On this episode, we talk about the ideas behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

This is not financial advice, and I'm not trying to hype crypto or anything. My goal here is simply to give a balanced overview of the ideology (or the philosophy) at work behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency protocols, as this is a space I've been following for a few years now.

Listen in your browser or click to download (Save as)

This episode is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and just about anywhere else you get your podcasts from.

If you like this episode, consider supporting the show on Patreon.

Timestamps:

  • 0:00 - Intro
  • 4:10 - What is a Bitcoin?
  • 10:35 - Bitcoin as a transparent pyramid scheme
  • 20:10 - The Cyber-Libertarian ideology of Bitcoin
  • 37:32 - The current technical problems with Bitcoin
  • 44:30 - Conclusion

Recap:

  • Full disclosure: I am a hodler some cryptocurrencies. Mainly Bitcoin and Ethereum, and then some smaller amounts of other crypto projects as well. I want to be transparent with this because I think transparency is important when talking about crypto: you should always be skeptical of anyone who's trying to hype up any project in this space.
  • That said, I kick off this episode trying to simply explain what Bitcoin is. Nothing too technical here, I just try and get at the basic ideas: it's a decentralized peer-to-peer network of exchange that's native to the internet.
  • We then jump into the ideology behind Bitcoin and other crypto projects: the ideology of Cyber-Libertarianism. The motivating force behind Bitcoin is the idea of a financial asset that can't be controlled by governments or institutions, an asset that you have sole custody over. In short, a form of money that can never be taken away from you (in theory).
  • We discuss the history of the gold standard and how over the past several decades, more and more governments have begun using national currencies and the traditional financial system as a means of control, for better or worse. The promise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency projects is to detach ourselves from this traditional system of finance and to take back control and ownership of our money.
  • We can't talk about Bitcoin without talking about some of its technical limitations. Some issues, such as the irreversibility of transactions, are built-in features that were deliberately chosen. Other issues, such as high energy use and the limit on the volume of transactions, is more technical in nature and may be resolved in the future (in theory).
  • All-in-all, every cryptocurrency is forced to choose trade-offs between the security, speed, cost, and volume of transactions. Where things currently stand, there is no perfect answer to deploying a cryptocurrency that can completely replace the global financial system.
  • I end with some parting thoughts and a warning about cryptocurrencies in general.

Works Cited:

  1. Andreas Antonopoulos, The Internet of Money (Volumes 1-3).

Comments

Sign in or become a Bad Philosopher member to join the conversation.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.