The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be t

Author : smuh_raof1
Publish Date : 2021-01-07 18:38:57


The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be t

Of course, this isn’t the reality for the majority of the world’s population, who suffer under inflationary regimes, or politicized and untrustworthy banking systems. But the views of American coastal elites are far overrepresented in the discourse, so the press is replete with confused assessments of this purportedly useless monetary scheme. But understanding the purpose of Bitcoin is itself a shibboleth. If you don’t get it, it’s probably not meant for you.

Researchers working on new gene-editing treatments for sickle cell will not only need to gain the trust of people with sickle cell, but also clearly convey the risks of the procedure to them. Then, if these in-the-body treatments end up working, drug companies and organizations like the Gates Foundation will have to figure out how to deploy them widely to the people who need them most.

Recently, the great monetary historian George Selgin pointed out that Bitcoin was unlikely to displace the dollar anytime soon, because monetary network effects are incredibly powerful and enduring. And I fully agree. The difference between us is simply one of time horizons. I am willing to be patient. I believe Bitcoiners have this in common. They recognize that they have undertaken a near-hopeless task. Creating a global, neutral, apolitical settlement medium and standard of value will not happen overnight. We have barely begun the project. We are only twelve years in. But we have made some great progress so far. So we push forward.

The idea of digital cash had existed previously, of course, as had cash-like schemes based on computational work. But this specific scheme — capped supply, not dollar-pegged (many of the early digital cash ideas relied on maintaining a dollar peg), running on a peer-to-peer network, based on a shared ledger, with minting through proof-of-work — was new, and so Satoshi had the privilege of naming it. When you create new things, whether they’re fictional characters or nation-states, you get to name them. In some cases, merely discovering things endows you with a nominative right. But it’s unambiguous that inventors get to christen their inventions.

What’s the measure of a healthy society? Arguably, it’s a willingness to undertake long term projects, whose completion their originators will never live to see. Virtually anything worth building takes time to build. Enduring institutions don’t come easy.

Even among acolytes, Bitcoin’s true nature is hard to pin down. It’s a fast-settling payments and settlements network, which led people to believe it would be suitable for petty-cash style payments on the internet, or even at brick and mortar points of sale. It’s a highly-available, replicated, and consistent database, which led many to envision it as a tool for the storage of arbitrary data. It’s highly innovative, and relies on new discoveries and improvements in computer science, cryptography, and peer to peer networking, yet it is perceived as antediluvian, a relic almost. These contradictions are core to the nature of Bitcoin. Something unowned, with no one to speak for it, will appear multitudinous in the minds of its users. It’s a glittering prism, refracting the opinions of observers, spitting out radically different visions of itself based on their perspectives.

There’s also a long history of medical exploitation in Africa. Over the years, Big Pharma has run clinical trials in African countries, an in some cases, companies failed to seek proper government permission or informed consent from patients.

This matters, because October 31, 2008 was the first time Bitcoin’s core qualities were sketched out, and paired with the name. This makes the system known as ‘Bitcoin’ rather specific. It’s not simply a generic name assigned to the first successful digital cash implementation. It’s the name that Satoshi bestowed upon a system with a predefined monetary schedule, 21 million units, based on proof of work, and so on. Other digital cash systems have existed and will exist. But this one is special, and it’s opinionated. It’s not just a way to move value through a communications medium. It’s an entire monetary manifesto. An affront to the fiat system.

It’s virtually impossible to set foot in an ancient cathedral today, a thousand years old, without contemplating the sheer human effort expended to place every last stone and every last pane of colored glass. It’s a monument to and a digest of the embodied work sunk into those ancient stones.

My university years were spent studying philosophy in St. Andrews, a small town on the east coast of Scotland. St Andrews was the site of a cathedral constructed to house the relics of Andrew the Apostle, the patron saint of Scotland. The diagonal white cross on the blue background, the one seen on the Scottish flag, the Saltire, represents the cross upon which he was crucified. For one hundred and fifty-eight years, starting in 1160, thousands of stone masons, laborers, and townsfolk labored with hand tools to build a suitable container for these holy relics. Only a tiny fraction of the people who poured the whole energy of their lives into this magnificent building would ever see it completed. For the rest of them, knowing that they were working on a sublime, civilizational project was enough. They were happy to submit to a vision far greater than themselves, rising above their transient concerns. This was the height of culture, beauty, and technology at the time. What more could one hope to live for?

The cathedral is not the stones that compose it. Nor is Bitcoin the blocks. The cathedral is the physical embodiment of a singular idea: something greater exists. Its greatness makes you feel small, and reminds you of your place in the universe. We modern folks, who trivially fly through the heavens for the price of one-tenth of a day’s labor, still find cathedrals imposing and sublime. Imagine how a medieval peasant would have felt in the somber coolness of the great hall. The spires towering above him, the tallest building he would see in his lifetime. The sun’s light filtering through colored glass, revealing an array he would never witness anywhere else. All of it, painstakingly built not for vanity, or commerce, but for the glory of God, over generations and generations. Fathers and sons and grandsons toiling over the same edifice.

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ack Overflow era, so not much help was available online. Some people would print out cheatsheets of different kinds and hang on the walls around their workstations. Having a couple of pages of frequently used codes in front of the desk was an efficient way of correcting syntax errors.

Twelve years ago today, on Halloween 2008, exactly 491 years after Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church, the idea of Bitcoin was born. More accurately, you could say it was baptized. The network itself wouldn’t exist in a truly live and peer-to-peer fashion until the following January. Block 1, the first ‘true’ block, was mined on the ninth, and digital cash pioneer Hal Finney received the first transaction on the tenth of the month.

Bitcoin has often confused people. It’s perhaps one of the most misunderstood phenomena of the last decade. If you lack sufficient ideological and historical context, you most likely consider it a complete boondoggle or a bizarre, unnecessary waste of computing power and effort. This is the default position. Most people in the West rarely give any thought to monetary policy or banking — why should they? Their currencies depreciate at a slow, barely perceptible rate. Their bank arrangements work fairly well, and they don’t find themselves frozen out of the financial system too often.

Researchers working on new gene-editing treatments for sickle cell will not only need to gain the trust of people with sickle cell, but also clearly convey the risks of the procedure to them. Then, if these in-the-body treatments end up working, drug companies and organizations like the Gates Foundation will have to figure out how to deploy them widely to the people who need them most.



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