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Bitcoin: The Cyberpunk Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin: The Cyberpunk Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin is touted for its many improvements to traditional currency. It is easy to transfer, requires no central authority to administer, works across political boundaries, and is easy to use.

But beyond the practical niceties and technical implementation details is the true intention of its inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, who has now vanished and is unable to tell his story. Bitcoin is trying to solve a much larger problem: the economic instabilities of paper currency that fundamentally affect us, change the nature of business in our economy, make it hard for us to put valuations on things, and lead to a cyclical, chaotic economy of prosperity and recession that is both wasteful and ravaging to the progress of humanity and the stability of our lives.

In this talk, I will demystify currency and delve into the fundamentals of economic exchange. I will discuss how currencies work, what gives them their value, why most of them are fundamentally flawed, and how these flaws manifest themselves in our world. I will discuss how Bitcoin intends to solve these problems, the rearchitecture of our economic lives that would happen if we used it for everything, and where things might go wrong.

This talk was done at CyborgCamp 2012. There is a video of the talk available here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/26694951

If you like this, send me a tip! My Bitcoin address is 1AQHTW9MaAbaoN5xLcNPcas6LACg4jmavd. Thank you for your support!

Bitcoin is touted for its many improvements to traditional currency. It is easy to transfer, requires no central authority to administer, works across political boundaries, and is easy to use.

But beyond the practical niceties and technical implementation details is the true intention of its inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, who has now vanished and is unable to tell his story. Bitcoin is trying to solve a much larger problem: the economic instabilities of paper currency that fundamentally affect us, change the nature of business in our economy, make it hard for us to put valuations on things, and lead to a cyclical, chaotic economy of prosperity and recession that is both wasteful and ravaging to the progress of humanity and the stability of our lives.

In this talk, I will demystify currency and delve into the fundamentals of economic exchange. I will discuss how currencies work, what gives them their value, why most of them are fundamentally flawed, and how these flaws manifest themselves in our world. I will discuss how Bitcoin intends to solve these problems, the rearchitecture of our economic lives that would happen if we used it for everything, and where things might go wrong.

This talk was done at CyborgCamp 2012. There is a video of the talk available here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/26694951

If you like this, send me a tip! My Bitcoin address is 1AQHTW9MaAbaoN5xLcNPcas6LACg4jmavd. Thank you for your support!

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Bitcoin: The Cyberpunk Cryptocurrency

