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One of the inventions that has the potential to join this "extraordinary league" draws its roots in one of the worst global events of the 21st century - The World Financial Crisis of 2008, and its name is Bitcoin.
So what is Bitcoin (or BTC) and why was it created? To keep it simple, Bitcoin is an electronic currency, introduced to the world in 2009. It was originally designed by Satoshi Nakamoto - a pseudonym used by one or multiple people (speculation is that there is three of them), who created and released the original Bitcoin software. Not to get too technical, since that is the job of someone more experienced on the matter than me, I'll just try to explain the potential global impact that it has.
After the crash of the World Economy in 2008. central banks of most countries turned to printing money. That was done in order to bail out the same banks and financial institutions whose irresponsible behavior brought the crisis in the first place. In that process they not only devaluated their own fiat currencies, but consequently transferred the debt of the banks to the public purse, which added to future taxpayer liabilities. In simple terms: Banks were responsible for the crisis, and the governments gave them a "get out of jail free" card, and instead of punishing them, actually increased the debt of every regular citizen by giving banks public money or erasing their debts.
Of course, this arose a wave of dissatisfaction and feeling of betrayal among the people who felt cheated and powerless in the face of their governments and their behavior. Thus arose an idea of the decentralized financial system, which would not be affected by the whims of few decision makers around the world who impose their own will on the entire Earth population. That is how Bitcoin was created. The two other important features of Bitcoin are that it is transparent (meaning there is a public ledger of every transaction that has ever happened since the beginning of Bitcoin); and it is largely unregulated (at least not in the way traditional currencies are).
One of the most exciting features of BTC is that it's open-source. In the software world that means that anyone is allowed to see it's code, and anyone and everyone in the world is allowed to come up with her or his own improvements and build platforms on top of it. You know those Utopian dreams about the heel of the government no longer stomping on the ordinary man, and the decisions concerning entire world wealth being taken away from the selected few and given to everybody? That can actually become a reality with the BTC. Trading with a currency controlled by everybody, and whose value is only determined by the amount people use it is a dream that is at our grasp with the appearance of BTC.
And what is to be especially mentioned that in a world whose abundant resources we've been exuberantly using in the past centuries, and which will be depleted in the near future, any and every major improvement that leads towards an equal and sustainable development of the planet is the improvement this planet needs. BTC is a sure step toward that dream.
Those interested in the details about origins, history, use, technology and future of Bitcoin will have an opportunity to read about it on MUNPlanet in the following weeks, in an interview with Mr Lazar Stojkovic, a former Research Assistant at UC Berkeley School of Information who is an expert on the subject.
But if one should describe BTC in one sentence, a quote by Gavin Andresen, one of Bitcoin pioneers comes into mind: "This is like, better gold than gold."
Untill next time.