Does bitcoin's original vision need to be restored?
The original vision for bitcoin was a libertarian's dream come true: It focused on getting currency and transactions out of government hands and putting them into the hands of individuals. Lui Smyth, a University College London Researcher, found that 44.3 percent of bitcoin users identify as libertarians. But, it's difficult to look at the current state of bitcoin and recognize that original vision.
It's a wild world out there
For one thing, bitcoin has transformed from a currency into a highly volatile speculative investment. As of March 16, its value was sitting at approximately $8,500, down from a $19,000 peak in December. Bitcoin used to be little-known, now it's mainstream.
Satoshi Nakamoto's original goal of replacing fiat currency was always a long shot, but now it appears to be almost hopeless. You can't exactly form a stable currency with something that drops and rises in value by hundreds of dollars on a daily basis. Not to mention that its extreme volatility is causing online retailers, such as the gaming platform Steam, to drop it as a payment option.
Also, if bitcoin was meant to provide a decentralized model, it has suffered a setback on that account as well, as miners and investors snatch up as much bitcoin as they can. On the mining side, we have seen extreme consolidation and massive Chinese mining rigs now control the lion's share of the network.
That's not to mention mentioning how blockchain has become the main focus, infiltrating every vertical for prospective uses that range from from smart contracts to identity management.
It's difficult to see how bitcoin's vision even matters anymore, given the current state of affairs.
So, what would it take to restore that vision?
Can bitcoin be saved?
There are a few possible ways bitcoin could get back on track, but each is problematic.
First, there is always the possibility that Satoshi will emerge with some sort of restored bitcoin platform to compete with the current bitcoin model. This might draw enough support in the bitcoin community to shake up the current rackets and allow the currency to start afresh.
But even this might not be enough to stop the lumbering beast that bitcoin has become. And even if Satoshi emerged, only his true followers would listen to him.
It's also possible that bitcoin will just have to crash and burn before and rise from ashes on its own to become a stable currency. If that were to happen, though, it is just as possible that another virtual currency such as Ethereum would simply replace bitcoin as top dog in the market.
Would enough of the community even be left to nurse bitcoin to health after a crash?
Does the original vision even matter?
The best-laid plan can fall apart when difficulties arise, and the original meaning can get lost in translation. Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle hoping to convince Americans to embrace socialism. Instead, readers focused on his exposé about the meat market, which led to a massive outcry demanding regulations.
In the end, Sinclair lamented, "I aimed for their hearts but hit them in the stomach instead."
Will Satoshi someday emerge with a similar quip about how bitcoin enthusiasts missed the point? It's difficult to say.
At the moment, bitcoin's original vision seems dim, but we may yet see it rise like a phoenix from the ashes or its own demise.
Click here to read Mobile Payments Today editor Will Hernandez's perspective on the topic.
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.www