Creating a magical world: Visions

My Magazine 2022/05
9 min
Author: Angelika Mitterer
“Creative people are uncomfortable.” A sentence by Henning Beck that I would like to take a closer look at in times of change. People who change the world with their ideals are considered visionaries, they question procedures or authorities. But what actually is visionary thinking in the first place, how do great visions come about and why does our social system give us so little support in thinking in a visionary way?

Most good visions are the result of painful and negative experiences. When everyone is happy and content, there is no need to change anything and one needn’t be creative to deal with difficult situations properly. If problems arise, one has to recognise and accept them, only then can one ask oneself how one can change these things for oneself. Visionaries not only dream of a different future, they also try inexorably to realise their own visions.

Visionary thinking

An important characteristic of visionary thinking is that you make hypotheses, put yourself in new situations, try things out and learn from mistakes. This is the basis for visionary thinking. In our society, however, we are unfortunately trained to avoid mistakes and to prefer safety, because if a visionary exposes himself to risk, he is easily and readily labelled a crank, a dreamer or an idealist. But visionaries usually have a great thirst for knowledge and therefore usually a broad general knowledge. Knowledge opens up more and more questions and you find out how little you actually know. Therefore, qualifications and education are an important part of building a new generation of visionaries, the future successful entrepreneurs of our society. Shaping the future always requires questioning the present and identifying problems. 

For example, a group of tech-savvy and freedom-loving individuals who advocated for more data protection in the digital age had already dedicated themselves to building anonymous mail forwarding systems, digital signatures and electronic money using cryptography since the early 1990ies. The name of this group called “Cypherpunks” is a composition of the three English words “Cipher, Cyber and Punks”. They understood that privacy for an open society in the electronic age should not be left to governments, corporations or other large, faceless organisations and had the vision to secure this privacy for all with a wide variety of systems in different fields.

Photo credit: Freepiks

The origin of global crises

Many decades before the great financial crisis of 2008, US policy had increasingly deregulated the financial markets. This allowed banks to exploit the loopholes created with unregulated institutions abroad to take more and more risks and make high profits. The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the falling share prices of the new internet companies at the turn of the millennium, already threatened to plunge the country into a major economic crisis. The American Fed central bank has tried to prevent this by printing more and more money since 2001. At the same time, interest rates fell. The result was an unbelievable amount of risky business, especially in the real estate market in America, with many "bad" loans that were wrongly rated by major rating agencies. When the key interest rate was then raised again by the US Federal Reserve after some time, many borrowers lost their homes and all their savings because the loans could no longer be repaid, which led to many real estate distress sales and thus also to an enormous drop in house prices. Many banks also experienced financial problems due to the default of many loan repayments. When in 2008 the large Lehman Brothers investment bank, which had been heavily involved in the real estate loan business, filed for insolvency, the financial crisis reached its peak. Trust was lost, money was hoarded and investment declined. Thus, for the first time since World War II, the global economy, built on steady growth, declined. Many people eventually lost their jobs, and prices for oil, petrol and basic foodstuffs exploded worldwide. Since the possibilities to increase local production were limited in many African countries and governments hardly subsidised food, people here were particularly at the mercy of rising market prices.

To save the banks, the governments in the Western countries made a lot of money available at the expense of the citizens and the national debts increased enormously. Many European states in the South were on the verge of bankruptcy and the Euro crisis, and a sovereign debt crisis followed. This crisis, too, was fought by further debt and now we are in 2022, in the middle of the Corona crisis, where the extent of national debt has reached its absolute peak.

What is money?

Our money is used to store lifetime or work performance. Money is what is accepted as money and is therefore only based on people's trust that price stability is secured in it. Since 1971, the gold standard of the dollar, to which all currencies were tied with a fixed rate, has been abolished and after the Nixon decision, our money is officially only paper. If people lose confidence in the monetary system and in the work of the central banks, the price stability of the currencies can no longer be guaranteed. Which is why the Cypherpunks came up with the ideas for a decentralised currency on or through the internet. For something to function as money, it must fulfil five important characteristics: scarcity, durability, divisibility, transportability and general acceptance.

Scarcity means limited availability, i.e. that it cannot be increased at will by everyone. Durability means that an asset remains stable over a long period of time and divisibility means that something does not lose its original properties when divided. Something is transportable if it can be moved from one place to another with little effort and general acceptance means that the good is recognised by all participants and meets with approval as an object of exchange.

Photo credit: Freepiks

A vision become reality

Then in 2008, the time had finally come. Under the pseudonym "Satoshi Nakamoto", the famous white paper entitled: "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" was published and a vision became reality. By combining several existing ideas and concepts, the solution for preventing double spending was found. To prevent Bitcoins from being spent twice, the network checks whether this Bitcoin has already been spent in the past. To ensure that past data cannot be changed, the Bitcoin blockchain runs on the principle of "proof-of-work", which means that blocks of a blockchain are verified through a very energy-intensive process also known as mining. This process is also what makes Bitcoin so secure.

