Let's Talk Bitcoin: Interview with Richard Garriott

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by smack, Feb 22, 2014.

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  1. Kal

    Kal Avatar

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    i like the idea of bitcoin but i don't like bitcoin itself because the whole thing is based on a lie. they claim some mysterious japanese guy invented it when the truth is probably some people in silicon valley started it.

    if i am gonna have trust in something i want to know the truth about it, not some made up story about its origins.

    also it's not correct to call it a currency. i'd call it a digital commodity i guess would be accurate.

    also, it can be hacked, but that requires a huge amount of processing power that only a major government could pull off at this point. but a government does not like the idea of competing currencies and china is already going after it. i think its a matter of time before the american government goes after it as well.
     
  2. vjek

    vjek Avatar

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    New York Times (today)
    "Mr. Silbert says he will only open the exchange once they have several regulated financial institutions signed on as members."
    "A few weeks ago the company stopped allowing its customers to withdraw Bitcoins after it said it had discovered a flaw in some of the basic Bitcoin computer code. "
    "Ryan Galt, a blogger who writes frequently about Bitcoin and was one of the first to circulate the news about Mt. Gox, wrote on Monday: “I do believe that this is one of the existential threats to Bitcoin that many have feared and have personally sold all of my Bitcoin holdings.” "
    "On Monday, Mt. Gox took down all of its previous posts on Twitter, one day after its chief executive, Mark Karpeles, resigned from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for virtual currencies. "

    Forbes (today)
    "Mt. Gox was the most public and well-known brand that represented Bitcoin’s exchange market. The company’s shutdown is rumored to be caused by a “hack” or “security breach” that resulted in a loss up to 744,000 BTC or $409,200,000. (Based on the approximate value just hours ago from Coindesk.com) This is truly an unfortunate event that has caused the international community to shake its trust in Bitcoin as evidenced by the massive price drop. This is par for the course, when a pillar in the community falls in such a funeral pyre. The best parallel would be the Bear Stearns’ failure during the 2008 global financial crisis. "

    Wired (yesterday)
    "
    As WIRED reported earlier, Gox has been in trouble since U.S. authorities seized $5 million of the company’s U.S. assets last year. Gox had been operating in the U.S. without the proper money transmission permits. Since that seizure, customers had reported months-long delays in receiving cash for their bitcoins, and earlier this month, Gox suspended all withdrawals, blaming a bug in its bitcoin wallet software.
    Now, according to the alleged leaked document, it looks like hackers had been exploiting that bug for two years, and even removing bitcoins from supposedly secure “cold” wallets that the company had stored offline. Typically, cold wallets are disconnected from the internet and cannot be emptied by online attackers. However, the “cold storage has been wiped out due to a leak in the hot wallet,” the document states.
    Gox’s collapse is another black eye to a virtual currency that’s been struggling to go legit. Last month, Charlie Shrem, the CEO of U.S. bitcoin exchanger Bitinstant, was arrested on money laundering charges. Both Shrem and Gox CEO Mark Karpeles had been board members with the Bitcoin Foundation, the digital currency’s lobbying and software development group. Both have now stepped down. But according to the alleged Mt. Gox document, the bitcoin world faces even bigger problems that the loss of these two men. “This could be the end of bitcoin,” the document reads, “at least for most of the public.”"

    I don't think this can be spun as "a good thing" for Bitcoin, haselbach.
     
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  3. haselbach

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    Gox is one of seven major cryptocurrency exchanges. While it was once the largest, it had lost that status some time ago. Several of the larger exchanges are far superior and each iteration is better than the other. Gox going done was good for the community in the long run. That volume will eventually roll into the stronger of the other exchanges.

    Just because target gets hacked doesn't mean you give up on Visa. Gox was a well known player, but an increasingly small one in the community. I got out of Gox when they temporarily shut down last year. The writing was on the wall. Those that remained as users either did so because they didn't do their homework or because they were trying to exploit massive arbitrage opportunities. The latter took the risk and paid the price. I hope the honest users can get their coins or cash back, but just like the stock market or FX trading, there is risk. But, the US market is also rigged against us little guys (e.g. HFT and frontrunning). Bitcoin is far more egalitarian.
     
  4. Jatvardur

    Jatvardur Avatar

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    Put down the newspapers. Not going to happen today.

    I'll take the counter-side of that bet. Definitely think people should put some risk on the table if they spread FUD.

    Open source; Doesn't matter.

    Go read the code. Srsly.

    Is Gold money or a commodity? Some people argue either way. It is a medium of exchange, so it matters naught what we call it. Related tangent: Niall Ferguson has given a pretty good account of the various forms of money in his book the "Ascent of Money".

