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Pure curiosity, nothing more. The Americans look to be having a clampdown in recent months on them. On the one hand, they seem ready made for money laundering funds from illegal activities. On the other, they seem to be the ultimate in free market currency.
(btw, I do NOT own any myself, nor do I know anyone who does)
Surely, they are virtually useful and that is what makes them practically useless.
It is very hard to get to the bottom of what has gone on in the past week with the Silk Road. If the man arrested by the FBI is the sole Dread Pirate Roberts then he seems to be a little stupid because he left clues to his identity that crossed from the dark web into the open.
But there are plenty of people saying there are a number of DPRs and he wasn't one of them.
Whether the FBI is trying to make a bigger thing of this to scare off others is hard to say. There are rumours that Atlantis was an FBI scam from the beginning.
Certainly it is all a setback for Bitcoins. There are problems with a virtual currency that is untraceable. But there could also be benefits if it can move from the world of geeks to the real world. The Silk Road saga will set that migration back and may even prevent it.
I wonder how many people, who have criticised banks for the profits they make, will stop and think before condemning Bitcoin out of hand.
People who were buying their drugs on the Road will now go back to buying them on the street with all the enhanced dangers involved.
The lack of interest in your thread is, probably, an indication of how far from being mainstream Bitcoins are, at present.
If you're interested the Los Angeles Times has an thought-provoking article. The premise is that the shut down of the Silk Road may be good for Bitcoins in the longer term. It also notes that, though the value fell sharply, it didn't completely collapse as it would if there were no other use for the currency.
"There are problems with a virtual currency that is untraceable. But there could also be benefits if it can move from the world of geeks to the real world."
I very much doubt that it can do that.
What ultimately mitigates against Bitcoin is the very fact of its virtuality - there is nothing behind it, and that will stop it ever becoming a currency in the financial sense of the word.
'there is nothing behind it'
What is 'behind' Bitcoin is that they can be 'mined'. That is, as I understand it (not fully), if you make your computer available to process someone else's queries you are rewarded with Bitcoins. So, there is something of value (processor time) underpinning it.
Yes, of course, its value has become divorced from that but surely all currencies these days are sustained by faith rather than any underpinning value.
"surely all currencies these days are sustained by faith"
Actually they are sustained by governments, and that leads to trust - in varying degrees. The varying degrees make currency values fluctuate when measured against each other, and that happens all the time. Governments have the power to support national or zonal currencies when necessary, and that leads to whatever levels of global stability individual currencies might have.
Bitcoin is different, there's no government behind it - the value of Bitcoin depends entirely on the trust its users have in each other. A government backing a currency is one thing, individuals are an entirely different matter.
I suspect your observation regarding the lack of interest in this thread, especially on a pc related site, is correct.
Yes, there is nothing tangible behind bitcoins, but then again the same could be said about most of the worlds currencies. Especially as most of it only exists as an entry in credit of debit columns of a banks accounts. The physical aspect of a coin of piece of paper seems to provide a comfort to many, but in reality they are merely tokens since very few are backed by something like gold.
Perhaps all the bitcoin system really neads is Faith. And Trust. Oh, and a little bit of Pixie Dust.
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