The Illusion of Money, Part 2

We think we know what money is. We use it every day and our lives are unimaginable without it. But look more closely and you find that coins and dollar bills aren't "real". They're promises, symbols, ideas. And exactly what money is has evolved enormously over the ages. IDEAS contributor Anik See explores how we're rethinking one of the most basic features of human society.
Bitcoin is no longer the shadowy currency used only by criminals and computer geeks. Several cities around the world, including Bucharest, above, have automated teller machines that process bitcoin transactions. (Bogdan Cristel/Reuters)
Listen to the full episode54:00

We think we know what money is. We use it every day and our lives are unimaginable without it.  But look more closely and you find that coins and dollar bills aren't "real". They're promises, symbols, ideas.  And exactly what money is has evolved enormously over the ages. IDEAS contributor Anik See explores how we're rethinking one of the most basic features of human society. **This episode originally aired February 25, 2016.

"When you talk about money, most people still have this image about physical coins and paper bills. But the money in your bank simply doesn't exist, it's just not there. It's just a number, and if I log into my bank account and I see my balance is 100 euros, there is no 100 euros, there's no 100 or anything anywhere, there's no gold, there's no paper bills, there's just one number in a computer that says 100. So money is already purely virtual." – Rogier Eijkelhof 

​Rogier Eijkelhof places great stock in cryptocurrency, specifically in Bitcoin. Bitcoin has received a lot of press lately. It's been touted as "the future of money". But it's not the only way people are rethinking money. There's living in a home for cheap rent in exchange for work, or there's the idea of everyone receiving a basic income. 


Participants in the progam: 

  • Rogier Eijkelhof is a programmer, software developer and Bitcoin entrepreneur.
     
  • Reggie Middleton is an entrepreneur and founder of Veritaseum, a trading platform using Bitcoin.
  • Henk van Arkel is director of the Social Trade Organization (STRO) and developer of community currency software.
     
  • Marcipanis is the work/living collective where Anik See lives. 

Further reading: 

  • The Instrument of Freedom, by Yannick Vanderborght and Philippe van Parijs, Harvard University Press, 2016. 

**This episode was produced by Greg Kelly.

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