As a nomad sharing experiences of excursions on science landscape, I am aware that I have very few readers, so I would love to add some more by dabbling on the subject of bitcoin that has mystified and yet attracted a lot of people!
As bitcoins are borne of internet, they are part of a new world where systems are moving out of the regime of authorities like states and nations and into headless collectives formed by common people like you and me interlinked with the web.
I find bitcoins extremely interesting, not because they are an opportunity to make money, but because they can be used to force a much-needed debate on “what is money doing to us?”.
Historically, money is a collective contract honoured by a group bound by a system that allows parking of effort in time.
In simple terms, if I don’t want consume the rewards of my efforts immediately, I am allowed to park my efforts through this contract to recover them later in time when I need. So, due to its very nature, the contract of money exists only if people agree to honour it. If the collective agreement falls apart, money will instantly become value-less. Hence money requires an authenticating authority to enforce the contract, a role traditionally played by the state.
As bitcoin money has moved away from the requirement of sovereign backing of a state, it has potential to dethrone money as we know it, but my question is, do we really know what money is doing to humanity?
Money as a contract is just the external cover provided to the concept of human effort, but what it has ended up doing is making the human effort a faceless idea out of bound of the most crucial scrutiny, i.e. moral scrutiny.
When money was born, the effort that we traded was normally of survival-useful items like food. It must have slowly encompassed other essentials like clothing, utensils, tools etc. Unfortunately for humans, at some point in our history, due to the natural curiosity about novelty that our brain is gifted/cursed with, survival-useless items like feathers and beads must have started riding the same contract.
Once contract of money escaped the scrutiny of survival-usefulness, it has started a crazy downhill journey, and today it has reached a point where strangest of “efforts”, such as readiness to shade cloths in front of a camera or selling a soul-destroying drug, have also earned the right to become money.
Today this dilution of concept of money has taken us to a point where efforts of a scientist spending lifetime of effort to discover a drug that will save million lives can be dwarfed by money earned by a cute cat video on YouTube, and what is even more interesting is that we are not questioning is as a society.
If we extrapolate the collective madness induced by concept of money running amok into a world running on bitcoin money, the future looks even more crazy as it will liberate money to ride the gratification circuits freely that has enslaved masses today.
A lawless money completely backed by an uncontrolled collective mob that we call internet-community is the most dangerous idea that we can unleash upon us.
While the new age is all about freedom of choice and finding what people want through collective consensus, it is actually just a trap set up by our gratification-hungry neocortex enslaved by forces of commerce.
Moral restrain is the greatest need of the hour if we want to save us from the self and planet consuming fire of gratification fuelled by interconnected masses.
So, while technology has unleashed the freest from of money, we need to first reign in the existing concept of money before playing with bitcoin fire.