Bitcoin Q&A: How will altcoins diversify & proliferate? – Currency Delineation by Choice

[AUDIENCE] Thank you, Andreas, for the inspiring talk.
What do you say about other coins coming up? Do you think we will have a sea of coins, each with its
own function? Ether is popular now for smart contracts. Will other coins come up?
How do you see it happening? [ANDREAS] Yes, they will. This is something
fundamental to understand about the new world… of cryptocurrencies and network-centric [money]. If we try to apply the ideas of the past, since
we have lived our entire lives in a system that… delineates currencies by nationality, allows them
to be centralized, and compete in a zero-sum game. One currency wins only if another currency loses. What better example for that than the twenty-four
central banks setting their interest rates to zero, or negative, in order to devalue their
currency so they can erase their debt? They are racing against each other to the bottom. That is exactly the result you have
in a closed system with strict borders. But that is not what happens with Bitcoin. The important thing to realize is,
money is not just its physical form. Money is a form of language that
we use to express value to each other. Money emerges in [all] societies, even in primate
societies. You can teach monkeys how to use money. They will adopt it, teach their offspring, and also invent
financial [activities] such as prostitution and robbery, [once they realize that they can] beat the
other monkey for its pebbles and get bananas. Money emerges among Kindergarten children;
even if they don’t understand money, they trade tokens. Colored blocks, rubber bands, and Pokemon cards.
Why? Money is a lubricant for social interaction. If you have a language to express value, you
can also express appreciation and belonging. You can lubricate social connections. if you look at money as a language, then we must rethink
this idea of a competition with one global winner. English is a very popular language, but did
you all stop learning your local language? Or did you learn two, three, four languages?
We have thousands of languages in the world. Though we see power in the major languages,
people can adapt and use multiple languages. The language connects them to their culture. When money becomes a language, as Bitcoin has,
the idea that there will be one “winner” is ridiculous, like asking if English, Spanish, or Mandarin
will become the one global language. We will have thousands, then tens of thousands
of coins. Most of them will have no economic value. But they will have cultural significance,
with loyalty or appreciation value for fans. Some of them will be very [popular]
and have [large] economic value. In a system like that, we will see a power-law or Pareto
distribution emerge (from statistics and mathematics). Just as there are twenty popular world languages,
but then a long tail of thousands behind them. [Just as there are] twenty of the world’s most popular
artists, with hundreds of thousands behind them. Currencies will evolve in that way too.
We may have twenty currencies with… major economic value within niches: cross-border
transactions, micropayments, and smart contracts. [Maybe a] solid reserve [currency]. Then we will have
tens of thousands [of coins] in what is called a ‘long tail.’ We must get rid of old thinking
when looking at this [new] medium. We don’t yet understand how this will evolve,
simply because we have never done this before. This is the first time in history we are
seeing this emergent phenomenon. You are sitting on the front rows of history. So yes: ether, MaidSafe, etc. Bring it on!

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