Ok, so what is Bitcoin disrupting ?

Monday, 26 January, Year 7 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

On the tails of the What disruption actually means piece I received a lot of quite pointed questions and rather excited entreaties to apply the theory to the point of everyone's interest. Fine, I shall try.

Note however that most of these have been covered in dedicated articles over the years, and this summary does not replace or supersede their wording. It's just a summary, the originals still control. Also, and related, any omission here does not constitute a promise of absence in the future - if I give you a summary account of a horse that omits to mention its hooves and you build something that depends on the horse not having hooves... you're stuck. So for these reasons, should you proceed on the mere summary instead of the actual articles and in so doing arrive at a contradiction later on, it'll be upon you - I disclaim all liability.

I. All internal political arrangements. This has been implied in experimental work such as the voice model for #bitcoin-assetsi and oft discussed on the channel itselfii, but nevertheless it is difficult to directly grok its magnitude. It literally means all internal political arrangements : in the bedroom, between men and womeniii, in the courthouse, on the street, in the diner and absolutely anywhere and everywhere.

Expect to see in the future a society arranged much closer to the strictures and principles that yielded the London Apprentice Riots of the 1590s rather than the assorted nonsense which yielded the Los Angeles Riots of 1992.

It is up to you whether you wish to process this in the emotional terms of "ohmaigerd, three centuries of so-called progressive progress down the drain" or in the rational terms of "finally, all that gunk gone, good riddance!". It is not up to you however to influence whether this happens or not, and the sooner you come to terms with the fundamentally fraudulent nature of so-called "progressivism" the easier a time you'll have with the future. It is, in proper terms, adaptive.iv

II. All external political arrangements. Bitcoin is a sovereign, in the great tradition of the Most Serene Venetian Republic. The United States is not a sovereign. Not anymore. Nor is any single European nation, nor their bankrupt economico-political superstructure. Nor is any other nation. China is not sovereign, Russia is not sovereign, nor Malta. Bitcoin, and Bitcoin alone is sovereign. The implications of this, of course, are so far reaching as to be readily left as an exercise to the reader.

Whether you do that exericse or not doesn't matter, however : time will, you can just peek into the box later and jot them down, same credit.

III. All business arrangements. Contracts, as such, are dead. Conceptually dead. Courts, as flowing from that, are conceptually dead as well (they're practically dead because of I and II above, but anyway). An entire history of business ? Gone. This is covered in that celebrated GPG contracts piece, I won't insist.

"Banks" or "the banking system" are a minor knot downstream of this point, and that is if we're talking about "major" considerations, such as "may there even exist a FED", or "may there even exist a MPEx-unapproved SEC". Stuff like AML/KYC is not even on the table, minor knots of a minor knot of a two foot tall sagebrush too drowned in forest acreage to matter, they'll go out without even being specifically engaged, like the various gnats, afids and whatnot you throw out unknowingly whenever you throw out your garbage.v

IV. Art. Yes, it goes all the way. As discussed in What is art, art merely exists as the manifestation of the power of the sovereign. The fact that Bitcoin became one just at the time everyone else lost the status practically means that every single piece you thought was valuable became worthless, and worthless items are now valuable. They're all objectively just as worthless, of course, but that is entirely besides the point : the lordship lists enacts art, and unless you're on that list, or a clientvi of someone on that list you're not holding on to a piece of art, but to a piece of garbage.

Yes, you might be able to negotiate a place for historical artefacts in there, but learn from the failure of the "venture capitalists" : you must submit, humbly, abjectly, right now. If you delay, your garbage can go in a bin just as special as the one holding Andreessen Horowitz' "business" paper.

V. Culture. Yes, that's right : outright human culture. This is probably the least comprehensible and most painful bit of the whole show, so let's ease into it by following a recent conversation :

Adlai trinque, mircea_popescu, have you had a look yet at bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=411974.0 ? (at worst, this would just save some money)
Promechard: Proprietary Metablock Chains for Arbitrary Data ... ( bit.ly/1zeOEfP )
mircea_popescu I'm no sure what this is supposed to be ?

Adlai How to do deeds efficiently.
mircea_popescu Mno. It's not how to do deeds efficiently, it's how to include people you don't know. I am not interested.

Adlai That's not what it is, maybe you should read the actual paper?
mircea_popescu Papers of unknown authors have a chance of being read ~0%vii. Especially if said authors are alive. Let them get in the WoT.

Adlai Here's a shorter explanation of the technique: mathgate.info/promechard.php
mircea_popescu Somehow we're not communicating. At issue is the proposition that ideas are worth anything, and somehow people can ride on the value of their ideas.viii This is false. People can only ride on the value of their reputation, and "ideas" are not only worthless, but outright meaningless.ix I simply don't care what some derps not in the WoT think they have to say.

Adlai Who said anything about people riding?x I'm not talking about people, I'm talking solely about the idea.xi If you want some reputation to associate with the idea, shoot the messenger.

mircea_popescu I am not. I am never talking about any idea. Unless it starts with "here's what X said", I'm ignoring it.

This, obviously, is far reaching. It dovetails neatly into the earlier discussion about the proper treatment of pseudoscience :

One should simply ignore the whole matter wholesale, and then allow the proponents to either introduce their ideas de novo, in the original manner such is handled, or otherwise work themselves dry of spittle and wither away.

