Very recently a book has been introduced by Finn Brunton and the name of the book is Digital Cash, where he discussed the unknown history of the anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrencies (Princeton University Press, 2019), Brunton yokes together seemingly heterogeneous subcultures and ideas to tell the untold story of cryptocurrency’s emergence. The author, who was trained as a historian of science and technology, dubbed these emerging technologies as futuristic. He got interviewed where he was asked to answer some questions.
How did you first get interested in Cryptocurrency?
- In reply he told he wrote a book about the history of spam. In this book he discovered how a number of advertising, malware distribution, the bad content made the internet shitty. But besides these, he found some people trying to come up with other ways of moving money around whether that can be through experimental micro-payments or through all kinds of new platforms. So at this moment I saw bitcoin the way a lot of people saw it at the time as an interesting technical experiment. This he found a way to approach the subject of digital money.
Another question was to him: were the projects capable of escaping the ‘’shitty Internet,’’ as you call it?
- In reply to that question he remembered the name of David Chaum who had a company and they were having meetings with big players. He would just read his old papers that led to Digicash. It was all starting to come together and then it disappears. To say why this didn’t happen, he alludes;
- ‘’If we imagine a nightmare version of Facebook’s Libra, where a company has complete oversight over your money, this can start selling up all kinds of sweetheart deals. You start wiping out the ability of the market to function.’’
Another question was about conditions for the success of cryptocurrency?
- In reply to the question he said in 1970s, Paul Armor was was asked to design a next-gen surveillance system to keep eye on the Soviet Union. They came up with an electronic payment system realizing tracking money flows gives you useful information. It basically refers to record of every time when someone pays for something. So can you guess what they’re like? People working on digital earliest stages of cryptocurrency are waiting for digitalization in economy. So the context is when we see the need for bitcoin appears not just to make things more efficient, but to protect people from incursions of surveillance and power. It means that people are willing to forsake a measure of privacy for the convenience of electronic payments.
Next question: What’s your favorite subculture working on digital cash?
- Actually government was hard fighting to keep strong cryptography out of general people. Like American libertarians are both anti-surveillance and keen to have new forms of currency. One type of libertarian wants classic hard money agenda means money marked by digital gold currencies and the other wants there should be a proliferation of new forms of money.
But on the contrary to that what central bankers think Libra is a threat to monetary sovereignty which is thought from the perspective of maintaining sovereign control of currency and disruption to the larger economy.
Reportedly, there are ongoing experiments at the Federal Reserve with digital dollars. The chair of the Federal Reserve in Texas, actually, recently said they’re ‘’active looking’’ at developing a U.S. Dollar-pegged stablecoin. How do you think this fits into current official monetary policy?
- There is a term from David Edgerton, a historian of technology, that even if you have a new technology that works well, you tend to keep some of the old ones around. Actually with the scale of something like the Federal Reserve, banks need to be conservative and cautious about financial technologies. In this case you can call up the history of how the Federal Reserve kept the country functioning after 9/11. The author just wants to mention that how cryptocurrencies are getting boring.
Based on your historical perspective, how long is it going to take for crypto to get the point?
- Hi is interested in how they move away from cash and towards the idea of holding things in ledgers as collateral. He said our lives will be based around holding passwords to our wallet that contains our tokens of money.