We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.
In previous sections we’ve looked at how cryptocurrencies provide better digital payments and why they might be better currencies. This section focuses on some ways the world is changing, and what part cryptocurrencies play.
Even if we’d collectively agree that the world would be better off without cryptocurrencies, we cannot make them disappear. We cannot “uninvent” them and they’re extremely difficult to shut down. Therefore, like with nuclear bombs, we’re stuck with them and have to adapt to a new world.1
Cryptocurrencies won’t make the world a better place in all respects. For example untraceable digital money makes it easier for people to demand ransoms, such as CryptoLocker which locks down your computer and demands payment in order to unlock it.
Other things skirt the lines between legality and morality, such as the darknet markets which make it easy to trade any type of goods. Or how cryptocurrencies allow you to store any amount of money, hidden from the watchful eyes of the tax collectors.
While cryptocurrencies in some ways force the world to change, they can also protect us from the changing world. For instance the move towards a cashless society will spell disaster for everyone without access to digital money. But cryptocurrencies are for everyone, and they can shield us from tracking and seizures by the government.2
And cryptocurrencies have the potential for something even bigger. For the first time in history there’s the possibility to separate control of money from the state. This would be an historic shift that would cause massive change worldwide. Of course this is speculation on my part, and even if it were to happen it probably wouldn’t be during our lifetime.
But one things seems clear to me. The Pandora’s Box has been opened, and the world will never be the same again.