Blockchain technology emerged in the 21st century, so issues regarding it cannot be solved via existing regulations. The idea of Satoshi Nakamoto, the developer who first created Bitcoin, was to create a decentralized network that was liberated from the world where large capital and nation-states dominated financial institutions. The technology is a fully public network, called “blockchain.” Bitcoin is the reward that makes blockchain work. However, Bitcoin is limited to 21 million units that can be obtained through the process of constantly solving problems through computer graphics cards like coal. That’s why Bitcoin is called digitalized gold or diamonds. Therefore, strictly speaking, Bitcoin is not a legally accepted currency, it is just an asset. However, as Bitcoin has been used to trade several things, such as pizza and online game items, it has been called a currency, which has caused great confusion. The misuse of Bitcoin as a currency has resulted in the false understanding of several blockchain-based digital coins and tokens developed later.
Just a few years ago, in order to use a new printer, I had to install something called a “driver” on my desktop computer. However, this kind of hassle has now disappeared, as computer systems now automatically recognize new hardware. It has become a so-called “Plug & Play” (P&P) world. Even if you are not familiar with computer technologies, it has become an advanced world in which computers can adapt themselves to hardware changes with minimal human intervention. P&P is convenient in many ways. As people have less of a need to perform new configurations on their own, they can add and remove hardware devices without having to call a computer store or service center for help.
Now, the era of P&P is also coming in the world of cryptocurrency and virtual assets. When talking about blockchain-based coins and tokens represented by Bitcoin and Ethereum, mining sites and companies filled with numerous kinds of computer equipment came to mind. However, it is now a world where cryptocurrency is mined with smartphones. As of April 26, 2021, when I did a search for “smartphone cryptocurrency mining” on Google, I found about 2 million related pieces of data in 0.4 seconds, and about 800,000 videos were uploaded in 0.27 seconds. In fact, three or four cryptocurrencies are now being mined every day on my cell phone.
The government still seems to be awkwardly trying to install a printer driver. If this kind of outdated policy continues, invention, progress, and innovation will no longer be found in Korean society. Instead of looking at the surface of the social issues surrounding cryptocurrency, we need to keep an eye on the development of the core technology of the fourth industrial revolution era ― that is, blockchain.
Park Han-woo is a professor of Media and Communications at Yeungnam University.