Developers just announced the first official size increase for the blockchain. After months of embroiled, back-and-forth bickering between Bitcoin camps, including attempts to censor the conversation on sites like Reddit, developers have reached consensus. This new iteration of the blockchain is called “Bitcoin Classic.” With this updated protocol, Bitcoin’s blockchain will gain a 2MB increase. And although this increase appears to be more in-line with a Jeff Garzik’s “emergency fallback” procedure, it still represents an important step forward as concerns about block space and scalability were looming heavy.
The website www.bitcoinclassic.com released the information and introduced the new change. It said:
“The data shows consensus amongst miners for an immediate 2 MB increase, and demand amongst users for 8 MB or more. We are writing the software that miners and users say they want. We will make sure that it solves their needs, help them deploy it, and gracefully upgrade the Bitcoin network’s capacity together.”
Even though the developers are ready to upgrade the capacity, it is good for everyone to remember that blocks could originally hold 36MB of transaction information. This was eventually lowered to 1MB to help prevent malicious attacks on the system.
Bitcoin Classic should not make the system vulnerable again, but there are still dissenters in the community that are paranoid about hiking block size limits. They have marshaled several arguments. But they primarily believe that expanding the blockchain size could cause loss of decentralization, because it would disincentivize miners from maintaining nodes — essentially creating a smaller number of nodes, which would be controlled by a privileged few. And no one would want to participate in using this newly constructed “Elite Coin” protocol.
However, the current consensus represents a more democratic compromise. The smaller blockchain “emergency” size of Bitcoin Classic will not cause greater centralization. Some people even believe that further increasing the size would not negatively affect the system.
Brian Armstrong of Coinbase made the case that doubling the blockchain size every N months would not harm decentralization because of Moore’s law. In his article Scaling Bitcoin: The Great Block Size Debate, he said, “If you think Moore’s law and its corollaries (which show similar trends for bandwidth, storage, etc) will continue for some time then this means you could approximately double the block size every two years without impacting decentralization.”
Others like Bitcoin.com’s Roger Ver have made similar arguments. In Bigger Blocks Means more Decentralization, Ver passionately made the case for increasing block sizes. He said:
“I think it should be clear to everyone that bigger blocks will likely mean more full nodes around the world, and therefore more decentralization, not less. This will make Bitcoin even more difficult to control, censor, or be stopped by anyone, including governments. If you want Bitcoin to become an even bigger Honey Badger of money, we need to increase the block size, not limit it.”
There are other arguments for increasing block size as well. One of the strongest involves acknowledging market incentives. For instance, if Bitcoin was scaled upwards, and it could start processing as many transactions as VISA, its value would rise. As a result, more people would adopt the currency and organizations would see the benefit of building more nodes.
In either case, Bitcoin Classic will help begin the transition into even larger block sizes. But it is guaranteed that its 2MB capacity will not compromise the integrity of the system. It is also likely that it will not be long before developers and the community will want to ramp up block sizes again. With the growth of Bitcoin, everyone can only expect transactions to swell. This growth is something to be excited about, though. The protocol was built with an elegant design that was intended to change and be tweaked in response market pressures.
This is a glorious time for everyone in the cryptocurrency space, as it represents the perfect way to kick off the new year.
Do you agree that increasing the block size will not cause greater centralization? Let us know in the comments below
Image Sources: IHB.IO, youtube.com
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