I was at a newstand and all it took was a brief flash of the words "Crypto-Currency" out of the corner of my eye to get me to buy a magazine.

The words just melded into an interesting story in my head about what it could mean for money.  I've written about money before.  It is definitely one of the most interesting aspects of our society.  It's like a weird sort of magic.  Sure we have batteries that you can charge up and store power in, but with money, you can store it up and than do anything you want with it.

You can look at a gorge and think, I really wish there were a dam and a lake here.  And after a few years and a few billion dollars, it could be done.

You can think " I want to be in Japan", and with a few clicks of your mouse, and a few numbers entered into websites, you can be Japan.  You could do it without needing to talk with anyone.  And you could probably do it today... maybe you would have to wait until tomorrow.

Or if you have enough money, you could buy all the advertisement space in a whole subway system.  And put a picture of yourself everywhere with your name.  And than everybody in the city might know your name.

Sure you need a bit pile of money to do all the things I've just talked about, but the point is that it can be done.

So money is magical, but currently it's origin is ugly.  The short story of where money comes from is that the government ( or treasury (or central bank))  just say that it exists, and numbers change in computers, and money gets printed.  There is no elegance or beauty to it.

But here we are faced with something called Bitcoins.  And the special thing I find about Bitcoins is that their creation, and the system that they are used in, are all elegantly intertwined in such a way that their value is held up by math and morality.

I won't attempt to explain exactly how bitcoins work.  A simple search, or reading the article linked above will provide a better outline than I can write myself.

I'm thinking about the implications of this currency, about how it would spread and what that would be like.  Could this be the global currency that everyone will flock to.  In what realm of regulation does a currency like this exist it.  It has no central creator.  Is it something good, or is it something dangerous.  Will it hurt people or will it help people.  Is it better than what we have know, the same, or worse.

Should we be trying it?

Economics seems like a field where there is never a consensus.  It isn't really a science. It works with what people think has value.  What people think changes from day to day.

The feeling I get from Bitcoin is that it is such a huge and confusing step in the monetary system that regular people would have an exceedingly difficult time accepting it.

But the other feeling I get is that it is something that won't be destroyed, and that it will last as long as it has a purpose.  It feels like an organization was created out of the programming of bitcoin that has no head and can't be destroy.  In the same way that all companies have a value attributed to them by the market, Bitcoin too has value invested into it by all the people who thought that it was a good idea, and are able to see the logic and reason that lie in it's code.

Thinking about it now, Bitcoin is just a bit of code that runs on computers all around the world.  And all by itself, this code is running the equivalent of a monetary system.  It spreads because it is a good idea.

Now suppose that instead of just handling money, suppose that a system such as Bitcoin could handle our democracy.

I've never been relaxed with the idea of a true democracy because I don't think there has ever been one.  New things are scary.  Sure we have "democracy", but there are so many layers between what people actually vote, and what happens that it isn't scary. We have leaders who try to take care of us.  I get the feeling that real democracy is scary.

In a real democracy there is a good chance that you won't know how to spread a message and get your voice heard, so no one will hear you.  Majorities can be scary.

But getting back to the Bitcoin as democracy, suppose that suddenly a program popped up that allowed everyone on earth to vote for what they wanted.  Lets assume that it would include advanced biometric data recognition to ensure that each person was only given one vote ( in exactly the same way that you can only spend a bitcoin once).  And that their votes were anonymous, in the same way that Bitcoins are anonymous.

If this program were to spread, the question of what people actually wanted would be answered. How could a government argue with democracy like that.

I guess, I just wrote a post about the Occupy movement, and suddenly I have an idea for something that actually makes sense to me, something that feels like the next step.

Now my problem is that I feel like the ideas are so big that no one would believe me or care to listen.


1 comment:

Mory Buckman said...

I think it's a brilliant idea, but with two serious problems. First, relatively few people in the world would have access to this program, which would mean you're getting a skewed sample. Even if we assume that in addition to being hacker-proof, this system is so accessible and intuitive that it spreads like Facebook (and that's not particularly likely. Programmers don't generally know how to appeal to the masses.), you've still got all the people who don't have internet access, and insular societies and countries who would ban the application. The second problem is that even if you got the whole world on board, you wouldn't get a consensus. I doubt you'd even get people to agree on basic morality. Half the world would be trying to get the Western world to implode while the other half would be too busy, arguing about those trivial details which the media has defined as the "big issues", to notice.

Both of these problems can be sidestepped by instituting the system on a local level, rather than a global one. You still would need a bunch of geniuses to build, run and market the thing, and then somehow you'd have to get around the governments of the world trying to dismantle it (which would be a lot easier if it were local). After all, it is a threat to the current regimes.