Tag Archives: money

Lasik Eye Surgery: The Best Money I Ever Spent

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a recollection and reflection of my Lasik eye surgery, which remains the best thing I ever spent my money on. Enjoy!

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A Note/Warning To Anyone Investing In Cryptocurrency

A close relative once told me that investing in something you don’t understand is as irrational as hating something you don’t understand. To date, those words still ring true and time has only further vindicated them.

When it comes to a subject like cryptocurrency, which involves both money and mechanisms that are difficult to grasp, even a basic understanding is hard to come by. And when people don’t understand something, they’re inclined to make flawed judgements.

It’s why you have famous investors like Warren Buffet saying Bitcoin is completely worthless or notable publications like Forbes claiming all cryptocurrencies are Ponzi schemes.

This is hyperbole. It’s also a clear indication that these individuals don’t fully understand Bitcoin or what cryptocurrencies are. And getting that information isn’t the same as getting the secret investment strategies of famous investors. It’s an open-source program and you can read the white paper that helps explain it at any time for free, courtesy of this link.

It’s hard to understand because it involves math and encryption, two topics most people don’t know much about. But whether they understand it or not, they still use it. If they use a smartphone, a computer, or anything that connects to the internet, they are utilizing some of the same type of technology that goes into cryptocurrencies.

Now, I say all that because things in the cryptocurrency world have been pretty rocky this year. If you just look at the prices of most major cryptocurrencies, this has been a historically bad year. If you bought any crypto in January, there’s a good chance that investment has lost money by now. I know because I’m one of them.

I’ve noted before that I do own some cryptocurrency. I’ve also talked about it before as both an investment and a useful tool for the internet age. I won’t deny that while my investment in Bitcoin was very small, never exceeding more than a few hundred dollars, the returns this year have not been great. And I would never recommend anyone put all their savings or investments into Bitcoin, or any asset for that matter.

In addition, I would never advise anyone to invest their money in a way that would limit their control of said money. When you put your money in a bank, whether it’s in person or online, you’re trusting a system and the people within it to handle your money. By law and by the fine print of the contracts you sign, you have control over that money and they can’t take that control from you absent some very limited circumstances.

With that in mind, I think there’s an important lesson to learn from the recent collapse of FTX. If you’re at all involved with crypto, chances are you’re aware of this and have felt the impact. I certainly have. It helped make an already terrible year for cryptocurrency that much worse. Last I checked, my Bitcoin value went down a good 20 percent and will likely go lower.

It was a bad turn among many for cryptocurrency and it wasn’t even the first. Before FTX, other famous cryptocurrency exchanges like Mt. Gox also suffered a similar fate. It’s collapse is actually very similar to FTX. The issue was this.

A new institution or organization is set up to buy, sell, and store cryptocurrency.

It becomes successful by making cryptocurrency accessible to more people.

Due to greed and a lack of supervision or understanding of cryptocurrency, the organization begins skimming money while lying about how much actual cryptocurrency it has.

Ultimately, the scheme is either uncovered or it collapses like a Ponzi scheme when too many people try to withdraw their assets.

In both cases, the problem was the same. People were buying cryptocurrency on an exchange and keeping it on that exchange. They weren’t exactly owning any currency. They were essentially paying the exchange to stake a claim on a certain pool of currency that didn’t exist.

In that context, nobody should be that surprised that FTX and Mt. Gox crumbled. I get the appeal of investing in cryptocurrency without having to go through the trouble of storing or securing the coins on your own computers or devices. However, it’s worth remembering that these are not banks. These are not institutions that are subject to the same laws and regulations as banks.

That’s not to say all crypto exchanges are frauds, but fraud is just a lot easier for them than most.

So, if there’s one lesson to take away from FTX and the collapse of any exchange, it’s this. If you’re going to invest in cryptocurrency, make damn sure you actually own or possess the coins in some tangible medium. That’s what I’ve done with all my Bitcoins. I keep them all in a digital wallet that is not at all connected to any exchange. I also keep a backup to ensure that even if I lose one of my devices, I can still access my coins on another.

It’s not that hard to do. In fact, it’s easier now than it was back when Mt. Gox was still active. It’s even become a common refrain from those who still defend the value of cryptocurrency. The mantra is if the Bitcoins aren’t in your own wallet, then they’re not yours.

Exchanges still have their place in the world of cryptocurrencies and probably will for the foreseeable future. I also don’t expect cryptocurrencies to recover from these latest downturns anytime soon. But if you’re going to invest in cryptocurrency in any capacity, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. Even if you don’t understand the math and the science behind cryptocurrency, you’ll do better in the long run if you just do things the right way.

Don’t use exchanges.

Use digital wallets.

Here’s a list of some that I encourage others to look into before buying any crypto.

