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Author Topic: Moral Obligations of Bitcoin  (Read 1888 times)
dave111223
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February 11, 2013, 01:57:04 PM
 #1

I'd be interested to hear how others feel on this topic.

Let's suppose someone offers to sell you some bitcoins at a good price, do you feel you have any obligation to know where the bitcoins came from?

For example let's say a terrorist group in the Middle East buys or mines bitcoins, send them a cell in the USA.  The cell member trades them with you for cash, and then uses the cash to buy bomb parts to blow up a building killing 100s of people.

Would you feel any remorse or would you just feel like it was nothing to do with you?  And if you would feel remorseful do you feel that you have any obligation to inquiry before you buy the coins as to where they came from and how the owner got them?
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February 11, 2013, 01:58:56 PM
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That would be like asking a walmart clerk handing you change where they got that cash.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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February 11, 2013, 01:59:14 PM
 #3

I'd be interested to hear how others feel on this topic.

Let's suppose someone offers to sell you some bitcoins at a good price, do you feel you have any obligation to know where the bitcoins came from?

For example let's say a terrorist group in the Middle East buys or mines bitcoins, send them a cell in the USA.  The cell member trades them with you for cash, and then uses the cash to buy bomb parts to blow up a building killing 100s of people.

Would you feel any remorse or would you just feel like it was nothing to do with you?  And if you would feel remorseful do you feel that you have any obligation to inquiry before you buy the coins as to where they came from and how the owner got them?

I am not responsible for investigating the source of bitcoins.  They are fungible.  There are mixers.  That makes it impossible to do.  The fiat cash in your pocket has been used for multiple drug trades, prostitution, etc.  Do you have a moral obligation to burn it?  Would it change anything?

dave111223
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February 11, 2013, 02:02:01 PM
 #4

That would be like asking a walmart clerk handing you change where they got that cash.

I think it would more if a sketchy guy on the street walked up to you and saying "I'll give you this $100 bill for a $50 and a $20".  (Would you ask him where he got it, assuming that you were already able to determine the bill was real?)
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February 11, 2013, 02:05:56 PM
 #5

That would be like asking a walmart clerk handing you change where they got that cash.

I think it would more if a sketchy guy on the street walked up to you and saying "I'll give you this $100 bill for a $50 and a $20".  (Would you ask him where he got it, assuming that you were already able to determine the bill was real?)
I don't make change for strangers at all unless it is business. It is estimated that fully a third of all cash is counterfeit. I prefer to handle as little as possible.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
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February 11, 2013, 02:08:55 PM
 #6

That would be like asking a walmart clerk handing you change where they got that cash.

I think it would more if a sketchy guy on the street walked up to you and saying "I'll give you this $100 bill for a $50 and a $20".  (Would you ask him where he got it, assuming that you were already able to determine the bill was real?)

Well, I would at first think of various con stunts that start that way. And solely for that reason ask why and be very skeptic.

As for the rest, I wouldn't help someone doing something in my eyes evil for personal gain.

But money is just a tool, it doesn't have any morals. It can't be "good" or "evil".

Would I take money that was some time ago involved in something terrible? Yes.

Would I do so if by doing so I help someone doing this? No.

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February 11, 2013, 02:11:05 PM
 #7

I'd be interested to hear how others feel on this topic.

Let's suppose someone offers to sell you some bitcoins at a good price, do you feel you have any obligation to know where the bitcoins came from?

For example let's say a terrorist group in the Middle East buys or mines bitcoins, send them a cell in the USA.  The cell member trades them with you for cash, and then uses the cash to buy bomb parts to blow up a building killing 100s of people.

Would you feel any remorse or would you just feel like it was nothing to do with you?  And if you would feel remorseful do you feel that you have any obligation to inquiry before you buy the coins as to where they came from and how the owner got them?

No?

Remorse for what? Voluntary trade of value? I would however avoid trade with people I believe aren't working towards the same goal as me, the goal of living in a society that is free to maximize it's potential. In fact I'd actively ostracize such people.

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dave111223
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February 11, 2013, 02:15:11 PM
 #8

As for the rest, I wouldn't help someone doing something in my eyes evil for personal gain.

