Women in the Bitcoin development world are few. One in particular stands out, being the first to dedicate itself to contributing full time to the development of the Bitcoin Core client, the first and largest on the network.
She is Amiti Uttarwar, daughter of Indian immigrants in the United States who trained in software development, an area in which she has worked for various technology companies, including some renowned in the Bitcoin environment.
Recently, we spoke with Amiti at CriptoNoticias about his own experience in the world of Bitcoin, his motivations, the current situation of the cryptocurrency created by Satoshi Nakamoto and even diversity in this open source project.
The discovery of Bitcoin: a new paradigm of trust
From his arrival in Bitcoin, recalls the impression the reading of the White book, in which Satoshi laid out in detail the foundation on which Bitcoin is built.
Through that reading, Amiti found in Bitcoin “an opportunity to distribute wealth in a more equitable way.” Far from a redistribution talk for the simple fact of redistributing money, the first thing that caught Amiti’s attention in Bitcoin was “the idea of introducing a new trust system.”
For her, the cryptocurrency created in 2009 breaks the current trust paradigm in the world. The developer divides it into two large systems. “A direct one, where you know me and I know you, we make promises and we do business.”
The other, the one used, for example, in the financial system, is hierarchical: “I put my trust in someone or something and they extend their trust to another. The known trusted third party, the intermediary. In the absence of intermediaries, then, Amiti found the first value of Bitcoin.
Amiti believes that today’s world revolves precisely around the hierarchical type of trust. Then, stumbling upon Bitcoin, he found the possibility to come to terms with a complete stranger about what happened. without having to directly trust that person. “That idea was very new and could only be done with this mathematical execution of the code”, reflects Amiti.
The idea is to decentralize trust. This introduces a radical potential for what our society could be. I don’t think we have to decrease direct or third-party trust, but their role could be reduced. In cases like AirBNB or Amazon, for example, there would be a fairer distribution of profits to those who actually provide the service.
Amiti Uttarwar, contributor at Bitcoin Core.
From private company to open source partner
Uttarwar came to Bitcoin after going through some companies as an analyst or developer. In 2018, he joined the Coinbase team, one of the exchanges recognized Bitcoin markets in the world, created in 2012.
At Coinbase he stayed until September 2019, for a month later to start contributing with Bitcoin Core full time. Back then, it was sponsored by the company that created the Bitcoin wallet. Xapo, in conjunction with developer Anthony Towns.
That same year participated in the Chaincode Labs developer training program. “That was really what allowed me to find a foot in the world of contributing to the bitcoin core,” he acknowledges.
There he had speakers and mentors such as Matt Corallo, a Bitcoin Core contributor since 2011; Alex Bosworth, Head of Infrastructure at Lightning Labs, the creator of the Bitcoin Lightning Network lnd client; o Andrew Poelstra, also at Bitcoin Core since 2011 and research director at Blockstream.
On the transition from working as a developer on private projects to collaborating on open source, Amiti says she found many differences. She even assures that the process “can certainly be a bit nebulous.”
“But that’s why I really support myself in the community to help me figure out how to move forward and do useful work.” In this regard, she celebrates having landed in “an extremely welcoming and understanding community” and very different from “the reputation they get [los bitcoiners] for Twitter disputes.
Privacy, your focus on Bitcoin
As a contributor to Bitcoin Core, Amiti’s focus has focused on improving privacy in transactions. One example is his proposal, already included in Bitcoin Core, of a new mechanism for tracking pending transactions by confirmation in the mempool.
In that proposal, Amiti described the current transaction relay mechanism as “terrible for privacy.” In his view, this was due to the fact that only the originating wallet was in charge of retransmitting the pending transactions and this was done “quite frequently”. And in each retransmission, the origin of the transaction is exposed.
Your request to modify the code, el PR # 18038, was especially in charge of correcting the second of the problems that she described. With its mechanism, “the mempool tracks transactions sent locally and periodically retries the initial transmission.” Thus, the frequency of these retransmissions from the wallet is reduced and it is “guaranteed that the transactions propagate to the network.”
With that in mind, Amiti considered during our conversation that greater adoption and constant improvements are really necessary to make Bitcoin a more private tool.
In terms of privacy, the adoption of these tools and the development of more advanced tools are both extremely important.
Amiti Uttarwar, developer focused on privacy.
Amiti Uttarwar: more diversity for Bitcoin, the global money
Amiti is not only the first to dedicate herself full time to her contributions to the Bitcoin Core open source project. Too, this same year it received financing for $ 150,000 on behalf of BitMEX to dedicate itself entirely to that work, as we review in this newspaper.
While she feels lucky and grateful for the milestone reached, for the bitcoiner it was disappointing to learn that she was the first woman in these instances, as he recognized during our conversation. “It was something shocking and disappointing when I first knew that there were no other women, I was very surprised,” says the American developer.
For Uttarwar, there needs to be more diversity in the Bitcoin developer ecosystem. It doesn’t just mean more women are involved. Also, consider that this environment continues to be very focused on Western culture.
A brief review of listings of people involved in the development of Bitcoin confirms this. Few women and very few non-Western people. Europe and America (especially the north) are a clear majority. For example, the website BitcoinDevList, which promotes financing to developers, give a taste of it.
In his opinion, being Bitcoin a bet for the creation of a global money, also its development should have a focus more distributed throughout the world. “I hope that this will spread and develop more over time,” he claims.
I think it has not been done well, we are still developing and changing all the time, so I hope to involve more women, but not just women. I think the development ecosystem is quite focused on the western world and I think that if we are trying to build global money we need to listen to global perspectives and so I hope to see a trend towards a more diverse set of contributors.
Amiti Uttarwar, developer at Bitcoin Core.
To attract more diversity, Amiti has been speaking “a lot more in public” lately. “Because I hope to encourage more different voices and that is something very important to me,” he says.
How to collaborate with Bitcoin
In the same vein of attracting more voices to the Bitcoin development core, Amiti promotes the arrival of multiple types of contribution to the growth of this tool that revolutionizes the financial world.
Not necessarily from code, but who want to contribute Bitcoin, they can find their own way, considers Uttarwar. For her, everyone “should take a close look at their skill set” and see how they can contribute. “I think there is no single piece of advice that fits all the aspects that make sense,” synthesizes the Bitcoin Core developer.
Perhaps a contribution would be to create a website and respond to your own community their concerns. Explain to them how it works or how using the original cryptocurrency could benefit them, he says.
Another important contribution in his point of view would be for people to run their own nodes of Bitcoin. In that case, they could not only keep the network running, but they would have the ability to test updates and report bugs for developers to attend to. And that’s where Amiti’s work comes in again, who is always on call and excited so that more people understand how Bitcoin works.