Farmer, miner, builder, trader : re-humanizing the distributed infrastructures of Bitcoin
Author(s)Wu, Yue,S.M.Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Re-humanizing the distributed infrastructures of Bitcoin
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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The concept of bitcoin is powerful and charming. Social scientist gurus, transnational corporations' CEOs, and mass media journalists all emphasize that cryptocurrency will lead humanity to a future of increasing extraordinary financial and spatial decentralization. However, although bitcoin has been around for 10 years, existing bitcoin geopolitics have not been significantly addressed. If we try to thoroughly understand bitcoin, it is crucial to ask the following questions: What are bitcoin's dynamic urban landscapes and what ramifications have they brought to us? What will the future of bitcoin's technology offer to us? In this thesis, I challenge the common imagination that cryptocurrency contributes to the creation of public goods by conducting the investigation through four aspects that fall under the umbrella of bitcoin geopolitics, including: algorithm modeling, computational accelerating, global positioning, and human scaling. I argue that bitcoinization is not a process that "literally codes the world we wish to see." It is not a decentralized system; rather, it aligns with the existing geopolitical power concentrations and reflects current geopolitical relations and competition. The thesis reveals a more dynamic bitcoinization process which remains a fundamentally capitalist urban process from the lens of architecture and urbanism. I conclude by exploring a design question: how do designers envision a dystopia fueled by bitcoin, perhaps combatting it, based on the relationship between ourselves, as humans, and bitcoin technology? With this exploration, I develop a more substantial critique of the potential paradoxes raised by bitcoin technology, in order to raise awareness of the politics of cryptocurrency mining, whose underlying desperation and hysteria are concealed by the rhetoric of liberation and decentralization.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2019Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 136-143).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology