[ExI] De-Orbiting Gold

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Mon May 21 19:28:51 UTC 2012

On Mon, May 21, 2012 at 11:53 AM, Adrian Tymes <atymes at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, May 21, 2012 at 8:58 AM, Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I think this story could be sold. If you can sell Bitcoin to some
>> people as a valid government independent monetary unit, how much
>> easier would gold in orbit be? I can't imagine that it would be
>> harder.
> You have no idea of how many years of effort, and how many
> peoples' labors, it took to get Bitcoin even the nominal legitimacy it
> now has, do you?

More or less. In 2007 "Nakamoto" started writing software that he
released to open source in January 2009. There are currently six
developers on the team. It is now May 2012... So the software side has
probably been less than 20 man years, not a huge project as software
goes and it is probably less since most open source software
developers don't work full time on their projects.

In addition, there are around 1000 businesses and a few thousand
individuals who accept bitcoin payments, so let's assume that the
businesses spent two days each modifying their shopping carts to
accept bitcoin, so that's another 6 man years. The individuals had to
set up their wallets, but I won't count that because that's using, not
creating the system.

Then there is the political side. I have no idea how many people are
lobbying for Bitcoin against politicians that don't want to lose
control over currency or fear that Bitcoin is primarily used for
illicit activities (which it may well be)... but I'll assume a couple
of man years on that.

So the total throwing in 10 miscellaneous man years is far short of 50
man years of effort. The treasury department of the United States
employs 117,000 people, which is more than 50 man years of effort
(assuming they are mostly working) every hour. I throw that in just
for comparison, not that it means anything.

> Just because a thing is possible, does not mean it has already
> been accomplished.

Of course.

>> I'll admit to living in the future a bit more than is healthy. But on
>> this point, I'm living in the present. I can almost guarantee you that
>> if I had an orbiting bank that demonstrably held a thousand pounds or
>> more of gold, that I could sell shares in that bank TODAY and that I
>> could create a currency based upon that gold that would circulate
> I disagree (at least on the currency part - you can sell shares in a
> company with no assets, as I've seen people do way too often, so of
> course you can sell shares of a company that arguably does have
> assets), for reasons that have little to do with it being in orbit.

Heck yes, I've done that too. :-)

> If those thousand pounds of gold were in a vault at the bottom of the
> middle of the Pacific or Atlantic, could you do it?


> What if they were in a vault somewhere within the continental US?

Already done every day, in fact. Many people hold "paper gold" that is
stored in vaults. They have never seen it, and can't get a hold of the
physical gold without a certain amount of difficulty.

> Unless by "currency" you mean "bank notes denominated in some
> already existing currency, probably $US" - but then, are you
> actually creating a currency?

I think it would have to be a floating currency like Bitcoin because
the value of the metals would go up as it became more certain that
there would be either a market to sell the stuff to space based
manufacturers, or it became more certain that there would be
technology to bring it safely and cheaply down to earth.

>> As a numismatist with 30+ years experience in studying money in
>> its myriad forms, I can assure you that this would be accepted as real
>> money by a very large number of people. It might even become more
>> accepted than government fiat money if there were enough precious
>> metals collected.
> And what would you do when - not if - lawyers come after you for
> trying to force the US to break its treaty obligations against
> nationally appropriating a celestial object by recognizing private
> ownership of one?  This is different from private ownership of a
> satellite launched from Earth, since we're talking about gold that
> never was on the ground in the first place.

The current group of would be asteroid miners have to deal with this
anyway. While it is not a solved problem, I assume they'll figure that
one out without me.

>>> Would you?  Then would you invest in a venture that sought to
>>> create a space elevator?  How much are you willing to part with?
>> If a company had a plan that sounded plausible, primarily in terms of
>> the material to build the tether, I would definitely invest in it.
> What about a company that's aiming to dramatically increase
> public access to space, so that enough demand for space access
> arises that funding for a space elevator may materialize?  If you're
> serious about that, and have a few million dollars to spare...well,
> so am I.  If you really mean it, let me know and I'll brief you on my
> idea offlist; it's something that could be started today if the funding
> was in place, and could be profitable (with enough customer
> acquisition) in less than 5 years.

Unfortunately, my millions are now gone. It's a very sad story. If I
get millions again, we can have a chat. It does sound like you have
some very interesting ideas, and I wish you the very best of luck with
all of them. Access to space is important to all of us.

>> In fact, if you really want to stretch it, you might be able to build
>> a currency based on the gold that a certain company WILL collect at
>> some time in the future.
> That currency is called "derivatives".  I reject the notion that it is
> possible to build this currency, only because this currency already
> exists, and any effort to build it anew would almost inevitably fall
> back into using what already exists.

I don't doubt that you could create and sell a derivative based on
metals in outer space. But even a derivative has to anchor to reality
at some point, and that is the point at which the interesting part
will happen.

It would sure be awesome to have a government independent currency
based in space metals though... that would be cool. Perhaps I'm
thinking too much of libertarian utopia... but this seems to fit my
view as part of a better future.


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