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Cybercash on Vacation (01 Feb 2005)
It wasnít supposed to be this way. In 1997, the bankers, lawyers, and accountants were fascinated by what the digital magicians could do with a few equations. Even though itís easy to make perfect copies of digital files, for instance, mathematicians found a way to produce a digital $50 bill that would stymie counterfeiters. They didnít stop there. They imagined transactions that avoided the overhead of a central clearing house, digital currency that paid interest, and even complicated digital rights management tools that locked up music, art, and writing with the same equations used to protect money. Some talked about minting just 500 digital baseball cards for each player and letting the values rise and fall with batting averages. In short, they imagined a world where wealth was not frozen in gold and locked in vaults, but rather held in digital mechanisms that could adapt to whatever people wanted. Some mechanisms could even be as anonymous as paper cash, and transactions wouldnít require much more than the click of a mouse.
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