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Bitcoin Price Drop, Buying On The Dip, And How To Do It Responsibly

5 Cryptocurrencies That Ran Circles Around Bitcoin in 2021 | The Motley Fool

I’ve been following Bitcoin for many years now. I’ve seen it rise, fall, crash, rise, surge, crash again, and then rise. To say it’s a volatile product would be like saying Antarctica gets chilly in the winter. It’s volatility is one of its most notable features and it’s also why most consider it a risky investment.

As a result, this is not the kind of investment you treat like your typical blue chip stock. It’s not even the kind of investment you treat as a risky gamble in the mold of r/wallstreetbets. Bitcoin and many cryptocurrencies like it are an emerging technology that not enough people understand. The fact that so many don’t understand it or its utility have led some to call it an outright scam.

I don’t agree with this at all. Unlike actual scams, the math and mechanisms behind Bitcoin are not secret. You can look them up right now. Here’s a link to the original whitepaper made by its mysterious creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. The purpose of Bitcoin is right in the abstract. It’s a tool for sending money directly to people without the need for a financial intermediary.

That’s a technology that has legitimate value. In an increasingly connected world, that’s a value that will likely increase over time. For that reason, I ended up buying some Bitcoin for myself, which I documented on this very site. I plan on buying more down the line, provided I have the extra cash.

I also intend to maintain that plan, even though Bitcoin recently experienced a significant crash in price. Again, it’s a volatile product. It’s value will rise and fall erratically. Since 2010, I’ve seen it crash before. Back in 2013, Bitcoin’s price was around $1,000 and it crashed hard towards the end of the year. At one point, it went all the way down to $200.

At the time, people said that was the end of Bitcoin.

That was the end of cryptocurrencies.

They were wrong. Bitcoin recovered, went up even further, and continued to gain more and more acceptance.

At this point, predicting that Bitcoin will completely collapse any day now is like saying the internet is a passing fad. It’s absurd, short-sighted, and misses the bigger picture. Like it or not, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are here to stay. Entire countries like China can try to ban it, but the genie is out of the bottle now. There’s no going back.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who actually celebrate the crash in Bitcoin price, but not because they think it’s going to collapse. Instead, they see it as an opportunity to buy Bitcoin cheap and hold it until the price rises again. It’s not a new idea. That’s something skilled investors have been doing for years with stocks.

It doesn’t always work out. Sometimes, buying the dip means buying stock in a company that’s about to go bankrupt. Just ask anyone who bought stock in Bear Stearns. You can actually lose all your investment by buying the dip in a wrong company. For that reason, you should not see it as a viable trading strategy.

With Bitcoin, investors and speculators like to use Bitcoin’s ability to recover and continue despite many previous collapses as strength whenever they buy the dip. It’s not entirely misguided. Even I’ll wait for the price to dip a little before I buy new Bitcoin.

However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to buy into the dip of any asset. I say that as someone who is not the least bit qualified to give investment advice, but having followed Bitcoin for so long, I’ve seen more than a few people make the same mistakes.

They see the price dip and they either try to sell all their Bitcoins off or they try to buy as much as possible with whatever money they have. Both are byproducts of panic and anxiety. People don’t make wise decisions when they’re in that state of mind, especially when it comes to money. It’s why Warren Buffett is so successful. He stays calm when things are chaotic and doesn’t let knee-jerk reactions drive his decisions.

Even though Buffett himself is not a fan of Bitcoin, his strategy still holds true for Bitcoin. That means when you see the price sink, you shouldn’t panic and sell everything. You also shouldn’t take all your money and throw it into Bitcoin, either. Again, Bitcoin is volatile. You will lose money over time if you’re also volatile.

That’s why, whenever there’s a price drop in Bitcoin like this, I only buy a little extra. It’s not much. I just go to a Bitcoin ATM and buy about $100 to $200, depending on how much extra cash I have on hand. Most importantly, I never buy Bitcoin with money I can’t afford to lose. I only ever use excess cash I have on hand. It’s not something I put in my retirement portfolio.

Maybe that will change one day, but only if Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies like it become less volatile. Since I don’t see that happening anytime soon, I’m content with just buying on the dip with whatever pocket money I have. Most of my money will still remain safely invested in index funds.

That would be my advice to anyone looking to “buy the dip” with Bitcoin or any investment. Do not put all your eggs in one basket. If you’re going to do it, only use money that you can afford to lose. The rest of your money should be in safe, low-cost index funds. That way, if Bitcoin ever tanks severely, you’re not wiped out.

Conversely, if Bitcoin rockets up in value, then you’ll just have some extra money on the side later on. Regardless of how close you are to retirement, that can only help.

