How likely is it that Bitcoin will be overtaken in the event of a contentious hard fork? I think this is an example of things to come. Bitcoin will be attacked through its mining, the network, legally, and every other possible way. If you don’t think Bitcoin is going to be attacked, you’ve misunderstood what this is about. You don’t go and poke a $20 trillion industry and go, “Hey, we’re going to disrupt you!” You can’t just wait for it to roll over. This is offensive to a lot of governments, rich institutions, and a lot of people who don’t want to see Bitcoin succeed. If a fork happens, we get to learn what happens when a fork attack occurs. Anyone who thinks a fork will be unopposed is quickly going to discover that this will be a battle on all fronts. Inevitably the two sides are going to attack each other on the network, with denial-of-service attacks, with hash rate; they’re going to attack each other publicly, privately, anonymously and not. Every bug in the software will get poked and poked again, so they better fix them well. The battle becomes “who has the best software development team? How quickly can they maintain that code and keep uptime?” That race is only 7 blocks wide. I don’t think the people who are threatening to do a hard fork have thought clearly about the implications. This will allow Bitcoin to test all the attack vectors (nodes, relays, hashing, replay transactions, etc). And the result will be a Bitcoin that’s battle-hardened, because it will have survived a fork attack and we will better understand what happens under such highly contentious conditions. It’s very important to not mistake smooth sailing for good sailors. If any altcoin somehow overtakes bitcoin and gets to this scale, they will have to deal with the same scaling and governance controversies. Many of them will end up centralised or with failures in architecture. These are the rites of passage; you first have to grow up to face them. How many of the other blockchains are preparing for this? Not many, because they aren’t paying attention. This is a fantastic experiment but it’s not easy. This is a game with $20 billion at stake.

This is part of a talk which took place on March 20th 2017 at the Singapore Management University for the Singapore Bitcoin & Ethereum meetups:

Do miners control consensus? – The 5 Consensus Communities –
Scaling and the block size debate –
Anonymity and confidential transactions –

Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who has become one of the most well-known and well-respected figures in bitcoin.

Follow on Twitter: @aantonop

He is the author of two books: “Mastering Bitcoin,” published by O’Reilly Media and considered the best technical guide to bitcoin; “The Internet of Money,” a book about why bitcoin matters.



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