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Elaine Ou

Bitcoin's Anarchy Is a Feature, Not a Bug

Sometimes it’s good to have no human governance.
Authority is overrated.

Authority is overrated.

Photographer: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

In Silicon Valley, startups are urged to have a clear mission statement. If a business lacks an explicit set of values to guide decisions, anarchy prevails. Such is the case with the blockchains at the center of the cryptocurrency boom.

The Bitcoin blockchain, which records and secures all transactions in the digital currency, is anarchic by design. This doesn’t mean that it’s going to overthrow the government (disappointing, I know). It simply means that the network functions without a designated authority. Instead, Bitcoin employs economic incentives to enable thousands of competing interests to achieve a common goal.