Apparently, this thing called technology is progressing pretty fast, so fast that even Fox is beginning to believe that some fledgling networks will be used extensively in the future by featuring them in certain television shows. And Fox clearly is the head of what has the potential of being successful in the future right? (Firefly anyone?)
However, I think that Bitcoin deserves a moment of everyone’s time.
My knowledge about new technologies go as far as whatever I see on social media sites. I realize, of course, that my attempts to understand the merging discourses of economics and technology will need to go beyond television shows and Wikipedia, but I recently came across something that really motivated me to actually do my research on matters concerning the future of how money is transferred and used. A tech-savvy coder introduced me to Bitcoin one day, and to be completely honest, I didn’t understand it. While I wanted to be interested in this semi-new online currency, I couldn’t really see how it could potentially impact my life. After blowing through about eight episodes of the Fox television show Almost Human and seeing them mention using Bitcoin in the future (2048), I began to take a new interest in the payment system. I have come to find that Bitcoins have taken the world of online payments by storm. It is a system that handles digital money that is used by users directly. “Cutting out the middleman” is what it highlights, along with the fact that businesses like WordPress and reddit are beginning to use it. Bitcoin is an online network that allows users to validate each transaction and have the power to send their own Bitcoins from their respective addresses.
So why is this awesome? Well, for one thing, it creates a whole new type of currency that is 100% completely electronic. It can’t be folded up in your wallet ,and it can’t be controlled by a bank or any other traditional authority. Bitcoin users have (ideally) complete control. I can see where this could cause issues, mainly because it involves placing a hell of a lot of trust in a software system. Bitcoin has also been taking some heat for money laundering accusations [site no longer active] directed at Bitcoin Foundation’s vice chairperson, Charlie Shrem. Accusations of channeling money through an online drug market? That’s not something pro-Bitcoiners would want you to hear about while you’re pondering whether or not to invest. Another issue is that its value keeps fluctuating. According to its website, the value of Bitcoin essentially depends on supply and demand, so it could potentially be rendered useless in the future.
You could make that argument about almost anything. The statistics are a little disconcerting though. However, potential is definitely there, so I wouldn’t take Bitcoin out of the game just yet. And I have made it a new rule in my life to take whatever Karl Urban and Michael Ealy say (even if it’s just in passing and in a sci-fi television show) extremely seriously.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared in Issue No. 2 as a column.
Monica Hunasikatti is an African American studies and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies double major at Virginia Commonwealth University. She enjoys reading, listening to music, and watching movies and television shows. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, Kendrick Lamar, Fargo, and Suits are some of her favorites right now. Monica is a former columnists with Digital America.