The etymology of the word digit is Latin. Digitus: Finger, toe. Humans have been using their digits to count for thousands of years. It could be the case that our modern decimal system, or base ten number system, an extension of Hindu-Arabic counting systems, arose from counting on ten fingers. There are other base number systems, such as the Roman numeral system which uses an intermediate base of five. Digits are composed of and used to represent data, they are a way of gathering and organizing data from physical and hypothetical worlds. The important thing to remember about the evolution of digits is that all measurement requires interaction.
Similarly, Bitcoin is a way of gathering and organizing data from digital and hypothetical worlds. It must be stressed that before Bitcoin, it was impossible to associate events with points of time in decentralized systems. Bitcoin reunited money as symbol to its referent: work. It is this work that tethers Bitcoin the digital asset and energy with the physical world. (Although one could argue that the physical world and the digital world are from a certain vantage the same, this is a discussion for another time.)
Since its advent, we are still learning the full implications of the first terminally scarce form of property and energy that can be stored indefinitely. The important thing to remember is that Bitcoin is the only monetary measure, or system of accounting that is both decentralized and ungovernable. This means that as an economic measure, and store of value, Bitcoin is the least corruptible. It is the only form of ungovernable money, energy, and property at once.
For centuries our best explanations of the physical world were severely limited by the empirical fallacy. That is, our methods of measurement and understanding were limited by what we could immediately observe and experience. It wasn’t until the 15th century that Copernicus evidenced that our solar system is heliocentric, rather than geocentric. Still, without this knowledge many people today live with the empirical misunderstanding that the observable universe appears to rotate around the Earth.
Think of the empirical fallacy as a faulty frame of reference. We know in fact that our solar system and our sun are moving and rotating around the Milky Way, which is itself involved in complex motion. Everything that is, is moving. Although, with a limited frame of reference, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Imagine dragging files from your computer desktop into the trashcan icon. You observe it to be the case that you have thrown those files away, though this is by design. It’s an empirical error of observation. There is a better explanation, and it’s found on the back end of the user experience. Our knowledge about our environment at large is always limited in such a way.
All centralized systems are subject to the empirical fallacy. While centralized systems can be workable on some scales over what seems to us a long time, they are operating under what is ultimately a faulty frame of reference.
Bitcoin can associate events with points of time from a decentralized vantage. The full implications of this novel perspective on the financial world and beyond are not yet understood. Bitcoin cannot be fully comprehended by humans as centralized, isolated consciousnesses. But certainly all that is knowable about Bitcoin could be grasped by the hive mind of the internet.
Now, consider any avenue of science you like. Take science to mean a method, a measuring process which gives us the best explanation for the way things are. There is no reason to believe humans have evolved to do good science. That is, in our current state, the vast majority of occurrences in this universe are too fast or too slow, too large, too small, too far, or invisible to our centralized, empirically limited frame of reference.
We have done well to expand our frame of reference and get outside of the empirical fallacy on many fronts in science. But until Bitcoin, it bears repeating that it was impossible to to associate events with points of time in decentralized systems. Our financial and foundational proprietary frames of reference were limited in the same way empiricism restricted us to a rather one dimensional tunnel vision of the universe.
Bitcoin emerged, in part, from an effort to work around trusting third parties to time stamp digital documents. Centralized time servers are inaccurate to degrees that may seem minute to humans, but in terms of ordering transactions on a ledger, it is imperative that there be no discrepancy. Remember that even the time dilation between a person on the ground and a person on a plane is enough to make ledger ordering inaccurate, this why Bitcoin doesn’t rely on any third-party time-keeping server.
Bitcoin is the first ungovernable monetary system that provides depth and dimension through its decentralization to not only our financial universe, but our scientific understanding at large. Bitcoin allows anyone to accumulate property and allocate resources without restriction. Bitcoin’s terminal scarcity ensures competition in the market. That is, knowing that Bitcoin is scarce, and that its demand is ever increasing, you will likely be careful about what projects you allocated your hard-earned Bitcoin to. The opportunity cost for spending Bitcoin is extremely high, at its current stage many find there is no asset they would rather hold, and as a result, do not spend Bitcoin at all.
Today science isn’t competitive, because it is not allowed to fail. Whole sectors of invented subjects are financially supported by government printing. With mass adoption, Bitcoin enables the freest market we have known, as the transactions are unstoppable and can be allocated toward any project one chooses.