    Also: http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/19/germany-recognizes-bitcoin-as-private-money-sales-tax-coming-soon/

    Germany has decided that Bitcoin is money.

    I'm sure that will help to "sell newspapers" too.
     
  5. Mishri

    Mishri Avatar

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    I've felt for a long time bitcoins were a passing fad, I've been watching it since they first revealed it.


    You know what they say, Things are worth only what someone is willing to pay for them. Yes, there will be a finite amount of them around, but there are also a finite number of many other things in the world, it doesn't mean people are willing to pay for them. Once people realize that about bitcoins it will lose it's popularity and thus value. It's real volatility and lack of eventual value will be because it has no backing. You can say that of any fiat currency, but at least those that have any value are in at least a sense backed by the countries monetary policy.

    You know why banks like the USD? Because the goal is to keep inflation at 3% annually. That means banks can plan to pay out investment products at a rate lower than 3% and come out ahead.. in a nutshell anyway that's how it works, there is more to it along with changes in inflation. But that's it in a nutshell..

    There is no goal, plan or management of bitcoins, it will fail. The only plan is that eventually there wont be anymore new ones entering the system.

    Although yes, I am kicking myself for not atleast mining them back in the day. Figured it would be a waste of time.
     
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  6. Jatvardur

    Jatvardur Avatar

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    Price, yes that's possible; value, no.

    The value of Bitcoin is not the economics but the protocol. Even if Bitcoin "dies", which I'd attach a low probability to, there are others that can take its place.

    The price could be literally zero US Dollars and Bitcoin can still function. That was basically the price on day one. The Euro (say) disappeared tomorrow that doesn't negate the fact that we can trade Dollars, nor the fact that we could trade beans for cotton.
     
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  7. enderandrew

    enderandrew Legend of the Hearth

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    The value of anything is what someone is willing to pay for it. I'm approached constantly (as a tech guru and an employee of eBay/PayPal) for my personal opinion of Bitcoin. People approach me asking if they can get rich quickly with it as a short term investment because of how much it has skyrocketed over the past 4 months. You never buy high on anything, especially something risky and not backed by anything. The US dollar doesn't have physical gold, but your money in the bank is federally insured.

    We've seen several incidents recently where large numbers of bitcoins have been seized or stolen, and now a cornerstone of the market just magically went under overnight coinciding with a massive theft.

    The decentralized nature of bitcoin appeals to criminals (along with others) which will eventually lead to government regulation and likely seizure. The Prime Minister of Ireland has already called for outlawing it.

    Who will trust putting money into it after what just happened, knowing it can all be stolen with absolutely no insurance or recourse?

    Bitcoin will still exist tomorrow, but it is fatally wounded.
     
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  8. MoralCompass

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    I can understand why Paypal, or its employees, would dislike bitcoins.

    I also appreciate the real risks in holding bitcoins for people who don't take their computer security seriously. (The same could be said for those who pledge a large amount and don't take their computer security seriously, but those who seriously adopt Bitcoin are bound to have vested a significant amount in it, and getting hacked would likely exceed that of a Knight/Lord/Baron/Duke/LotM pledge.)

    I understand that it could take a bit of time and development effort if Portalarium were to integrate Bitcoin payment for purchase of pledges, add-on store items, etc... time that could be spent on engineering or other website development instead. (However, I don't think it is so much time, if they choose to use the APIs of one of the existing Bitcoin payment processors.)

    I further understand the forex risks if Portalarium were to hold the Bitcoins instead of converting it expeditiously into "hard" currency. Unless and until a significant amount of Portalarium's costs are paid in Bitcoins, it would be risky for them to hold it - but as a number of others have already explained, they don't need to.

    I don't understand the resistance that some members of the community have towards Portalarium supporting it. Richard is a smart man, and has almost certainly spent a lot more time considering Bitcoin then you have. I'm sure that any implementation will be calculated based on real advantages, and implemented while minimising risks.
     
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  9. enderandrew

    enderandrew Legend of the Hearth

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    I speak for myself, not my company. I'm all for emergent technology and open source. I also applaud any company or organization with the best product, even if it isn't ours. Knowing when you need to catch up to competition is important.

    Infosec is a huge part of my life.

    The issue is lack of fiscal security. When your bitcoins are stolen, and no one insures them, then it isn't as exciting of a technology.

    I think you're underestimating what happened today, and the events that have led up to it recently.
     
  10. Jatvardur

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    Let me fix that for you: "The price of anything is what someone is willing to pay for it."