  1. Bitcoin: The Cyberpunk Cryptocurrency Kyle Drake
  2. What is money?
  3. There are never enough resources to provide all of humanity with everything. This will never change.
  4. Money helps us to determine the supply and demand of these limited resources. Without it, valuation is difficult. Production is difficult.
  5. Star Trek: A dystopian economic future.
  6. In The Beginning Bartering Example: A gallon of milk for a lobster.
  7. In The Beginning Bartering • How much milk is worth a lobster? • The milk dealer is a vegetarian (not a pescetarian) • Milk and lobsters depreciate in value very quickly • Difficult to account with • Hard to make divisible into small units It’s very difficult to determine value this way! Finding William Stanley Jevons’ “coincidence of wants”
  8. Buying a car?
  9. Through the actions of individuals, a medium of exchange eventually forms.
  10. “A medium of exchange is an intermediary used in trade to avoid the inconveniences of a pure barter system.”
  11. Money is a medium of exchange. It is also: • A unit of account • A store of value
  12. Good money is (mostly): • Fixed in quantity • Durable • Divisible • Accepted • Convertible
  13. What has been used as money?
  14. Forms of Money Manillas
  15. Forms of Money Manillas
  16. Forms of Money Cowry Shells
  17. Forms of Money Cowry Shells 貝 = Cowry
  18. Forms of Money Pacific Northwest Shell Money Dentalia shells
  19. Travis S http://www.flickr.com/photos/baggis/5435231427/
  20. Let’s talk prisoner economics.
  21. The Economic Organization of a P.O.W. Camp Richard Radford
  22. Prisoner Economics • 50,000 prisoners • Supplies sent by Red Cross • Equal and regular ration distribution • Relative trading freedom
  23. Prisoner Economics Rations: • Tinned Milk • Sugar • Jam • Cigarettes • Butter • Tinned Meat • Biscuits • Chocolate • Tinned Carrots
  24. Prisoner Economics • Some were vegetarians • Some didn’t smoke • Nobody wanted the carrots • One of them became a currency.
  25. Prisoner Economics Cigarettes! • Impossible to reproduce in prison camp • Smaller units, easy to hold and count • Relatively shelf stable and durable
  26. Forms of Money • Used by all (including non-smokers) • Arbitrage helped equalize the prices • Guards could be bribed with them Lots of real-world economic activity: Inflation Goods price speculation
  27. After lots of experimentation, markets found the best commodity to use.
  28. http://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalcurrency/2438119817
  29. Forms of Money Gold and Silver • Fixed supply • Adding more requires intense effort • Divisible • Durable (with a little help)
  30. Forms of Money Gold and Silver • Started as ingots • First known coins: Lydia, 7BC
  31. Forms of Money Chinese Sycee Nationale Bank van Belgie - Banque nationale de Belgique http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationalbankofbelgium/6673283561
  32. Forms of Money Chinese Sycee • Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) • Decentralized (no central mint) • Quality assured by Shroffs (money handlers)
  33. Forms of Money Bank Notes http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/5902557577
  34. Forms of Money Two Types: http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/5902557577
  35. Bank notes backed by commodity
  36. Fiat Money • USD: Fiat Since 1971 • Value from government law • Issued by bank(s) • Easy to make a lot of it
  37. How Currencies Fail
  38. How Currencies Fail In one word: debasement.
  39. How Currencies Fail Debasement: Lowering the value of coinage by reducing the content of precious metal.
  40. Roman Currency Debasement The result: price inflation
  41. Roman Currency Debasement Nero’s Coinage reform 64 AD Follows the great fire of Rome Reduced silver amount Reduced silver purity (copper)
  42. Roman Currency Debasement
  43. Roman Currency Debasement “Inflation and Financial Policy under the Roman Empire to the Price Edict of 301 A.D.”
  44. Modern Day Inflation
  45. How Currencies Fail Debasement Classic version: Lowering the value of coinage by reducing the content of precious metal. New version: Lowering the value of a currency by artificially increasing its supply beyond current economic growth. Simple version: Printing a ton of more money
  46. How Currencies Fail Weimar Germany, 1921 to 1924
  47. Jiaozi - Song Dynasty Chao -Yuan Dynasty (960 - 1279) (1271 - 1368)
  48. How Currencies Fail Zimbabwe
  49. How Currencies Fail Many More: Tom Chao’s Paper Money Gallery http://www.tomchao.com/hb.html
  50. Modern Day Inflation 1971: The “Nixon Shock” Ended the post WWII Gold Standard “Bretton Woods”
  51. How Currencies Fail Venezuela
  52. Modern Day Inflation The US Dollar became the international reserve currency. How long will that last?
  53. Modern Day Inflation
  54. Modern Day Inflation Excess currency can cause inflation. It can also cause investment bubbles.
  55. All of the currency forms (paper, gold, cigarettes) have flaws.
  56. What if you could algorithmically design a better currency?
  57. Bitcoin
  58. Satoshi Nakamoto • Founder of Bitcoin • Wrote the whitepaper, wrote the code • Satoshi is a pseudonym! • Anonymous e-mail services and Tor • Only ever discussed Bitcoin
