It may now be possible to make major changes to Bitcoin without a hard fork

06 Oct, 2018
by Richard Allen
It may now be possible to make major changes to Bitcoin without a hard fork

Mark Friedenbach led a much-anticipated talk at the Scaling Bitcoin Workshop in Tokyo, where the Blockstream co-founder presented “Forward Blocks,” something that is said to make future, contentious changes to Bitcoin, like increasing block size or proof-of-work change, much easier, CoinDesk reports.

It was an announcement that had been shrouded in secrecy in the run-up to the event as it challenged core perceptions among the Bitcoin community that many felt were immutable. Apparently, it will soon be possible to implement massive changes to Bitcoin in a backward-compatible way without needing every user to upgrade their software.

Bitcoin is used by many as a means to take control over their money, and forced software changes can undermine that control. This has been a major point of contention that ultimately led up to the network’s Bitcoin Cash fork.  

Friedenbach’s research now presents cryptocurrency developers with a solution to a problem they have been grappling with for some time: how can big changes be implemented to a massive, distributed system? Some argue that being a decentralized network, drastic changes should be difficult.

Additionally, it has generally been believed that some of the biggest changes cannot be made without a hard fork, something that isn’t backward-compatible and requires every user to upgrade. At least, that’s the way it used to be before “forward blocks.”

"Most of the scaling debate is wrapped up in the issue of how to do a hard fork safely, and when, if ever, we should do a hard fork for scaling purposes," Friedenbach said.  

However, with the addition of forward blocks, this might not be a problem anymore. "'Forward blocks makes that whole argument pointless. We don't need a hard-fork to scale bitcoin, if and when we decide to do so. It can be accomplished as a soft fork like SegWit was," Friedenbach said.

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Read more about: Bitcoin (BTC)


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