Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Lots of folks tout cryptocurrency as the be-all and end-all of currency and liberation of our money from Evil Government.


Here’s a bit about blockchain.

A blockchain is a distributed database or ledger that is shared among the nodes of a computer network. As a database, a blockchain stores information electronically in digital format. … The innovation with a blockchain is that it guarantees the fidelity and security of a record of data and generates trust without the need for a trusted third party.

Guarantees the fidelity and security of a record of data—the fidelity part of that is that each transaction of good in a sequence of transactions is explicitly tracked and its provenance known: who or what did the transaction and who or what received the transaction. At every step of the way from first origin of the first transaction to the last recipient of the last transaction.

Here’s a bit about cryptocurrency, using the hoary Bitcoin as a canonical example.

The key thing to understand here is that Bitcoin merely uses blockchain as a means to transparently record a ledger of payments, but blockchain can, in theory, be used to immutably record any number of data points.

Cryptocurrencies use blockchain—and that ledger, here, of payments (from whom or what to what or whom)—to track the financial transactions.

That immutable record of transactions is just what governments love to have in order to track their subjects’ doings.

Cryptocurrencies are encrypted, though—that’s the “crypto” part. Except that any encryption mechanism can be cracked, and governments have the resources to do exactly that should the men in government decide they have a “need” to.

On the other hand, cash transactions still are untrackable.

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