    Again, to re-iterate the end of my post. The price of Bitcoin could be literally zero and people can, and will, still use it.

    I see MoralCompass asked about this this point. It did raise my eyebrow but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here.

    Yes, people are a problem. I haven't seen anywhere in here that points out a flaw beyond poor control by people. The Silk Road seizure you mentioned in the other post has been considered here, but at the moment the situation is inconclusive. People (globally) have their identity stolen every day. Where's the complaints about that?

    The price volatility from the Silk Road closure, and from last night, is not even the worst volatility we've ever seen in Bitcoin either. Which suggests that people are panicking less whenever "big" events occur. If you look at the price (only) over the last month then yes you could draw a conclusion that price will hit zero by drawing a straight line on the graph. Better yet, you could go make that trade.

    On security:
    If people hack into my email due to poor security procedures on my part then it isn't email that's the problem but me. It isn't possible to steal Bitcoins from another person unless you can access their wallet. If someone accesses your wallet then it obviously wasn't secure. So this may suggest a problem with wallet security, which is a known issue, but wallets are not part of the protocol. In fact, I'd wager that you know about encryption not being widely used by the public. Arguably not as much as it should be, there are user-friendliness issues. Even setting up your own PGP key is a pain when you don't know how. I recall an anecdote from a Google engineer who said that setting up a PGP key was a task given to new students in IT (?) at MIT, the average time was longer than 40 minutes. So a lack of user friendliness is already a problem. Bitcoin didn't create the problem.

    The Prime Minister of Ireland doesn't necessarily have any credibility. California just announced that it was legal tender, and Germany has ruled that it is a unit of account. So who trumps who for credibility?

    I'm actually getting more interested now than I was when the price was topping $1100 a coin. Buying the dip sounds better than piling in at the top.

    In the UK, ETFs are not necessarily insured by the government deposit scheme either yet that is a massive market. From wiki:

    "As of January 2014, there were over 1,500 ETFs traded in the U.S., with over $1.7 trillion in assets."

    Not all types of ETF are insured and not to the full value either. So what percentage of those assets is insured and how does that compare to to Bitcoin at (presently) $8bn (a whopping 0.47% of the ETF market)? Given that compensation schemes don't cover for the full amount then the uninsured ETF market could be large. Which is potentially the bigger problem for governments ETFs of Bitcoin? Probably the former. Which is a bigger problem for people? Only the latter if they chose to use it, but the former isn't exactly fully transparent in all cases, but I digress....


    Bitcoin might not be ready for prime-time but that doesn't make it dead, but I'm less worried about Bitcoins (and cryptocurrencies in general) than many ETFs. I wouldn't want to make any promises on how long Bitcoin will last but the idea isn't going to disappear (or die slowly, take your pick of words).

    edit: deposits into SOTA probably aren't insured by the government either, nor is there any guarantee of the project being completed. We believe it will be completed but run the risk that it won't, or that we won't enjoy it and could have difficult getting our money back. Nothing is guaranteed but we pay our money and take our chances. If (say) I decide to sell my virtual house then I've traded (essentially) virtual money that is no more insured than Bitcoin and no more (probably less) secure than Bitcoin. Should we spread FUD about SOTA then? Some people already are. Some people don't trust kickstart projects either, and it isn't like they are imbeciles but just have a different risk tolerance and optimism towards KS projects.


    Ok, so your previous statement was just FUD? I'd caution sweeping statements on Bitcoin especially if you have no personal exposure. No skin in the game leads people to make statements that don't ever have to come true.... just like Krugman making massive predictions without taking any risk.
     
  11. Veylen The AenigmA

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    Wheb the dollar bottoms out id be happy to have a currency not tied to a corrupt political system
     
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  12. Mishri

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    Whose dollars would those be? You know the USD Is managed by the federal reserve right? It isn't tied to the federal government or politics as far as senate/congress/president go. It is tied into banking politics though. Which is it's own beast, big banks are the ones who become members on the federal reserve board, they manage the USD. They manage the USD so they can make money.. which is why the whole 2007 recession amused me so much.. they knew what they were doing at the time, but didn't care... smaller banks didn't expose themselves so much, unless they were also mismanaged. The bank I worked at never dealt in the subprime loan or the other things that made banks a lot of money before they lost it all. Everyone I knew in banking new what was going to happen years before it did.
     
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  13. haselbach

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    To assert that the fed is not "tied" to the political process is naive. It is quasi-independent in theory, but it is intricately and intimately intertwined in the federal government political machine of today. I would bet my account that no federal reserve decision or policy is released without full vetting by the White House. Federal Reserve and central banks were disfavored by the founders of this ( US) republic because of a fear of the exact kind of mischief (e.g. QE,ZIRP).

