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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

To Meme, Or Not To Meme: The CAT

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Is it actually stunning, provided that cats have primarily dominated the web for the final twenty years, that cat memes have lastly taken over the Bitcoin area as nicely in the previous few weeks? Cats are probably the most viral meme on the web, so it isn’t surprising in in the least that the Taproot Wizards have leaned into it, bolstered by the trolling Luke over his “dietary selections.”

The query needs to be requested although, are meme campaigns actually how we wish to go about deciding and discussing consensus modifications to a protocol as priceless as Bitcoin? I’ve seen quite a few music movies, campaigns to exit on the earth and “educate” folks on OP_CAT, and the entire “Quest” system that Taproot Wizards has launched going down…however the actuality is the overwhelming majority of this content material that I’ve seen has been extremely superficial.

Rijndael, “Artificer” at Taproot Wizards and one of many few folks, if not the one individual, truly tinkering and enjoying with OP_CAT to construct out use case examples, has made a demo of a OP_CAT primarily based covenant script.

This script enforces a certain quantity of Bitcoin be despatched to a particular handle, and by consensus there isn’t a different option to spend these cash besides with a transaction that meets these precise situations. Have a look at the dimensions of this script:

OP_TOALTSTACK OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT de890a8209d796493ee7bac9a58b62fbced10ccb7311e24f26c461c079ead08c OP_SWAP OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT 54617053696768617368 OP_SHA256 OP_DUP OP_ROT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_SHA256 424950303334302f6368616c6c656e6765 OP_SHA256 OP_DUP OP_ROT 79be667ef9dcbbac55a06295ce870b07029bfcdb2dce28d959f2815b16f81798 OP_DUP OP_DUP OP_TOALTSTACK 2 OP_ROLL OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_CAT OP_SHA256 OP_FROMALTSTACK OP_SWAP OP_CAT OP_FROMALTSTACK OP_DUP 1 OP_CAT OP_ROT OP_EQUALVERIFY 2 OP_CAT 79be667ef9dcbbac55a06295ce870b07029bfcdb2dce28d959f2815b16f81798 OP_CHECKSIG

That is what it takes to emulate CHECKTEMPLATEVERIFY. The equal script utilizing CTV would merely be:


I ask, what’s the worth of one thing like OP_CAT in emulating the case of fundamental template covenants (issues requiring a spending transaction to satisfy sure situations outlined forward of time to be legitimate) like this? We all know precisely methods to deal with schemes implementing a template on transactions spending an output locked to a template covenant, and have a number of proposals for them. CTV, TXHASH, OP_TX, and even APO can emulate these schemes by stuffing a signature within the locking output of a transaction at the price of an additional 64 bytes.

What precise use is OP_CAT in “experimenting” to fulfill the wants of a category of use instances which might be mature sufficient in design that there are at the least 4 covenant proposals that may deal with these use instances with a tiny fraction of the information price? “Oh, we wish to experiment with CAT as a result of it’s versatile!” You wish to use 30 OP calls to do one thing that may be completed in a single? That could be a purpose to truly enact a consensus change to Bitcoin? The logic of that’s past absurd.

Downplaying Dangers

In a vacuum OP_CAT is bought as “merely concatenating two strings”, and most of the memes try framing it as “how can that be harmful?” It is a wildly disingenuous narrative surrounding the proposal, and it fully ignores the way it interacts with different current and future points of script.

Particularly CSFS + CAT opens an enormous quantity of prospects by way of what could be completed with Bitcoin script, not all of it essentially optimistic. CSFS permits you to confirm a signature on an arbitrary piece of knowledge in the middle of executing a script, and CAT permits you to “glue” completely different items of knowledge collectively on the stack. These two issues create a large design area for what it’s attainable to do with Bitcoin.

One concrete instance could be the potential to implement quantities, or relationships between completely different quantities, of particular inputs and outputs in a transaction. CAT permits you to construct up a transaction hash from particular person items on the stack, and CSFS permits you to confirm a signature in opposition to a public key within the locking script in opposition to arbitrary items of that transaction as it’s constructed up. This might in the end allow the creation of open-ended UTXOs anybody can spend, so long as the spending transaction meets sure standards, equivalent to a certain quantity of cash be despatched to a particular handle. Mix this with the fact of OP_RETURN primarily based belongings, and this begins moving into the territory of Decentralized Exchanges (DEX).

