What happens to lost coins? Should bitcoins be destroyed if unused?

Q: What happens to lost coins? Should bitcoins be destroyed if unused?

A: Lost bitcoins are just that, lost.  There is no way to know if they are really lost or just in a savings account.  In reality it solves nothing either since it is easy to move coins once every so often if needed.

  • “Should coins be forced to move or destroyed at the protocol level?”  No, of course not.  Making a change like this is (like many others) a hard fork.  This means that there would be the original bitcoin blockchain and a new alt-coin blockchain with the same addresses.  Few people are going to say, “I want to use a coin that can be taken from me if I don’t use it in X months/years.”
  • “Don’t you need to know which coins are not lost to determine the price in Dollars/Euros?”  No, just like you don’t need to know the amount of silver or gold in the world to know its value.  The value is determined at the margin where buyers and sellers meet to buy and sell.
  • Should we break into people’s homes, banks, and safety deposit boxes, and destroy artwork, heirlooms, precious metals, jewels and the like that they haven’t used in a while?