Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How crypto-currencies will change the world

My first reaction to bitcoin - the popular electronic money,
was kind of dismissive. I thought `ahh.. all these shallow people only caring about money'
and `this cryptography stuff is always so non-elegant and over complicated, and thinking about security all the time is boring.'
but getting into it, and actually reading the genius paper of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto
(it is not known who he is, or whether he is actually a group of people,
or whether his name is short for Samsung-Toshiba-Nakamichi-Motorolla)

you start to feel, like others are feeling, that this is the beginning of a revolution on the scale
of the creation of the internet.

A revolution for the better?
Well it's like asking is life better with the internet?
I think the answer is:well.. it's not better or worse, it's just different.

Is there any point in going somewhere different that is not strictly better?
Well I think of the analogy: you are watching a movie - the
27th minute is as good as the 32nd minute - so why not just watch the 27th minute over and over?

Because (coming back from the analogy), there is a certain pleasure and excitement in witnessing and taking
part in this evolution of humanity, which is really part of the transformational process of mind and matter from the big-bang to the big-crunch - the *ultimate* movie.

Why is it a revolution?
Well you could say that any communication between people, or retrieval of information\media
that is possible now, was possible before the internet it is just much more convenient and easy now. (Maybe this is not precise but give me some slack.)
But this convenience\easiness changes the world, because it very very often changes the decision of
whether to proceed with the information retrieval  or communication.

The electronic currencies will ultimately make the same change in ease\convenience of exchanging
services for money - money in the broad sense of some, perhaps digital, currency.

Let me give an extreme example:
I am in my office thinking it would be nice to buy a muffin, in the coffee shop downstairs
(actually already ate a muffin half an hour ago, but just for the example..)
I think: I would gladly pay another 10 cents for someone to bring it to me.
And right now, there is someone downstairs that is buying something else in this coffee shop and on his way up that would gladly make the purchase and bring it to me for 10 cents.
But of course, we would not do this today,
because the complexity of coordinating between a person wanting the muffin, and the person who
happens to be downstairs at the same time, and the awkwardness of exchanging 10 cents for the delivery,
is too large an inconvenience to be worth it for either of us.

But if it was easy as typing `muffin' on google on your cellphone,  or computer,
it would be worth doing,
and that's where things are headed

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Hi! I am a computer science postdoc. For some reason google is not finding my new homepage so I added a link from this profile