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Why Amazon Accepting Bitcoin Would Be A Game Changer (And Why They Might NOT Do It)

Jeff Bezos Directs Amazon to Accept Bitcoin and Other Popular  Cryptocurrencies: Report – Bitcoin News

In all the years I’ve been browsing the internet, I’ve never seen something so divisive or so disruptive as cryptocurrencies. Yes, that includes both video games and internet porn. Crypto’s impact has been that profound. That impact is likely to continue in unexpected ways for years to come.

However, there is still plenty of uncertainty and confusion surrounding cryptocurrencies. I recently had dinner with my parents and my mother asked me to explain it to her. I tried. I’m pretty sure I failed. I tried to simply frame it as digital money, but that didn’t even come close to explaining what cryptocurrency is, how it works, and why it has become such a huge industry.

There are far smarter people than me who can explain what cryptocurrencies are and how they work. This video here does a decent job of explaining it to beginners who aren’t particularly tech savvy.

While I’ve been following the rise, fall, revival, and growth of cryptocurrencies for years, I didn’t actually buy any until very recently. I even wrote about my experience, which ended up being somewhat mundane. It was no different than using an ATM.

That’s somewhat illustrative of where cryptocurrencies are right now. Buying currencies like Bitcoin has never been easier. You can download any number of wallets for free on your phone. If you don’t want to link your bank account to it, then finding an ATM like I did is very easy.

If you have any spare change lying around, you can turn it into Bitcoin. That’s where we’re at now with cryptocurrencies.

The harder part at the moment is actually spending Bitcoins. While you can find numerous online merchants who take Bitcoins, you can’t exactly use them to pay your bills, buy your groceries, or just purchase something on a whim. That’s one of the biggest barriers to cryptocurrencies in general. Using it is more cumbersome than regular cash. That’s why most see Bitcoin as an investment asset rather than a usable currency.

That could change very soon, however. The reason for that change could come from the largest retail entity on this planet, Amazon. If ever there was a company that could completely change the way we see and use cryptocurrencies, it’s this one. It may ultimately make Jeff Bezos even richer than he already is, but let’s table that concern for a moment.

This isn’t just me speculating. There was a recent rumor among the business world that Amazon was looking to start accepting Bitcoins as a payment method. While Amazon ultimately shot down that rumor, they did not say they would never accept Bitcoins.

In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s only a matter of time before Amazon starts accepting cryptocurrencies in some capacity. There’s just too much money to be made from doing so and Amazon, like all big businesses, is always looking to grow. This would be one way of doing that and it’s impossible to overstate the larger impact that would have.

For one, it would send shockwaves through all currency markets, crypto and otherwise, more so than a million tweets by Elon Musk. Suddenly, this asset isn’t just an investment vehicle anymore. It’s a form of money with an actual use.

Amazon is already the biggest retailer in the world. It’s also becoming one of the largest grocery chains. It still has some competition, mostly through companies like Walmart. None of them accept Bitcoin yet, but you can be reasonably certain that as soon as one of them takes that leap, the others will follow.

Beyond just being a novel payment method, Amazon accepting Bitcoins could have a far broader change. One of the main driving forces behind the development of cryptocurrencies is that this is money that has no boarders. It doesn’t matter where you are in this world. You could be in America, China, or the middle of Africa. So long as you have an internet connection, you can access this currency.

For companies like Amazon, that means accessing a customer base that has been traditionally inaccessible. There are over a billion people in this world who have no bank accounts. In some parts of the world, their currency just isn’t usable for companies like Amazon. Converting them to other currencies is already a hassle. Bitcoin could change that.

By accepting Bitcoin, Amazon and other retailers like it have the potential to the entire world in ways that weren’t possible until recently. If they’re going to keep growing, they need those customers and, like it or not, these people need Amazon. Opening more people up to an accessible market can only help get goods to people who need them.

All that being said, I can also understand why Amazon and other large retailers might resist accepting cryptocurrencies. Beyond them just being too loosely regulated, their volatile nature could be a problem for large retailers.

I can attest to that volatility personally. When I bought my first Bitcoins, the price was around $35,000. Then, it shot up to over $60,000 for a while. A few months later, it crashed to the point where it was worth less than my initial investment. It eventually recovered, but that’s a lot of instability for a currency.

That’s something I’m sure Amazon is aware of. By taking Bitcoins as payments, they’re also accepting its wild volatility. All those Bitcoins that paid for all those goods could be worth a thousand dollars one day and worth a fraction of that the next. Even if Bitcoin represents only a small portion of payment, that’s sure to create some anxiety among investors.

Given the current state of the economy and the world, as a whole, I understand why Amazon would hold off on diving into cryptocurrencies. For a large, publicly traded company, anything that makes the stock price or the overall value of its assets less certain might just be too much to handle for now.

