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Author Topic: Would World War instantly destroy Bitcoin?  (Read 4816 times)
DieJohnny
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January 13, 2014, 06:08:44 AM
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I am curious to those of you in the blockchain engineering side of Bitcoin what would happen to Bitcoin if a large scale war developed.

Unless there are features I am unaware of it seems that Bitcoin would not survive as certainly internet access across the globe would be regulated and controlled the moment war broke out resulting in forked blockchains everywhere.

And doesn't this mean that eventually Bitcoin will die because another World War most certainly will happen some day...

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pjviitas
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January 13, 2014, 06:54:43 AM
 #2

I am guessing it would kill bitcoin along with pretty well every transaction system out there including credit and debit cards.

I am also thinking that currency valuations would get totally shook up depending on who won and who lost.

Precious metals would probably do fine.
notme
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January 13, 2014, 07:25:22 AM
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So long as transactions are broadcast on all forks, reconciliation can remain a reasonable outcome when the connectivity is reestablished.  It doesn't have to be done in real time, or even really at all if the disconnect is brief.  But if there is a long term segmentation, transactions can be synced over sneakernet or avian carrier and then on reconnect the longest chain can easily be accepted.  If there are double spends (the same coins spent in two different ways on two different forks), then there will be problems.  And since we can't see the other chain, we can't detect double spends until the periodic transaction/block sync.  But hey, it's war time and this is the only hope we have for international transactions.  Unless you are super careful, your ass can be tracked down and the situation can be handled.

https://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
While no idea is perfect, some ideas are useful.
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pjviitas
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January 13, 2014, 02:07:56 PM
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I am guessing it would kill bitcoin along with pretty well every transaction system out there including credit and debit cards.

I am also thinking that currency valuations would get totally shook up depending on who won and who lost.

Precious metals would probably do fine.

Actually I am going to change my analysis here...bitcoin transactions would have less chance of being disrupted than cc and debit transactions because the transaction process is distributed just like the internet which was actually built to withstand things like this.
Kungfucheez
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January 13, 2014, 02:52:08 PM
 #5

That's an awfully big assumption another World War is going to happen.

But if it did, Bitcoins would be the least of your worries.
htspringer
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January 13, 2014, 02:55:57 PM
 #6

A world war would not necessarily kill bitcoin.  As long as governments remain corrupt, bitcoin will flourish.
Mivexil
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January 13, 2014, 02:58:41 PM
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That's an awfully big assumption another World War is going to happen.

But if it did, Bitcoins would be the least of your worries.

Not if you had your life savings in them... And yeah, a world war can happen, and would pretty certainly destroy Bitcoin... along with a lot of civilization as we know it, though.
BlockChainLottery
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January 13, 2014, 04:20:41 PM
 #8

I am guessing it would kill bitcoin along with pretty well every transaction system out there including credit and debit cards.

I am also thinking that currency valuations would get totally shook up depending on who won and who lost.

Precious metals would probably do fine.

Actually I am going to change my analysis here...bitcoin transactions would have less chance of being disrupted than cc and debit transactions because the transaction process is distributed just like the internet which was actually built to withstand things like this.
Internet could be broken up into some isolated parts. The weak points are the submarine communications cables. Those are few in number (relatively). Other ways to cross seas and oceans, such as satellite, will quickly be confiscated by governments.
In case that after such an event two different block chains exists and connectivity is restored, I think the block chain which is the longest will be chosen. That is, if same protocol is used.
All transactions done in the other block chain will be worthless, and also the miners will lose all there earnings.
Double spending shouldn't be a problem, because then you would've access to both networks. And that isn't possible according to the assumptions.

BitcoinBobbeh
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January 13, 2014, 05:45:20 PM
 #9

How many wars are going on right now?

Oh, that many?

And Bitcoin is doing how well?

Wow.

By the end of next month at the latest we will have permanently left behind 3 digits. You can quote me on this.
BlockChainLottery
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January 13, 2014, 06:11:30 PM
 #10

How many wars are going on right now?

Oh, that many?

And Bitcoin is doing how well?

Wow.
Don't be stupid. It was a hypothetical question what would happen if internet would be split in multiple networks, with multiple block chains.
Note the words large scale war and World War.

Kungfucheez
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January 13, 2014, 06:22:54 PM
 #11

How many wars are going on right now?

Oh, that many?

And Bitcoin is doing how well?

Wow.
Don't be stupid. It was a hypothetical question what would happen if internet would be split in multiple networks, with multiple block chains.
Note the words large scale war and World War.

It was a hypothetical question in the same sense as asking what if pigs could fly and developed psychic abilities to read peoples thoughts is a hypothetical question.
Mivexil
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January 13, 2014, 06:33:26 PM
 #12

How many wars are going on right now?

Oh, that many?

And Bitcoin is doing how well?

Wow.
Don't be stupid. It was a hypothetical question what would happen if internet would be split in multiple networks, with multiple block chains.
Note the words large scale war and World War.

