Wednesday was the first time in its 115-year history that New York City purposely shut down its main transportation artery. The downtime will allow workers to deep clean all transit cars in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Subway Map of Bitcoin Forks. Source: Bitcoin Magazine
Meanwhile, Bitcoin has been clogging along without any interruptions since its genesis block. Mined on January 3, 2009, the genesis block held the now-famous Coinbase transaction:
“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”.
Bitcoin — unintended fork
That is not to say that Bitcoin has never had any hiccups. Perhaps, the most notable technical glitch in its history came in 2013 when an upgrade to the new version of Bitcoin Core software caused a blockchain fork — where a chain split into two. Miners who had upgraded to the newer version of the software were forced to downgrade before the bug was resolved.
This brings us to the issue of whether decentralized systems are inherently more robust than the centralized ones. The argument relies on the fact that the former do not have or at least, in theory, should not have a single point of failure. However, we do not yet have enough empirical evidence to rule in decentralization’s favor.
If Bitcoin keeps on running for another 104 years without any interruption, we expect that consensus on the issue will be reached.