  59. The Genesis Block 00000000 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................ 00000010 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................ 00000020 00 00 00 00 3B A3 ED FD 7A 7B 12 B2 7A C7 2C 3E ....;£íýz{.²zÇ,> 00000030 67 76 8F 61 7F C8 1B C3 88 8A 51 32 3A 9F B8 AA gv.a.È.ÈŠQ2:Ÿ¸ª 00000040 4B 1E 5E 4A 29 AB 5F 49 FF FF 00 1D 1D AC 2B 7C K.^J)«_Iÿÿ...¬+| 00000050 01 01 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................ 00000060 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................ 00000070 00 00 00 00 00 00 FF FF FF FF 4D 04 FF FF 00 1D ......ÿÿÿÿM.ÿÿ.. 00000080 01 04 45 54 68 65 20 54 69 6D 65 73 20 30 33 2F ..EThe Times 03/ 00000090 4A 61 6E 2F 32 30 30 39 20 43 68 61 6E 63 65 6C Jan/2009 Chancel 000000A0 6C 6F 72 20 6F 6E 20 62 72 69 6E 6B 20 6F 66 20 lor on brink of 000000B0 73 65 63 6F 6E 64 20 62 61 69 6C 6F 75 74 20 66 second bailout f 000000C0 6F 72 20 62 61 6E 6B 73 FF FF FF FF 01 00 F2 05 or banksÿÿÿÿ..ò. 000000D0 2A 01 00 00 00 43 41 04 67 8A FD B0 FE 55 48 27 *....CA.gŠý°þUH' 000000E0 19 67 F1 A6 71 30 B7 10 5C D6 A8 28 E0 39 09 A6 .gñ¦q0·.Ö¨(à9.¦ 000000F0 79 62 E0 EA 1F 61 DE B6 49 F6 BC 3F 4C EF 38 C4 ybàê.aÞ¶Iö¼?Lï8Ä 00000100 F3 55 04 E5 1E C1 12 DE 5C 38 4D F7 BA 0B 8D 57 óU.å.Á.Þ8M÷º..W 00000110 8A 4C 70 2B 6B F1 1D 5F AC 00 00 00 00 ŠLp+kñ._¬....
  60. The Genesis Block 00000000 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................ 00000010 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................ 00000020 00 00 00 00 3B A3 ED FD 7A 7B 12 B2 7A C7 2C 3E ....;£íýz{.²zÇ,> 00000030 67 76 8F 61 7F C8 1B C3 88 8A 51 32 3A 9F B8 AA gv.a.È.ÈŠQ2:Ÿ¸ª 00000040 4B 1E 5E 4A 29 AB 5F 49 FF FF 00 1D 1D AC 2B 7C K.^J)«_Iÿÿ...¬+| 00000050 01 01 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................ 00000060 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................ 00000070 00 00 00 00 00 00 FF FF FF FF 4D 04 FF FF 00 1D ......ÿÿÿÿM.ÿÿ.. 00000080 01 04 45 54 68 65 20 54 69 6D 65 73 20 30 33 2F ..EThe Times 03/ 00000090 4A 61 6E 2F 32 30 30 39 20 43 68 61 6E 63 65 6C Jan/2009 Chancel 000000A0 6C 6F 72 20 6F 6E 20 62 72 69 6E 6B 20 6F 66 20 lor on brink of 000000B0 73 65 63 6F 6E 64 20 62 61 69 6C 6F 75 74 20 66 second bailout f 000000C0 6F 72 20 62 61 6E 6B 73 FF FF FF FF 01 00 F2 05 or banksÿÿÿÿ..ò. 000000D0 2A 01 00 00 00 43 41 04 67 8A FD B0 FE 55 48 27 *....CA.gŠý°þUH' 000000E0 19 67 F1 A6 71 30 B7 10 5C D6 A8 28 E0 39 09 A6 .gñ¦q0·.Ö¨(à9.¦ 000000F0 79 62 E0 EA 1F 61 DE B6 49 F6 BC 3F 4C EF 38 C4 ybàê.aÞ¶Iö¼?Lï8Ä 00000100 F3 55 04 E5 1E C1 12 DE 5C 38 4D F7 BA 0B 8D 57 óU.å.Á.Þ8M÷º..W 00000110 8A 4C 70 2B 6B F1 1D 5F AC 00 00 00 00 ŠLp+kñ._¬....
  61. The Genesis Block Alistair Darling has been forced to consider a second bailout for banks as the lending drought worsens. The Chancellor will decide within weeks whether to pump billions more into the economy as evidence mounts that the £37 billion part-nationalisation last year has failed to keep credit flowing. Options include cash injections , offering banks cheaper state guarantees to raise money privately or buying up “toxic assets”, The Times has learnt. The Bank of England revealed yesterday that, despite intense pressure, the banks curbed lending in the final quarter of last year and plan even tighter restrictions in the coming months. Its findings will alarm the Treasury. The Bank is expected to take yet more aggressive action this week by cutting the base rate from its current level of 2 per cent. Doing so would reduce the cost of borrowing but have little effect on the availability of loans. Full: http://tinyurl.com/8qhxfe
  62. Bitcoin • Mathematically designed electronic currency • Introduced in 2008, started up January 2009 • Decentralized (network peers are the “Shroffs”) • Grows slowly by solving cryptographic problems • Eventually stops at 21 million BTC
  63. Bitcoin Controlled Inflation If Miners are making Bitcoins too fast, the system algorithmically throttles creation of coins. The money supply of Bitcoin grows at a slow, predictable rate.
  64. Bitcoin Controlled Inflation Bitcoin does not add enough to its money supply to cause inflation. Rather, it is far more likely to deflate.
  65. Bitcoin Deflation When money becomes more valuable over time. Economic policymakers are terrified of deflation.
  66. Bitcoin Is Deflation Bad? There are not a lot of answers on this topic. “It is unclear just how much monetary policy makers should fear deflation today” - Deflation: Current and Historical Perspectives “People will hoard their money”
  67. We have a bias towards inflation. Changing that would change us. Maybe even for the better.
  68. But if you must have money devalue to encourage spending, I have a solution for you.
  69. Demurrage Makes it cost money to hold onto money. Less damaging to economies than inflation, and more predictable.
  70. Alternatives and improvements to Bitcoin are already showing up.
  71. Litecoin
  72. Litecoin litecoin.org • Forced wallet encryption • CPU mining, rather than GPU • Lighter blockchain (much faster transactions) • More coins generated (82M vs 20M)
  73. Freicoin Bitcoin with Demurrage. Really early in development, but interesting.
  74. Conclusions
  75. Bitcoin could be the most important invention since the gold coin.
  76. There will be numerous, competing cryptocurrencies.
  77. Designer cryptocurrencies could make our world a better, more stable, more prosperous place.
  78. Thank you!