It may not happen this year. It may not even happen next year. However, I’m not among those who think all cryptocurrencies are a scam, a scheme, or a fad. These aren’t Pokémon cards or Beanie Babies. This is a valuable tool for the digital world that has the potential to open up exchange with everyone, regardless of where they live.

That tool still needs refinements. Bitcoin certainly has its flaws. That’s beyond dispute. Amazon is aware of those flaws, as well. As they are refined, currencies like Bitcoin will gain more acceptance. Amazon and other big retailers will be part of that process. When that day finally comes, expect a whole new world to emerge. I don’t claim to know what kind of world that’ll be, but I’m excited to see how it unfolds.

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My Early Experiences With Bitcoin And Helpful Tips I’ve Uncovered

Recently, I finally took the plunge and bought some Bitcoin. I even wrote shared the experience. Overall, it wasn’t that groundbreaking. It didn’t involve a radical rethinking of how I used or thought about money. It was not that different from depositing money in a new account from an ATM. The account in this case just happened to be Bitcoin.

Since then, I’ve bought more Bitcoin. To date, I have a couple hundred bucks in my lone Bitcoin wallet. I’m still using BRD, which is one of the simplest wallets you can get. I have looked into getting others that have more features, but many of them seem to be more trouble than they’re worth.

That may change. I am quite interested in what BitPay has to offer with some of their services, but for now, I’m content to stick with BRD.

However, since I bought my Bitcoins, one issue has come up and I suspect it’s still the primary issue that most people face when they first get involved in this. It’s probably the same issue that prevents a lot of people from getting into it to begin with.

How do I spend my Bitcoins once I have them?

It’s the main issue that all these cryptocurrencies face. Getting them and securing them is challenging enough. Actually spending them like real money is still a challenge. While there are some noteworthy merchants that accept Bitcoin, most major retail outlets do not. You cannot use Bitcoin at Amazon or WalMart or even a standard grocery store just yet. Until that changes, its use will be limited.

This is what kept me from buying much of anything with my Bitcoins. Then, I discovered a useful tool that has helped make that easier and I think it’s worth sharing. While it’s true that companies like Amazon and Apple don’t accept Bitcoin directly, you can still use them. You just have to do it indirectly.

One way to do this is to use a site I found called Bitrefill. What it does is simple. You just use your Bitcoins to purchase digital gift cards for popular retail outlets. It works like this.

Step 1: Go to Bitrefill.com and browse the various gift card options, which includes the likes of Amazon and Walmart.

Step 2: Pick a gift card, choose an amount, and enter your Bitcoin account information for the desired amount, which is usually around $50 to $100.

Step 3: Complete the purchase and wait for the gift card code to come in via email. Then, just add the amount to your existing account.

For those who buy most of their stuff on Amazon, this is a quick way to turn your Bitcoins into something spendable. There are a few other workarounds, like Moon and Purse.io, but I’ve found this to be the easiest. There’s even a similar website called CoinsBee that allows you to do the same to your Apple iTunes account.

Basically, if you know how to send or spend gift cards, you can spend Bitcoin. Does it require a few extra steps from traditional cash? Yes, it does, but you can still spend it.

That may still raise the question as to why bother with Bitcoin in the first place. If it’s just adding an extra step between you and the retailers you prefer, then what’s the point? Well, this is where I’d like to share another part of my Bitcoin experience.

After buying my first batch, the price went up. I don’t know why, but it did. Suddenly, the first hundred bucks I put in was worth $125. That was great. It was downright thrilling. Granted, it did go down to around $103, but it was still impactful in a major way.

That’s because Bitcoin, unlike traditional money, fluctuates in value. Many see it as a reason why they don’t buy in. It’s just too volatile. I can understand that, but I also understand the impact of inflation.

If you go to your bank account right now and look at your money, you won’t see it change much in terms of value. However, inflation does ensure that its value goes down. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s just basic economics. Over time, most fiat currency loses value. That has been the trend for nearly a century.

With Bitcoin, it fluctuates. One day, it has more value. The other, it has less. You’ll win on some days, but lose with others. With regular cash, though, you always lose. You don’t lose nearly as much. Most of the time, it happens so slowly that you don’t even notice. Even so, losing is still losing.

The Bitcoins I have now may only be worth a few hundred bucks. By this time next year, they could be worth a lot more. That’s even more money I can convert to Amazon or WalMart gift cards. There’s also a chance the price could crash, as it has before, but given the finite nature of Bitcoin, there’s more incentive for its value to increase rather than decrease.

That doesn’t mean its value will always go up. There’s still a non-zero chance that Bitcoin’s value could stall or outright collapse, as other currencies have in the past. That’s why I’m not converting all my money into Bitcoin anytime soon.