    On security: shop at target lately? Bitcoin can be more secure than current financial products and methods of transfer. At the same time, it's no less secure.

    Cryptocurrency is an option. It can be accepted with little to no inherent risk (e.g. Auto conversion) while greatly reducing the fees skimmed off by traditional payment processors (e.g. Visa PayPal).

    RG/LB spoke of creating a revolutionary game that was genre busting. It only makes sense to include a revolutionary payment system, particularly when any risk can be mitigated.

    And, by they way, Mt.Gox in bankruptcy, but Bitcoin $ value increased over $100 over last 36 hours from its "Gox" lows. People keep predicting Bitcoin's demise and yet it seems to bounce back stronger after each challenge with increasing value, improved infrastructure and more support. Challenges and volatility are natural in any novel technology. What matters is how it responds, and over the last three years, Bitcoin has responded impressively.
     
  14. Mishri

    Mishri Avatar

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    Bitcoin is not managed, traditional currencies are. The management of currency is what brings in millions of dollars from investors, it's how bankers design investment products around the currency. Without it Bitcoin is doomed to fail, there are no investment products centered around bitcoin. the people putting money into bitcoin now are gamblers, not investors. 3 years? not much of a timeline to be basing a longterm investment on. The best investments are longterm.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/petercohan/2014/02/26/is-bitcoin-an-investment-or-a-cult/
     
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  15. haselbach

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    Management of a fiat currency encourages mischief. Fiat currency requires growth for the sake of growth. It requires credit (for it's issuance). It requires interest (to pay for it's infrastructure and incentivise it's issuance) . It facilitates inflation. These things are detrimental to environmental sustainability and the well-being of individuals who don't have one of the few inside seats of power.

    Because credit, growth, and interest are required for a fiat system to function, investment (read gambling) is required. On it's face, gambling is risky and the powerful want to minimize their risk. So, they either look for ways to force the odds in their favor, or they look for other ways to rig the game. Mischief.

    That's why "too-big-to-fail" and "too-big-to-jail" have entered our lexicon. You have the federal reserve primary dealers and others functioning as state- sanctioned criminal syndicates. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, HSBC, etc. commit systemic fraud, promote tax evasion, and launder money for terrorists and drug cartels because they have power and they need a rigged game to keep that power (i.e. keep the cash coming in in ever larger amounts). Yet, they don't receive anything more than a slap on the hand (i.e. no one's in jail and even the relatively minimal fines don't result in full disgorgement of ill-gotten gains) when they get "caught" (e.g. when the regulators aren't too busy watching porn on their office desktops http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/04/23/sec.porn/ ).

    A decentralized, proof-of-work, P2P protocol for value exchange with a built-in currency eliminates that category of bad actors. It's eliminates the need for growth for the sake of growth, credit, interest and inflation. Sure, not all the mischief is removed (humans are by nature fallible), but it removes a huge category of it.

    Your other points are simply wrong. A sampling:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/timwors...y-the-winklevoss-twins-and-their-bitcoin-etf/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmir...-brothers-launch-winkdex-for-bitcoin-pricing/

    http://www.bitcointrust.co/

    In the end, my only point is this: it makes sense to include Bitcoin as an option. No one is advocating Bitcoin being the exclusive means of transaction for SotA. More options = good, particularly for a game with an international audience and where Bitcoin can be accepted without risk.

    You, on the other hand, advocate excluding the option without, clearly, having dug very deeply into the facts around Bitcoin, the protocol and cryptocurrency, generally. I'm not trying to insult you. You are obviously an intelligent person. But, your objections, in many regards, are regurgitation of the fallacies in "bitcoin myths 101".

    No one is asking for SotA to quit cash. So why are you so keen to see them shut the door on Bitcoin?
     
  16. Jatvardur

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    While I disagree with many things you say I do respect the fact that you put thought into your posts, but you've really not bothered to do your research at all for this post.

    Bemoaning a new concept for not having any investment products derived from it after 5 years (not three) is quite a big ask. That said, there are products centred around it. If you have Bloomberg at work then you can find at least one hedge fund (with price data) that invests in BTC plus there are a few more attempting to list. Less reputably, IG Index in the UK allows for spread betting or CFDs (not looked into it tbh) on Bitcoin. Definitely not recommending that but interest is picking up.

    There is also the ECB report, not to forget various reports from IBs in London with fairly positive interest in cryptocurrencies. This doesn't meant that Bitcoin is a guaranteed success but spreading FUD based on poor research doesn't do you or BTC any favours.



