By solving the double spend problem, Satoshi Nakamoto designed a discrete mathematical algorithm to have the same critical emergent behavior as real-world, mass-based objects: the inability to be in two “places” at once. This introduces an entirely new metacognitive paradigm where it becomes much easier for humans to perceive object-oriented software abstractions like “tokens” as equivalent to traditional (i.e. mass-based) pieces of property which humans can collect and even buy. I argue this fundamentally explains what we are seeing with the so-called “blockchain revolution.” We are seeing society rewire itself into a new metacognitive paradigm. One by one, people are starting to believe that the object-oriented abstractions themselves – that is, the mental models computer programmers use to manage the complexity of designing discrete mathematical algorithms – are in fact equally as capable of being “owned” as mass-based objects, and therefore equally as deserving of the title of “property” to be protected under existing property laws.
It’s worth noting, this wouldn’t even be the first time society metacognitively rewired itself following a technological breakthrough in computer programming. This is exactly what happened when computer programmers invented language-oriented abstractions (python, C++, etc). A few decades after computer programmers started inventing abstractions like data types and functions used in so-called languages, society started to perceive those abstractions as being equally deserving of the title of “language” to be protected under existing speech laws. [Side note: go research how influential the US military was involved in creating the first general-purpose computer programming languages. Or otherwise just wait for me to publish my research XD]
Nevertheless, digital assets are revolutionary from both a metacognitive and sociotechnical perspective. By beginning to perceive computer programs as uniquely-held, one-of-a-kind units of property, human beings effectively invent a new form of massless property that can be designed to have features that mass-based property could never have. For example, massless property can have an infinitely scarce supply, whereas there is virtually no supply limit for any type of mass-based property (including uncommon types in the Earth’s crust) so long as humans keep expanding their (interplanetary) search for it. Another example is transaction speed. Massless property can be sent from one side of the world to the other side at the speed of light.
From a security perspective, one of the most promising features of massless property is that it is virtually immune to kinetic (i.e. force against mass) denial-of-access attacks. Killing the bearer of a piece of massless property does not enable the belligerent to take the slain owner’s property as a trophy, as is so often the case for mass-based properties like land and gold. In that sense, massless property is revolutionary from an organized society perspective because it enables people to take their property to their grave. Access to massless property has the ability to die when its owner dies. This of course dramatically changes the calculus of belligerence and “spoils of war.” What’s the point of destroying a society for the purposes of confiscating their wealth if that wealth is a massless form of property which can’t be confiscated by the kinetic attacker? The return-on-investment of using kinetic means to attempt a denial-of-access attack or take massless property approaches negative infinity pretty quickly.
There are many additional beneficial features to massless property that I can get into later (in a thesis perhaps), but the the potential for massless property to double as an attractive form of money should be obvious by now. The hurdle is simply waiting for enough people in society to allow themselves to become metacognitively re-programmed into believing that object-oriented software abstractions like “coins” are equally as worthy of valuing as mass-based objects. And one only needs to look at the price of digital assets to see how the metacognitive re-programming is well underway.
But all of these revolutionary concepts alone don’t explain Bitcoin’s unique value proposition over other types of digital assets, which are equally as massless, equally as capable of being programmed to have a limited supply, equally as capable of transferring at the speed of light and being immune to kinetic denial-of-access attacks. Ukraine clearly demonstrated this with their decision to accept multiple different types of digital assets as donations to financially support their side of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Moreover, there are thousands of different property tokens and corresponding blockchains available on the market today, so what makes Bitcoin special? The answer is proof-of-work; the power-based control structure through which owners achieve zero-trust and egalitarian access to their digital property, and how impressively powerful it is. As this thesis will explain, there is no such thing as zero-trust and egalitarian access to property (of any form, massless or mass-based) without power projection. Once we understand why, we understand what’s so special about Bitcoin.