Whether you have a knack for metaphysics or not, the title is equally true for you. The present decade marks the emergence and acceptance of cryptocurrency as a widely used tool of exchange. With over 18,000 cryptocurrencies in existence (as of March 2022), and many competing with the traditional currency, it is almost wonder-inducing how this might shape our future.
I am someone who wanted to develop a deep understanding of how money works and build a solid personal philosophy of money. Now, I find myself in a very fortunate place in time where the very conception of what money is can be challenged and played with! Even if we don’t understand this market, the emerging tech will require us to do so. I remember how when I was a kid I used to look up online which currency had the highest exchange value. And it used to be Kuwaiti Dinar (presently 1 Kuwaiti Dinar = 250.17 INR), and I used to get very excited at its high rate of exchange. But now we have the revered Bitcoin at a massive 30,42,943.96 INR! And the cool Ethereum at 2,29,771.64 INR. The exchange rates are subject to change with time, but I hope you get the point. This is not something that we can just ignore and still feel like an active part of the economic chain.
When it comes to witnessing this phase of the evolution of money that makes us question the very fundamental conceptions about it, there are some ideas that completely surprised me in a very positive sense. I heard them in a talk by Mr Zeeshan Usmani delivered at the Hyperledger Global Forum 2018. It brings to the attention how the money could eventually come up with its own conscience. Money that would have a belief set programmed into it, money that may refuse to be used for purposes that are against its moral code, and money that would have a will of its own to be sent on certain tasks and not on others. To understand it better imagine you want to buy the latest iPhone of your time. You enter your favourite Apple store. You clear all the formalities required for purchase. You’re excited to become the owner of the latest iPhone. But the moment you proceed to pay. Your money refuses to allow you to purchase your long-awaited iPhone! The reason being that in your locality are people who slept hungry last night! And according to your money’s belief system your money is better spent in donation to them.
What we talked about above is just one of the many exciting applications that this emerging tech may present. To satisfy our curiosity we can go through many more. Just like you use ‘restricted mode’ when you present your smartphone to your kid, similarly, you could select ‘restricted mode’ for the pocket money that you present to your kid. Which may prevent him from spending money on vices. This may also have wider applications like building more trustworthy systems for donations to NGOs. Wherein, you may embed in your money the restriction to only be spent on the works that support your cause. So that money cannot be accumulated in the name of service to our dear lovely orphans and be spent on selfish motives. Similar applications may help us sleep better as we would know that what we pay as tax to the Government cannot be spent on works other than what we had intended and programmed the money for.
To understand it in a more visual sense, this is money gaining control over the direction in which it wants to flow and hopefully, it’ll be for the betterment of humanity. The money would come up with ‘inbuilt’ terms and conditions for its usage. Imagining things having such conscious control should not be hard for us in modern times with the growing smart tech and developments in AI. With the exciting field of self-driving cars gaining boom, it is not hard to see how a similar revolution doesn’t await us in the realm of money, finance and economics. And maybe in times when the modern man is losing conscious awareness about what is right and wrong, devaluing the gift of knowledge of good and evil; the conscience that separates the light from the dark and the enlightenment of the mind that sees truth as superior to falsehood — the vicegerency of being a patron of establishing a moral order on Earth is being presented to money and machinery.
As Einstein is believed to have written (in a letter to his fellow physicist Max Born): “I am at all events convinced that He does not play dice.”