Reality is a distributed ledger.
When it comes to blockchain and cryptocurrency, we seem to have gotten ahead of ourselves. In the race to capture what we can of the stream of capital rushing into the space, we have failed to consider its greater implications, seeking to reconcile this radically new precedent to our current paradigm rather than enable it to realize its true potential.
It’s time to take a step back and come to grips with what this new technology really means for humanity.
Let’s start with the fundamentals.
The world is a finite place, easily transcribed by simple, albeit vast, math. There is only so much land, water, air, minerals, solar radiation, we could go on and on. We like to think of it as boundless, unfathomable, but it is not. It is limited and calculable.
This physical reality exists in a framework of space and time. In space, it can be organized and reorganized, moved hither and fro. In time, it moves linearly in one direction, as far as we can tell.
So does the blockchain.
It is frightening to think that there is only so much in the world to go around. Is there enough for me? It becomes daunting to consider, so we don’t. Instead, we assume it is infinite, and we devise schemes to try to obtain as much of it as possible for ourselves.
Fair enough. That is one way to go about it. And you could probably employ blockchain to help you accomplish that.
But that is not what blockchain is.
Blockchain is DNA.
Blockchain is a way to transcribe the composition and configuration of our known reality over time. Do with it as you like, at its most essential, that is what it is.
The question then becomes, who owns a map of the universe?
From the perspective of the purist, this question is again answered by the technology. Because it is decentralized, we each control our portion of that which makes up the whole. By the fact of our very existence, and our contribution to the collective same, we are all sovereign actors upon it. No greater authority conveys that legitimacy upon us, though many presume to do so. It exists a priori.
So if I am master of my own domain, assuming that to be a hash of my genetic sequence, my birth date, and my family tree, who is master of the commons?
Ah, there’s the rub.
Let us turn again to the fundamentals.
The commons, in our case the biosphere, exists, as does all that it contains. For these purposes, let’s separate those into two categories, life-seeking and non-life-seeking. Because we’re talking about humans, we’ll focus on the life-seeking.
Since the biosphere exists sans any predominance, each and every life-seeking entity has full right to the entirety of it. This gives rise to competition, which is the mode in which mankind has functioned up to this point.
Competition has created the framework of hierarchy, authority, legitimacy, and title that we understand to be the meta reality of today. Past competitions have set forth who controls the ledger and who does not. What gets written in it and what does not.
I suppose blockchain could be used to see this persist.
It would, however, be a poor use of its potential.
Even if we changed nothing else, placing the entirety of this record on the blockchain, and recording every transaction henceforth, would absolutely revolutionize the world. Gone would be the opportunity for duplicity, ambiguity, and manipulation, let alone the cost, associated with our current system of registry and transaction. In its place, transparency, self-sovereignty, and empowerment.
This is the purpose of blockchain.
To progress the human enterprise from a reductive endeavor into a collaborative one. To shine a light into the dark areas where avarice has lived. To connect humanity through a single, common thread. To realize the ideal that is the world wide web.
Which, by the way, is how the world is actually organized in the first place.