Financial independence and freedom are important fundamental values for our society. Freedom is currently granted in our FIAT (from the Latin word fiat - "Let it be done! Let it be!") monetary system with cash. Here, just as with Bitcoin, no third parties are necessary, the payment works independently of financial institutions directly from A to B. Bitcoins can also be sent at any time from anyone to any place in the world without the need for a third party to intervene. The transfer is verified by the entire community through the decentralised system. It is therefore not surprising that especially in the last 2 years, trust in this innovative alternative to the conventional money system has increased more and more. Since Bitcoin has a multitude of positive characteristics, many people see it as a technology that is not only capable of adding another asset class to the existing ones, but is much more a revolution of the existing monetary system. This secure, free, non-manipulable and non-censorable new system works worldwide and is freely accessible to every individual and one does not have to ask anyone for permission. Bitcoins are limited in quantity to 21 million pieces by a sophisticated algorithm and are therefore inflation-proof.

Bitcoin

As people's trust in Bitcoin increases, it also has a value and this can be clearly seen in the constantly rising price development. Even if the price fluctuates in relation to the Fiat currencies, a Bitcoin always remains a Bitcoin and always has its constant value in the Bitcoin blockchain. The Bitcoin system's high power consumption is often criticised, and it is indeed the case that a lot of power flows into the Bitcoin network, but this energy is used to secure the network and protect it from attacks of all kinds. The energy is therefore used for the security of a worldwide and free monetary system. By the way, if compared to the existing monetary systems, energy consumption is only a fraction and at the current time already more than 70% of it comes from renewable energies. This in turn can be seen as a visionary opportunity, because crypto-mining could become a form of energy storage for the future. Similar to the conversion of surplus electricity into hydrogen through the use of electrolysis, or the pumping up of water into storage lakes, this energy, which cannot be fed into the normal grid, can be used for crypto-mining in times of energy surpluses. This way, coins are generated at certain times where the actual "surplus" electricity is economically utilised instead of simply shutting down inconstant power plants as with wind and solar energy and thus letting the electricity fizzle out. It is evident that the Bitcoin mining industry is growing, becoming more sustainable and also more efficient due to technical advances.

Photo credit: Freepiks

A vision of freedom

So we see that visions and visionaries are having a lasting impact, shaping and changing our lives and in our IN-US community, we clearly see the benefits of Bitcoin. These fit perfectly with our core values, which is why we are integrating this new payment system into our network and support the option of paying with the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Due to individual and environmental factors, approximately 38% of the world's adult population is without access to the banking or financial system and in some countries, and for some time, people have been denied access to the banking system for other reasons such as social status. Bitcoin promises financial freedom from states and central banks and economic freedom for people. Not only Larry Fink, the CEO of Blackrock, sees the chances Bitcoin brings with his statement "A well-designed global digital payment system can improve the settlement of international transactions while reducing the risk of money laundering and corruption", but we too want to support this vision of freedom with our network and our work. Everyone can participate, the more people give trust to Bitcoin, the more stable its value will become.

Bitcoin and the tourism in the Gambia

In principle, blockchain technology also offers many advantages in the field of tourism, which especially for the Gambia could affect speed, security and transparency. Through the use of blockchain, many improvements can be implemented and costs can be reduced, for example, the processing of international transactions would no longer be a problem through the use of blockchain. Also the management of hotel or travel capacities can be easily implemented in a structured way.

The Gambia is still weakly positioned in the field of digitization. Today this need not be a disadvantage, since in some areas the level of technical management is too far advanced and entirely new problems arise. However, denying progress, in general, is not a solution for the future, so a development concept using blockchain has certainly huge potential for "the smiling Coast of Africa". The rising popularity of cryptocurrencies, especially among young people would additionally bring completely new target groups to the Gambia and thus open up many new tourism potentials. Basically, there is high power in this new technology, which can be unleashed and used for the country over time. Those who enter the development early enough can thus take a leading position in the market.

Photo by My Gambia

My monthly insider tip in The Gambia!

The stone circles of Wassu are a group of the well-known Senegambian stone circles in the West African states of The Gambia and Senegal, which were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006. The Gambian part of these stone circles is located about fifteen kilometres northwest of Janjanbureh near the small village of Wassu in the Central River Region. Erected around the 8th century on top of earlier graves by a megalithic culture, they form the oldest megalithic constructions in sub-Saharan Africa and south of the Horn of Africa and are made of laterite, a reddish-brown stone containing haematite. The weights of the 10 to 25 stones in each circle or double circle are up to ten tonnes per stone. They vary in size from one to two and a half metres in height and are generally made of laterite. To this day, archaeologists have not been able to identify the exact builders and speculate about the exact function of the stone circles. Based on the weapons and copper bracelets found, it can be assumed that they were the tombs of rulers. Mostly, however, stone circles are particularly high-energy places that have a very special effect on people. They are special places with high energy levels and for good luck, many visitors traditionally leave small stones on the large stone blocks, because as one says, “faith moves mountains”, i.e. if you are deeply convinced of something, then visions can become reality.

Note: photo credits: personal archive and website operator graphics, as well as by Freepik

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angelika Mitterer
The story of the Austrian architect Angelika Mitterer tells us that the only constant in life is a change and how this can be used as an opportunity for a positive change in one's lifestyle habits.

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