Bitcoin: after the beginning...

In my last post on this subject, I wrote about Bitcoin being the beginning of an extreme shift in culture. I anticipate that the shift could take 10-20 years to be realized, but there’s a lot of work that can be done to shorten it to 3 years.

The shift I imagine can primarily be described as decentralized voting, trustless identity/finance pairing, transparent government/public corporations/non-profits, DAOs, granularly controlled privacy for those who want it, and an overall reduction in crime, bureaucracy, and oppression. Additionally, the standard of living, especially in the developing work, will be dramatically much higher.

People in sub-saharan Africa and Latam (where reduction in poverty is vital) will have access to financial services, communication, organization and self-governance. There will be methods for the developed world to efficiently and effectively donate to causes where it is badly needed. Causes like mesh networks to facilitate communication, and food / clean water so that time can be spent on social infrastructure. Funding can go directly to those causes without being pilfered, and results can be more easily monitored for efficacy.


The first feature I was excited about with Bitcoin was its use as currency, value transfer, and value storage. For those who bank branchlessly - this technology alone is life changing. But decentralized ledger systems give us much more than that.

Decentralized voting is huge. Decentralized storage of information, identity, communication, law, business, and much more are all possible and real in the near future.

What most excites me is the ability to quantize the analog world we live in. By decentralizing these metrics in a publicly stored system, we can do some very cool data analysis. We can see if the aid given to Burundi can be categorized by source and destination. We can then see what works and what doesn’t.

Recently a representative from a global charity (one of the largest, with over $4.2bn in contributions in 2013) came to our office. He told us that one of the major issues in giving financial aid is that when it doesn’t go to the matron of the household - funds get spent by the males on alcohol and drugs. It is difficult to keep the men from stealing the funding, so the charities don't give financial aid to those households. If the money can be given directly to the women of the household, there is an overwhelming probability that she will make her family escape from the relative poverty.

There are many clear applications for where Bitcoin - and the more important underlying technology - can greatly benefit the world. Most of the applications we have considered closely parallel systems with which we are already familiar. The financial aid problem could potentially be solved with Bitcoin wallets for the women in need of financial aid. That’s not to presume that it’s a silver bullet, but it would create a very big difference in solving the problem. This example closely parallels some of the financial aid systems we currently use, but the distribution chain length and cost would be dramatically reduced. It is a more efficient version of what we already have. In many cases, efficiency to the point of being effective where it otherwise wouldn’t work. Reducing the distribution chain by 20 points of contact - to get to a family in need - is what it takes to be worthwhile.

As far as the example with Burundi of A/B testing methods of aid, there is not much like that available to us. Most people have almost no experience crowd-auditing what works because there simply is not enough high-quality data. This may be bordering on the spooky for most people, but that’s because we’ve been conditioned. Our conditioning has told us that centralized organizations control the information, our privacy is under attack and not theirs. We now have the tool to flip that scenario. We can responsibly shine more light on the structural inefficiencies of the world, the corruption, violence, poverty, and attempts at sweeping this stuff under the rug. At the same time we can reduce the need for reductions in personal privacies.

I’m hoping we can work together on this, I guarantee that if you’re reading this -- you can help.