There is a critical error in Bitcoin’s (BTC) code, but the good news is this error won’t cause any problems until around the year 2106, which is 86 years from now. Specifically, the block height will overflow past block 5,101,541, after which point no more blocks can be mined.
Since no more blocks could be mined past block 5,101,541, the network would literally come to a screeching halt, and mining revenue would instantly dry up to zero as well.
Fortunately there is a way to fix it. Essentially, Bitcoin’s (BTC) code will have to be updated to allow block heights greater than 5,101,541, and all Bitcoin (BTC) users will have to upgrade to the new version.
This is called a hard fork, and hard forks are typically very contentious. However, in this case there is no choice, since once the blockchain reaches block 5,101,541, anyone who chooses to remain on the old chain won’t be able to use Bitcoin (BTC) anymore.
Therefore, when the time comes for this hard fork, it will be a no-brainer and people will probably upgrade to the new version without any serious debate.
To put this in perspective though, we are just past block 642,000 as of this writing, so there are roughly 4.5 million blocks to go until this hard fork will be needed. That’s roughly 7X more blocks than the entire history of Bitcoin (BTC) so far.
In fact, this hard fork is so far away that it is unlikely that anyone reading this article will be alive to see it, and the world will be a totally different place by then. However, it is still interesting to know about this critical error in Bitcoin’s (BTC) code, since it’s essentially the Bitcoin (BTC) equivalent of Y2K.