For the time being, though, I’m satisfied and encouraged by my Bitcoin experience. I also encourage others to get into it as well, if only to get a feel for it. Hopefully, the sites I’ve listed here will help you get some use out of your Bitcoins. Money is a powerful force in this world. So long as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies keep operating as such, they’ll have a part in our future. Now is as good a time as any to carve your place in that future.

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Filed under Bitcoin, Jack Fisher's Insights, technology

What Keeps Bitcoin From Being A (Bigger) Part Of Our Future

I consider myself an enthusiast of technology. On many occasions, I’ve wildly speculated about emerging technology and expressed unapologetic excitement about certain trends. In general, I have the utmost respect and support for those who share this passion. I don’t always agree with their outlook or speculation, but I get where they’re coming from.

Then, there are Bitcoin enthusiasts. I’ll just come out and say I have mixed feelings about them.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to diminish what a remarkable technology Bitcoin is. It is a complicated and, at times, confusing technology. Even the Wikipedia page only does so much to explain what it is, where it came from, and why it matters. That’s not surprising. There was plenty of confusion about the internet too when it first emerged.

While I don’t consider myself an enthusiast, Bitcoin has sparked my curiosity. I do sometimes look into major news stories and developments surrounding the technology. The fact that it has lasted over a decade and made some people legitimate millionaires is proof enough that Bitcoin has real, tangible value. Those who keep saying that Bitcoin is just a fad or will crash are becoming increasingly scarce.

I’m convinced that Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies like it, are here to stay. They’ve proven that they have value in an increasingly digital landscape. As the internet becomes more prevalent and accessible, their role will only grow. That being said, I’m not yet convinced Bitcoin’s role will go beyond a certain point.

Those who say Bitcoin is the future of money are likely talking in hyperbole.

Those who say Bitcoin and the blockchain are the most revolutionary technologies since email are also likely exaggerating.

I don’t doubt for a second that these people believe in what they’re saying. I just haven’t seen enough to warrant that kind of enthusiasm. The issue isn’t as much about the merits of the technology as it is about how it’s being used. I’m not just referring to its role in the illegal drug trade, either.

At the moment, Bitcoin is fairly accessible. If you have a smartphone and an internet connection, you can download a simple wallet for free. If you do a quick search for a Bitcoin ATM, you can purchase Bitcoins with the same ease you would when purchasing a gift card. It’s what you do after that where the issues arise.

What exactly can you buy with Bitcoin that you can’t buy more easily through other means? That’s not me being facetious. This is where I tend to diverge with Bitcoin enthusiasts. I understand that some major ecommerce sites accept Bitcoin, namely Overstock. I’m also aware that more and more retailers are accepting Bitcoin.

However, the only ones taking advantage of that option are those who go out of their way to use Bitcoin. For most people, especially those who aren’t as tech savvy, there just aren’t enough benefits to warrant the extra effort. On top of that, Bitcoin does have some lingering flaws that are hard to work around. Then again, you can say the same thing about traditional money.

None of that even begins to highlight the growing issues associated with mining Bitcoins.

Now, that could change. It’s not a certainty, but it is a possibility. Like any new tech, the issue isn’t always about whether or not it works. Bitcoin clearly works and it’s been working for nearly a decade. It’s whether or not there’s a “killer app” to entice ordinary people to go through the effort of learning about, acquiring, and using Bitcoin.

The problem is that, thanks to incidents like the Silk Road, the primary use of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies like it have been for the purchase of drugs or other illicit services. Regardless of how you feel about the politics surrounding illegal drugs and services, that’s the reputation Bitcoin has. It’s just a way for criminals and their cohorts to operate.

That’s not a killer app. It’s also not sustainable.

In order for Bitcoin to play a bigger part in our future, it needs to have a good, meaningful use. It took cell phones decades to find that. Just being able to make phone calls, remember phone numbers, and occasionally host a game of solitaire wasn’t enough. Other apps like music, video chatting, and cameras had to get into the mix before the public and the market embraced them.

That’s what Bitcoin needs. I don’t claim to know what that entails. I think Bitcoin has to get to a point where using it is as simple as using a credit card or debit card. It also needs a particular use or product that will justify the physical and financial investment. That use also can’t be illegal. It’s no secret that the internet owes much of its early growth to the porn industry, but porn isn’t illegal.

Bitcoin, in my opinion, will need something bigger than porn. It might also need to wait until more parts of the world are connected to broadband internet. Maybe it involves voting, enforcing contracts, or the development of new peer-to-peer networks, such as Open Bazaar. I don’t know. I’m not smart enough to figure it out at the moment.

In the meantime, I’ll certainly keep an eye on Bitcoin. I don’t deny it has its uses in the current world. It’s just too limited right now. Whether it has a large or small role in the future that awaits us remains to be seen.

