Antonopoulos: Bitcoin Will Have Hard Fork Eventually
There is a looming intentional Bitcoin hard fork which would not be unanimous and will likely result in a network split with two chains and two coins.
Popular Bitcoin entrepreneur has shared his stance on the scaling issue and a looming intentional Bitcoin hard fork according to a published transcript of a Q&A session with the Chinese Bitcoin community on 8btc on Saturday July 30.
Andreas Antonopoulos was responding to several questions including one on the negative impacts the controversies regarding the scaling could cast on the long-term value proposition and investor confidence in Bitcoin.
“Development of bitcoin is accelerating. The number of new features, improvements and innovations is increasing all the time. Scaling is just one issue and it does not define bitcoin. Scaling will continue to be an issue as long as bitcoin is growing.”
Just like Ethereum?
Antonopoulos says Bitcoin has had two unintentional HF and there is a coming Bitcoin HF which could lead to two coins. Thus, Bitcoin could end up like the Ethereum hard fork experience.
"Bitcoin will have a hard-fork, eventually, I think," predicts the author of Mastering Bitcoin. "When bitcoin has a HF, there will be 2 chains after the fork and there will be 2 coins. It is almost guaranteed that some people will refuse the new chain and will remain on the old chain. There are enough people with significant amounts of bitcoin who will never agree to a fork and can afford to keep mining the old chain. Ethereum demonstrated this issue very well.”
Antonopoulos continues by underlining that in bitcoin it will be much bigger because the “old” bitcoin may be worth as much as all of ethereum (1 billion USD).
“It will not undermine bitcoin’s value very much, but it will cause some chaos with users, wallets and exchanges. This is why a HF needs to be very carefully planned and executed with plenty of advance notice. We also need to learn from Ethereum and consider adding some anti-replay defenses to help users maintain separation of the two chains in their wallets."
Is it risky?
The HF has been a thorny issue among bitcoiners since the debate of doing it to increase the block size started over a year ago.
Most Bitcoin Core developers are against it. They cite that it is risky. The Bitcoin Classic say they are hard forking Bitcoin to a 2 MB blocksize limit. Others are indifferent on the effect the controversy would have on the digital currency.
While Antonopoulos is not the final authority on the matter, his view could be significant to the audience of the session. The Chinese market is the largest in Bitcoin transactions. A recent report claims that some Chinese miners are planning to hard fork Bitcoin.
Antonopoulos has earlier highlighted the example the Ethereum HF had set for the Bitcoin community. He says it demonstrates that it would be more difficult to roll-back the balance of a set of addresses. This is because Ethereum does not use UTXO based accounting.
It also shows that forks can introduce unexpected denial-of-service vectors and cause disruption to exchanges and the economy.
"They create very high risks especially for exchanges. Even for a coin with less value, this was very risky and it was done too fast," he said.
Scaling will always be an issue
Antonopoulos agrees that the Core roadmap includes scaling the main chain and providing opportunities for development of layer-2 protocols. However, he also says the Core could only be considered in control as long as they provide and maintain the software that the market needs.
He thinks that the reason they have not been replaced is because the value of software maintenance and careful development is greater than the risk of “full blocks” at the moment. He does not support unlimited block size.
“I don’t know the details of the HK (Hong Kong) consensus, but I think Core is proceeding with the roadmap, more or less on schedule. If they had failed to deliver, the market would switch to another implementation. That has clearly not happened, so for now the market is clearly in support of Core. I think it is important to implement Segwit first. I have studied the implementation of Segwit and it is a very important, well developed and well tested change to bitcoin.”