Are Bitcoins and Unusual Hats the Future of Currency? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

Here's an idea.

Bitcoins and unusual hatsare changing currency.

[THEME MUSIC] In the way the US has thebuck, Brazil has the conto, and Canada has the loonie,the internet has the bitcoin.

The bitcoin is a decentralizeddigital peer-to-peer cryptocurrency.

It doesn't rely onany physical note.

And it isn'tregulated, controlled, or anythinged, really,by a central issuing authority, like the FederalReserve or Uncle Moneybags.

But because no oneis in charge, that doesn't mean you canjust make infinite money.

Free money! In order for a currency tohave value, it has to be scarce.

You can only print, mine,or mint a certain amount.

Bitcoins are generatedby networked computers solving complexcryptographic puzzles.

It's sort of like you'reasking your computer to solve a Rubik's Cubewith a side for every color of the visual spectrum.

This hard work makes bitcoinsand maintains not only scarcity, but market stability.

I know, it's pretty cray, and alittle hard to explain quickly.

So if you want toknow more, we'll put some links in theplace where links go.

Now, state currencies,even Loonies, can be exchanged forbitcoins and back again, making it fully convertible.

So you can spend your bitcoinson all kinds of stuff.

I mean, mostly internetstuff, like hosting and backup services, but alsocandy and cupcakes.

Who doesn't love cupcakes? And you can do thiseven though they're just ones and zeroesgenerated by a computer on a network somewhere.

Bitcoins are tradedby people who have all agreed that they have a value.

And so– ta-dah! They do.

Which actually makesthem a lot like hats.

Well, sort of.

Bear with me for a second.

About two years ago,an analyst estimated that Valve's online first-personshooter "Team Fortress 2" was worth about $22 million, notin revenue, not in terms of IP, but in hats.

Digital tradable hats.

You see, in 2009, Valveintroduced one hat for each of the "TF2" player classes.

You know, spruce up yourcharacter, give him some style.

But since then, they'veintroduced over 250 more hat types, ranging from prettymundane hat-type hats to some really weird–and more importantly, rare– digital headgear.

The rarest of the rare headgear is called as unusual, and as is normally the casewith rare and unusual things, people want them.

A lot.

And so where do they get them? Good question.

They get them from crates.

Crates can only beopened if you have a key, a key which you have to–ready?– pay real money for.

So about 1% of the time youuse your it-costs-money key to open your crate, youwill get an unusual hat.

Now, if it wasn't alreadyinteresting and complicated, here's where it gets reallyinteresting and complicated.

Hey, hey, hey, hey! What is going on here? Players can trade hats, and allother items, for that matter.

But we're talking aboutrare and valuable hats which no one's going towant to just give away.

It's gonna cost you.

Trades are paid for with PayPaland sometimes even Bitcoin, but many trades are paid forwith an in-game material called refined metal.

Remember those crates? The other 99% ofthe time that there isn't an unusual hat in there,you get weapons, or a sandwich, or socks.

This stuff can bescrapped and combined to create refined metal.

But remember, you paidmoney to open your crate.

This gives refinedmetal a value.

And because it's tradablebetween players in game, it becomes a peer-to-peerdigital currency for buying hats.

$22 million worth of hats.

Yeah, I found thisbackstage, a oversized hat.

Funny.

The really greatpart, though, is that the source ofthat value, the crates, are dropped at a ratedetermined by the amount of time a player is in game.

Sounds a littlefamiliar, doesn't it? Add to this the fact thatitems, much like bitcoins, can be tracked and timestamped,and that while they are generated bya central network, they are effectively tradedfreely between players, and we've maybe made the casefor a second hugely successful alternate digital currency.

Now this whole thingreally indicates some mind-blowingstuff about money.

Let's not mince words.

Bitcoins and refinedmetal, and, I'm sorry, hats, no matter howunusual, are worthless.

Don't get me wrong.

The dollar and theeuro and the yen might also be worthless, in thatthey have no intrinsic value, like gold.

But they are the fuelfor global exchanges and markets and economies withwidely traded and accepted physical manifestations.

No one will refuse adollar because it's "not worth anything.

" But really, weirdly, it's not.

This is just somecloth with ink on it.

And debit cards and credit cardsare just further abstractions.

The gold standard wasabandoned long ago, replaced by an artificialscarcity maintained by some very smart peoplein some very tall buildings somewhere important.

But we have this weird ingrainedcultural make-believe time where we all pretend thatthis thing has some value.

Which it does, but it's becausewe pretend, not because it has any intrinsic value.

Dollars are onekind of worthless.

Bitcoins and refined metal area different kind of worthless.

They're like baseballcards, or the stuff that they find on"Storage Wars.

" They can only beconverted into lunch money after finding someone whoagrees, yes, the Blizzardy Stately Steel Toe is worth $30.