What does this have to do with science? Centralized systems potentiate the disastrous rise in misplaced power. We’ve seen this time and time again. Within our university and scientific communities, it is the centralized issuance and reliance upon government funds that allows for all the misplaced energies and undue emphasis on increasingly arcane and soft science subject matter. Any study a centralized system funds forms with overwhelming bias of consequence. The government and its myriad of centralized institutional branches are constantly leading us on what we can best describe as a wayward path to societal and technological progress.
Once established, these institutions do not go gently. Yet they serve no value to the world in exchange for funding. That is, if you were to put any centralized institution on a free market, they would rapidly go bankrupt. Institutional success is at comical odds with the products they’re offering. (This is something Kafka knew innately.) Thus, all centralized institutions are ailing of entropy, and must seek increasingly arcane topics, or birth new branches to stir up more debt, and invent entirely new areas of study that serve no real world application.
The dollar has no way of staving off entropy except through a charade of crises algebra. The dollar will be debased endlessly because it has no peg to our physical world, and doesn’t have a supply cap. Rather, the dollar is haphazardly pegged to institutions which are governed by the will of a few. Imagine a world where we could each vote whether the dollar should be debased or not. In that world, a wide and thoroughly representative financial democracy is still no better than the current fiat system because the will of a few or the will of many are still stripping individuals of their property through inflation. If you consider your dollars to be property, it is a communal land at best. Governance will always plague fiat systems. Not so in Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is the only system which allows you to retain your property, regardless of what changes the majority choose to make. Without technology built on decentralized money and property immune to governance, our understanding of what goes on in the universe will remain severely limited, myopic in scope.
At a smaller scale, our genes vary randomly as we evolve to promote their own production, and not necessarily to advance and continue our species or inhibit our individual destruction. We have not evolved to perceive the universe as it actually is. Not by a long shot. Nearly all of what happens at any given moment is not being observed. What if any given moment is legion? (If we are to consider our existence as an ancestral simulation, it would be computationally intractable to render reality where it is not being perceived. It would take solar systems worth of energy to render any given simulation in “whole” for a moment. This of course begs the question what and whose experiences count as perceiving? All questions for another time.)
What Bitcoin offers us is a way of measuring distributed experiences and occurrences through a dematerialized, network of interaction with the world. Bitcoin is both particle and wave, property and energy.
Without decentralized technology built on decentralized money, our understanding of what goes on in the universe will be severely limited in scope. Without offloading knowledge into texts and computers we don’t have an accurate or large enough memory to process very much data.
Most of us have virtual extensions of ourselves. Before the internet, two people communicating had only the imperfect knowledge each harbored in their body to create good explanations on the spot. Today we carry digital extensions of our brains with us. We have an ever widening bandwidth of access to knowledge. But Bitcoiners also carry their property with them. Any amount of Bitcoin as property is free for individuals to hold and travel with, and can be transacted and achieve final settlement final settlement for negligible fees. (The last part will not always be the case, but that is the topic of another essay.)
Currently we are limited in our access to knowledge again by an empirical error. Today our ability to retrieve digital knowledge efficiently is severely limited by our digits. Most of our daily interaction with computers is through our fingertips. This will not always be the case. Eventually we will directly access the vast external flow of digital information with our brains. How will this complicate the brain body relationship? What will this do to language? These vary same questions can be asked of Bitcoin, which dematerialized our access to and relationship with property, money, and energy.
Binary number systems (base two) are used in modern computers. One of the efficient functions of binary systems is that they can take many binary inputs (data) and produce a single binary output. The Bitcoin blockchain also condenses a wealth of monetary information and work into a single output, a ledger that exists over a network. It takes many real world inputs and produces a single, consensual distributed cyber ledger.
This condensation of information is partly why computers are getting smaller while their capacity for information storage expands. In comparison, humans do not store information perfectly or efficiently in our heads, but our bodies do produce a small amount of electricity. Our cells use electrical signals to communicate.
Although, we have never been able to store knowledge perfectly in our bodies, we have generated languages, texts and digital computers to offload this task. Without these tools much of what we do in a day would be impossible. Our phones and virtual presences store knowledge, evidence of the past, photos, and texts in a way our bodies cannot. Similarly, Bitcoin allows us to store physical energy as monetary value in a way that was not possible before. One day, much of what we do in a day, technologically and financially, will be impossible without Bitcoin.