Technology is subversive. Every few years, a new technology threatens the status quo of one industry or another, and a familiar sequence of events follows. Consumers, users, and some savvy technologists win. The folks dominating the status quo—typically rich, powerful, well-connected folks—start to hurt. But dominant players don’t like to lose, so they fight back using every weapon in their arsenal. As a result, while the first chapter in the life of a new technology is its happy launch, the second chapter is invariably a ferocious backlash. This year’s unfolding second chapter involves Bitcoin, an enticingly anonymous “cryptocurrency” designed to wrest the international currency system from the hands of central bankers.
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