Bitcoin’s Big Problem
Bitcoin is just the first virtual currency to make it big – and you can bet it won’t be the last.
There’s been a lot of discussion in the past couple of weeks about Bitcoin, the online virtual currency whose value has been extraordinarily volatile of late. A currency that’s electronic but as untraceable as cash surely has its uses for some people, but there’s one aspect of it that hasn’t been fully considered yet: its uniqueness may not last.
National currencies have one great advantage over currencies like Bitcoin: they usually don’t face much competition. It’s true that countries with weak currencies sometimes use dollars, euros, or even cigarettes as alternative or parallel mediums of exchange. Broadly speaking, however, a national currency is a useful focal point; the government requires that everyone accept it in transactions, and so everyone can agree to use it. That’s what makes it valuable.
Bitcoin is not so well-defined as a currency in comparison to a dollar or yuan, and thus its uniqueness is much less clear. The currency based on a mysterious algorithm whose originator is anonymous. No one really knows whether the algorithm can be trusted to generate Bitcoins as promised, or who would be accountable for errors or frauds; there is no definitive monetary authority.
Were any problems to occur, a new electronic currency, perhaps one vouchsafed in a more transparent way, might arise. If the people who found Bitcoin useful for its anonymity, virtuality, and globality were to switch to this new currency, the value of Bitcoins would tumble. The reason is simple: Bitcoin’s exchange rates with other currencies depend on supply and demand; if no one wants Bitcoins, they’re worthless. And Bitcoin need not run into trouble for a new currency to appear. The new currency’s originators just need to invent an architecture that people prefer.
Of course, people won’t switch away from a popular currency for the sake of small improvements. But Bitcoin is just the first virtual currency to make it big – and you can bet it won’t be the last.
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
An ordained Lama in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, Lama Rod grew up a queer, black male within the black Christian church in the American south. Navigating all of these intersecting, evolving identities has led him to a life's work based on compassion for self and others.
- "What I'm interested in is deep, systematic change. What I understand now is that real change doesn't happen until change on the inside begins to happen."
- "Masculinity is not inherently toxic. Patriarchy is toxic. We have to let that energy go so we can stop forcing other people to do emotional labor for us."
We were gaining three IQ points per decade for many, many years. Now, that's going backward. Could this explain some of our choices lately?
There's a new study out of Norway that indicates our—well, technically, their—IQs are shrinking, to the tune of about seven IQ points per generation.
Here's why generalists triumph over specialists in the new era of innovation.
- Since the explosion of the knowledge economy in the 1990s, generalist inventors have been making larger and more important contributions than specialists.
- One theory is that the rise of rapid communication technologies allowed the information created by specialists to be rapidly disseminated, meaning generalists can combine information across disciplines to invent something new.
- Here, David Epstein explains how Nintendo's Game Boy was a case of "lateral thinking with withered technology." He also relays the findings of a fascinating study that found the common factor of success among comic book authors.
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