When I first heard about Saito I was online in a Beijing Bitcoin group. One of the founders, David, was explaining the problems of Bitcoin Cash and BitcoinSV from his perspective.
Like Vitalik, I also mistook him for a BSV shill. It’s hard to understand the Saito point-of-view when you’re trapped in the Proof-of-Work or Proof-of-Stake mindset.
At the time, I was stuck on one side of the debate between BTC, BCH, and BSV. The perspective which I now hold is that the fight is a consequence of the broken economic incentives at the core of PoW. It’s not that one side is dumb or corrupted so much as that all sides have problems. We’re all able to see the errors on “the other side” more easily than our own and no one within that debate is taking a step back to ask if we’re all making different flavors of the same mistake.
At first, I thought David was just shilling some weak project. Given the state of the industry, it’s hardly the wrong assumption to make. But, after speaking for few minutes, I could see that he was sincere. However, what he was telling me was “impossible” within my paradigm. Saito can scale to handle world-wide micro-transactions and it is safe from 51% attack? My initial thoughts were definitely skeptical. I assumed that David must not understand “blockchain”, or that Saito had relaxed some fundamental constraint in order to achieve scalability. However, it was some of my assumptions about “blockchain” which were incorrect.
As I dug deeper, it became clear that David understood these issues quite well, his motivations were pure and he had clearly put a lot of thought into everything I wanted to discuss. But, David had a different way of looking at the industry which was difficult for me to understand at first. Whatever topic I wanted to discuss, he would always frame it in terms of Game Theory.
David was claiming that the scaling problems in the industry were caused by bad economics, not just some technical issue. At first it only seemed like some theoretical viewpoint which may not have any practical implications…
When I brought up IP (The Internet Protocol) and BGP, he not only understood my comparison but elucidated how Saito might be able to implement a similar system. Strange… When I mentioned details of my own project, an Ethereum-based platform for app integration, he was able to explain why Ethereum was having trouble delivering scale. My customers would either have to run their own Ethereum node or find someone else willing to offer an API for free, the theoretical started to become quite practical…
Satoshi definitely created something brilliant, but is it “Blockchain”? And what is a Blockchain anyway?
As I’ve gotten more and more familiar with David and Richard’s ways of thinking, I’ve come to agree that Satoshi’s brilliant discovery was that digital systems can implement economic primitives and that those economic primitives, i.e. coins/tokens, can be used to incentivize clients to run a decentralized system. The tricky bit is only that the one depends on the other, so there’s a catch-22, but now that nearly everyone on the planet has accepted that coins can have real value, that’s hardly a problem anymore.
The fundamental difference between Saito’s way of framing problems in the industry is that we always thinking in terms of Game Theory, not just technically. Of course, once the design has been done within an economic frame-of-mind, the implementation is technical, leveraging hashes, digital signatures, “difficulty”, et cetera. Once you accept this way of thinking, many things in the cryptocurrency space start to make more sense.
Vitalik often speaks about building systems which can accurately reflect the incentives surrounding a Public Good. Most people will have heard him advocate for Quadratic Payments. I believe this is related to a common dream in the CryptoCurrency space, an intuition we all had in the early days that we’ve lost as we intellectualize the problem and start to believe in things like the Blockchain Scaling Trilemma. Those of us who joined the movement early on and can still remember dreams of Web 3.0, micro-transactions, and a blockchain that could operate at Internet Scale, when “Colored Coins” was still an idea and the only other Blockchains beside Bitcoin were Litecoin and maybe Dogecoin.
A blockchain is a Public Good, so it’s natural to ask, if we want to incentivize the funding of a decentralized network that optimizes for network throughput, how might that be done? The answer, which David and Richard have discovered, is that the fundamental unit of work must be the fees themselves.
It might seem purely academic and irrelevant to have something like a blockchain which is “more correct”, however, the effects which come as asides to solving this problem correctly at the fundamental level are absolutely huge. Not only is Saito secure against 51% attacks, but it is also happy to allow micro-transactions, something which in the early days it was assumed Bitcoin could achieve. Now it seems that for most people in the space this has become a forgotten dream, a dream which underpins any hope of creating Web 3.0 or anything more interesting than a transferable token or Uniswap.
Accepting that Saito can do all these things is difficult for many people in the industry to accept. Saito achieves things which seem impossible to those of us who have been stuck in the Proof-of-Work paradigm for years.
It was unclear to me how bogged down the cryptocurrency space had become before I met David and Richard. I had some intuition from the early days that cryptocurrencies could become so much more. Over seven years the vision became narrower and narrower. It’s only now, standing in the light of Saito that I’m able to see just how dark my path had become. If, like me, you also have some intuition that the cryptocurrency industry could be so much more, or that your favorite project isn’t quite what it could be, take a look at Saito.
Please feel free to contact us on Twitter, Telegram, or Discord. If you want to try to fork our code and make something awesome, I’ll see it most quickly if you ping me on Telegram. Follow along with our blog.