Here is the abstract of the talk I gave at Bitcoin Expo2015.
We all know what money is, don’t we? `Money is the notes and coins that governments print and mint to facilitate economic transactions`. If only it was that simple. The vast majority of money does not exist as notes and coins, but as imaginary numbers written into a bank ledger. The bank which doesn’t need to have that money – uses its government-backed right to magic the money into existence through the Fractional Reserve System.
Money is a statement of faith in the value of these instruments of exchange. Money is simply a self-referential promise to repay a debt, with money – and government-backed threats ensure repayment … with interest. However, the magic collapses if too many people default on their loans, or if too many people demand their money back, precipitating a run on the bank.
Only blind confidence (or is that ignorance?) keeps this whole anti-gravity machine from crashing to earth. The time lag between borrowing, and repayment (in full plus interest) keeps this self-referential system of fiat money afloat. But this requires the creation of new money in the interim, in order to pay the interest over and above inflation. This leads to an exponentially increasing scale of indebtedness, which must eventually lead to collapse.
The history of money is that of government interference. State inspired inflation is as old as money itself; from ancient Babylon, to 14th century China, to the ‘Great Debasement’ of Henry VIII, to the Weimar Republic, right up to present day Zimbabwe. As far back as Plato’s moneyless utopian Republic, governments have wanted non-convertible currencies to protect their economies from external forces, and prevent wealthy dissidents escaping state oppression. Since this is impossible, instead they have always sought to erode three particular properties of cash – its anonymity, fungibility, and ability to store value. By placing Radio Frequency Identity tags in bank notes this is now possible.
Concerned individuals are responding by producing their own currencies. Bitcoin and other blockchain-based currencies are leading the way. In this talk Professor Angell will give his radical ideas of what this all means for the future of money.
I gave a talk this afternoon at BitcoinExpo2015 about my vision of the future (and past) of money. This gave me the opportunity of meeting a number of very interesting people in the Bitcoin community, and I’m looking forward to some highly informative discussions in the weeks to come.
It also gave me the chance of plugging my new book, Flight of the Golden Geese. There’s been a hold-up with the paper galley proofs, so the latest news is that the e-book will be out mid-February, but the paper copy will not appear until March at the earliest.
When I got back home I looked up the broadcast I made for Channel 4 back in 1998 on the Future of Money. I was astonished that apart from mentioning Bitcoin, everything I said back then about off-planet banking, was included in today’s presentation. I talked about sending digital money contained in a digital safe up into space. Come to think of it, `digital money in a digital safe` isn’t a bad description of crypto-currencies like Bitcoin.
The downside of watching the clip was the shock of seeing the Ian Angell of 17 years ago. I hardly recognise myself! Take a look for yourself.
I’ve been banging on for years about the end of the nation state, and the possibility of the virtual private state, and private passports. Since first writing about it in 2000 in the New Barbarian Manifesto I’ve been pondering how it could be implemented. In parallel I’ve been championing private currency with my off-planet banking idea, now made more feasible with the rise of blockchain technology.
Pavlo Tanasyuk has introduced me to a group called BitNation, who have put the two together, and are using Bitcoin 2.0 blockchain technology to create a cryptographically secured private ledger that is a de facto virtual state. Brilliant!
Check them out at bitnation.co,with their Governance 2.0. Also see the video of Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof being interviewed by Max Keiser on his Keiser Report on RT TV.
P.S. Don’t confuse them with the Bit Nation video games channel!!
I was attending the Cryptocoin:SpaceBIT launch party at Canary Wharf when I had the pleasure of chatting with Ben Ingram of Swarm, the crowd funding network. He was very convincing about the virtues of Bitcoin, not that I need convincing.
Anyway he mentioned a very interesting fact, which you can check out yourself:
You can book a hotel on Expedia.com using Bitcoins, PayPal or Credit Cards. However, use Expedia.co.uk and the Bitcoin option is missing.
Can any conspiracy theorists out there tell me what .co.uk has against Bitcoins?