Apparently, changing the Bitcoin protocol is not that easy. A bitcoin client must comply with the same rules as everyone else in order to enforce any rules. Double spending or spending bitcoins without a valid signature is not possible, therefore it isn’t possible to generate bitcoins out of thin air, spend another user’s bitcoins, or corrupt the network.
Miners are individuals who maintain the public transaction log known as a blockchain. The system makes it profitable for miners to uphold the integrity of the system. There is a theory that has been proposed – a theoretical possibility with no evidence to suggest is real – of an attack that could grow as the result of a few selfish miners who seek to receive a disproportionate share of revenue. The theory goes that otherwise rule-abiding miners would then jump on the colluding bandwagon and tip the scales of justice until the Bitcoin currency is no longer decentralized.
Again, there is no current evidence to suggest that selfish mining poses an immediate threat to Bitcoin, it is merely something to consider by developers who probe for security flaws in order to adapt to changes within the system and how users operate, so a regulation to a reasonable percentage of available resources could be implemented to thwart any potential selfish mining pools that crop up – and thus prevent the possibility of a small group of selfish miners from compromising the system.
A majority of users can also put pressure for certain changes to be adopted. Bitcoin only works correctly with a complete consensus between all users, therefore changing the protocol can be very difficult and requires an overwhelming majority of users to adopt the changes in such a way that remaining users have nearly no choice but to follow. As a general rule, it is hard to imagine why any Bitcoin user would choose to adopt any change that could compromise their own money.
There is also no way that someone could buy all the bitcoins. Firstly, there are only about 75% of all potential bitcoins in circulation. While 25 bitcoins are generated every 10 minutes, that number will continuously be halved over the lifetime of the system, thus all bitcoins will not be mined until about the year 2140. Additionally, not all bitcoins are for sale, as many have their own bitcoins in their own wallets and they are not used or sold. There is literally no way for one entity to obtain them all – just as it would be impossible to collect every dollar bill in the world. And even doing so would make the dollar bills – or bitcoins – irrelevant.
I look at bitcoin as an emerging system to invest in for the long term – a free market that relies on the will of those using it. I expect it to be improved, tweaked, compromised, perfected over time – just as any digital system I’ve ever been involved with. It is, in my opinion, a first step in the right direction for the future. I want to be a part of it, from the beginning…like I was with the Internet. I was one of the first to use modems, then the Internet – and I’ve made a fine living (and continue to do so today) harnessing the power of the web. You have to make your own decision what – if anything – bitcoin represents to you.