The bitcoin constant
The center cannot hold: 10
We can agree that conditions on earth are sufficient to support intelligent living. We are a product of the universal environment. Therefore, it is safe to say that the conditions in the universe as a whole are equivalent to those that can support intelligent life, even if the chances are slim.
We can also agree that conditions on earth are sufficient to support Bitcoin. Bitcoin emerged from and a product of 300,000 odd years of our evolving intelligence. While the invention of Bitcoin can be attributed to Satoshi, there is no causality. Man can only perceive a sequence of events. Attribution allows us to order events chronologically in the language. Attribution is a more or less agreed history so that the conversation can continue meaningfully. One could easily go further into history and trace the invention of Bitcoin back to the cryptographic and electronic cash innovations that existed before. Although, in my opinion, it is ultimately Satoshi’s packaging of previous innovations, coupled with simple but extremely momentous features such as difficulty adjustment, the planned supply of offers and the shortage of terminals that signaled the invention of Bitcoin.
Invention can be distinguished from innovation here, since the implications of Bitcoin, its consequences, its effects are irrevocable. Inventions cannot be put back in the bottle as the course of humanity changed to some extent after their emergence. Innovations, on the other hand, change the course of inventions. The Lightning Network is a remarkable innovation that changed the course of the invention of Bitcoin. (I’m pretty sure Pete Rizzo first taught me this distinction in conversation.)
The emerging fundamental guarantee of property that is immune to governance is perhaps the element that most secured Bitcoin a place in the realm of humanity-changing inventions. The naming of further momentous inventions is left to the reader as an exercise.
However, as conscious organisms we may be a rarity, the fact of our presence and our ability to make observations about the universe leads us to believe that the fundamental physical constants of the universe are compatible with intelligent life and therefore with Bitcoin, but what? Extent?
Why do the basic physical constants of the intelligent life equation seem to be fine-tuned to intelligent life and thus to Bitcoin life? (Note my assumption that Bitcoin is alive. It was booted to encourage its own production and prevent its own production. It’s a white marble that cannot be put back in the bottle. But what comes after Bitcoin? Nothing. For us there is nothing after Bitcoin. It is our first and last money.)
This is the so-called anthropic principle. Our understanding of the universe is filtered by a human bias, our point of view. But because we and Bitcoin are a product of our universe that appears in it and is bound by its fundamental laws, the transitive property of universal constants enables us to learn about it.
A physical constant is the total amount of mass and energy in the universe. Imagine a full deck of cards. Shuffling these cards enough times will result in a sequential flush. If you keep shuffling them over time, all sorts of sequences from this deck can and will occur. Within the confines of our universe, a universal deck of mass and energy, we can think of as statistical emergence. Bitcoin can also be thought of as a statistical appearance based on the previous appearance of a certain intelligence. (Although I haven’t thought about whether and to what extent Bitcoin is meaningfully intelligence, I’m sure that machine intelligence will build on Bitcoin, since Bitcoin is actually the best solution to the problem of programmable appreciation in software.)
The important realization is that the fundamental laws of nature here on earth coincide with those in this universe. If they were anything different, the universe would be inhospitable and therefore unobservable. We can observe a certain universe, although in our present state, as we know, we are ill-equipped to observe the universe as it actually is, and further, without bitcoin, without technology based on decentralized money and property Immune to governance, our understanding of what is going on in the universe would have been severely limited, short-sighted, helpless caught in the subjectivity of empirical fallacy.
We do not feel the rotation of the earth under our feet or our body flinging through the cosmos. In our present state, the vast majority of events in this universe are too fast or too slow, too big, too small, too distant, or invisible to our centralized, empirically limited frame of reference. Most of what happens not only happens outside of human perception, but it is completely unnecessary for us in our present state to be able to perceive it from the standpoint of genetic adaptation.
Genes are replicated at the expense of their rivals. That’s all. Genes are subject to random variations and tend to pass on those variations that promote their production and inhibit their destruction. Bitcoin shares this function in a way. The network is fluid, dynamically responsive to attacks, and growing in a way that decentralizes its hash power and encourages its continued growth. Bitcoin’s code is also updated and modified slightly over time to encourage its production. Over time, changes that are detrimental to the continued production of the network are discarded and in most cases prevented from even entering the log.
