Brown: Bitcoin’s potential


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Bitcoin is a relatively new form of online currency that has seen a rise in popularity after several years of ambiguity since its inception in 2009. It is not a tangible currency and is created through a complex series of logarithms.

Thought to be the gold standard for the perpetual inhabitants of their mother’s basement and conspiracy theorists, Bitcoin has started to see mainstream acceptance into legitimate business practices. In theory, an online currency that stands apart from national and institutional affiliation would be ideal for creating a universal global currency.

Bitcoin offers a host of attractive features including relative anonymity, lack of regulation, and no banking fees. The absence of restrictions placed on traditional forms of currency is a cause of concern for some and rightly so. A form of currency that can be acquired anonymously without leaving a physical trace would be an obvious choice for less-than-respectable business practices.

However, the possibility for misuse should not be the determining factor in gauging the potential benefits of Bitcoin.

The misuse of Bitcoin has been in the news recently with stories of extortion and blackmail. In Connecticut, dozens received death threats in the mail with the caveat that $2,000 in Bitcoin be paid to an anonymous account to avoid bodily harm. In Illinois, a suburban police department had to pay $500 worth of Bitcoin to a hacker in return for access to their own files. The hacker used a Cryptoware virus, which is the Internet equivalent of having the locks on a front door changed without prior knowledge, leaving the original owner unable to access her or his own files.

Yet the use of Bitcoin for these unsavory means does not necessarily precipitate future misuse of a currency with such promise.

Like any new invention, evaluation and regulation will prove imperative for future integration into a global economy, but fear of the potential abuse should not be a permanent deterrent for further use.

Any invention has the possibility of evil, but this is human nature and not the fault of progressive thinking.

As our resources evolve, so do our propensity for cruelty and harm to our fellow man. If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, and he’ll create a fishing monopoly built on the back of the easily exploited.

It is our nature to take what is available to us and benefit at the cost of others. At the same time, focus should be placed on the benefits of new innovation as opposed to the intrinsic malevolence that has been around since man learned to sharpen sticks and stones. Every coin has two sides, and Bitcoin is no different.

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