Bitcoin and the origin of cryptocurrencies
Section 3.1 takes a detailed look at the socio-technological conditions out of which cryptocurrencies emerged. Special attention is paid in Subsection 3.1.1 to the Cypherpunk movement, which has made many significant technical and intellectual contributions and whose influence on functionality and design of Bitcoin can be traced back to the present day. Subsection 3.1.2 details the mysterious case of Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto, whose story is closely linked to the rise of the Bitcoin community. Subsection 3.1.3 explains important technical terms and the functionality of blockchain applications. Finally, Subsection 3.1.4 illustrates the development of cryptocurrencies from 2009 to the present.
Early contributions and the Cypherpunk movement
While, with Bitcoin, the first actual cryptocurrency was launched in 2009, the intellectual origin of cryptocurrencies can be traced back to the 1990s, and even further back into the 1980s and the pre-World Wide Web era. Regardless of how far back, the history of Bitcoin and all other existing cryptocurrencies is inseparably intertwined with the Cypherpunk movement. Often confused with the Cyberpunk movement10, the word Cypherpunk was first utilised by Jude Milhon11 and is a neologism derived from ‘cipher’, ‘cyber’, and ‘punk’. According to Assange et al. (2016):
Cypherpunks advocate for the use of cryptography and similar methods as ways to achieve societal and political change. Founded in the early 1990s, the movement has been most active during the 1990s ‘Cryptowars’ and following the 2011 internet spring.
The term Cypherpunk, derived from (cryptographic) cipher and punk, was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006.
The exact definition in the Oxford dictionary for Cypherpunk is “A person who uses encryption when accessing a computer network in order to ensure privacy, especially from government authorities.”
According to Narayanan (2016), encryption was, until the 1970s, exclusively practised by secret service, spy, and military agencies. This changed in the 1970s with the emergence of three inventions: The Data Encryption Standard (DES), a symmetric cipher published by the US Government,12 the asymmetric cipher RSA,13 and the first published work of public key cryptography by Diffie and Hellman14. The actual technical roots of the Cypherpunk movement can be traced back to the work of cryptographer David Chaum. Chaum (1985) has proposed concepts for anonymous digital cash and pseudonymous reputation systems. Chaum’s and others’ ideas were taken by a small group of individuals in the late 1980s, which coalesced into a sort of movement (Narayanan, 2016).
According to coindesk.com, Eric Hughes, Timothy C. May, and John Gilmore founded a small group in late 1992 that met monthly at Gilmore’s company, Cygnus Solutions, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jude Milhon first termed this group Cypherpunks.
The Cypherpunk movement itself can be politically described as similar to Libertarianism. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Libertarianism is “in the most general sense a political philosophy that affirms the rights of individuals to liberty, to acquire, keep, and exchange their holdings, and considers the protection of individual rights the primary role for the state.”
The Institute for Human Studies at George Mason University defines Libertarianism as “a perspective that fosters peace, prosperity, and social harmony by ‘as much liberty as possible’ and ‘as little government as necessary.’” It also highlights that “Libertarian is not a single viewpoint but includes a wide variety of perspectives. Libertarians can range from market anarchists to advocates of a limited welfare state, but they are all united by a belief in personal liberty, economic freedom, and a skepticism of government power.”
1.2 Problem definition .
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Delimitations .
1.6 Definitions .
2 Literature Review
2.1 Cryptocurrencies: the current state of research
2.2 Cryptocurrency sustainability
2.3 Frameworks and models within digitisation and sustainability
2.4 Critical overview and research gaps
3 Historical and technological background
3.1 Bitcoin and the origin of cryptocurrencies
3.2 Sustainability and the context of cryptocurrencies
4 Theoretical framework
4.1 Digital sustainability frameworks
4.2 Requirements for an integrated sustainability framework
4.3 Justification and elaboration of four dimensions and 12 categories
5 Research methodology
5.1 Research philosophy
5.2 Research approach
5.3. Research design .
5.4 Research strategy .
5.6 Research ethics
6 Empirical results and findings
7 Analysis .
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Understanding Cryptocurrencies from a Sustainable Perspective