Sep 16, 2013

Is Bitcoin the Beginning of the End?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, human trajectories
Hieronymous Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights

The following dystopian vision of the future was just shared with my by a friend:

…“What is a Citadel?” you might wonder. Well, by the time Bitcoin became worth 1,000 dollar, services began to emerge for the “Bitcoin rich” to protect themselves as well as their wealth. It started with expensive safes, then began to include bodyguards, and today, “earlies” (our term for early adapters), as well as those rich whose wealth survived the “transition” live in isolated gated cities called Citadels, where most work is automated. Most such Citadels are born out of the fortification used to protect places where Bitcoin mining machines are located. The company known as ASICminer to you is known to me as a city where Mr. Friedman rules as a king.

In my world, soon to be your world, most governments no longer exist, as Bitcoin transactions are done anonymously and thus most governments can enforce no taxation on their citizens. Most of the success of Bitcoin is due to the fact that Bitcoin turned out to be an effective method to hide your wealth from the government. Whereas people entering “rogue states” like Luxemberg, Monaco and Liechtenstein were followed by unmanned drones to ensure that governments know who is hiding wealth, no such option was available to stop people from hiding their money in Bitcoin.


You should read the rest of the story. I think it goes pretty thoroughly into a scenario that isn’t discussed enough.

The “Bitcoin Circle Jerk” on and often goes like this like: “imagine how goddamned rich we’ll all be when 1 bitcoin is worth 100, 000 dollars”!

The ugly flip side however, of us all being fabulously rich because we bought a bitcoin once, is that a lot of our friends and family get hideously poor.

Technological disruption always has winners and losers. Bitcoin is a big disruptoin, it has the potential to do to money what the internet did to music, possibly to a much further extent.

Although it’s a very important conversation to have, extrapolations like the story quoted above almost always fail to understand how other factors will mix in. While many foresaw some of the negative consequences of globalization, few people would have foreseen the emergence of the craft movement; including local food, makerspaces, DIY everything, etc.

In the bitcoin community, I’m heartened by the emergence of a culture of generosity. It shows up in the willingness that bitcoin companies have for helping one another. It also shows up in projects like Sean’s Outpost and in the tipping culture created by the reddit bitcoin tip bot and the bitcoin party bot.

I won’t pretend to think that I know where this is all headed. I’m not a prophet, and I’m always skeptical of the pundits who make bold claims about the future.

All I know is that change is coming.

This is why I’ve chosen to engage deeply with bitcoin, and why I’ve started Coin Forest. I’m an optimist, and I want to contribute to building this generosity I’ve seen.

The Garden of Earthly Delights Reversed
A slightly remixed version of Hieronymous Bosch’s vision

I’d love to think that the progression will be more like this reversal of Hieronymous Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights”.

Frankly, it’s probably somewhere in the middle. But creating a better world requires the optimism to believe it’s possible.

The decision is whether you want to play a part in shaping the outcome or not.

-John Mardlin


Comments — comments are now closed.

  1. Microsrfr says:

    The real power of Bitcoin will come when it is fully integrated into our economic system. Imagine buying a product and automatically transferring Bitcoin into the wallet of each laborer that added content at a global minimum wage or greater.

  2. John says:

    Interesting idea Microsrfr!

    While I love the vision, I must say it sounds pretty far fetched even to me!

    But hey, The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

  3. Bitcoin is a cutting edge new type of currency. What makes bitcoin so revolutionary is that it is wholly Decentralized and P2P. This means that there is no Bank or central authority that protects the economy from double spending (Over Draft) or counterfeiting money. Instead though goals are completed by the use of Cryptography. Bitcoins though can be bought or offered for cash value and they are a great move as the prices continue to climb.