But that doesn't changethe fact that two years ago, the equivalentof 60% of Tuvalu's GDP was wrapped up in America'snumber one war-themed hat simulator, and that Bitcoinis the world's most popular alternative currency, worth over$200 million US and growing.

But you're right.

No one is going to be buyingdinner or a car with hats, or even bitcoins, for thatmatter, any time soon.

But these currencies,especially bitcoins, prove something,both about the growth of Internet Culturewith a capital C.

I mean, if Tuvalu gets acurrency, why not the internet? And also about ourwillingness to take matters into our own hands.

The DIY mentality hasgone from desks and cars to computers, biology,chemistry, and now currency.

If our currency andour credit system is already ones and zeroes, butunreliable and confusing ones and zeroes after yearsof tinkering and turmoil, why not design a new currencywith all of the benefits but none of the baggage? And yeah, maybe this is justa flash-in-the-pan reaction to the global economic sadparty and a growing distrust of government bodies tomaintain a stable currency.

But even if it is,it seems to work.

And as Daniel Webster said,"A disorganized currency is one of the greatestpolitical evils.

" Which means maybe this sound– [CREAKING HINGES] Is the sound oforderly progress.

What do you guys think? Do alternative currencieshave real world worth? Or should they juststay in video games? Let us know in the comments.

And if you subscribe, Imight send you a Sandvich.

More good news, everyone.

Comments.

Let's see what you hadto say about "Futurama" and transhumanism.

So first and foremost,SuperheroEnthusiast, That One Guy Named X, and abunch of other people pointed out thatthroughout the episode, we sort of conflatedabolitionism and transhumanism, and we should have madeit a lot clearer that not all transhumanistsare abolitionists, and not all abolitionistsare transhumanists, and that like anylabel or belief system, there are people withinthose groups that differ from each other.

So thank you for correcting us.

Thanks for letting us know.

To hejcoze, no joke, I havebeen saving bottle caps for the nuclear post-apocalypse.

So I think we'reon the same page.

SonofSetholtae Dalton Loney,and a couple other people point out that you can't reallydiscount parts of transhumanism for messing with humannature, because human nature is such a weird fluidconcept anyways, and that if we are evolving,the thing that we turn into might be so differentthat human nature isn't even really a thing anymore.

Ethan Quinn makes thereally solid point that not all ambition istowards the goal of being happy, and that the neturalplanet itself, even as neutral as they are,still has goals and ambitions.

Kyle Munkittrick points out that"Futurama" and transhumanism are not mutually exclusive, andthat "Futurama" actually paints a picture that mosttranshumanists would be totally on-board with.

In response to WCPointy60'sresponse to jayne deis, this, I think, is areally interesting thing.

Because like if I havea headache, I'm in pain.

And then if I don'thave a headache anymore, I'm not experiencing pleasure.

I'm just in not-pain.

So pain and pleasureor pain and joy are not necessarilyopposites, in that sense.

But the way we thinkabout pain and pleasure, our emotional experience ofit is usually we want pleasure and we do not want pain,and so in some sense, they are oppositesof one another.

And maybe whatwe're running into is a kind of cognitivedifficulty related to not being able to describethose feelings appropriately.

Elaine Scarryactually wrote a book about this called"The Body in Pain.

" It's about thiswhole phenomenon, and it's really good.

You should check it out.

To ILIKECEREALX, I have notyet evolved past the point of having human emotions.

So yes, it most certainly did.

[THEME MUSIC].

Source: Youtube

Are Bitcoins and Unusual Hats the Future of Currency? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

If you've ever played Team Fortress 2, you know how valuable hats are. To those who haven't: yes, HATS! If a community agrees on the value of something, then that thing can become a currency, to exchange for other goods. Just like american dollar bills (or euros, yen, or any other currency), or... bitcoins. Bitcoins are an online currency worth over $200,000,000, and though they are just 1s and 0s, some think that this is the future of money. On the other hand... mo bitcoins mo problems.

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Links:
What is a Bitcoin?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um63OQz3bjo

Music:
Roglok: http://vimeo.com/musicstore/track/21166
Binarpilot: http://www.jamendo.com/en/track/661417/geeks
Pocaille: https://soundcloud.com/pocaille/tachyon-pulses
EatMe: http://www.jamendo.com/en/artist/348390/eatme

Want some more Idea Channel?

Here's Last Week's episode: "Is Futurama the Best Argument Against Transhumanism?" http://youtu.be/Gdyc7BpKic0

Want another one? Here ya go: "Are MP3s & Vinyl Better Than Live Music?" http://youtu.be/WsZMZ86zgF4

Here's Some More: "Top 5 Most Artful Video Games" http://youtu.be/IAs4Dy-lh8E