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The Far Reaching Implications of the Bitcoin Protocol

It is hard to imagine a world where smart phone technology is ubiquitous, and there are still individuals who do not have access to adequate financial institutions. In these modern times there are roughly six billion people with limited or no access to banking facilities. Difficult to fathom, right? Sadly this is the truth for many people in developing countries. Coupled with corruption, limited modes of transportation, and high transaction fees, bank accounts are a luxury that many people cannot afford. Enter Bitcoin into this equation and financial freedom is just the beginning.

Bitcoin is not just money for the internet; it is a programming language that allows for the decentralization of any information system. As said by Andreas Antonopoulos (2014), “Bitcoin is the internet of money.” In order to understand this let’s use the analogy of the bitcoin mixer internet; which allows any individual admission to a global communication and information network instantaneously. In this same way, Bitcoin is allowing individuals’ instant access to a free global financial network. The implication of a decentralized financial network free from the corruption of third party moderators is overwhelming. Ponder for a moment introducing 6 billion potential consumers to the global marketplace. The possibilities for economic growth and innovation are exponential. This exists because Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin, chose to create open source software that gave all users equal say. The power of the Bitcoin network is its users, which currently exceeds the combined computing power of the top 600 super computers on Earth. This equates to a network, which is for all intents of purposes, impenetrable. Essentially, each individual computer acts as a voting node. These nodes vote on the validity of the current Bitcoin equation, otherwise known as the block chain. In order for the block chain to be verified, a majority of the voting nodes must corroborate if the equation is done correctly. This process happens in nanoseconds, meaning not all voting nodes will participate in every given block chain verification.

Bitcoin is primarily thought of in the west as trendy, new technology and a means of accruing wealth. Recently, the popularity for crypto-currencies has grown rapidly within investment circles, hedge funds, and among the technologically inclined due to its rising value. Though Bitcoin is utilized predominantly inside these aforementioned groups, current buzz surrounding Bitcoin millionaires and the public hearings in New York regarding future regulation have catapulted the currency into the mainstream . However, limiting the Bitcoin protocol to these previously mentioned industries is extremely short sighted given the genius of Satoshi’s underlying goal. Remember, the Bitcoin protocol can be applied to any information system, such as the system of voting. When applied to voting, there is no longer the need for a third party organization to verify an election as this is done by each individual voting node. This completely eliminates voter fraud and voting machine tampering. Individuals would be able to vote from the comforts of their own homes, using verifiable identification codes, through a transparent voting system.

We have seen that the Bitcoin protocol not only has the power to shape the future of our global financial network, but of our voting, our phones, and our cable television. Any system that is based on an unbiased third party mediator can be replaced by implementing the Bitcoin software. As the software is policed by all participating members, the possibility of corruption, or hacking the system is minuscule. Regardless of whether Bitcoin the currency ever blossoms into a legitimate mainstream form of monetary transaction remains to be seen, however the revolution in software that Nakamoto has unleashed has only just begun.

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