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A Note To Investors/Enthusiasts Of Dogecoin

We live in a strange time. I know you could say that about almost any point in history, but let’s face it. The past year has been more eventful than most. The past few months have been even more eventful if you’re an investor or follow economic news. We recently learned that a multi-billion dollar hedge fund is no match for a bunch of shit-posters on Reddit.

I’m not gonna lie. That story still puts a smile on my face. Last year sucked, but when a bunch of shit-posters on Reddit tank a predatory hedge fund, the world is an objectively better place.

As much fun as that is, there are some other stories related to investing that are worth noting. On top of the craziness caused by r/WallStreetBets, it has been just as chaotic for investors of cryptocurrencies. When the financial world is in chaos, cryptocurrencies that thumb their nose at old economic institutions tend to thrive.

Now, full disclosure, I do own Bitcoins. That’s the only cryptocurrency I own and I don’t own much. I’m not a bold investor. I buy index funds and ETFs. I would not fit in on r/WallStreetBets, nor would I be a good evangelist for Bitcoin.

For that same reason, I’d like to send a special note to those currently caught up in the Dogecoin craze. If you don’t know what Dogecoin is, then that’s understandable. It is a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, but it’s unique in a few very particular ways.

Most notably, Dogecoin is often treated as a joke. That’s because it started off as one.

That’s not my opinion. That’s literally part of its origin. Its creators, Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, were legitimately surprised when people started using it. I guess they didn’t get the joke.

That doesn’t mean Dogecoin has absolutely nothing going for it. It is a functioning cryptocurrency that uses some of the same technology as Bitcoin. Its most notable difference is that, unlike Bitcoin, there’s no limit to how many Dogecoins can be mined. Whereas Bitcoin can only ever have 21 million, Dogecoins can be mined indefinitely.

It may seem like a small difference, but that difference matters if you understand the basics of scarcity in economics. Most people understand it on some levels. If you can make an infinite amount of something, then it’s not going to have much value. If something is incredibly finite and difficult to obtain, like gold or Bitcoins, it’s going to have more value.

It’s that concept that I’d like to convey to those cheering on Dogecoin. Thanks to the recent upheavals from r/WallStreetBets, Dogecoin has been surging more than most currencies and even people like Elon Musk are cheering it on.

That’s not unusual. Sometimes, certain assets get propped up for a brief period. That has happened a lot with cryptocurrencies over the past decade. However, with Dogecoin, it’s a lot more style than substance.

Whereas Bitcoin gains value as it becomes more accepted in various sectors of the economy, Dogecoin gains value because people are just cheering it on. One has long-term sustainability. The other ends as soon as people get bored or find something else to cheer on.

Today, it’s Dogecoin.

Tomorrow, it could be JackCoin, a cryptocurrency made exclusively for people named Jack.

Is that the dumbest idea in the history of finance? I don’t know, but entire economies have gone bust for dumb things before.

Again, I’m not an investment expert. I’m not giving investment advice to anyone. However, to those thinking about getting in on the Dogecoin craze, I offer one important message.

You can win with style over substance in a lot of things, but not when it comes to money. At some point, a product has to demonstrate its value. You can only prop it up for so long before basic economic forces take over. It’s not fair and it’s not rational, but that’s how economics work.

Dogecoin will find that out at some point. Investors may have to find out the hard way.

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Filed under Bitcoin, Current Events, rants

Why We Should Treat Our Data As (Valuable) Property

Many years ago, I created my first email address before logging into the internet. It was a simple AOL account. I didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t think I was creating anything valuable. At the time, the internet was limited to slow, clunky dial-up that had little to offer in terms of content. I doubt anyone saw what they were doing as creating something of great value.

I still have that email address today in case you’re wondering. I still regularly use it. I imagine a lot of people have an email address they created years ago for one of those early internet companies that used to dominate a very different digital world. They may not even see that address or those early internet experiences as valuable.

Times have changed and not just in terms of pandemics. In fact, times tends to change more rapidly in the digital world than it does in the real world. The data we created on the internet, even in those early days, became much more valuable over time. It served as the foundation on which multi-billion dollar companies were built.

As a result, the data an individual user imparts onto the internet has a great deal of value. You could even argue that the cumulative data of large volumes of internet users is among the most valuable data in the world.

Politicians, police, the military, big businesses, advertising agencies, marketing experts, economists, doctors, and researchers all have use for this data. Many go to great lengths to get it, sometimes through questionable means.

The growing value of this data raises some important questions.

Who exactly owns this data?

How do we go about treating it from a legal, fiscal, and logistical standpoint?

Is this data a form of tangible property, like land, money, or labor?

Is this something we can exchange, trade, or lease?

