“…people would say that there’s no way we could avoid Death and Taxes. But we have Ray Kurzweil saying we can escape death. And now we have the Bitcoin people saying we can escape taxes.” – Jesse Hirsh
Interesting Interview – Jesse Hirsh on Digital Currency:
What is Digital Currency?
I think before we answer the question, ‘Digital Currency?’, it is worth understanding what currency is.
And currency is both a reflection of value, but a reflection of value, connected to time. The problem with the nation state, is that everyone gets the sense that time is done. Its a relic of a past time. Whereas we look at the internet and we say the internet is now. That digital media is now. So the notion of digital currency is the idea of value that is rooted in the present empire, in the present society, rather than the old society. So rather than use dollars, the idea of using Bitcoins, or the idea of using facebook credit, or the idea of using zynga credit, is much more relevant. Cause none of us are farmers in the traditional sense, having acreage in rural Ontario, but many of us are farmers in the farmville sense. We’ve got a virtual plot of land, a virtual cow, that if we get some virtual currency from our friends….so its really a matter of where society is going, society is going digital, so it only makes sense that our currency keeps pace.
So what is Bitcoin? Cause Bitcoin is one of the big names you here out there right now.
Bitcoin is perhaps one of the leading candidates, to be the Internet’s Digital Currency. And if only because it is the most superior technology rather than the one that’s backed by a specific authority. In fact bitcoin was created by an anonymous individual and is backed by anonymous collectives who want to see it rise, not just because they like it as a technology, but because they distrust traditional governments, because they distrust the way in which the current economy is controlled. So they’ve declared autonomy. Bitcoin is the first currency on the internet that has no connection to a national government. Has no connection to anything but the internet economy itself, and as a result, has quickly grown to be very popular. Perhaps among money launderers. Perhaps among web retailers. Certainly wikileaks embraced bitcoin because mastercard, visa and paypal cut them off, so they had no other alternative. So it provides a way for people to pay or get paid without care of the law. Without care of traditional established authorities, and in that sense, it embodies some of the virtues, or some of the sins, of the internet as a whole.
So I’ve read that Bitcoin can go one two ways, it’ll either be a giant ponzi scheme or it’ll either be the next greatest innovation to Google.
Although there’s no reason it can’t be both. Cause Google is arguably a ponzi scheme. If you could be at the top of a Google result, you’ll get paid. But if you’re on the 50th page of a google result, that’s useless, you’ll be nobody. Bitcoin is kinda similar. Normal currencies are kinda similar. If your family came to Canada 150 years ago, and bought lots of land, in what is now downtown Toronto, you’ve probably got a lot of currency. If you happen to be someone on the internet who bought domain names in the early 90s, you’ve now got a lot of currency. If you’re someone who right now is buying up a lot of bitcoin, and is accumulating those bitcoins in such great numbers, 10 years from now, you could have a lot of currency. Part of it is speculation, but part of it is anticipating where society is moving.
So will the early adopters become rich?
No one can predict the future. The question is not whether or not we’ll have a digital currency. The question is which digital currency that will be. Bitcoin has a huge headstart, if only because it was first past the post. What bitcoin does not have is the backing of a national government. The Canadian government, the Royal Canadian Mint has now unveiled a process in which they want to develop a Canadian digital currency. They are asking Canadians and experts from around the world, to give input on what that should mean. So it is certainly possible that a nation state could create a digital currency that is just as technically capable, and that people choose to use, instead of using bitcoin.
But the issue comes back to Death and Taxes. Cause it used to be, people would say that there’s no way we could avoid Death and Taxes. But we have Ray Kurzweil saying we can escape death. And now we have the Bitcoin people saying we can escape taxes. That if you use a digital currency that is not tied to any national government, then you can escape the gaze of the taxman. I suspect that will appeal to a lot of people. And if it appeals to enough, if there’s a critical mass of adopters, then bitcoin will be a reality and will trump any national or traditional currency. The best way to describe a marketplace is as a shared hallucination. Because really it’s just what people perceive as being true that is true…..
Jesse Hirsh (Director) is an internet strategist, researcher, and broadcaster based in Toronto, Canada. He has a weekly nationally syndicated column on CBC radio and owns and operates Metaviews Media Management Ltd., which is a combination of a think-tank and a consultancy that engages in research, strategic consulting, and runs events. Jesse is also actively involved with MacLaren McCann, one of North America’s most successful multi-disciplinary advertising agencies, as a member of their Idea Council, which serves as a combination advisory board and think tank for the company. For two years, he was the host of an interfaith show on the Rogers and OMNI networks called 3D Dialogue. Educated at the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto, his passion is educating people on the potential benefits and perils of technology.