    Bitcoin wasn't created as an investment but as a currency. I'm guessing you haven't read the white paper.

    This thread is an illustration of why Bitcoiners seem hard headed, on the one hand any vaguely political idea will bring out stubborn people, but I feel that if I admit that people here have a point then they will falsely believe they won a victory on something they haven't bothered to research or understand. If you read on the Bitcointalk forums you will find people talking about the weaknesses but many of them already understand how it works. They don't take their opinion from Forbes (who have actually done many good articles on it, so I'm not slighting them but rather people who are lazy).

    A wise man one said (I shall paraphrase) "many MMO players understand virtual currencies because they have been playing with them for years, they understand its value so they naturally understand Bitcoin". That wise man is, of course, Richard. It isn't a surprise to me that computer nerds and / or MMO players understand virtual currencies in a way that others struggle to understand them. People have asked me questions like "why would anyone pay real money for an in-game item?". Answering questions like that is hard if people can't grasp some of the simple concepts of why humans enjoy MMOs, nor see how something virtual can have value and price.
     
  17. Mishri

    Mishri Avatar

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    Sure I did research. researched bitcoins years ago.. only took me 5 seconds on google to find no investment products that were even indexed to the bitcoin market.

    Economics is one of my many hobbies.. yes took economics classes in high school and college (Business administration+computer science major).

    Currencies are investment tools themselves, without that backing them, they really don't hold their value.

    Edit: also figure I'll add, I used to sell investments for a living, I'm pretty good at spotting good/bad investments. I'm not the best, there are many investments I wouldn't have gotten into that did well, but I'm usually good at finding the flaws in them and predicting that they wont last.


    Anyway, you may note I didn't ever say they shouldn't accept bitcoin payments. I'm just arguing it's longevity and volatility.
     
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  18. Veylen The AenigmA

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    Anything in its first iteration has problems and governments hate it because they cant control it. Its a free market in name only. I wouldnt be surprised if government uses and used shady practices to cause problems with bitcoin. Id be more apt to support bitcoin because it cannot be used as a weapon against ppl by their own government like traditional currencies can
     
  19. Jatvardur

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    I didn't say indexed. But in those whole 5 seconds you scoured the entire internet and can conclusively prove that no such investment fund exists? I know Google is the best but I think that is beyond Google's power.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonmatonis/2013/03/08/first-bitcoin-hedge-fund-launches-from-malta/

    OHAITHARFORBES!!!!111one

    Like I said, you need to do more research. IIRC, this is the one with its price data on Bloomberg.

    Have you actually read the whitepaper or looked at the code? Do you know all of the functionality and capability of Bitcoin? Do you know of the problems that Bitcoin solved from a software / networks point of view? Forget economics. The economics of Bitcoin doesn't have to be right; just in the same way it doesn't need a price. It still has a useful function.

    Are you aware of Bitmessage? Do you know that it is inspired by the Bitcoin protocol? Can you see value in it? If yes, then you can see value in Bitcoin (forget price). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitmessage

    Have you heard of Namecoin? Do you know its relation to wikileaks? Again, it is derived from Bitcoin. It serves a useful function (let's put politics aside and look at functionality).

    People see the price of Bitcoin and get sucked into talking about price and waffling (mostly BS) about economics. Forget price. Forget economics. Go back to basics and understand the fundamentals.

    I can tell. You create many well thoughts out posts even if I disagree I still respect them.

    WoW gold has a price and a value. It has backing like any other currency. Just because people don't like the fact that WoW gold has a price doesn't mean it is worthless. Which is the inference I take here from saying that BTC is dead, by induction that means all virtual currencies will die. I'd agree if we are talking about game currency, but we're talking about something different.
     
  20. ZhugeLiang

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    I will not take any part of the bitcoin market as long as computers are as vulnerable as they are. The idea of virtual currency is great and all, but to place your actual money into something with no tangible value that can be stolen as easily as Bitcoins can, it makes no sense at all to take part in it. Perhaps in another 30 or so years, if someone actually manages to make a network hack proof I can see it, but not until then, doubly so when you add in the fact that cyber warfare is the future. There are no safeguards and that has been seen with what happened this past week in Tokyo, over 500 million in bitcoins vanished.

    Its bad enough that we are being forced to use paper money with no intrinsic value, and coins with no actual metals of any value as currency. To go to something that doesn't actually exist is just asking for trouble. If the world gets hit with another great depression, you will literally have NOTHING of value to trade with. At least during the depression people had coins with actual copper, nickel, silver and gold to use to barter with for a short time.

    Bitcoin is way ahead of its time in a bad way.
     
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