But money is just a tool, it doesn't have any morals. It can't be "good" or "evil".

Would I take money that was some time ago involved in something terrible. Yes.

Would I do so if by doing so I help someone doing this. No.

But with Bitcoin you can choose to "not ask" and thus never know that something is going to be used for evil.  Is turning a blind eye the correct solution (ignorance is bliss)?

Quote
I would however avoid trade with people I believe aren't working towards the same goal as me, the goal of living in a society that is free to maximize it's potential. In fact I'd actively ostracize such people.

But how would you know what they are working towards?  When trading bitcoins for cash you really need to know nothing about the other party.

I'm generally getting the feeling that a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy is the rule of thumb?

P.S.  I'm talking about person to person trading (not via Exchanges where coins are mixed and pooled, then spat out to you)  When one person is trading directly with you.
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February 11, 2013, 02:21:07 PM
 #9

That would be like asking a walmart clerk handing you change where they got that cash.

I think it would more if a sketchy guy on the street walked up to you and saying "I'll give you this $100 bill for a $50 and a $20".  (Would you ask him where he got it, assuming that you were already able to determine the bill was real?)
You've got it all mixed up... Really sketchy guys you should be worried about wear suits and offer you lines of credit, bright future, and fight against "terrorists" from your OP. Do you ask them about the origin of their money? You should. You should gather facts before attempting to come up with  the "moral obligations" you brought up in OP.

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February 11, 2013, 02:27:29 PM
 #10

As for the rest, I wouldn't help someone doing something in my eyes evil for personal gain.

But money is just a tool, it doesn't have any morals. It can't be "good" or "evil".

Would I take money that was some time ago involved in something terrible. Yes.

Would I do so if by doing so I help someone doing this. No.

But with Bitcoin you can choose to "not ask" and thus never know that something is going to be used for evil.  Is turning a blind eye the correct solution (ignorance is bliss)?

You are not asking with every deal you make with conventional money where it comes from, or what you a financing with this.

Imagine the cashier in the Supermarket would ask every customer where his money comes from.

Only when you get sketchy deals there is a point where you can tell there must be something wrong.

One reason I never "invested" one BTC into pirate was, that the only way I could explain his high rates was that he is either a scam, or gets his money from a source were I don't want to have any involvement. And it was the latter that restrained me (I'm greedy and stupid).

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dave111223
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February 11, 2013, 02:37:38 PM
 #11

But with fiat currencies one can morally justify accepting most cash (such as supermarket money etc...) without much thought because one can assume (possibly falsely) that there are some kind of checks and balances behind it.

Whether it's true not you can feel like it's not your problem because there are government agencies, companies and banks and you can dismiss the responsibility by thinking "I'm sure they're checking it all out".

But when El Binhamidi Boom Boom comes to you with $20,000 worth of bitcoins for 75% market price, you know there is no one but you between him and cash.  And without you he may not have been able to get cash because an international wire transfer may have been flagged, or cash in his underwear on the plane may have been found, etc...

I'm mostly focusing on terrorism because I think most people would find it morally disturbing so makes for clearer examples.
Akka
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February 11, 2013, 02:47:37 PM
 #12

There is still no difference between this and money laundering schemes with fiat.

In my country they are currently warning to not accept routing schemes. - They are offering you to make one or more payment to you Bank account or to give you cash and you have to forward 80% to another Bank account and keep the 20%.

I don't see the difference if there is Bitcoin involved.

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dave111223
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February 11, 2013, 02:54:45 PM
 #13

There is still no difference between this and money laundering schemes with fiat.

In my country they are currently warning to not accept routing schemes. - They are offering you to make one or more payment to you Bank account or to give you cash and you have to forward 80% to another Bank account and keep the 20%.

I don't see the difference if there is Bitcoin involved.

Because with fiat money laundering schemes it's fairly easy to see whether you are a part of a scheme or not (yeah if you are accepting payments from random people and forwarding 80% you know you are laundering money).  But with Bitcoin one can fall into a grey area where you are not really sure what's going on with the money around you, and you can keep it that way if you want.

The guy could have been busy selling tamagotchis for bitcoins, and he's just cashing out.

