Bitcoin is exclusivity
The hub cannot hold: 8
Bitcoin is a singular form. The word singular refers to only one instance of an object or event. A secondary definition of the word describes that unit as wonderful or wonderful. Unique beauty, for example. An individual individual can also be described as unique.
Bitcoin is a technological singularity by both definitions of the word. It is unique. There is only one Bitcoin network. There is no other distributed network of digital money, property and energy, which has the collateral offered by Bitcoin, which is also immune to seizure or confiscation through governance. Regarding the second definition, it is this single purpose, this guarantee of ownership, that defines Bitcoin as wonderful or wonderful.
The singularity in mathematics and physics is certainly a unique phenomenon. Unlike most objects or regions in the universe, the singularity is unique by virtue of its infinite mass. A singularity is a point or region of a black hole where space and time are infinitely distorted. The mass becomes infinitely dense.
Although I don’t think it is intellectually honest to talk about the physical and digital worlds as if they are subject to different laws of separate universes, we can probably agree that within the physical universe, the bitcoin block, while being too elusive to qualify. And quantitatively, it would be something infinitely less intense. This means that while Bitcoin must consume energy to survive as a network, that energy is indexed into a digital ledger, which is very light in both informational and physical terms to store and transmit.
However, Bitcoin can be seen as a financial black hole, in that if it continues to operate as it currently does, it will absorb the market share of other stores of value. The asymmetric advantage that Bitcoin has over every other object, is that it is not an object. It can be stored as a tiny amount of data anywhere the data can be located. It can be moved and copied at no cost. The maintenance cost for the average bitcoin holder is zero. (Although the cost of the network’s combined maintenance and security is significant.) These few considerations alone ensure that people (if they are rational) who have been storing their fortunes in sinking ships, both figuratively and literally, will transfer that wealth to bitcoin indefinitely.
The unique nature of bitcoin does not mean that people will stop owning real estate, gold, stocks, dollar reserves, or art. This means that many people who have sought stores of value in non-dynamic physical objects with high maintenance costs, or arbitrarily low value digital assets, will permanently transfer their fortune to Bitcoin. The job of Bitcoin is what it does, to store and appreciate value. Since Bitcoin has historically stored and valued wealth on longer time scales better than any other asset, there is no reason to take wealth back from Bitcoin again. This one-way trade of buying Bitcoin is the horizon of a financial and technological event for many, where their fortunes, once converted into Bitcoin, will be stored for generations.
A technological singularity can be described as an intelligence explosion. It is a process of improvement one could argue that humans have all entered. Perhaps the internet has been the vast intelligence explosion of our lives. The distributed cellular mind of the Internet is irreversible. Even if it is dismantled, knowledge about the Internet will remain in tact and its eventual re-emergence is highly likely. Technological exclusivity is irreversible. Another technological singularity, which falls within the confines of the Internet’s intelligence explosion but is somewhat narrower in the field is Bitcoin. What I mean by upset is of course that Bitcoin has very specific applications, and while it is the best technology for storing and transferring value, it is not the best way to transfer data or other knowledge, because its software is specific. But Bitcoin, like the Internet, would be very difficult, if not impossible, to destroy. And when destroyed, they are likely to reappear simply by virtue of the fact that they are the best solution to the store of value problem and the best guarantee of property rights enjoyed by human beings. Broadly, the Internet can be seen as an information system, and more narrowly Bitcoin as a value system, the technological uniqueness of distributed systems.
Technological singularity cannot truly occur without resulting in superintelligence, a powerful form of machine intelligence that would quickly surpass the potential of the smartest humans who have ever lived. Haven’t we already achieved this with computers and distributed systems? The controversial nature of this point is merely an empirical error. We can pass the target function to what qualifies intelligence to make ourselves feel in control, however, one must admit that the cellular brain of the Internet, and most computers today can read, write and transmit more information than any human being. So the Internet is super intelligent from the perspective of the human ability to know or process and transmit information. Given the indestructibility of distributed systems, and the way they accommodate or surround our understanding, it is potentially useful to investigate them as legitimate forms of machine intelligence.
Bitcoin within its bounds is, by these same measures, smarter than humans, because it requires calculations to function at any given moment that is difficult for anyone to understand. As we’ve seen with the Lightning Network, Bitcoin has a way of scaling and solving difficult problems beyond its native domain. What remains is how these technological singularities of distributed systems will affect humans going forward. While Bitcoin mitigates future uncertainty for individuals, since it is a unique technology, its widespread adoption will certainly present individual problems and consequences, and will have unexpected effects on society as a whole.
Although anyone with an internet connection in one form or another can find a way to buy Bitcoin, and theoretically can secure it offline, not many do. Adoption is spreading, but it should be noted that the disparity in wealth between those who own Bitcoin now and those who bought some for the first time, say, for ten years, would be huge. The basic rule of Bitcoin is that you must have Bitcoin to spend it. Ten years from now, some very wealthy by legal standards, which we might consider an archaic financial system, will have no major assets at all. There will be masses entering at much higher costs. Societal transformation is not as simple as exchanging one currency for another at a later time. Bitcoin accumulation is time sensitive and not falsifiable. The backward ones will be at a comparative disadvantage.
John von Neumann, among the first to write about the technological singularity, expressed that human affairs as we know them cannot continue beyond that historical point. There are many reasons for this. What place can humans and our sensitive environment occupy in a machine superintelligence program?
What is essential to humans, our collective values, and our goals, must be engineered into exclusivity, or we may simply lose our strength and livelihood through neglect. It is really fortunate that Bitcoin as a distributed system can store and transmit unfalsifiable value.
While the value is subjective, bitcoin’s tamper-proof cost, decentralization, and scarcity make it a much better candidate than dollars or any other digital asset, for programming superintelligence values. Programming the value-accumulation of superintelligence wasn’t even on the table until Bitcoin.
One of the reasons we haven’t experienced technological singularity on this planet until the Internet and Bitcoin is that our ability to know, and our brains, have not fundamentally changed for thousands of years. We have roughly the same biological potential for intelligence as the ancient Egyptians, the Aztecs, and all the highly advanced civilizations of the past. Since then, we’ve simply accumulated more knowledge, designed more complex tools, and made accessing information incredibly easy. Every year we are engineering far more complex technology than any human has before, but we are still limited mainly as biological agents to process information.
There are two viable methods to overcome this problem. The first is to improve our intelligence. This can be achieved through extensive embryonic selection, to collectively raise the intelligence of our population. Perhaps the quickest, most feasible and ethically sound option is through seed machine intelligence. Technology capable of improving its capabilities and producing smarter machines. In a few iterations, such a program can qualitatively outperform human intelligence. But by what measure or system of accretion of value should such technology improve itself? Bitcoin.
Whether and to what extent we can control superintelligence, and the paths and risks of doing so, are debates for another time. With Bitcoin, we have enabled a programmable technological singularity and possibly superintelligence. Without Bitcoin, machines have no autonomy, no beliefs, no motivation, no desires.
October 3, 2021
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