What is someone’s recourse if they want certain aspects of their data removed, changed, or deleted?

These are all difficult questions that don’t have easy answers. It’s getting to a point where ownership of data was an issue among candidates running for President of the United States. Chances are, as our collective data becomes more vital for major industries, the issue will only grow in importance.

At the moment, it’s difficult to determine how this issue will evolve. In the same way I had no idea how valuable that first email address would be, nobody can possibly know how the internet, society, the economy, and institutions who rely on that data will evolve. The best solution in the near term might not be the same as the best solution in the long term.

Personally, I believe that our data, which includes our email addresses, browsing habits, purchasing habits, and social media posts, should be treated as personal property. Like money, jewels, or land, it has tangible value. We should treat it as such and so should the companies that rely on it.

However, I also understand that there are complications associated with this approach. Unlike money, data isn’t something you can hold in your hand. You can’t easily hand it over to another person, nor can you claim complete ownership of it. To some extent, the data you create on the internet was done with the assistance of the sites you use and your internet service provider.

Those companies could claim some level of ownership of your data. It might even be written in the fine print of those user agreements that nobody ever reads. It’s hard to entirely argue against such a claim. After all, we couldn’t create any of this data without the aid of companies like Verizon, AT&T, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. At the same time, these companies couldn’t function, let alone profit, without our data.

It’s a difficult question to resolve. It only gets more difficult when you consider laws like the “right to be forgotten.” Many joke that the internet never forgets, but it’s no laughing matter. Peoples’ lives can be ruined, sometimes through no fault of their own. Peoples’ private photos have been hacked and shared without their permission.

In that case, your data does not at all function like property. Even if it’s yours, you can’t always control it or what someone else does with it. You can try to take control of it, but it won’t always work. Even data that was hacked and distributed illegally is still out there and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Despite those complications, I still believe that our data is still the individual’s property to some extent, regardless of what the user agreements of tech companies claim. Those companies provide the tools, but we’re the ones who use them to build something. In the same way a company that makes hammers doesn’t own the buildings they’re used to make, these companies act as the catalyst and not the byproduct.

Protecting our data, both from theft and from exploitation, is every bit as critical as protecting our homes. An intruder into our homes can do a lot of damage. In our increasingly connected world, a nefarious hacker or an unscrupulous tech company can do plenty of damage as well.

However, there’s one more critical reason why I believe individuals need to take ownership of their data. It has less to do with legal jargon and more to do with trends in technology. At some point, we will interact with the internet in ways more intimate than a keyboard and mouse. The technology behind a brain/computer interface is still in its infancy, but it exists and not just on paper.

Between companies like Neuralink and the increasing popularity of augmented reality, the way we interact with technology is bound to get more intimate/invasive. Clicks and link sharing are valuable today. Tomorrow, it could be complex thoughts and feelings. Whoever owns that stands to have a more comprehensive knowledge of the user.

I know it’s common refrain to say that knowledge is power, but when the knowledge goes beyond just our browsing and shopping habits, it’s not an unreasonable statement. As we build more and more of our lives around digital activities, our identities will become more tied to that data. No matter how large or small that portion might be, we’ll want to own it as much as we can.

It only gets more critical if we get to a point where we can fully digitize our minds, as envisioned in shows like “Altered Carbon.” At some point, our bodies are going to break down. We cannot preserve it indefinitely for the same reason we can’t preserve a piece of pizza indefinitely. However, the data that makes up our minds could be salvaged, but that opens the door to many more implications.

While that kind of technology is a long way off, I worry that if we don’t take ownership of our data today, then it’ll only get harder to do so in the future. Even before the internet, information about who we are and what we do was valuable.

This information forms a big part of our identity. If we don’t own that, then what’s to stop someone else from owning us and exploiting that to the utmost? It’s a question that has mostly distressing answers. I still don’t know how we go about staking our claim on our data, but it’s an issue worth confronting. The longerwe put it off, the harder it will get.

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Filed under Artificial Intelligence, biotechnology, Current Events, futurism, Neuralink, politics, technology

Buying My First Bitcoin: My Reason And Experience

I talk about the future a lot on this site. That’s because, in general, the future excites me. I genuinely want to see some of the emerging technologies under development manifest. From advanced artificial intelligence to hacking our own biology to sex robots, I think these developments will lead to some major upheavals in society and I want to be around to see them.

I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to see all of them, but I want to make the effort. I want to experience the future and not just speculate about it.

This brings me to Bitcoin. Now, before I go any further, let me disclose that I am not one of those hardcore, uber-libertarian Bitcoin fans who see Bitcoin as the technology that will bring down corrupt governments and banking cartels. I’m also not among those who think Bitcoin is a total scam. For this technology, I try to keep my perspective balanced.

