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ErikTownsend wrote: Great topic, but honestly I doubt we'd ever do a feature interview on this subject. Let me explain my view and you'll understand why.
To be sure, there' some really brilliant engineering behind bitcoin. As a software technologist, I'm very impressed with the technology, and I think the whole block chain idea is something that's only beginning to find its full scope of applications. The notion of a secure distributed database has myriad applications beyond crypto-currencies. So there's definitely a lot of cool stuff here.
But frankly I think the bitcoin currency is a complete waste of time and I'm astonished that so many people take it seriously. Don't get me wrong - I'm not down on the technology involved. It's really cool stuff.
But what is bitcoin, really? It's a currency that was specifically designed to rob the most powerful people on the planet of that power by making it impossible for governments to intervene in many ways they currently can. Not just the quantity of the money supply, but in many other ways bitcoin beautifully strips governments of their ability to overstep their appropriate role in our lives. That's the main reason everyone is getting all excited about it, when in my view they should be thinking quite the opposite.
Look at it this way. Suppose that some libertarian engineer somewhere designs a special new handgun for assasinating central bankers and politicians. It's super high tech and automatically locks onto targets who are politicians and central bankers, but cannot be fired at anyone else thanks to some brilliant safety innovations. Would the crowd of people who disfavor government intervention in the economy enjoy heaing about this new invention? Of course. Would it ever be legal to sell or posess such a weapon? Of course not, don't kid yourself.
So my reaction to Bitcoin is basically "so what?" Yes, the technology is super cool. But what makes it so cool is that it strips the most powerful people in the world of much of their power. Do you really think they're going to let that happen?
The only way I could ever see it happen is if you had the true "economic meltdown" event where everyone's money becomes worthless and society has to start over from scratch after all paper wealth has been destroyed. History teaches us that degree of incident is required before people will really stand up to government and demand meaningful reform, which in the past has meant a return to a gold standard from a fiat money system.
So if you actually got to that point - the kind of situation where the whole system has failed catastrophically and the people of the Earth demand a store of value that the government can't screw up no matter what, the obvious answer in the past was precious metals. I think Bitcoin could be a serious contender in such a scenario, but frankly I think World War III is more likely to happen first.
At the end of the day, it's just like the hypothetical politician assassination gun. If you're into technology by all means learn more about it. Really cool stuff. The chances of it ever becoming a major trade exchange currency are way less than 1% in my opinion. Again, entirely because the people whose power would be destroyed will never let it happen.
And for heaven's sake, just look at how easily governments are selling the "banning cash is necessary to prevent TERRORISM" message, when it's plainly obvious that ti's really entirely about negative interest rates. All they have to do is say that Bitcoin could help terrorists and criminals, and outlaw exchanging bitcoins for other currencies. The % of the population who would "get it" and recognize the impropriety of such a law would be outnumbered 1000:1 by the sheeple.
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