The Societal Stack

Aleksandar Svetski
Dec 16, 2019 · 7 min read

Money, as the fabric of society.

“NOTHING GREAT WAS EVER BUILT ON $#*& FOUNDATIONS”

Aleks Svetski

The contents of this final chapter are covered in greater depth in:

Why Bitcoin Matters.

Consider this an overview, along with a conclusion on the first edition of The Bitcoin Times.

Thankyou for coming with us this far.


To understand money and Bitcoin, we need to go back in time, and go down the societal stack.

It’s only when you understand the foundations of everything we see around us, that things start to make sense.

As per the diagram above, you’ll note we have communication as the lower foundation, or the basis for everything. I like to call it the “Societal Sub-Strata”

Money as a mechanism via which we can exchange, specialise, measure, collaborate, cooperate and organise sits directly on top.

Everything else, I’ve called “society” then sits above it. Communication is the prerequisite for cooperation, which in turn, is the predicate for society and if we split communication into two broad categories.

  • The lower foundation is the biological ability to communicate. We share this same ability with every other species on the planet / that we know of
  • The upper layer is Homo Sapiens unique ability to communicate on abstract concepts and ideas. This is unique to us, and it’s this layer that allows for broad-based coordination.

‘Shared Fictions’ as Yuval Harari, termed it in his seminal piece “Sapiens”.

In communicating about fantasies / imaginary concepts and fictions, we’re able to “hack” our biology and attain the trust required for us to cooperate in numbers that exceed our biological limits.

Or another way to phrase it:

  • We’re the only species able to cooperate both flexibly and in large numbers
  • This is all thanks to the stories we tell each other and choose to collectively believe.

Why is this important?

This unique ability has allowed us to build the complexity in society that we often take for granted today.

It has allowed us to cooperate in numbers that exceed what’s called “Dunbar’s number”.

As a result, we’ve evolved from some insignificant ape in the middle of the food chain, to the apex species, at the top of the food chain, who rule the world and have created what scientists now call the “anthroposphere”. The layer of the planetary ecosystem associated with us.

This is an extraordinary feat; made possible (at least as far as we understand) by our ability to hack trust as described above.

For those of you who think you might not be familiar with any of these shared fictions, here’s a few examples; that the world we live in today was built on, and that you buy into daily:

  • Gods
  • Kings
  • Religion
  • Corporations
  • Laws
  • Nations
  • Human Rights
  • Government

And what’s the most important and long-standing shared fiction of all?

Money

Money is the ultimate tool of human cooperation, and it’s how we’ve created everything we see around us. When people tell me that it’s “just money”, they truly don’t get it.

Money is your labour, in measurable form. Without our ability to objectively and collectively agree on something to represent value, the entire world stops.

This is why we need to take any reinvention of money seriously, and it’s also why Bitcoin is such a big deal.

The internet transformed the way we communicate and made information
+ data natively digital. The current monetary infrastructure has not yet taken that step. It’s a digital veneer upon an analogue system.

This transformation is going to happen — it’s no longer an if, but a when — and the best “stack” for a global monetary infrastructure is a digital one with a robust, secure foundation, and layers of abstraction + complexity built on top.

Remember:

You can’t build monuments on poor foundations.

Money is fundamental to the societal stack, and as a result it must be sound.

If you enjoyed this section and would like to learn more; the following will help give you more context and a better understanding of how we’ve evolved, the role money played and Bitcoin’s potential place in society:

In Closing

This has been quite a journey — and a long few days for myself and the team at the time of writing, and almost a year since it was written that it’s now been published on Medium.

If you’ve come this far and read the entire paper — I just want to say thank you for the time you’ve dedicated to it.

Time is our most precious resource; and its absolute scarcity is a big part of why we value it so much.

I would argue that Bitcoin is the next most scarce resource and I hope that by now you appreciate its importance as well — if not as much as I do, at least a lot more than you did before.

Whilst this paper was not meant to be a scientifically detailed exposé on Bitcoin, it was meant to paint a picture, drive home a viewpoint, present a logical argument and help open your mind to what might be the true zeitgeist of our time.

I’ll leave you with some final quotes from one of my favourite books, written by someone I consider the quintessential contrarian, along with some final quote-related thoughts for you to take away.

Peter Thiel’s Zero to One:

  1. “Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.”
  2. “Today’s ‘best practices’ lead to dead ends; the best paths are new and untried.”
  3. “Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”

When you think about those three quotes, I hope you too can relate them back to the essence of this paper, because:

  1. It’s the courageous who stand by Bitcoin and are willing to call it out as it is. They’re also known as the stubborn, dedicated minority.
  2. Today’s banking and financial infrastructure is a best practice that will lead to what we have now. Going somewhere new will require a new path.
  3. Bitcoin was the zero to one innovation. The moment already happened. Copying it and trying to make a “better blockchain” is pointless. The next wave of innovation will happen on top. That’s where we all must go.

Thank you,
The Bitcoin Times editorial team


Acknowledgments

I want to give a special thanks to my team at Amber who’ve been patient whilst we put this together, including Chantelle De La Rey who came up with the idea originally, and Ryan Neale for helping put the site together.

As you may have gathered by now, @ Amber; we’re bullish on Bitcoin.

In fact, we believe everyone should have some exposure to this new network & asset because we‘re confident it’s the most incredible opportunity of our generation.

Our mission at Amber is to make that exposure as simple, low risk & automated as possible, and we’re doing that by taking the “bad habit” of spending all the time, and transforming it into an option for the future, by investing the spare change from your daily purchases into an asset with extraordinary upside.

If you’d like to find out more about what we’re doing, feel free to reach out on any of the details below:

Inspiration

We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and this paper wouldn’t be complete without a special thanks to all the brilliant minds that have helped inspire this line of thought, including but not limited to:

+ Many more.

and of course, Satoshi Nakamoto. Whoever you are. Thank you & Stay hidden.


Hard Copy. 2020

Want to buy a Limited Edition Hard Copy of The Bitcoin Times Ed.1 ?

What kind of Bitcoin people would we be if we didn’t print limited edition, fixed supply, signed + barcoded copies of The Bitcoin Times and allowed people to buy them using a custom bitcoin & lightning cart?

Seriously though.
The aim here is not only to talk about it, but to show its use.

Lightning is early but awesome, and the ability to codify the payment parameters & have them come in instantly from anywhere in the world, at basically no cost, is incredible.

Now….Owning one of these as a hard copy might seem trivial, but we hope that in 20yrs time, when Bitcoin’s captured a much larger slice of the global capital pie, these initial edition Bitcoin Times newspapers will be worth something, particularly when they’re out of print and only priced in Sats.



The Bitcoin Times

Facts over Fiction. Practice over Theory. Timeless, Limited edition content, news, & information on Bitcoin. https://tippin.me/@timelessbitcoin

Aleksandar Svetski

Written by

CEO @ www.amber.app. Editor @ https://bitcointimes.news. Bitcoin, Money, Philosophy, Business, Startups & Entrepreneurship. https://tippin.me/@AleksSvetski

The Bitcoin Times

Facts over Fiction. Practice over Theory. Timeless, Limited edition content, news, & information on Bitcoin. https://tippin.me/@timelessbitcoin

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