April 1, 2014
Bitcoin’s been in some trouble lately. Every week, it seems like there’s a new exchange going down, social engineering heist, or pronouncement from the IRS to bring the collective spirits of cryptocurrency enthusiasts down. People are understandably worried about Bitcoin’s future as money, including Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, who praised the technology but called out the bitcoin community for being overly ideological in a recent post. The way it’s talked about in some quarters, Bitcoin replacing money will strangle big government, eliminate the federal reserve, and radically change our democracy. So what happens if Bitcoin doesn’t become the new money?
As it turns out, it may not need to completely replace money to shake things up. A number of groups have already begun working worldwide on evolving cryptocurrency technology and adapting it to other uses. So far we’ve seen SolarCoin trying to incentivize renewable energy, Namecoin allowing people to circumvent pesky internet censorship and site takedowns, and the nationalistic AuroraCoin getting handed out to all Icelandic citizens.
One of the most promising applications of new crypto tech lies in creating transparent, efficient systems for making political decisions. For those who are counting on cryptocurrencies to radically shift political power back to the people’s hands, it’s worth considering that decisions about how we organize society and allocate resources are just as important as the currency we use for trading. Enter bitcoin-based voting.