Like the creatures of Jurassic Park, bitcoin is the project of a possibly mad scientist that has escaped from the lab. Like T’Rain, bitcoin is now overflowing its “banks” and is about to flood the streets of your world. Perhaps someone should be building an ark. Or perhaps bitcoin is our ark—a new monetary covenant containing the seeds of a new system of the world.
—George Gilder, Life After Google
Nick Land is publishing a draft version of his upcoming Bitcoin Book Crypto-Current online. Decided to create a table-of-contents for referencing easier (look below).
What is blockchain technology?
Blockchains are, in many ways, the “tamper-proof boxes” envisioned nearly thirty years ago. They blend together several existing technologies, including peer-to-peer networks, public-private key cryptography, and consensus mechanisms, to create what can be thought of as a highly resilient and tamper-resistant database where people can store data in a transparent and nonrepudiable manner and engage in a variety of economic transactions pseudonymously. Blockchains are enabling the transfer of digital currencies and other valuable assets, managing title to property and sensitive records, and—perhaps most profoundly—facilitating the creation of computer processes known as smart contracts, which can execute autonomously.
Blockchain technology constitutes a new infrastructure for the storage of data and the management of software applications, decreasing the need for centralized middlemen. While databases often sit invisibly behind the scenes, their significance cannot be understated. Databases serve as a backbone for every platform, website, app, or other online service. Up to this point, databases have for the most part been maintained by centralized intermediaries, such as large Internet companies or cloud computing operators such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Blockchains are changing this dynamic, powering a new generation of disintermediated peer-to-peer applications, which are less dependent on centralized control.
“Thus at the heart of bitcoin is a process that combines the irreversible passage of time with the exponential advance of technology through Moore’s Law: the ever increasing number of cycles per second of computation. Without Moore’s Law, bitcoin would be swamped by its own data, and the blockchain would grind to a halt. The genius behind bitcoin comes from a dynamic vision in which computer resources—storage and processing—always grow faster than the blockchain. It is the epitome of value creation in a world of abundant goods and services and a scarcity of time. Linear time reflects the span of life—the time domain. The frequency domain is bounded by the speed of light. Together they can represent the sources of value in the world.”1
The most modest plausible interpretation of Bitcoin is that its tacit perspective replaces (a lost) absolute time. A stronger proposal is that absolute time is, with the blockchain, inaugurated. To articulate the thesis (more informatively) in reverse: The philosophy of absolute time anticipates the blockchain. In still other words, it retro-chronically depends upon it. Only in the blockchain does geometrically-irreducible arithmetic series find instantiation. Primordial time synthesis is henceforth something the technosphere knows how to do.
—Nick Land, Crypto-Current
Crypto-Current (Table of Contents):
- George Gilder. Life After Google (Kindle Locations 2143-2148). Gateway Editions. Kindle Edition.