Summary: The e-conflicts have begun with the development of e-currencies, e-markets, and even e-wars. History tells us that people often don’t see the major trends of their time, either lacking perspective or distracted by more cool but less important phenomena. So it is today, as bitcoin gets the most attention while dark e-markets change the world. But governments and corporations see their challengers, and marshal their power to push back.
- Dreams of freedom
- Bitcoin, the first e-currency
- Dark markets
- The corporate wars
- For More Information
(1) Dreams or freedom
Fantasies of radical personal autonomy, an independence from governments, have been common in western civilization since Daedalus’ dreams of flight. Modern tech has given them new life, with dreams of independent suburbs in the sky — the L5 orbital habitat — and of seasteading — floating nations of makers and their servants, free of the takers.
Private currencies are another expression for this search for autonomy. Currencies provide a storehouse of value and medium of exchange. Gold served as a currency for millennia, providing a relatively good store of value but too cumbersome for a medium of exchange in the modern era, so people seek to create privately issued currencies.
In American history we had government-regulated privately issued currencies from the State-chartered banks which issued dollars during the 1837-1862 free banking era (more info here) and the Federally chartered banks that issued dollars after the National Banking Acts of 1863-66. These had many problems, most notably a tendency to fail from bad luck, mismanagement or theft (by insiders or outsiders) — making their currency worthless. The need for more a stable currency led to the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 that created our current currency.
Now we have a new era as tech makes possible private e-currencies, in theory perhaps beyond control of governments.
There are many types of non-State currencies, aka alternative currencies. Digital currencies are currencies based on the Internet. A virtual currency is an alternative digital currency. A cryptocurrency is a digital currency using cryptography to secure the transactions and create new units.
Bitcoin was the first major crypto-based virtual currency. Satoshi Nakamoto published his design in 2008, and released its open-source software in 2009. It got great attention but little commercial traction for two reasons: a weakness of implementation and a conceptual flaw.