It was a hypothetical question in the same sense as asking what if pigs could fly and developed psychic abilities to read peoples thoughts is a hypothetical question.

Except that nobody has seen a psychic flying pig, and there were already 2 world wars. Granted, nobody really cared about forking blockchain back then, but still...
BitcoinBobbeh
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January 13, 2014, 07:47:54 PM
 #13

Except that nobody has seen a psychic flying pig, and there were already 2 world wars.

So what you're saying is... we're overdue for the psychic flying pigs?

By the end of next month at the latest we will have permanently left behind 3 digits. You can quote me on this.
Mike Christ
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January 13, 2014, 08:06:06 PM
 #14

As another mentioned, if a world war did enough damage to take down the decentralized bitcoin network, you're probably going to be too busy holding your guts in to care.  Instead of worrying about dying, why not worry about preventing another world war from occurring at all?  Seems more productive.

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January 13, 2014, 09:03:52 PM
 #15

A world war would not necessarily kill bitcoin.  As long as governments remain corrupt, bitcoin will flourish.
+1

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cr1776
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January 13, 2014, 09:28:03 PM
 #16

China tries to clamp down on the internet with the great firewall of China.  Even then though information about Tibet, democracy, etc. reaches China.   Yes, I do not doubt that the undersea cables etc would have issues, but to completely shut down the internet between the warring parties would be quite hard.  Between radio, satellite, cable, sneakers etc, it seems likely that some packets would still make it.  Think about this: suppose Switzerland is neutral, would both sides keep internet access to them?  All it would take would be some time each day/hour/week to resync the blockchain via a neutral country (or directly).  Perhaps North Korea or Cuba (maybe China) could pull off a completely cut-off from the world, but for many others it would be much more damaging to do so as compared to the benefit.

A problem would be that I think it unlikely that any splits would result in a near 50/50% break.  It would probably be something like a 80%/20% break of hashing power so that the smaller side would continually be on the shorter side of the chain.  Eventually they would in all likelihood stop mining (because it would be pointless since their blocks would never be included), and just broadcast transactions to the side with the larger hashing power.

Obviously this doesn't consider the actual damage a conflict could do to infrastructure - EMP, nuclear, biochem etc, just state actions that would attempt to prevent interaction via internet between the countries involved.
Peter R
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January 13, 2014, 09:47:43 PM
 #17

I think Satoshi selected a 10-minute block time (partly) to deal with situations where the network becomes fragmented (into several sub-networks connected to each other by slow and unreliable connections--what I imagine may happen if a world war were to break out).  I believe something like DOGE coin with its 60 second block period is going to form multiple forks very quickly.  Bitcoin, with its slower block time, is more robust to this sort of scenario.   

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udecker
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January 14, 2014, 01:23:45 AM
 #18

Except that nobody has seen a psychic flying pig, and there were already 2 world wars.

So what you're saying is... we're overdue for the psychic flying pigs?

Quite


]
pjviitas
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January 14, 2014, 02:37:48 AM
 #19

The effects of a world war would affect currencies in multiple ways.

In almost every way I can think of, distributed monetary systems would be superior to centralized monetary systems.

Just think of the devastation that a single nuke in any one of these cities would do to transaction processing for example:
United Kingdom London
United States New York City
Hong Kong Hong Kong
France Paris
Singapore Singapore
Japan Tokyo
China Shanghai
United States Chicago
United Arab Emirates Dubai
Australia Sydney
Italy Milan
China Beijing
Canada Toronto
Brazil São Paulo
Spain Madrid
India Mumbai
United States Los Angeles
Russia Moscow
Germany Frankfurt
Mexico Mexico City
Netherlands Amsterdam
Argentina Buenos Aires
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur
South Korea Seoul
Belgium Brussels
Indonesia Jakarta
United States San Francisco
United States Washington, D.C.

Any centralized transaction processing facilities i.e. banks in these cities would be destroyed however distributed transaction processing would fare much better since it would not rely on a single node to function.

The other thing worth considering is the value of the currency for any of the countries on that list if they chose the wrong ally and ended up on the losing side.  Their currency would most likely be devalued beyond repair.
DieJohnny
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January 14, 2014, 05:33:01 AM
 #20

The effects of a world war would affect currencies in multiple ways.

In almost every way I can think of, distributed monetary systems would be superior to centralized monetary systems.

Any centralized transaction processing facilities i.e. banks in these cities would be destroyed however distributed transaction processing would fare much better since it would not rely on a single node to function.

The other thing worth considering is the value of the currency for any of the countries on that list if they chose the wrong ally and ended up on the losing side.  Their currency would most likely be devalued beyond repair.

This question really is about comparing Bitcoin as a value store to something like Gold not a fiat currency. It occurred to me that even were Bitcoin to survive and thrive for the next ten years, growing in infrastructure and adoption, that the ultra planner types would always want to store a substantial portion of their assets in Gold to protect against the worst of disasters. Bitcoin is not really designed to survive a worst case scenario. However, Gold is..... IMHO

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