A few of the worst incentive distortion issues which have come to fruition on different blockchains in the end stem from the creation of DEXes on these chains. Having direct non-interactive trade performance on the blockchain is without doubt one of the worst types of MEV, particularly when the potential exists for miners to lock-in their revenue throughout a number of trades within the span of a single block, moderately than having to truly carry the chance of a place throughout a number of blocks earlier than closing it out and realizing revenue.

A part of the motion behind Taproot Wizards is “bringing the innovation again.” I.e. that classes discovered in shitcoin land are coming house to Bitcoin, now whereas I firmly reject the notion that something helpful has been developed on different cash within the final decade apart from the fundamental idea of zero data proofs, this mantra getting louder ignores an enormous element of that dynamic even in the event you disagree with my view there: there are classes to be discovered concerning what NOT to do in addition to what TO do.

DEXes are one of many issues NOT to do. Nothing has induced as a lot chaos, volatility in payment dynamics (which we have to clean out over time for sustainability of second layers), and simply throughout incentive chaos concerning the bottom consensus layers of those protocols and their diploma of centralization. The concept we must always rush to carry these kinds of issues to Bitcoin, or exacerbate them by introducing a option to trustlessly embed the bitcoin asset into them in additional dynamic and versatile methods, is frankly insane. This to me speaks of enormous swaths of people that haven’t discovered something from watching what occurred on different blockchains within the final half decade or so.

Endlessly Shackled By The Cat

Wanting on the dynamic above between CSFS + CAT, it’s price mentioning that Reardencode’s current LNHANCE proposal (CTV + CSFS + Inside Key) presents a path to provide us eltoo for Lightning in a approach that’s truly extra blockspace environment friendly than utilizing APO. If this argumentation, and construct out of proof of ideas, winds up successful over Lightning builders who need LN symmetry with the intention to simplify Lightning channel administration and implementation upkeep, we very nicely might wind up getting CSFS within the course of. If OP_CAT have been lively previous to this, then there isn’t a option to keep away from the varieties of detrimental unwanted side effects of the 2 proposals being mixed.

This might maintain true for each gentle fork proposal going ahead if OP_CAT have been ever activated. It could be not possible to flee no matter unwanted side effects or use instances have been enabled by combining OP_CAT with no matter new proposals are available future. By itself OP_CAT is clunky, inefficient, and moderately pointless. However together with different OPs it begins to get stupidly versatile and highly effective. This might be a dynamic we’d by no means have the ability to escape, and options which may wind up being critically vital sooner or later for Bitcoin’s scalability might inescapably include large downsides and dangers merely due to the existence of OP_CAT.

Is that this a actuality we wish to enter merely due to a meme marketing campaign? As a result of folks wish to tinker with wildly inefficient technique of doing issues as an alternative of trying by means of rather more environment friendly and objective constructed proposals? I might say no.

Meme campaigns could be enjoyable, I do know this. They foster a way of neighborhood and involvement, it is an inherent and inescapable a part of the web and the quite a few cultures that exist on it. However this isn’t how we ought to be deciding the event technique of Bitcoin. They are often enjoyable, they usually may even be viciously savage at stabbing on to the guts of issues folks dance round or equivocate on. However they’re atrocious at capturing nuance and complexity in lots of regards.

Attempting to steer the consensus of a community like Bitcoin purely primarily based on the worth of a meme, moderately than reasoned consideration of proposals and their implications, is a catastrophe ready to occur. The conservatism and warning of Bitcoin improvement is what has stored it on the forefront of this area as shitcoins have come and gone, imploding within the penalties of their fly by night time carefree improvement angle. As a lot as Bitcoin sorely wants to interrupt out of its present rut of stagnation and lack of ahead progress, devolving to uncritical memes and music movies will not be how to do this. It dangers destroying what made Bitcoin priceless within the first place, its stable and conservative basis. 


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