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Issue #585: Apathy + ignorance = Bitcoin killer?

Oct 7, 2019
Marty's Ƀent

Issue #585: Apathy + ignorance = Bitcoin killer?

One of the first questions on the top of one's mind when they decide to store some of their wealth in Bitcoin is, "What could kill this thing?" This naturally leads to discussions of mining cartels forming to 51% attack the network, catastrophic consensus bugs, and government attacks on mining infrastructure and individual users, among other things.

The lesser discussed Bitcoin killer, as Greg Maxwell points out, is the combination of apathy and ignorance that may lie ahead. If people do not understand why Bitcoin exists, how it works, and how its core essence and functionality can be compromised, then we may find ourselves living in a world filled with Bitcoin users who are willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

During Bitcoin's first decade we came close to doing this, as evidenced by the User Activated Soft Fork and the Bitcoin Cash hard fork. For those of you who may be reading this and are unaware of the situation that came to a head a little over two years ago; there was a huge campaign to arbitrarily raise Bitcoin's block size to ease fee pressure. This would have required a hard fork and set a very dangerous precedent. Luckily, a backwards compatible soft fork that alleviated fee pressure was implemented and those who wanted to arbitrarily raise the block size forked off to a chain that is now a walking corpse. In retrospect, this looks to be an incredible blessing as the conservative solution to the problem (SegWit) seems to have been more than enough to reduce fee pressure. Some would argue, myself included, that fees have been too depressed for too long now following implementation of SegWit. As the amount of the bitcoin released to the network every block continues to decrease with each reward halving, the emergence of a healthy fee market is imperative to keep the network secure in the long run.

Even though the network avoided a compromise of  tradeoffs that may have severely crippled Bitcoin's value proposition in the past, one has to wonder moving forward, as more and more people come to Bitcoin as many envision, will the intolerant minority be strong enough to keep the balance of tradeoffs that allow the system to function in tact? Would people who flood into Bitcoin without understanding why it exists and how it has persisted up to this point attempt to unknowingly compromise its assurances? Do people even really care about these assurances? Should they care about these assurances? And even if they should, is the system strong enough to overcome the apathetic majority? Can we educate people so that this future hurdle dissolves before we reach it? Are we just pretentious assholes living in a fantasy land?

Time will tell.        

Final thought...

Scenic weekend drives FTW.


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