Saturday, April 9, 2016

"Techno-nirvana is going mainstream but at what cost?" (now with added cosplay)

The writer is the founding editor of FT Alphaville, here scribing away for the paper.
From the Financial Times:
We had news this week that Circle Internet Financial, a US start-up, was hooking up with Barclays in the UK to allow users of its mobile app to transfer money to other users of its app. Circle Internet will take a sterling amount from your bank account, turn it into bitcoin, send it to your nominated recipient and then turn it back into sterling.

This is the latest advance with the company’s impressive stated mission, which is to “change the world economy”.

Which begs the question: for the worse?

Logical thinkers might assume that the most efficient way to transfer sterling to someone else over the internet is to send them sterling direct using any one of the many existing services rather than faff about with a stupid crypto currency that takes a thousand times longer to clear through the payment system and burns holes in the ozone layer in the process.

Sure, the existing online payment transfer systems may be clunky and ripe for improvement but do we really need to go to the trouble of co-opting a comic, energy-burning software platform promoted by techno-utopians who want to abolish the idea of central government?

But that would be anti-bitcoin thinking — and an affront to some of the most intelligent people in the country, such as the government’s chief scientific adviser. Sir Mark Walport told us earlier this year that systems based on bitcoin’s distributed public ledger, the blockchain, might well save the National Health Service and will certainly help with a host of other public service functions, from issuing passports to collecting taxes. Somehow.

One piece of eagerly anticipated bitcoin news that didn’t happen this week was the rumoured revelation of the real identity of the person known as Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of bitcoin.

As my colleague Izabella Kaminska revealed on FT Alphaville, our financial blog, advisers purporting to work for Craig Wright, an Australian tech entrepreneur, who was named as Satoshi late last year, have been trying to get certain media organisations in London to sign up to embargoes ahead of a so-called Big Reveal here, this week or next. 

Wright, it is said, will perform some sort of crypto-miracle, proving his credentials — which has set off another wave of manic bitcoin debate across the web over whether the Australian is a conman or the real deal.

Should we worry that all this wing-nuttery is going increasingly mainstream? Perhaps all this is just a financial version of cosplay, the fantasy games enjoyed by many adults, dressing up in elaborate costumes to play out their dreams. Cosplay apparently offers therapeutic help and a creative outlet to those working with dreams and memories, be it from a book or a movie or simply a character they have made up themselves.

There’s something similar with bitcoin, allowing financial minds to roam free in a techno-nirvana, slaying mighty beasts such as the Bank of England along the way....MORE
I am having great difficulty combining this visage:
with the mere concept, much less the reality, of cosplay.