Freeing the oppressed with software


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TIME recently published a great column on Bitcoin.

In the piece, Alex Gladstein (Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation) lays out an argument for the importance of the decentralized digital currency when it comes to freedom for millions of people around the world. He articulates how Bitcoin can have a material impact for those living in Venezuela, China, Russia, Zimbabwe, and a number of other countries.

I highly recommend you read the entire article (Click here). Gladstein’s piece got me thinking about a number of nuances — here are the ones I’ve spent time on so far:

  • Bitcoin has enormous growth potential — The article states that ~1% of people (40 million or less) have used Bitcoin globally, yet more than 50% of the world’s population live under authoritarian regimes. This means 3.81 billion of the 3.85 billion people that are the ideal users of the digital currency haven’t adopted it yet. As more of them do, the network effects and virality of money should accelerate the adoption rate. It is almost overwhelming to think about how big Bitcoin could be.

  • Bitcoin is the first weapon of the people — Governments, particularly authoritarian ones, use central banks, monetary policy, and capital controls to keep populations in line. Previously, the citizens of a country could only create change by (1) voting a regime out of office or (2) protesting/revolting through any means necessary. Bitcoin provides a new, nonviolent option that becomes incredibly powerful for those citizens where democracy is nonexistent.

  • Decentralized software will be a standard defense tactic — Most future wars won’t be fought with bullets and bombs. Instead, disagreements between nations are likely to be fought in cyberspace. As more governments realize the defensibility of truly decentralized systems, it should be expected that they will begin to default to semi-decentralized or fully decentralized systems. For example, imagine the advantages gained by operating a decentralized power grid or communications network. Sometimes the best offense is a great defense.

  • The first government to embrace Bitcoin will win big — Governments, just like corporations, face the innovator’s dilemma. It would be nearly impossible to abandon a fiat currency in exchange for Bitcoin because the leaders of a country see too much benefit from the fiat currency to move away from it. With that said, the first country to fully cross over and accept Bitcoin as their national currency will have a meaningful head start on everyone else. Remember, there are only 21 million Bitcoin ever created and the capital investment required to obtain a material amount of the digital currency would be relatively small for a nation state.

  • Bitcoin is the most disruptive technology in our lifetime — The more time that passes, the greater the likelihood that Bitcoin could successfully achieve global reserve status. If this happens, the addressable market for the global money supply is over $80 trillion. Combine the large market opportunity with the potential for numerous governments to be brought to their knees and you have something so powerful that it is actually widely underestimated. Disruption is historically painful for the incumbents and there is no reason to believe Bitcoin would be any different.

It is easy for many of us in the Western world to get distracted with Bitcoin’s price movements. It is discussed daily in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and newscasts. We must not lose sight of the bigger picture though — the decentralized digital currency has the potential to stop authoritarian governments in their tracks, create a new world of financial freedom for billions of people, and ensure there are greater degrees of equality globally.

There are few times in history where a group of people can organize resources in a way that shakes the very foundation of governments, nations and geopolitics. This road won’t be easy, but it is definitely worth it.

If software is eating the world, Bitcoin is equalizing it.

-Pomp


The “Off The Chain” podcast has been downloaded 300,000+ times in 160 countries. You can listen to the latest episode with Ari Paul, CIO of Blocktower now: Click here for Off The Chain podcast


THE RUNDOWN:

White Hat Hackers Earned $878,000 from Crypto Bug Bounties in 2018: Blockchain companies awarded $878,504 in bug bounties to hackers this year. The data was compiled in mid-December. By contrast, the total sum of bug bounties awarded by August was $600,000. With $534,500 awarded, EOS creator Block.one accounts for more than 60 percent of all bounties handed out in 2018. Read more.

Chinese Survey Finds Nearly 40% of Respondents Would Invest in Crypto: A Chinese survey of 4,200 respondents has shown that 40 percent are willing to invest in crypto in the future. PANews, whose Twitter describes the outlet a news source for sharing blockchain news across Asia, conducted the survey. Read more.

Security Researchers Break Ledger Wallets With Simple Antennae: Radio antennae are the original networking technology, and researchers presenting in Berlin Thursday showed how useful they are as hacking tools. The hardware researchers set out to find different kinds of vulnerabilities in the most popular hardware wallets used by cryptocurrency holders, from Trezor and Leger. At the Chaos Computer Club Conference in Germany, Dmitry Nedospasov said that he and his collaborators set out to find three different kinds of vulnerabilities and said they succeeded in finding all three. Read more.


Bitcoin in 2019: Analysts See Institutional Investors Wading into Crypto: The bitcoin price got hammered in 2018 amid the prolonged Crypto Winter, but many investment experts expect the volatility to subside in 2019, as institutional investors start entering the market. Some analysts believe bitcoin will re-emerge — like the proverbial Phoenix rising from the ashes — on back of momentum created by institutional investors, the Australian Financial Review reported. Read more.


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