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Op-Ed: The Strange Case of the Bitcoin Virus

On October 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto for the first time released the Bitcoin virus into the world by publishing his white paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” It has since infected countless individuals and altered the lives of thousands.

The Bitcoin virus is highly contagious and can spread through sound, image and touch. It does not matter if the medium is electronic or analog or reproduced by machine or a human being.

The Bitcoin Virus Adapts to Infect All in Its Path

The Bitcoin virus is constantly changing and evolving, and those infected are observed to regularly gather and “reinfect” themselves, either through blogs, Meetups, social media or conferences.

The virus constantly mutates, and its genetic variation contributes to its resilience and strength, though in some cases a new strain can become incompatible with the rest of the species in what is popularly described as a “fork” or “chain split.”

Those infected with this new, incompatible strain can still spread the infection but reject the reinfection attempts of carriers of the dominant strain (in most cases).

How the Bitcoin Virus Changes the Behavior of Its Hosts

Similar to other viruses like rabies or the flu, the Bitcoin virus will change the behavior of its host to increase its odds of spreading. Symptoms may include writing books, switching jobs, opening a Twitter account and, most importantly, repeated and out-of-context mentions of Bitcoin — especially in potentially inappropriate settings with co-workers or family.

In many cases, the host may become immune or unaware to otherwise obvious attempts of the not-yet-infected to change the subject or leave the room.

Initial infection can occur anywhere and at any time and is not limited to positive comments or coverage either. In fact, some of the Bitcoin virus’ most prominent and early carriers, such as Paul Krugman, are known to be hard-core skeptics.

It is not fully understood what factors will turn an infected individual into a Bitcoin skeptic rather than a proponent, which far outnumber the former among those infected. It may have something to do with the background of the patient, but it is also conceivable that it is part of the strategy of the virus to spread to all parts of society equally.

The Many Different Strains of the Bitcoin Virus

Plenty of carriers of the virus also tend to, rather than advocate for Bitcoin specifically, promote unspecified applications or generic blockchain technology.

Again, researchers have been unable to ascertain whether this is part of the overall strategy of the virus, or if it’s due to existing environmental constraints in the patient’s background. For instance, an infected bank employee might find it difficult to spread the Bitcoin virus directly without negative repercussions to her job, status or economic welfare. All of which is without a doubt detrimental to her spreading the virus further.

Negative Effects to Hosts Are Rather Harmless, but There Are Extreme Cases

Most people infected by the Bitcoin virus mainly feel its effects on their social environments. Beyond the risk of losing significant amounts of money and their reputation, hosts of the Bitcoin virus seem to be spared its extensive pain or fever and there seem to be no reported cases of death. In some few specimens, however, the virus seems to cause the hosts to repeatedly humiliate themselves on social media, in front of international audiences and at conferences.

Possible Evidence of Natural Immunity in Some People?

The Bitcoin virus cannot infect everyone. It’s hard to estimate, but a nontrivial percentage of the population remains immune to the virus and has carried on with life since 2008 as if nothing happened. Those with an apparent immunity appear to go without making significant changes to their dietary schedule, subscribing to Meetups or spending countless hours on YouTube without learning about the Fed, Austrian economics or Italian supercars.

The vast majority, however, is highly susceptible and upon the smallest exposure will attempt to click on anything with the word “Bitcoin” in the headline — a trend that has pleased, confused and exhausted financial journalists worldwide.

Stranger still, an infection seems to be altogether independent of Bitcoin usage. A host may spread the virus for months and even years without making a single Bitcoin transaction. Others, while they are users of Bitcoin (and potentially even significant investors), appear emotionally unmoved by the infection or don’t carry the virus at all.

The Future of the Bitcoin Virus Is Uncertain

What will happen to the virus in the long term is still unknown. It’s clear that an infection can last several years and, in some cases, as long as a decade.

Conversely, a few sufferers have recovered and have managed to reintegrate into society. Mike Hearn, involved in Bitcoin since 2009, successfully cured himself in January 2016 with the help of rehab organization R3 (which obviously stands for R3hab).

Other notorious rage quitters have not been so lucky, as they keep reappearing and continue to spread the word.

A Former CFTC Chairman’s Plan for Federal Crypto Regulation

Timothy Massad, the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has outlined a case for better (read: stricter) federal crypto asset regulation in a substantial report for the Brookings Institute, “It’s Time to Strengthen the Regulation of Crypto-Assets.”

Square to Hire Full-Time Team of Open-Source Bitcoin, Crypto Contributors

Source: Twitter

Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of social media giant Twitter and mobile payments company Square, announced that he is hiring a handful of full-time employees for the latter who will work on open-source contributions to the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency ecosystem. He added that the work done by this team, made up of three or four engineers and one designer, will be independent of Square's business objectives and all resulting work will be open and free.

Will #DeleteCoinbase Hurt Cryptocurrency Adoption?

There has been no shortage of news regarding trust issues in the cryptocurrency sphere. For example, the recent death of QuadrigaCX CEO Gerry Cotten revealed that he personally held the keys for the company’s reserves and they were lost, leaving platform users dependent on the Canadian justice system for a solution.

Huobi Introduces Coin Launch Platform

Source: Huobi

The Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Huobi has announce that "Huobi Prime," a coin launch platform, will go live on March 26. The service will allow professional and retail investors to purchase new cryptocurrencies before they are listed more broadly and potentially at lower costs. The announcement appears to compete with Binance's Launchpad service.