4:50am Saturday June 7th 2014
It’s been about 5 years since I first heard about Bitcoin. I was recently asked how I fell into Bitcoin, and I thought for a moment - can I remember?
It was vivid. I read the white paper, sat for a few moments and read it again. After finishing the second time, I paused. Because I had realized the simplicity and sheer power of a new concept. A concept where I was surprised for humans having not invented it earlier.
Here is - in my opinion - the entire premise of Bitcoin:
- Pretend a town has one cart that people borrow to move things.
- There is a piece of paper in the middle of town where the last person to have the cart has to write down who they give it to.
- The piece of paper serves as a record of who possessed the cart at a given point of time, who they received it from, and who they gave it to. It also shows the creator of the cart, and the last person to hold it.
This allows the town to keep track of the cart, so that if it goes missing, or a piece is broken, there is a record of who is responsible.
With Bitcoin, we can facilitate this piece of paper on the internet. Except that the town is the world, the cart is a representation of all things which have value, and the person is everyone who wants to participate (including, maybe, the robots.)
We have explored the power of this concept over the past 5 years, and it has led to an 8.5 billion dollar ecosystem.
What’s remarkable is that the ‘Bitcoin’ people are familiar with (the one we hear about on the news) is just the first experiment. It’s the first interesting thing we tried doing with the above simple but powerful concept.
There’s a great deal more to come... instead of the cart representing cash, it could represents votes. It could represent identity, data, friendship, cars, pickles, vaccines, ideas…
At any time anyone with internet access could see how their government was spending taxes. They could see this without giving away their personal privacy. People could vote and it would matter. They can vote to require governments and corporations to reveal themselves perhaps without individuals needing to do so. They will enforce those votes because the natural course of this new system is to give control back to distributed consensus.
Digital currency allows me to purchase yogurt from an autonomous yogurt shop. The yogurt shop has no one owning it, it is a piece of code. It can buy supplies, repairs, ingredients, and pay its taxes without human involvement. It can buy additional property and replicate itself if it is profitable.
What if this future is inevitable and it is our generation's job to reduce the amount of time it takes to reach fruition.
The decentralized public ledger solves one of the ancient problems. The problem of how a community organizes itself past a size of ~150 individuals. Keep an open mind, we may have just solved it. And don’t worry, it’s not some orwellian or huxley future. It’s not terminator 2 with us vs. the robots. It’s a force which decimates centralization through competitive advantage and redistributes value to the masses. It’s math, it’s beautiful, and I’m up until 5am writing about it.