Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A Bitcoinfused about Bitcoin

Written by: on November 10, 2022

Saifedean Ammous is an Austrian based scholar focused on the research and teaching of bitcoin. In his foundational book The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking he lays out the various components and interworking of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. I must admit that this is not a topic that I easily understand and even with the help from several videos explaining it through visual presentations, it is still a bit confusing to me. However, I can appreciate Ammous’ ability to communicate clearly on a subject that was generally misunderstood at the time he wrote this. I immediately came to respect him as a scholar when in his preface on the 2021 edition he articulated that there are clear mistakes in this book but attempting to fix those would be much more work than writing another book which is exactly what he is doing. This took me back to the beginning of our reading to Shultz’s Being Wrong and the power that is held when a mistake is simply owned.

As I read, I continued to come back to one sentence in the prologue: “There is no alternative to personal responsibility for anyone interested in using this network, and that is the real investment that needs to be made to get into bitcoin.”[1] As Ammous dives into the core components of this cryptocurrency throughout this book, the role of government in this and traditional currency, and speaks to several common questions, he continues to point towards the need of individual responsibility. Perhaps it is because the systems currently in place are riddled with clear lack of responsibility and accountability that make me lean towards the cynical in that even with the best intentions, this currency will not be any different over the course of time. Will it be able to hold to the standards that it is beginning with? Can those within this network all demonstrate personal responsibility?

It may be because of the heaviness of personal circumstances I’m walking through at the current moment that makes this weeks reading all the more challenging to engage in, however, I appreciate having a resource that I can return to or point others towards as this continues to grow in popularity around the world. I can see how this reading connects to some of the previous books we’ve read, namely:

  • Factfulness: How the different instincts will interplay with this new currency, inevitably shaping its perception and usefulness.
  • Molecule of More: Are those involved in this network currently in it simply for the thrill of anticipation?
  • Sway: What are some of the biases within bitcoin that need to be explored and addressed? With a digital currency does it automatically eliminate participation for areas of the globe with less access to reliable internet?
  • The Map that Changed the World: I’d like to see the bitcoin map overlayed on traditional currency to help better navigate and understand it.
  • Thinking Fast, Slow: What system is being primarily engaged with this new currency? Does it hit the same receptors in our brain when spending as cash/card does?

For me, I walk away with many more questions than answers. However, the fact that I am asking specific questions gives me hope that I perhaps am less confused about cryptocurrencies than I was prior to this week.

[1] Ammous, xvii.

About the Author

Kayli Hillebrand

Associate Dean of International and Experiential Education

10 responses to “A Bitcoinfused about Bitcoin”

  1. mm Mary Kamau says:

    Thank you, Kayli, for such a great reflection on Bitcoin, I identify with you in being confused about Cryptocurrency and the related Blockchain technology. I like the way you have connected the book to other readings. The sure thing is that digital currency seems likely to play a significant role in commerce from this point on, and we might just as well seek more understanding of how it affects us.

  2. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Kayli, first, let me declare you to win the “best blog title of the week” award. Also, your good news about your prognosis is the best news of the day and foreseeable future. Thank you, Lord! I share the pessimism about cryptocurrency when you wrote, “Perhaps it is because the systems currently in place are riddled with clear lack of responsibility and accountability that make me lean towards the cynical in that even with the best intentions, this currency will not be any different over the course of time.” Is your concern about our systems, the human heart, other issues, or all of the above?

    • Kayli Hillebrand says:

      I’ll take D. All of the Above as my final answer. I think everything becomes so intertwined that we cannot parse out the specific components from one another enough that lead to the breakdown or injustices in systems.

  3. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Best blog title goes to you, Kayli. Before reading this book I didn’t know anything about Bitcoin or cryptocurrency in general. But I’m glad we read this book because now I do understand it…and it’s not going away. Even if Bitcoin fails at some point in the future, cryptocurrency will continue to get traction. Doesn’t it feel good to learn something new? So glad this book was included in our readings.

    • Kayli Hillebrand says:

      Yes, I’m grateful to read on topics that I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards to ensure a foundational understanding of the things happening at home and around the globe. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out over the coming years.

  4. mm Eric Basye says:

    Kayli, I agree with Roy… you win the award for the best title! It certainly brought a smile to my face!

    I loved the connections you made to previous readings. Also, I appreciated that you highlighted his error… I remember reading that, but it didn’t hit me until you pointed that out. That is interesting!

    I will be curious to see/hear how everything goes with cryptocurrency in light of this past week.

  5. Elmarie Parker says:

    Kayli, thank you for your post and for the questions you raise at the end as you engage Ammous’s book with others we have read. Based on what has been in the news this past year regarding various cryptocurrency platforms, we are already seeing some of its struggles emerge, but as you say, this new technology will remain (or lead to yet something else beyond the types of money we currently utilize). I’m wondering what you hear from students on this topic? And, if not a lot yet, in your current role, how might you include reflection on cryptocurrency and unique implications it may have for the discipleship journey?

  6. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Kayli, like Eric I appreciate your connections to previous books. Your questions are so thoughtful.

    What is it about the love of money that can impact your questions you raise?

  7. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Kayli, thank you for your honest post. I am always amazed at how you can even focus with all that you have going on. Keep asking questions and you will come out on the other side with gold that Ammous will be jealous of.

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