Thinking Big about Bitcoin Again: Revisiting the Complex Social Network

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We’ve written previously on Bitcoin as a complex social network, inspired by a textbook of a similar name. In that piece we examined three inherent properties of social networks:




We explored how the Bitcoin network displays remarkable tendencies to outperform every other known social network with respect to these three properties.

We will use this piece to focus on the property of search. A reminder on what search is:

Search is the procedure by which individual nodes may look for, access, and disperse information. Is the effectiveness of search influenced by network topology? Are different search algorithms better suited to alternative topologies? Can one design the network architecture so that search is optimized?

On Wednesday night of CoinGeek Week, I was fortunate enough to have some beers with a number of people, one of which was Alex Fauvel. As we were speculating about the ideas of metanet, he asked me if I had heard of a Mandala Network. I replied no and he got wide eyed and sent me a link to a paper and began talking about how the introduction of the paper described Bitcoin and dumped more information on me of which I was too tipsy to absorb. The next morning I was so engrossed by the paper I elegantly sent him a message expressing my fascination with the paper. You can imagine my delight when Dr. Craig Wright immediately referenced a Mandala Network when we sat down with him to talk about the structure of metanet.

Mandala Networks

We will be exploring Mandala Networks in depth further in this series, but we will briefly touch on them as it is important to understand why we are referencing them to begin with. If you look back at our original piece describing searchability of a network, we reference that searchability improves in a multidimensional network where we can organize the nodes in a network in a hierarchy. In the piece we describe this hierarchy as miners, merchants, and users. In the above diagram, the miners are the core of the network, the merchants are the middle layer, and users are the outer layer.




On the whole, each group will behave in the network differently. As we’ve discussed, miners are heavily incentivized to cluster together with other miners. Merchants monitor for double spend attempts and in the hierarchical system we have defined, miners assist merchants with their search attempts. Merchants reach “up” to the miner hierarchy to check the transactions waiting to be confirmed in the mempool. On the whole, each group in the hierarchy knows where they can look to find the information they are looking for. The robustness of the miner hierarchy aides in the search, as does the diffusion of the information across the network.

Metanet becomes the overlay network of “merchant nodes” (M-Nodes) that interact with the blockchain but are not miners. We can expand the scope of what a “merchant” is to encompass all nodes that have a high degree of connectivity with miners and are capable of efficiently monitoring and searching the blockchain. The high searchability of the Bitcoin network allows for us to use transactions efficiently for the purposes of interacting with devices and other peers in the network in the same way we interact with the internet today. The M-Nodes in the network become a way for users on the outside of the network to search the blockchain effectively. You can see in the layout of our Mandala Network, the M-Nodes act as intermediaries between users and the blockchain that allow for data from the blockchain to be accessed efficiently while not relying on every user to monitor the blockchain. We will examine Mandala Networks in the future, but understand that the design is optimal for our purposes of building a new internet.

Keeping this in mind, if you are confused about what metanet is, simply view it as a layer that makes interfacing with the blockchain easier. The “M-Nodes” in the middle layer of the network allow us to build applications that monitor, search, and interact with the blockchain in a highly efficient manner that allow for endless opportunity for Bitcoin at scale.

A few use case examples were listed with a diagram of how each can be structured in the blockchain were shown on one of Dr. Wright’s slides:

Let’s take the first example of supply chain. Let’s say that we can automate an entire supply chain for a company like Walmart or Amazon. The Playstation 4 that I want to purchase is a tokenized asset on the blockchain. When I hit purchase, the assembly line monitors the tokenized asset on the blockchain and immediately recognizes that it has been purchased. The assembly line packages the product for shipping and scans it as it is loaded onto the truck. Immediately my app sees on the blockchain that my tokenized asset (Playstation) has been loaded on the truck and notifies me. I don’t want to wait around to sign for my package all day, so I provide a digital signature at my front door. The courier scans my digital signature and leaves the package at the door upon which my app, continually monitoring the blockchain, notifies me. I get home and find out that my Playstation is defective and notify the company through my app. The company is now able to look at the entire history of the tokenized asset on the blockchain to determine what went wrong.

This is a minute example of what is possible with the world running on top of Bitcoin, but it is made incredibly more efficient due to the searchability inherent to the network. There is a simple example of this already that we are all familiar with:

This is a device that is continually monitoring the blockchain for any money that is sent to an address. As a transaction occurs, the device makes an action to feed the chickens.

How can we use Bitcoin at scale to improve upon this setup? Perhaps every grain of feed can be tokenized on the Bitcoin blockchain? Every chicken, monitored on the blockchain from birth to death with sensors monitoring their blood temperature every step of the way, recorded on the blockchain daily. Every egg, tokenized and monitored through incubation to hatching. Imagine the data that emerges from this monitoring process. Imagine the ability to search through this data and what can be learned from it. Imagine how this will change the world into the future.

This is the beginning of what the peer to peer nature of Bitcoin at scale allows.