Bitcoin is the singularity | Nasdaq

Thanks to Bitcoin, we have potentiated the programmable technological singularity and possibly superintelligence. Without Bitcoin, machines have no autonomy, no beliefs, no motivation and no desire.


The Center cannot contain: 8

Bitcoin is singular. The word singular refers to a single instance of an object or occurrence. A secondary definition of the word describes this unit as remarkable or exceptional. A singular beauty, for example. A singular individual can also be described as unique.

Bitcoin is a technological singularity by the two 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 offers the guarantees offered by Bitcoin, which is also safe from capture or confiscation by governance. As for the second definition, it is precisely this uniqueness of purpose, this guarantee of ownership, that distinguishes Bitcoin as remarkable or exceptional.

A singularity in mathematics and physics is certainly a unique phenomenon. Unlike most objects or regions in the universe, a singularity is unique because of its infinite density. A singularity is the point or region of a black hole where space and time are infinitely deformed. The mass becomes infinitely dense.

While I don’t think it’s intellectually honest to talk about the physical and digital realms as though they are subject to separate laws of separate universes, perhaps we could agree that within the physical universe, Bitcoin’s mass or density, although extremely elusive to qualify and quantify, would be something less than infinite. Simply put, while Bitcoin must consume energy to stay alive as a network, that energy is indexed to a digital ledger and is informally and physically light enough to store and transmit.

Nonetheless, Bitcoin can be viewed as a financial black hole, as if it continues to function as it currently does, it will absorb market share from other stores of value. The asymmetric advantage that Bitcoin has over any other object is that it is not an object. It can be stored as a small amount of data anywhere data can exist. It can be transported and copied free of charge. The maintenance cost for the average Bitcoin holder is zero. (Although the shared cost of maintaining and securing the network is significant.) These few considerations alone ensure that the people (if they are rational) who have stored their wealth in what are figuratively and literally ships in sinking, will move that wealth into Bitcoin indefinitely.

The singular 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 searched for stores of value in non-dynamic physical objects with high maintenance costs, or arbitrarily degraded digital assets, will move their wealth into Bitcoin permanently. Bitcoin’s function is what it does, store and appreciate value. As Bitcoin has historically stored and appreciated wealth over longer time scales than any other asset, there is no reason to trade Bitcoin wealth again. This one-way Bitcoin buying trade is a financial and technological event horizon for many, in which their wealth, once turned into Bitcoin, will be stored for generations.

A technological singularity could be described as an explosion of intelligence. It is a process of improvement that we could say that humans have all already entered. The Internet is perhaps the great explosion of intelligence in our lives. The Internet’s distributed beehive spirit is irrevocable. Even if it were to be dismantled, knowledge of the Internet would remain intact and its eventual reappearance is highly likely. A technological singularity is irreversible. Bitcoin is another technological singularity that falls within the confines of the Internet intelligence explosion but is a bit narrower in the realm. What I mean by narrow 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 other data or knowledge, because its program is specific. But Bitcoin, like the internet, would be very difficult, if not impossible, to destroy. And when destroyed, it would probably reappear simply because it is the best solution to the problem of store of value and the best assurance of human property rights. Generally speaking, the Internet as an information system, and more precisely Bitcoin as a value system, can both be considered as the technological singularity of distributed systems.

In theory, in the long term, no internal or external existential risk, anthropogenic or non-anthropogenic, really threatens a technological singularity. After the advent of singular technologies such as the Internet and Bitcoin, generations of technologies will improve exponentially, so rapidly that for humans living today, the technological experience becomes almost incomprehensible on scales of more times. in shorter. The Internet and Moore’s Law have had such an effect in recent decades. It would be remiss not to see that the financial world is radically different in terms of the user experience of the products and services offered more than a decade after the inception of Bitcoin.

A technological singularity can’t really happen without training superintelligent, a powerful form of artificial intelligence that would quickly eclipse the potential of the smartest humans who have ever lived. Haven’t we already achieved this goal with computers and distributed systems? The controversial nature of this point is only an empirical error. We can move the goal post on what qualifies intelligence to feel in control, however, it must be admitted that the beehive mind of the internet and most computers today can read, write and transmit. exponentially more information than any human. The Internet is therefore super-intelligent from the point of view of the human capacity for processing and transmitting knowledge or information. Given the indestructibility of distributed systems and the way they encompass or surround our understanding, it is probably worth studying them as legitimate forms of artificial intelligence.

Bitcoin in its specified domain, by these same measures, is also smarter than humans, as it requires calculations to function which are at all times insoluble for anyone to understand. As we’ve seen with the Lightning Network, Bitcoin has a difficult method of scaling and problem-solving outside of its original scope. It remains to be seen how this technological singularity of distributed systems will affect humans in the future. While Bitcoin alleviates the future uncertainty of individuals, as it is a singular technology, its widespread adoption will surely present singular problems and consequences, and have unforeseen effects on society as a whole.

While anyone with more or less an internet connection can find a way to buy Bitcoin and in theory can secure it offline, many do not. Adoption is spreading, but it’s worth pointing out that the wealth disparity between those who currently hold Bitcoin and those who buy Bitcoin for the first time in, say, ten years, will be huge. The basic rule of Bitcoin is that you have to have Bitcoin to spend it. Ten years from now, some extremely wealthy people by fiduciary standards, whom we might think of as a legacy financial system, will have absolutely none of the most important assets. There will be masses that will come in at much higher costs. Societal transition is not as simple as swapping one currency for another at a later date. The accumulation of Bitcoin is time sensitive and tamper-proof. Latecomers will have a huge comparative disadvantage.

John von Neumann, among the first to write on the technological singularity, expressed that human affairs as we know them could not continue beyond this historic point. There are several reasons for this. What place would man and our delicate environment have in the program of a superintelligent machine?

What is essential to humans, our collective values ​​and goals, must be designed in singularity, or we risk losing our power and livelihood simply through neglect. It is indeed fortunate that Bitcoin, as a distributed system, can store and transmit tamper-proof value.

While 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 the values ​​of a superintelligence. Programming a superintelligence’s value accumulation wasn’t even on the table before Bitcoin.

One of the reasons we did not experience a technological singularity on this planet until the Internet and Bitcoin is that our capacity for knowledge, our brain, has not fundamentally changed for thousands of years. We have roughly the same biological intelligence potential as the ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, and all the highly sophisticated civilizations of the past. Since then, we have simply accumulated more knowledge, designed more complex tools, and made information highly accessible. Every year we design a technology that is much more complex than any human before, but we are still fundamentally limited as biological agents in information processing.

There are at least two viable ways to overcome this problem. One is to improve our own capacity for intelligence. This could potentially be achieved through mass embryonic selection, to collectively uplift the intelligence of our populations. Probably the fastest, most feasible, and most morally sound option is to use seed machine intelligence. A technology capable of improving its own capabilities and producing smarter machines. In just a few iterations, such a program could qualitatively surpass human intelligence. But by what system of measurement or accumulation of value should such a technology be improved? Bitcoin.

Whether and to what extent we can control a superintelligent, and the paths and dangers of doing so, are up for another time. With Bitcoin, we have potentiated the programmable technological singularity and possibly superintelligence. Without Bitcoin, machines have no autonomy, no beliefs, no motivation and no desire.

October 3, 2021

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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