Let me begin by stating I am no programmer, and no expert on the code of cryptography. You absolutely should verify everything I am telling you and ask your own questions, just like any other issue. This is a confusing topic that requires a good deal of personal research to understand, more I would say than most issues do.
One thing I am fairly good at, however, is parsing information. And when it comes to Bitcoin, I try to parse as much information as I can get my hands on. I've kept on doing that, off and on (mostly on), since around 2011. I had an account at Mt. Gox, and I've tried my hand at mining. I've setup SLI and I've replaced fans burned out from use.
And from what I can tell, Segregated Witness, or SegWit, is the proverbial camel's nose under the tent for everything cryptocurrency, or at least Bitcoin, stands against. Let me try to explain why.
Lately, Bitcoin has been experiencing higher confirmation times and transaction fees, due to their being more demand for moving about Bitcoin than space in the blocks for the transactions. Some people think that this is a huge problem, and have dreams of reaching VISA levels of transaction speed and cost. For the moment, let's stipulate that this is a desirable goal, even though the white paper describes bitcoin in the first line thusly:
"A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network."
Notice there is no mention of fast transaction speed or low fees being critical, or even desirable components. Simply that the "electronic cash" should be "not go through a financial institution" and that "the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required".
I encourage you to read the entire thing yourself, it is only 8 pages with several pages of the dreaded math-y stuff you can skip.
However, let's assume that decreasing transaction fees and times is desirable.
There are two potential ways for increasing the available transaction slots in Bitcoin. I say "slots" instead of "speed" because speed is currently dependent on both fees and the available space per block, which is currently 1MB. If the blocks were bigger, there would be a roughly linear increase in the amount of transactions that could be processed in each block, with relatively minor increases in drive space concerns given current technology, which would result in an overall lowering of fees.
Now, the main reason that Bitcoin currently has 1MB blocks, from what I can tell, is mostly technical. The smaller the blocks, the smaller the technical demands. Given this limit was set by Satoshi, the founder of Bitcoin, in 2010, it's fairly clear it was intended to be raised probably long before now. Here it is in the bitcoin.it Scalability Wiki article's words:
"Nakamoto’s subsequent statements supported raising the block size at a later time, but he never publicly specified a date or set of conditions for the raise."
"Statements by Nakamoto in the summer of 2010 indicate he believed Bitcoin could scale to block sizes far larger than 1 megabyte. For example, on 5 August 2010, he wrote that "[W]hatever size micropayments you need will eventually be practical. I think in 5 or 10 years, the bandwidth and storage will seem trivial" and "[microtransactions on the blockchain] can become more practical ... if I implement client-only mode and the number of network nodes consolidates into a smaller number of professional server farms""
Satoshi might very well see a 16x or 32x transaction speed increase by going to 16MB or 32MB blocks to be currently viable.
Now, you'll notice I said there were two options for making more room for transactions. Segregated Witness, or what is now going by SegWit2x, as it is bundled with a "future promise of 2MB blocks", is that second option. However, it directly violates the essence of Bitcoin it is design parameters.
The whole point of Bitcoin is to keep every transaction on the blockchain which is what makes transactions immutable and irreversible, and is critical to the elimination of counterparty risk.
SegWit may come with (either a delayed or instant) increase in blocks ize which "is predicted by experts to be in the range of about two to 2.1MB", however that pales in comparison to the simpler option of simply increasing the block size. There is however, another clear reason for why its proponents want it (from cointelegraph.com):
"SegWit eliminates what used to be a minor problem for Bitcoin itself, but a major barrier to implementing second-layer solutions on top of it. One of those solutions is the proposed Lightning Network. It is expected to allow for a massive increase in the network capacity by moving the bulk of transactions off the Blockchain for quick processing."
In other words, proponents of Seg-Wit want to move transactions off the blockchain so they can be trusted to selected third parties on a fast-and-jazzy sounding network that will not be monitored by network consensus.
Ah, so, the minor (aka non-) problem for Bitcoin itself of "moving the bulk of transactions off the Blockchain for quick processing", or in other words, completely violating the Bitcoin whitepaper and it's main unique competitive advantage, is the only possible reason to support SegWit in the face of better, simpler options.
My understanding is SegWit2x, if activated, is "supposed" to also increase to 2MB blocks after 3 months. In other words, we should "trust" these "counterparties" to comply with the block-size increase after we have already indelibly added SegWit into the main Bitcoin blockchain. I am not confident enough on the technicals to explain why, but I have seen a number of users claim that SegWit can't be easily removed (or perhaps at all) later once it is integrated into the chain, but it is possible to prevent the block size increases by some sort of consensus fork. At any rate, it sounds like a deal only Neville Chamberlain would consider, with better options on the table endorsed by Satoshi himself.
This has grave ramifications for the whole "industry", including Steemit, since it is still the case that most money flows through Bitcoin to get into the majority of alt coins, and vice versa.
Now, I realize most of us may not even have a vote in this "election", but I think we do have a shared stake in Bitcoin remaining Bitcoin, at least as long as it remains a critical underpinning for the whole cryptocurrency sector. As a result, we should do anything within our ability (legally) to encourage a Bitcoin scaling solution that maximizes Bitcoin's usefulness, stability, value and long-term prospects.
I do not believe Seg-Wit is that option.
I have no suggestions for what to do, and only try to do what I am capable of: disseminating hopefully accurately vetted research. Steemit, however, is full of programming geniuses and I hope they have an idea or two. I encourage those who can add well-cited additional information, especially on SegWit, to please do so in the comments.
If you wish to do more research, please see my post on decoding the r/btc and r/bitcoin subreddits, because those are good places to start:
Many other Reddit and Bitcointalk.org threads over the years
Also, steemit posts like this one:
Note: This is not an express endorsement of the quality of any of these sources