Or he could be building a dungeon in his basement for 2 year olds.
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February 11, 2013, 03:08:10 PM
 #14

...
I'm mostly focusing on terrorism because I think most people would find it morally disturbing so makes for clearer examples.
What you call "terrorism" others call "freedom-fighting", and vice versa!

Over the course of your life, you've unknowingly made all kinds of business deals and taken personal actions that directly helped people whose actions of some kind you would find objectionable. You didn't do a background check on everyone whom you personally helped...

It's part of the Human Condition to unknowingly help such people, because of the vast number of mutual and one-sided beneficial interactions we have with all kinds of people.

"Moral obligations" exist only in the realm of advanced, mentally healthy, living beings; even a lower living being, such as a dog has no moral obligations, not to mention objects of any kind.

The whole premise of this thread is as ridiculous as asking whether or not a rock has any moral obligation not to be thrown at someone!  Cheesy

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February 11, 2013, 03:15:32 PM
 #15

The guy could have been busy selling tamagotchis for bitcoins, and he's just cashing out.

Or he could be building a dungeon in his basement for 2 year olds.

He could easily do both. Financing his dungeon with his tamagotchis sells.

But I get what you mean. So, lets replace that example in a way that it actually makes sense:

The guy could have been busy selling tamagotchis for bitcoins, and he's just cashing out.

Or he could have been busy selling slaves and he's just cashing out.

And still I see no difference in doing this with BTC than with any other currency. If I'm exchanging $ to Yen or $ to BTC, there are the same obligations involved.

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February 11, 2013, 03:17:58 PM
 #16

I believe the non-aggression principle is the most important ethic rule to live by and the answer to this question should be clear then. If you have a good reason to believe that you are aiding terrorist in any way by trading with them, you could argue that you assist in a terrorist act and are inflicting aggression towards innocents.

The problem is of course when there is enough reason to believe that you are in fact dealing with terrorist. Normally, they don't want to reveal themselves and when you trade bitcoins for a living, you might not have the time to investigate every deal in detail. Nor should you. When you recognize someone from the FBI most wanted list on the other hand, you have the moral obligation to inform the authorities, since failing to do so clearly increases danger towards others.

dave111223
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February 11, 2013, 03:30:05 PM
 #17

He could easily do both. Financing his dungeon with his tamagotchis sells.

But I get what you mean. So, lets replace that example in a way that it actually makes sense:

The guy could have been busy selling tamagotchis for bitcoins, and he's just cashing out.

Or he could have been busy selling slaves and he's just cashing out.

And still I see no difference in doing this with BTC than with any other currency. If I'm exchanging $ to Yen or $ to BTC, there are the same obligations involved.

But when trading $ to Yen you would probably be required by law in your country to register as a currency trader and you would be required to do a certain amount of reporting and due diligence.  Such as requiring valid ID for exchange, reporting amounts over a certain amount etc... etc...so it kind of answers the question of obligations for you, as the government tells you exactly what your obligations are and then you can just kind of forget about it and brush it off as "I did what I was supposed to do"
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February 11, 2013, 03:34:25 PM
 #18

In a matter of fact, in my country I am required by law to be a licensed Financial Service Provider in order to be allowed to run a BTC exchange.

Quote from: German bank regulation
Units of Value intended to function as currency that can be exchanged against real benefits, goods or services or that f.e. Bitcoin, can be created in computer networks ...

[snip]

...A permission to create and use this Units of Value as currency is not required. If this Units become a commercial subject themselves the business has to qualify as Bank account as for § 1 Abs. 1 Satz 2 Nrn. 4 or 10 KWG or Financial Service Provider as for § 1 Abs. 1a Satz 2 Nrn. 1 - 4 KWG and operates under reservation of § 32 Abs. 1 KWG  

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February 11, 2013, 04:03:17 PM
 #19

This is very true. You HAVE moral obligations when accepting bitcoins.

In fact, in order to clear your conscience, you have to send the 10% here 1JuZoErGwTucetm7Ac33aA9wfjkn2eASza
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February 11, 2013, 06:34:38 PM
 #20

Have you audited your bank's transactions to be sure they aren't involved with drug cartels and terrorists?
There's a really nasty terrorist organization headquartered on the Potomac River, and I think my bank may be involved with them. What should I do?
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