Similarly, new blocks of valid transactions are added to the ledger, which will encourage Bitcoin’s growth in other ways. Invalid transactions are blocked and expelled to protect the network
The Lightning Network could be viewed as a result of Bitcoin’s genetic variance. The Lightning Network was an experimental sequel to Bitcoin, the survival of which depends entirely on Bitcoin. Although Bitcoin doesn’t rely on the Lightning Network at all to survive. The two benefit from each other. The Lightning Network is the symbiote of Bitcoin.
Sometimes people refer to Bitcoin’s ability to self-advertise when they say the incentives are aligned. I think this phrase gives people too much freedom of choice regarding Bitcoin’s continued success. What does it mean for Bitcoin to be successful? By itself, it simply means that it will continue to operate. Bitcoin is deaf to its US dollar price and also to our languages, standards, and ideas of success.
The evolutionary process is not linear, nor did we have much conscious say in our evolution as a species. In the past, however, humans have tried to disrupt or manipulate this process through targeted breeding. A large-scale eugenics program to increase human intelligence or select desirable physical traits is a morally and politically impractical path. Although most dogs and much of the food we consume are products of genetic modification through highly selective breeding.
However, embryo selection, even choosing one embryo over another (in the context of in vitro fertilization), is a practice that is believed to increase human IQ by 4.2 points. IQ is by no means the be-all and end-all of intelligence, but take it as a simple measure here. A 1 in 10 embryo selection can represent an upper limit to what is currently practicable for an IVF cycle. Pick 1 embryos out of 1000 and it is believed that 24.3 IQ points could be earned. Successive generations of embryonic selection lead to an even higher IQ, but with decreasing yields. Countries are likely to be reluctant to adopt such practices on a large scale for moral or religious reasons.
Obviously, it would take a decade or two for the genetically selected children to grow up and have a significant impact on the workforce and innovation of their host country. However, the first country or countries to find a cost-effective way to adopt these practices on a broad basis and to use complementary technologies such as stem cell-derived gametes to enable iterated embryo selection in vitro and compress several generations of selection into a few years , or less, while simultaneously encouraging their emerging population of hyper-intelligent people to stay in their host country (with Bitcoin?) The geopolitical game theory of Bitcoin adoption plays out similarly, with early adopters being rewarded and stragglers being punished and the last being adopters or non-participants be fully outsourced and remain competitive.
The benefits of such a process coupled with advances in bitcoin based technology are endless in terms of social problem solving and human longevity. The downsides, potential for seizure of power (imagine a class of people smarter than anyone who has come up to date), and social disaster are equally imaginable. There would certainly be mistakes, unforeseen developmental and social consequences for the individuals who were assigned oversized and unprecedented IQ scores.
Embryonic selection could be thought of as gray marble falling out of the bottle of irrevocable human engineering. It is questionable or remains to be seen whether and to what extent and on whose terms such a process would be net for humanity. Undoubtedly, the nations or mega-corporations that recognize the geopolitical comparative advantage embryonic selection could give them will experiment privately if not publicly. It will be interesting to see whether these first movers will also be among the first to put Bitcoin in their respective national or corporate coffers and adopt it as currency. It’s hard, if not terrifying, to imagine what crucial strategic advantage the first country to adopt both bitcoin and embryonic selection will have over the others.
October 24, 2021
Read The Center Cannot Hold: 9: “Schrödinger’s Bitcoin”
Read that the center cannot hold: 8: “Bitcoin is the singularity”
Read The Center Cannot Hold: 7: “Bitcoin Will Advance Science and Technology”
Read the Bitcoin Language: 6: “Michael Saylor Interview: The Predator-Loot Dynamics Of Bitcoin”
Read the language of Bitcoin: 5: “Bitcoin has no competition”
Read the language of Bitcoin: 4: “Bitcoin and existential risks”
Read the language of Bitcoin: 3: “Bitcoin: The first and last rival money”
Read the language of Bitcoin: 2: “Bitcoin Relieves Future Uncertainty”
Read the language of Bitcoin: 1: “BTC is the best explanation of what money is”
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