Did Star Trek predict bitcoins and what does it mean for the future?
Did Star Trek predict bitcoins and what does it mean for the future?
If you are like me, a Star Trek fan then it’s interesting to note that many of the futuristic technologies and gadgets used on the show have come true or are close to coming true.
This is likely more a fact of self fulfilling prophecy, i.e. engineers, inventors, creators being influenced by the show rather than the Star Trek writers having been able to see into the future.
Given the popularity of bitcoins it’s an interesting thought exercise to see if Star Trek predicted the crypto-currency and what it could all mean for it’s future value and popularity.
Cryptocurrency or Faster Payments?
As far as we can tell and remember there was no mention of a crypto currency on Star Trek. The currency of trade by our intrepid heroes was Federation Credits. Now these could be transferred and received in an instance but this could just be an implementation of faster payments rather than a crypto currency.
Basic Income Experiments
What was also interesting was that our future selves live in a world where current economic norms do not exist, in particular you don’t need to work for money anymore but choose to work for the betterment of humanity. Could the basic income experiments happening around the world be a precursor to this future world?
Coming back to Federation Credits, if we allow that Star Trek predicts the future then there is a good chance that we will have a world currency in the future.
IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)
There are many economists already predicting the popularity of a world currency perhaps as a development of the IMF SDR. The SDR in its current format is linked to a basket of world currencies so it is hard to see how it could replace those currencies.
This is perhaps where bitcoins or crypto currencies could come into play. The IMF has stated that they would not rule out developing their own crypto currency.
Perhaps an IMF SDR or crypto currency may not replace major world currencies but could an IMF crypto-currency achieve the status of global reserve currency replacing the USD? Could this be getting close to the Federation Credits predicted by Star Trek?
A major test for a reserve currency is whether you can buy bonds in the currency, after all what is the point of being paid in a currency if you cannot invest the profits. A bond market has existed for SDRs and so could it be imagined that through the ease and convenience provided by transacting through the block-chain at a time when there is some level of chaos in major world currencies from a crisis, that an IMF cryptocurrency could perhaps be the Federation Credits of the future?
Future of bitcoins
But what does this all mean for the bitcoins of today? For bitcoin to have any long term future it needs to be accepted and regulated by governments. Since the recorded history of money in the Bronze Ages there has been a close correlation between the survival of a form of money and its endorsement, acceptance and ownership by governments.
Governments prefer money that they can track and tax, both actions difficult at least with the current implementation of bitcoin but not impossible to implement on blockchain technology.
Given all this one would have to conclude that bitcoins in their current form perhaps don’t have a long future but could be replaced by government issued cryptocurrencies and that maybe even an IMF backed cryptocurrency could be the Federation Credits imagined by the writers of Star Trek.
Not such good news for long term holders of bitcoins but great news for Star Trek fans.
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