Editor's Notes

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  • This is a great example of direct democracy not working very well. They voted to California High Speed Rail.\n
  • The guy that works in the torpedo tube doesn’t like his job!\n
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  • Medium of exchange: an intermediary that allows you to buy anything else\nUnit of Account: Helps you to plan for the future and determine value\nA store of value: A way to save for larger projects in the future\n
  • Fixed in quantity: Limited growth of money supply\nDurable: Fits in hand, easy to carry\n\n
  • Fixed in quantity: Limited growth of money supply\nDurable: Fits in hand, easy to carry\n\n
  • Armlets, mostly bronze or copper\nMainly found in west africa\n500+ years old\nA British operation called “Operation Manilla” replaced them with British West African currency in 1948\n\n
  • Was often worn as a symbol of wealth\n\n
  • Used all over the place\nAfrica, Most of east Asia (Bengal, China, modern-day Thailand), New Guinea, Australia, North America\nStill a valid currency on East New Britain Island in New Guinea\n
  • China used them 3000 years ago. The character for money originated as a pictograph of a cowrie shell\n
  • Dentalia (now antalis pretiosum) are mollusks that were harvested as a currency\n\nThe tusk shell is naturally open at both ends, and can easily be strung on a thread. This shell money was valued by its length rather than the exact number of shells; the "ligua", the highest denomination in their currency, was a length of about 6 feet.\n\n
  • Collecting them was a difficult, labor intensive process, just like mining.\n
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  • Hand rolled cigarettes were considered counterfeit\n
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  • Electrum is an alloy of gold and silver. It’s better for a currency because it’s a little harder and more durable.\n
  • Alchemy would have rendered gold useless as money\n
  • Lydia - an iron age kingdom that was part of the persian empire for a while. Now in Turkey\n
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  • Sycees were not denominated or made by a central mint and their value, like the value of the various silver coins and little pieces of silver in circulation at the end of the Qing dynasty, was determined by experienced moneyhandlers known as "shroffs," who estimated the appropriate discount based on the purity of the silver and evaluated the weight in taels and the progressive decimal subdivisions of the tael (mace, candareen and cash).\n
  • Electrum is an alloy of gold and silver. It’s better for a currency because it’s a little harder and more durable.\n
  • Electrum is an alloy of gold and silver. It’s better for a currency because it’s a little harder and more durable.\n
  • The US has been on gold backed currencies since 1787, finalized with the Coinage act of 1792\n\n
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  • This is the Denarius\nThe Roman government established a currency mainly based on silver instead of copper, \nbecause foreign traders would not accept copper.\n
  • When the denarius was introduced, it was nearly pure silver. The Roman government would reduce the silver content to pay for wars. It caused the coin to be worthless, so the Antoninianus was introduced. Debasement is a form of taxation. It still is!\n
  • When the denarius was introduced, it was nearly pure silver. The Roman government would reduce the silver content to pay for wars. It caused the coin to be worthless, so the Antoninianus was introduced. Debasement is a form of taxation. It still is!\n
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  • When the denarius was introduced, it was nearly pure silver. The Roman government would reduce the silver content to pay for wars. It caused the coin to be worthless, so the Antoninianus was introduced. Debasement is a form of taxation. It still is!\n
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  • Weimar German Mark inflation: June 1921 to January 1924\n\n
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  • Ongoing problem: They are using foreign currency (mostly US Dollars). Gave up in 2009\n\n
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  • When the denarius was introduced, it was nearly pure silver. The Roman government would reduce the silver content to pay for wars. It caused the coin to be worthless, so the Antoninianus was introduced. Debasement is a form of taxation. It still is!\n
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  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n
  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n
  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n
  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n
  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n
  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n
  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n
  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n
  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n
  • It’s been tested in a few places, but not widespread.\n\nDemurrage-charged local currency was successfully tested in the Austrian town of Wörgl between 1932 and 1934, until the Austrian central bank stopped the experiment.\n

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