2022 has been rough year for bitcoin news as a series of industry implosions have sent the coin’s price tumbling by around 63% year-to-date. (To be fair, Bitcoin performed no worse than the broader crypto sector, which declined from $2.3 trillion to $846 billion this year. Even the NASDAQ stock market declined -29%.)
Fortunately, several big events advanced the Bitcoin network and put it on a firmer footing for the future. Of course, many challenges remain.
Below is a quick round-up of the major headlines telling the story of bitcoin’s 2022.
Jack Dorsey backs legal fund to defend Bitcoin developers from litigants like Craig Wright
On January 12, 2022, Jack Dorsey, Alex Morcos, and Martin White announced a new Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund to help support developers who were targeted by frivolous lawsuits. One notorious, litigious plaintiff was likely the primary motivator: Craig Wright.
Dorsey’s message on the Linux Foundation’s bitcoin-dev mailing list cited numerous lawsuits against Bitcoin Core developers who are often unpaid volunteers or underpaid maintainers of open source code repositories.
Jeremy Rubin proposed Speedy Trial for a Miner Activated Soft Fork
Bitcoin Core developer and Judica founder Jeremy Rubin proposed a contentious activation method for his Miner Activated Soft Fork of Bitcoin. So far, his proposal has failed to activate. Rubin was proposing Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 119, also known as CheckTemplateVerify or, simply, Covenants.
Bitcoin mining and transactions activity gain traction in Africa
Power grids in Africa are far more localized and clustered than Western-style interstate power grids. Challenges include intermittent electricity and Internet access.
With an abundance of natural resources stranded from reliable power grid consumption, economically disadvantaged regions in rural Africa became ideal candidates for modular bitcoin mining operators.
All of these characteristics encouraged modular, satellite-connected rigs to join bitcoin’s mining network.
For example, Jack Dorsey plugged Gridless Compute’s effort to use excess hydropower to mine bitcoin and reduce electric rates. Gridless raised $2 million this year for modular, satellite-connected rigs.
Three weeks ago, Ghana hosted the continent’s largest Bitcoin conference in history.
BIP-125 and Bitcoin’s contentious Replace-By-Fee discussion
Developers had a lively discussion about possible Replace-By-Fee (RBF) models. With RBF, the sender of a transaction could replace a pending transaction with a new transaction with a higher fee. Discussions regarding changes to RBF, including default settings of wallets, is ongoing.
A formal Bitcoin Improvement Proposal, BIP-125, proposed a protocol to enable nodes to accept transactions that signaled that they could be replaced with a transaction with the same inputs and a higher fee.
Bitcoin Core 24.0.1 gave nodes the option to so configure their RBF policies.
Lisa Neigut proposes four-tier ratecards for Lightning Network node operators
Lisa ‘NiftyNei’ Neigut published a proposal to switch Lightning Network’s current fee model to a four-tier ratecard. Under her proposal, users could advertise various rates based on their channel’s available capacity. This could allow Bitcoin Lightning node operators to dynamically price their channels’ bitcoin liquidity without having to constantly transmit new rates via gossip channels.
John Light publishes a report on Bitcoin validity rollups
On October 11, Bitcoin researcher and author John Light published a report on validity rollups on Bitcoin as part of the Human Rights Foundation Zero Knowledge-Rollup Research Fellowship. Alex Gladstein’s Human Rights Foundation, as well as Starkware, has sponsored a study on whether ZK-Rollups could assist with scaling Bitcoin.
Bitcoin developers discuss the need for quantum resistance
Bitcoin developers discussed the possibility that a quantum computer could — decades in the future — reverse engineer a public key to decipher its private key. A Bitcoin developer, Aronesty, suggested a method to receive payments to a public key secured by a new, quantum cryptography-resistant algorithm. Lloyd Fournier suggested using Taproot outputs for quantum-safe public keys.
40 Bitcoin Core devs meet face-to-face
In Atlanta, about 40 Bitcoin Core developers met at a rare, in-person conference. Most Bitcoin Core development occurs via GitHub, email, and other online communication.
Brian Bishop transcribed of about half of their face-to-face discussions on topics that included the possibility of moving away from GitHub as a repository altogether.
Devs also discussed possible improvements to transport encryption, transaction fees, a proposed Flexible Round Optimized Schnorr Threshold (FROST) signature scheme, and transaction relay rules that could address vulnerabilities to pinning attacks.
Special thanks to the open-source Bitcoin Operations Technology Group for recounting Bitcoin’s major technical events in 2022 and helping to inform this article.