Bitcoin is a digital currency that exists as an open source software. The technology promises the ability to engage in monetary transactions without the ties to government regulation that follows all other currencies. The workings of Bitcoin is economically,mathematically and morally complicated. It's very existence, and growing success and relevance, force us to question whether it is the currency of the future, a harbinger of mass unregulated criminal transactions, or a worthless fad.
Proponents of Bitcoin see it as a libertarian dream. Individuals in countries with suppressive governments can engage in transactions anonymously and without the usual ties to the government that standard currency provides. The currency does not require taxation to operate.It is borderless, and can be easily received at any location in the world on any internet connected device. Perhaps, it is an elegant digital escape from the bureaucratic clutter that accompanies most modern currencies
For similar reasons, many shame Bitcoin. Over the last few years, sites that sell illegal goods such as 'Silk Road' have thrived off of the anonymity of Bitcoin. The currency is also seen as entirely untrustworthy. Over the past two weeks, Silk Road reported loosing 2.7 million dollars due to a Bitcoin glitch. Is such losses inevitable in a currency with no governmental backing?
Furthermore, some see the currency as worthless. The claim is that currencies gain their worth from taxation and military enforcement. Without such structural support, is Bitcoin truly 'Money for Nothing', a hoax perpetrated by our lack of understanding the true origins of value?
Whether you wish to express a strong opinion on Bitcoin, teach your peers about the nuances of its operation, or simply learn more about the digital currency, join us at Pugwash. And don't worry about payment. It's free. (And as always, so is the Pizza!)