Bitcoin is still the biggest cryptocurrency in terms of market cap, and it will always be the first one to solve some of the most fundamental problems around the implementation of a cryptographic coin.

However we have many newer coins that solve some of the shortcomings of bitcoin and extend the possibilities: scalability/transaction rate, processing time, smart contracts, energy requirements, etc.

Because of this, I find it hard to believe that bitcoin in its present form would continue to be relevant (though I may be mistaken). I don't think that the miners would just let bitcoin fade out either though.

Is it likely that the bitcoin protocol will see very important changes in the future to address these issues so that it can remain relevant (block size, changes in consensus forming, block creation rate, smart contracts)? Are there technological impediments to this? Or is it more likely that this will be done in minoritarian hard forks, while the main bitcoin blockchain will go on essentially how it is right now?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is mostly opinion based. The mentioned shortcomings are a personal feeling. And several technology is planned/in place (segwit, lightning, simplicity...) – pebwindkraft Feb 16 '18 at 17:35
  • Rather than voting to close, could you advise me on how I could adapt the question to make it acceptable? Unless you think it cannot be salvaged of course (I am very interesting in any answers though). – doetoe Feb 16 '18 at 17:37
  • I see, problem is the relative meaning of important changes... Bitcoin will continue to change through the BIPs, and the changes I mentioned address some of your points. There is also atomic swaps or anonymization discussed, but who can claim, if they are important or not? I’d say segwit was important, but it got blocked by the miners for a very long time. So my opinion is not relevant! Maybe raise the open question in a way, what are the current developments for bitcoin future? This would be less speculative on shortcomings or a change’s value prediction. – pebwindkraft Feb 16 '18 at 17:58
  • This question is posed in a very broad manner: There is a number of problems listed that may be perceived very differently and would require very different types of solutions. It is also very hard to predict how the network's evolution will progress, for example it would have been hard to predict the BCH fork or the Segwit2x proposal before 2017. This question could be improved by restricting it to a specific problem, clarifying the timeframe, and asking how the problem might be approached instead of requesting speculation about a resolution. – Murch Feb 16 '18 at 18:51
  • Thanks @pebwindkraft and Murch. I tried to change the question, but it would change so much that existing comments and answer would not make sense anymore, so I am just leaving it as it was (feel free to close). In any case, your and skang404's comments essentially answered the question I initially had. – doetoe Feb 17 '18 at 16:01

many newer coins that solve some of the shortcomings of bitcoin and extend the possibilities

This is technically false; hence this question stems from wrong information.

If you can present a superior algorithm/protocol in your question(purely the explanation minus all buzzwords) community will consider it. Point is, if it exists out there, probably the core devs have considered it already. All the discussion is public w.r.t IRC logs so those might help understand shortcomings of various protocols that asker is arguing for.

  • I am not necessarily talking about technical shortcomings, also about things like the limited block size and the fact that only one block is mined per ten minutes, which leads to slower validation, high fees and a large transaction backlog. These (in my ignorance) seem easy to adapt, but this hasn't happened. I think the high energy consumption required for POW is a very big shortcoming, although here I don't know to what extent there are coins that have something much better (I don't know how mature proof of stake or hashgraph are). – doetoe Feb 16 '18 at 19:42
  • Finally I understand that smart contracts greatly increase the possibilities of a blockchain, so I wonder if it is likely that bitcoin will end up implementing that as well. – doetoe Feb 16 '18 at 19:44
  • @doetoe All the shortcomings you list, in answer and comment, including "which leads to slower validation, high fees and a large transaction backlog" and "high energy consumption required for POW is a very big shortcoming" are technically non-issues. You need to read more. – skang404 Feb 16 '18 at 19:44
  • @doetoe "smart contracts greatly increase the possibilities of a blockchain" but who says they have to be "in" the blockchain? I can show you the flaw in your thinking if you define smart contract for me. – skang404 Feb 16 '18 at 19:46
  • Did you mean to say "technical non-issues"? Because they may be technical non-issues, but very important practical issues. At this moment the high fees make it unsuitable for small payments, and the long confirmation times make it unsuitable for face-to-face payments. I guess this could be overcome by setting up a lightning network on top of bitcoin, but that is essentially a new (and interesting) invention, but this may not always be possible. – doetoe Feb 16 '18 at 20:22

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