every new addition to the code. According to critics, this project simply goes against the original idea of the Bitcoin network.
It is therefore unclear whether CTV will be added to Bitcoin soon.
that’s why I mainly work on sapio and not on core.
but bitcoin still needs some expansion to reach its full potential.
— void (@JeremyRubin) December 30, 2021
Top Bitcoiners Not Enthusiastic About BIP-119
In a letter, Adam Back, Jimmy Song and Rodolfo Novak oppose Rubin’s Speedy Trial. Many other high-ranking bitcoiners are also not enthusiastic about Rubin’s proposal.
However, some are against a quick test, while others are against BIP-119 as a whole.
Since there are already various proposals for on-chain engagements, it is not clear from their point of view why this should be the best proposal.
But they’re also concerned about the rushed schedule, saying developers haven’t had enough time to perform technical and security audits.
Also, node and miner owners might not have enough interest to consider Rubin’s proposal.
There are also positive voices
Still, CTV’s idea isn’t bad, as it allows users to not only restrict sent bitcoins with conditions, but also control what is done with sent bitcoins once they’re unlocked.
The proposal dates back to 2020, and prominent Bitcoin developers say the proposed changes have now been tested more thoroughly.