Thanks for the interesting discussion.
Information on centralized ledgers can indeed be erased, modified, destroyed without your potential knowledge. It could be as politically charged as a government modifying/taking from, or blocking accounts (China, Greece, etc). Or as mundane as the Paypal ‘horror stories’ of normal merchants with delayed payments and frozen accounts.
A shared, public ledger offers an interesting counterpoint to that — because it is distributed across thousands of nodes, it’s exponentially harder to erase than the one sitting on a bank server. There is no one to modify your transactions without your knowledge, because there is nobody in the middle that can. It is immutable and forever etched into the stone of the network, traceable till its genesis. It is complicated, but it is also fully transparent because it is open source.
All these properties could be scary (or exciting) depending on your viewpoint. Bitcoin is a paradox like many new technologies. Cash is super convenient, but is also by far the best way to hide your tracks (a public ledger? not so much…). We share knowledge over the internet, but it is also used for child porn. The vast majority of traffic actually IS porn (30%). We can now communicate faster over it — both terrorists and grandmas alike.
It was championed by many who wanted to topple banks, and yet those same banks are flocking to it. UBS will be using the technology to bring efficiency their bond system, Microsoft for their cloud services. It gained notoriety for its ‘anonymity’ but its ledger can now be used to track the origin of your products (see http://www.provenance.org/). Money may be the most boring of its applications, even though the most obvious use cases typically cited are remittences for immigrants from poor countries (like myself).
It is not bound to the same rules we take for granted. It has no holidays, border restrictions, age restrictions, color restrictions. A piece of software can now have its own account. Or a fridge. Strange to think about. We never think about sending 1 cent over the internet, but you can now send micro fractions lower than that.
The world will adapt to new technologies. The same way new business models had to arise out of p2p sharing — legacy institutions will have to compete and provide value above and beyond. There is a reason I use Spotify and not torrent my music.
To me it simply holds promise. The internet protocol allowed for permissionless innovation. Some 15 year old kid in a garage can start something fresh and launch it to the world (maybe it’s just cat videos — but maybe it’s the next google or something not yet imagined). That is a property allowed by networks that are open platforms, and that no single entity owns. That same kid can start something new on bitcoin’s protocol, today. He can’t on HSBC’s. The idea is not so much money for the internet. Rather it is creating the internet of money.