This March, New York University’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication plays host to a symposium on cryptographic currencies such as Bitcoin. The symposium follows a trail that has already been blazed by other institutions of higher learning that have included cryptocurrencies into their courses or are planning to do so in the near future. Some of the institutions that have begun to take a closer look at Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies include Ivy League universities.
The upcoming symposium will endeavor to debate the very question. It will also go further. The symposium seeks to place cryptocurrencies within the wider media and social context. Participants will also want to consider the relationship between money and the state and other players in the financial sector.
Historically money has always been closely associated with the state, which has used both monetary and fiscal policies in determining how money is minted or produced, how much and when money is supplied to the economy and how it is controlled. In many countries that have accepted the reality of Bitcoin, there is an ongoing debate as to whether to treat Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as property or currency, or both.
For the first time, we have an instrument that can fulfill both roles, as is evident from the number of exchanges that have already started offering derivatives based on Bitcoin as an underlying asset. So the question will now emerge on how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are going to redefine the idea of property.
In addition, governments are increasingly collecting more and more information on their citizens, in a way that is unnerving for privacy rights. Information collected by governments increasingly personally identifiable. It is only natural that governments would want to bring cryptocurrencies into their scope as citizens continue to look for new and anonymous ways to keep their identities and wealth from the eyes of prying government officials.
New York University has assembled speakers who include Finn Brunton, Assistant Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU; Bill Maurer, Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology, University of California at Irvine and Quinn DuPont, Doctoral Candidate in Information Science at the University of Toronto.