I see Bitcoin the same way I see email. It’s basically a digital form of a tangible thing/service that we’re familiar with. Email was a supplement to regular mail. Bitcoin is simply a supplement for money. Email didn’t end all forms of regular mail. As such, I don’t see Bitcoin ending all other forms of money.

As for the technology behind it, I’m no expert, but I definitely see the value. Bitcoin, unlike other currencies, has no boarders. It has no middlemen or central authorities. It doesn’t require a big bank or some other financial institution to authorize it. All it requires is an internet connection and a smart device with an app.

Beyond the money, the technology behind it, most notably the blockchain, has some exciting applications. It promises to change the way we process, manage, and scale big data. It has the potential to create secure, decentralized operations that can’t be run from the top-down by the future Mark Zuckerbergs of the world.

Even if you think Bitcoin has no inherent value, I hope you see the value in that.

Now, I have been following news about Bitcoin since 2013. I remember the first time it became a major source of headlines. It was primarily associated with black market economies on the dark web, namely the Silk Road. That was not necessarily a good association, but that didn’t stop Bitcoin from growing considerably in both value and use.

However, I didn’t invest in it or seek to buy any Bitcoins. Some of that was mostly because it was still so new. I wasn’t sure what to make of it and I didn’t necessarily trust the early Bitcoin wallets. It also didn’t help that some of the early Bitcoin exchanges went completely bust.

I understand this era still created plenty of Bitcoin millionaires. Those people are the lucky ones. Even after 2013, I don’t think we’ll see Bitcoin create any more millionaires like that. I still watched Bitcoin with a skeptical eye. I didn’t want to buy in until I could be sure it was able to weather these upheavals.

In hindsight, I think I waited too long. At this point, I think Bitcoin has proven its worth and its utility. It’s been around for more than a decade now. If it were a bubble or a scam, it would’ve failed long ago. Even if I’m late to the party, I can safely say that I have finally joined in.

Granted, I didn’t put my whole life savings into Bitcoin. I decided to start off small and honestly, it was a lot easier than I thought.

Here’s what I did to get my first batch of Bitcoin money.

Step 1: I downloaded a basic Bitcoin wallet, namely BRD. It’s the simplest, least cumbersome wallet I could find.

Step 2: I compiled about $100 in cash. These were just a bunch of $20 bills I had in my drawer. They were actually bills I got from Christmas cards. Since I buy most of my stuff with credit cards and my phone, I really didn’t have much use for them.

Step 3: I went to a gas station up the road from my house, which had a Bitcoin ATM. I used that ATM to purchase $100 in Bitcoin. It took less than four minutes.

That’s it. That’s all I did. I didn’t have to give my bank account number to anyone. I didn’t have to give my credit card number to anyone. I just took some bills that I probably wasn’t going to spend anyways and turned it into digital currency. I have every intention of purchasing more down the line.

In terms of loose change or extra bills, I believe Bitcoin is actually better than just letting that paper money gather dust. Unlike bills, Bitcoin’s value actually has the potential to go up. That’s something paper money rarely does.

It’s a key part of Bitcoin’s legendary volatility. That sort of thing turns a lot of people off and I understand that. They don’t want to wake up one mourning and find out their money lost half its value.

However, I would counter that paper money would lose that same value, but just over a longer period of time. It’s like owning fruit. It’ll only ever rot. It’s never going to get fresher. Bitcoin is a bit more like a game of cards, but with the odds in your favor.

Sometimes the value goes up.

Sometimes the value goes down.

Overall, due to the scarce nature of Bitcoin, its value is inclined to go up.

That $100 was only going to get less valuable sitting in my drawer. At least with Bitcoin, there’s at least a possibility that $100 could be worth a lot more later this year. Compared to what inflation does to money, I’ll take those odds.

For now, I just wanted to share my experience. I genuinely believe that Bitcoin and the technology behind it is going to be a big part of our future. It may not completely replace money, but it will improve on what we’ve got.

I’ll share more stories as the year unfolds. In the meantime, I’ll leave everyone with this little anecdote.

The first known Bitcoin purchase was on May 22, 2010 when a man named Laszlo Hanyecz bought a pizza for 10,000 Bitcoins. As of this post, one Bitcoin is valued at $32,711. That means someone payed $327,110,000 for a pizza.

That must have been a damn good pizza.

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Filed under Bitcoin, Current Events, Jack Fisher's Insights, real stories

Jack’s World Thoughts Experiment: How Much Money Do You Need?

The following is a video for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It explores another thought experiment, something I’ve done plenty of times before. This one just happens to involve money. Given the recent events with the stock market, I think the time is right to contemplate money and how it guides our lives. Enjoy!

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Filed under Current Events, Jack's World, Thought Experiment, YouTube