The Senate Judiciary Committee hauled tech titans His Most Serene and Excellent Kahuna of Twitter and Mark “I am not a Zeta Reticulan” Zuckerberg of Facebook to their Zoom cameras to testify about their policies for censoring conservatives on their respective sites this week. The Republicans on the Committee railed about how these businessmen were running their private companies the way they wanted to, which is wrong these days, while the Democrats cried out for more and better censorship- er, barriers against misinformation, which is typically information they wish everyone would miss.
But in a way, Twitter and Facebook are yesterday’s technology, anyway. More interesting developments took place in one of tomorrow’s technologies, that is, blockchains and cryptocurrencies. October 31 was the twelfth anniversary since a link to the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto’s paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” appeared on a cryptography mailing list at metzdowd.com. A couple months later, Bitcoin launched — January 9, 2009. Two years later, one Bitcoin was worth 35 cents. On January 9, 2012, a Bitcoin was worth $6.65. Today, Bitcoin stands at $18,685, with some expecting it to hit $65,000, and has a market cap of almost $347 billion.
It’s a reflection of how cryptocurrencies are slowly but surely ingratiating themselves into the ecosystem. PayPal recently began facilitating the purchase of Bitcoin and one of the other leading cryptocurrencies, Ethereum. Both Mastercard and Visa offer cryptocurrency cards, and Visa has also partnered with leading crypto exchange Coinbase.
Cryptocurrencies exist on a digital technology called blockchains, which allows for secure, decentralized, and anonymous transactions beyond the reach of authorities. Which presents its own twists. Blockchains also allow complex financial transactions to take place in minutes, where the current system takes days, maybe a week.
And Friday, payments startup company Circle announced that it had partnered with the Venezuelan government-in-exile led by Juan Guaidó (recognized by the United States, Canada, Brazil and over 50 other nations as the legitimate Venezuelan government). In fact, Circle was also working with the U.S. government to essentially convert seized Venezuelan funds into a cryptocurrency called USDC – which is pegged to the value of one American dollar – to bypass financial controls imposed by Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro.
Of course, with any new technology, regulation in the blockchain world is thin (but thickening up), and the price ticker for bitcoin can look like the heart monitor of a tweeker going cold turkey. Caveat emptor,
But as the U.S. government buries the dollar in Marianas-level depths of debt – and this before the Democrat moves into the White House, promising to give out trillions more – there might be worse ideas than finding alternative forms of currency.
The fact that you can hide secret messages in the currency is just the icing.
Update, 11/21/2020 1:21 PM. Fixed a couple of the links.