Due to the fact that Satoshi Nakamoto, the enigmatic creator of Bitcoin, left no clear directive on how the network ought to be scaled before disappearing into the interwebs, everyone has a take on what should be done. The utopian ideology that led to the creation of Bitcoin in the first place, seems to have become it’s Achilles heel as all who espoused it has, true to human nature, gone and formed political factions. Each with its own idea of what is best for the overall network.
Bitcoin’s collective decision making laws proved no match for human will, with dissatisfied factions opting to split the network twice last year. Thus creating Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold. These groups have been locked in a civil war that shows no signs of abating any time soon, with about 50 forks scheduled for 2018 thus far.
On the plus side, if you hold tokens of Bitcoin proper, you’ll score free value everytime the network splits. So you’ll be sitting pretty. On the negative side, all these versions could get confusing and potentially kill Bitcoin.
Other cryptocurrencies usually have seamless and uncontroversial forks (barring the Ethereum classic debacle) but with Bitcoin, almost every potential move sparks a debate that erupts into name calling and mud slinging. Many have become concerned that the seemingly trivial debate on how to upgrade the network to accommodate more transactions will see Bitcoin fall behind other digital currencies and erode it’s value, while others worry that its many variants may cannibalise it. It’s too soon to call it.
One thing’s for sure, no matter what the stance taken, be it for Segwit, increasing block sizes or speeding up block times, ego is at the root of the debate. Every human believes in their opinion and would die for it. Besides who wouldn’t want to be credited with improving Bitcoin? That’s why we have so many altcoins in the first place.
So could over-forking actually end Bitcoin? Again we have one side saying no, the different versions of Bitcoin will chug along on their own as altcoins do, rising and dropping in price according to their perceived value. The other side isn’t as optimistic, however, believing the various iterations of Bitcoin, will negatively affect speculative confidence in Bitcoin (best case scenario) or the while crypto market as a whole (worst case scenario).
Cryptocurrencies are unprecedented and the crypto textbook is being written on the fly. Nobody knows for sure what could happen next. The best anyone could do is prepare for any eventuality and wait and see.
[Image Credit: Dean Hichman Flickr]