TL;DR: Most Bitcoiners are aware of Ross Ulbricht and his plight. It’s safe to write Ulbricht was among the pioneers to prove bitcoin’s ultimate use case, peer-to-peer electronic cash. Silk Road, for all the ills ascribed it by law enforcement, was ultimately about bringing buyers and sellers together, albeit for unconventional products. But it served a real purpose, and bitcoin became its star. In this piece, while incarcerated for life without the possibility of parole, Ulbricht reminds Bitcoiners why the cryptocurrency experiment is still viable.
Ross Ulbricht From Prison
By Ross Ulbricht
Something special happened in the first year or so after Satoshi gave us Bitcoin, something no one expected and many thought was impossible. Try to imagine Bitcoin back then, before you could buy things with it, before there was an exchange rate, before anyone really knew what, if anything, would happen with it. Bitcoin didn’t start out as money. It became money, but it did so unlike any money that came before it. For all the things Bitcoin has made possible, for all the ways it is changing our world, we don’t fully appreciate or even understand what happened in those early days, when it was just a play thing for geeks.
Every other money that predates Bitcoin — in the long history of human civilization — was valued for reasons other than its use as money. Cattle in Africa, postage stamps in prison, sea shells and precious metals all have been used as money and fit this pattern. The only exception is fiat money — something declared to be money by an authority — but even national fiat currencies were once backed by something with prior value, like gold.
Bitcoin changed all that. Bitcoin had no prior value, and no one was forced to use it, yet somehow it came to be a medium of exchange. People who don’t understand and care little for Bitcoin can nevertheless accept it as payment because they know it can be used to pay for something else or be exchanged into conventional money.
Perfectly Good Pizzas for Mere Bitcoins
People often mention the pizzas that were bought for ten thousand bitcoins and, in hindsight, poke fun at the guy who ate what would become a multi-million dollar lunch. I’m more interested in the person who gave up two perfectly good pizzas for mere bitcoins. What did he see in those bits and bytes, that digital signature on something people were calling a blockchain? Whatever motivated the pizza seller may have also called to the early miners who could not liquidate but happily hoarded. It may have inspired the ones who simply gave bitcoins away by the thousands. Whatever it was, it was something new.
Classical economics says exchange won’t happen unless both parties value what they are getting more than what they are giving up. So where did the value come from? Bitcoin should never have gotten off the ground, but it did. Even a new product has some kind of value to it, and early adopters are taking a risk that they won’t get their money’s worth, but they still expect to gain from the exchange.
The early adopters of Bitcoin, on the other hand, had no way of knowing that we do now. All they had was a dream, a conviction and enough infectious enthusiasm to bootstrap a digital contrivance into a multi-billion dollar phenomenon we are only beginning to see the effects of.
I’ll tell you what I think happened, but the truth is no one knows. It is like magic that Bitcoin could somehow come from nothing, and without prior value or authoritative decree, become money. But Bitcoin did not appear in a vacuum. It was a solution to a problem cryptographers had been struggling with for many years: How to create digital money with no central authority that couldn’t be forged and could be trusted [….]
Originally published as Bitcoin Equals Freedom, please click here to read the rest.
Ross Ulbricht on Twitter.
Petition to Free Ross.
CONTINUE THE SPICE and check out our piping hot VIDEOS. Our podcast, The CoinSpice Podcast, has amazing guests. Follow CoinSpice on Twitter. Join our Telegram feed to make sure you never miss a post. Drop some BCH at the merch shop — we’ve got some spicy shirts for men and women. Don’t forget to help spread the word about CoinSpice on social media.