The Capital
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The Capital

Will Bitcoin Exist in 10 Years?

By Nelson on The Capital

A good friend of mine responded to my prior article with the point below. It highlights the going concern of whether or not Bitcoin will exist in 10 years…

Ninety-nine percent of people equate Bitcoin to a digital currency. They are partially correct. It is also a network and payment rail. I do not have a crystal ball but I do know the resiliency of decentralized networks. We all do, it’s called the internet. The internet was made by the military to be the fail-safe communication network in the event of a worldwide nuclear fallout. Bitcoin inherits the same properties of the internet and adds encryption which is critical for keeping a publicly available payment system safe.

Will it be around in 10 years' time? I bet many centralized government currencies will fail this decade before Bitcoin breaks a sweat. Bitcoin’s most vulnerable period its first 5 years of life. That is when the network was tiny and could be easily compromised. Today the worldwide size, scale, and raw power of the Bitcoin network make it one of the greatest computing organisms on the planet.

Raw Power

Here is the current hash rate. The hash rate measures the amount of compute power going into securing the Bitcoin network through the use of electricity. This currently measures 106 exahashes. Will Bitcoin exist in 10 years? According to this chart, a lot of individuals and organizations have dedicated machinery and power to ensure that is the case.

What is a hash? A hash is a measurement of a computer executing a function. That process consumes electricity as a byproduct. How large is an exahash? You’re most likely familiar with megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes. Here is what comes after terabytes…

But these are just big dick numbers without context. Let’s size it up against the world’s top supercomputer. IBM’s supercomputer, The Summit, is currently the most powerful on earth. It’s capable of processing “148.6 petaflops thanks to its 2.41 million cores.”

Roughly speaking, in order to outmuscle the Bitcoin network, it would require 716 of IBM’s best supercomputers. For those more familiar with Bitcoin’s structure, you know that’s not entirely true because of 51% attacks. But for comparison’s sake, we’ll keep it here for now. In a head to head war against foreign and domestic enemies, Bitcoin is rock solid.

Network Size

Here is a real-time display of the 10,140 Bitcoin nodes based on geography. This means everyone who is running a mining rig or verification node. Anyone with an internet connection and 150GB of hard-drive space can store the entire Bitcoin blockchain history since its inception. There are much smaller versions called lightweight nodes for those with space constraints.

This is critically important: running a full node is a direct connection to a source of truth that is globally agreed upon. It does not require trust in any one person or sub-group. It is a direct link to what blocks the majority agree upon. This type of power is unfamiliar to the majority of people. Having direct access to the source of truth is so foreign to us that most people identify it as more of a burden than a benefit. That is because individual citizens have never had access to either power nor truth. So when it is made available to us, it is unsurprising that we cannot recognize it.

If you want to shut down or kill off the Bitcoin network it would require you to reduce the network size to 1 node. That means chasing down all 10,000 node users and forcing them to shut off their Bitcoin nodes. This is highly unlikely even in a scenario where countries ban Bitcoin through the rule of law. Even in that scenario, most people who run Bitcoin nodes are technically savvy enough to sidestep surveillance with basic precautions like Tor and VPN.

Bitcoin is not a company. It has no board of directors, no CEO, no phone number to call, no email to inquire. So shutting it down becomes an embarrassing operation for a centralized government. Attempting to do so would be as challenging as catching flies with chopsticks in a dark room. The US government has been failing to fight a war on drugs for the past 20 years.

Billion-dollar industries have lobbied governments to help curtail filesharing of music, movies, and digital entertainment. Those are huge files measuring in megabytes or gigabytes. An individual Bitcoin transaction weighs in at 250 bytes. Good luck stopping that. And for a technically advanced user, it can be wrapped and encoded as a series of emojis and sent as a simple text message. Bitcoin has made money a content type. How do you stop that?

I think what my friend was really saying is “what makes you confident Bitcoin will be relevant in 10 years versus other competitive cryptocurrencies?”

I’ll post two follow on articles to go deep on Bitcoin vs competitive cryptocurrencies and government bans.

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