Bits and stuff: bitcoin splits and value, over-rated efficiency and gif artists – August 26, 2017

JP Koning on bitcoin as a unit of account, post-split:

“If bitcoin is to take its place as money, it is likely that it will have to cede the vital unit of account function to good old non-splittable U.S. dollars, yen, and other central bank fiat units. The Bitcoin community is just too sectarian to be trusted with the task of ensuring that the ruler we all use for measuring prices stays more or less steady.”

He puts forward an interesting observation, that I haven’t seen elsewhere: If the pre-split bitcoin price had the price of bitcoin cash “baked in”, then post-split the market price of the original bitcoin should fall by the same amount as the value of the new bitcoin cash.

And, if I have denominated the prices of my product in bitcoin, then I would have to jack that up by a similar amount.

Hence, bitcoin can never be a good unit of account – in a fictitious bitcoin monetary standard – since the prices would need to be adjusted every time there was a bitcoin split. Which end up being quite often.

It’s easy to rebut that no-one denominates prices in fixed bitcoin amounts. However, JP is talking about a putative bitcoin monetary standard – and making the point that if that were to come to pass, we couldn’t use it as a unit of account.

Throw in the inherent volatility in bitcoin (due to its fixed supply), and basing prices in the virtual currency becomes obviously highly impractical. We couldn’t denominate prices in fixed bitcoin amounts.

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My post on CoinDesk this week – “Hints and Rumors? How Ripple Might Really Enter China’s Market” –  on the recent rumours that Alibaba is running a Ripple validator node. Ripple has denied this, but that doesn’t mean they’re not talking.

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Enhanced efficiency isn’t always a good thing.

So argues Lloyd Minor, Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, in his article on Quartz titled “Doctors are burning out because electronic medical records are broken”.

“Together with the compressed time of office visits, EMRs [electronic medical records] conspire to turn medical practice into a regimented, one-size-fits-all endeavor, just when science and technology are giving us more ability than ever to treat our patients as the individuals they are.”

Rather than the efficiency that is at fault, it’s the time-consuming data entry. What if that could be smoothed and made less of a hassle? What if repetitions could be eliminated, information could be analysed and results delivered almost immediately, making the patient visit more productive and satisfying?

Healthcare is one of the fields that most could benefit from blockchain platforms, up there with capital markets, insurance and identity. Around the world, work is increasing on this application, from governments, incumbents and startups.

 

Articles like this reinforce the urgent need. We’re not talking about saving on bank costs – this can and will make doctors’ jobs easier. And with that, it can affect the quality (and length) of life for so many.

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It seems that “gif maker” is now a profession. Cool. (See more of Tyler Haywood’s artistic gifs at Colossal.)

by Tyler Haywood, via Colossal
by Tyler Haywood, via Colossal

 

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