Blockchain: A Manifestation of the Borg?

This is the Borg, on Blockchain — Illustrated by Lee Cocking

A strange and humorous thought came to me today; the blockchain is a manifestation of the Borg, a fictional alien race created as a plot device for the original Star Trek. Stay with me, I swear, the similarities are uncanny.

The Borg are described as a collection of drones, which are a linked as a collective hive mind. They were formed by assimilating technology and knowledge from other species they encountered on their interstellar travels. They make decisions in unison, and aim for perfection. They posed the main threat in several of the Star Trek story lines. And, their key tag line, usually spoken in creepy unison, was ‘resistance is futile’.

Let’s unpack this.

A Collective Hive mind

The Borg are a linked collective hive mind. Blockchain is a decentralized collective of compute nodes that form the network. Additionally, blockchain’s ‘mind’ is essentially formed via smart contracts — little bits of code that exist on each node and must execute to produce the same outcome across the network, aka, they make decisions in unison.

The blockchain might not yet be sentient (let’s just wait for AI to catch up a little bit), but for intents and purposes it’s a hive mind.

Assimilating Technology

Blockchain is an assimilation of existing technologies — Illustrated by Lee Cocking

The Borg created themselves based on technology and knowledge they assimilated from other species and planets they came across. Likewise, blockchain has assembled itself from a collection of technologies that previously existed, including:

  • Cryptography (Hashing, Encryption, PKI, etc)
  • Distributed Networks
  • Consensus algorithms
  • Databases

One could argue that new technology is now being created on top of this base, and I would agree, but without the assimilation of these pre-existing technologies we wouldn’t have the blockchain we know and love today.

Aiming for Perfection

The Borg aim for perfection in design and decision making. Blockchain, by comparison, is also a technological phenomenon that many praise (worship?) as the next great layer that will bring perfection to technology and life. Perhaps I’m being a bit facetious here, however, like in the early days of the Internet, there is a zeal for blockchain and it’s ability to both disrupt the status quo and create a utopian future that cannot be denied.

To say some of the folks working on blockchain are aiming for perfection would be apropos. Whether we’ll get there or not is still a very large question mark, but it’s amazing to see the the vision being unlocked by the potential of blockchain.

Posing a Disruptive Threat

The Borg often pose as the main storyline threat. Similarly, blockchain is being eyed by many large governments, financial institutions, businesses and executives as a potential force that could disrupt the way they traditionally do business, or fully disintermediate their businesses entirely.

The rubber has yet to fully meet the road on this disruption, but the engine is running and thousands of developers and new distributed organizations are revving the engine, eyeing the demise of traditional fatcats and middlemen.

Resistance is Futile

The Borg’s catch phrase, ‘Resistance is Futile’, might as well be applied to blockchain. If you think it’s just going to go away then you’ve got your head buried in the sand. While cryptocurrencies are the first (highly speculative) manifestation of blockchain, the flurry of active development and real-world projects that are being built as part of the Web 3.0 efforts are only accelerating to deliver many functional use cases.

There is a seed of something powerful in distributed systems that rebalance the power equation in a world where inequality is still paramount.

Make no mistake, blockchain is coming, and resistance is futile.

Food for Thought:

  • Science fiction often signals the coming of real capabilities…what does today’s science fiction tell us is coming in 30 years?
  • Can blockchain actually lead to a distributed utopian society?
  • What are the implications of an interplanetary blockchain?

P.S. Here’s an open invitation for somebody to create the BorgChain… :-)




Cryptocurrency | Product Management | Mobile | Blockchain | Cybersecurity

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Lee Cocking

Lee Cocking

Cryptocurrency | Product Management | Mobile | Blockchain | Cybersecurity

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