Bitcoin contribution to civilization: the idea that crypto means can prevent tyranny of the few over the many
It’s the underlying design principle of Bitcoin: cryptographic means designed to prevent any minority from dominating the majority. Power is vested within the community of traders, and no cult, no sub-community can gang up and impose their narrow interest on the population at large. Many have commented on the intellectual beauty of short-lived chains that surrender to the call of the many, and evaporate under the momentum generated by the chains that are formed by more traders. The few may try, and temporarily succeed, but not for long. Bitcoin is so elegantly designed that nodes don’t have to be vigilant 24/7. Nodes may sign out when they like, and sign in at some point of time later. The process works by the numbers. It is the conceptual equivalent of Darwinistic evolution, the count of species of a given attribute determines the fate of that attribute.
Let’s dwell for a moment on this idea, on this challenge: to build crypto products that inherently guarantee that power is vested, and is cemented within the community at large. Bitcoin as currency may be the future of money, or just the future of criminal money — the jury is still out. Blockchain per se may be used to replace public registration or applied to secure public records, or to something else to be thought of later — but blockchain is but one cryptographic solution to this simple challenge: means to prevent the few from dominating the many. Power is to be kept in the community at large. This idea, credited to the old Greek, has evolved throughout the centuries until its clarity and prominence today. The many may elect few to lead them, but should never surrender the power to dis-elect them. Can cryptography help, well it is worth a try!
Why not avail ourselves to the marvel of technology and allow the many to directly express their opinion on issues of morality, habit, and norms. Politicians favorite phrase is ‘The American people want da da da…’ How does anyone know what the American people want, short of asking them. Instant crypto voting, credible, and full proof, will follow on how “The American People” think about the moral issues of the day (abortion, gay marriage, admission of Syrian refugees, etc.).
This is an open letter to my students, and to any one with the juice to meet this challenge: think of how to apply the bitcoin idea of securing power in the hands of the society that operates under this power, and preventing any sub-society from running away with the store.