This flat, unyielding ignorance-as-the-forerunner-of-oblivion is both perfectly safexii and exactly the adequate pill for the poison in dicussion, because it expends very little productive effort on the part of the productive members of society, while at the same time forcing upon the unproductive the exact Gordian knot they've been trying to talk their way around (and plenty, no doubt, hoped they had succeeded). That knot is of course practice, which is to say : if I were to declare I am ignoring "all that Einstein jazz", all physics penned after 1900 or so, and then built a cathodic tube television that worked just fine without accounting for quantum effects, the trashing and bashing of Einstein fans would be all in vain : I'll just shrug my shoulders, keep building and selling my television sets and care not on whit of whatever they may write.xiii Eventually they'll run out of ink, because unlike the productive system of making things, the grant seeking system relies on outside inputs to function.xiv

While it's true that most objects produced and consumed in a sufficiently advanced society are ideal objects, and while it's true that most people in a socialist/welfarist society are patent idiots (who have no use for ideal objects, and so could be made to value any list of ideal objects in any arbitrary order, just like the primitive minds of the original red skins could be convinced to value the fruits of industry pretty much randomly, and in any case divorcedly from their actual market value), it still doesn't stand that the producers of worthless drivel may create a system where they may thrive that's also stable.

Yes, this does mean that a lot will have to be rebuilt. It does also mean that a whole lot of books have just been burned. One shouldn't be too concerned with this matter : Paris exists as a fabled city strictly because it went through this procedure in the skilled hands of Haussmann.

So yes, we're rewriting gnupg. And a lot of other things. This isn't a bad thing, however : no matter how poorly done, the rewrite can't possibly suck as horribly as the original. The past century has produced the majority of written works in history, but also the vast majority of maculature. There's no saving it.

VI. Everything else. Consider :

mircea_popescu "Among purists, the trickery has inspired an identity crisis and cut to the heart of American auto legend. " Heh. Look, it's dying, what do you want from it. Cars are pretty fucking stupid. They had an economic niche which made us forget temporarily, but it's closed up.
pete_dushenski The fake car noises are because the cars are so well insulated now. And the engines are all turbo because "fuel-efficiency"

mircea_popescu But the "identity crisis" is not because of the change in car noise. It's because in the change in the future prospects of the whole activity. Merely disguises itself as "because X", like a domestic argument. In fact, it's becasue there's going to be a divorce.
pete_dushenski You're right, the identity crisis is that of Americans as a whole.
asciilifeform See the advantages: you can reprogram the faux vroom speaker for horse whinny.

mircea_popescu Well that's one thing, but specifically as to the car, this entire car-and-zoning-laws-and-sprawl-and-commute model got killed by the internet. THAT's disruption.And it's killed and dead and not coming back and everyone and everything will change to get rid of cars, and of the sprawl. And of commutes and of the right of "governments" to decide land use.
ben_vulpes US road infrastructure is falling apart due to expense of maintenance. Last generation's boondoggle.

mircea_popescu Understand : no mistressxv is ever poor because "of expense". She's poor because she sucks at sucking cock. It's only expensive because we're really done with them. Otherwise, they'd be a "great investment".
pete_dushenski Cheap gas might give it a few more minutes of breath.

mircea_popescu Notrly, because it's not really about the gas. it's about the inconvenience. People don't want to spend an hour driving, they want to spend that hour derping on a dating app. (Not for fucking, mind you. So give them a work at home job where no woman can ever come and a way to score nude tumblrs and that's the new economic model.)
pete_dushenski Which would be why average joe can't wait to get a self-driving car.
ben_vulpes Weren't they a grand investment for that generation?

mircea_popescu Yeah, they were, back when the interstates were built. That's perhaps the shiniest example of "govt investment in slump" mantra. When it's fucking clear what to spen the money on, so clear even a govt could figure it out, keynesianism works. Had Bush spent ALL the stimulus on making Internet connections of 1tbps universally available, I wouldn't be here snubbing my nose at Horowitz.
pete_dushenski Same thing we're seeing in China at the moment. They've used more concrete in the past 3 years than USA in the past century. All for the interstates and highways and byways.

mircea_popescu Yeah. Bad call.
pete_dushenski "But it worked for USA"xvi
decimation The problem with a fancy interstate is that it costs a shitton of $$$ for upkeep. And of course it is politically impossible to admit 'we are too poor to have nice roads'.
pete_dushenski Impossible sums of money.

mircea_popescu I never heard of anyone complain that their 16yo cocksucker costs money to upkeep. Complaints start after the 30th birthday.
decimation "But, when you sum these things up in terms of what consumers spend in terms of getting to work, various pleasure trips and non-work trips, and then you look at what shippers spend on shipping freight and so on and so forth, and then what the government spends building infrastructure, we're talking shares of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) that approach the amount that we are spending on health care. ... And that's just out of pocket expenditures. "

mircea_popescu All of that used to not matter when one considered on the other side the even greater expenses of the available alternatives. But that other side has evaporated.
decimation 'Other side' being more or less 'private' transport and land use planning?

mircea_popescu No. "Working at home" , "jacking off to porn and looking at sights on pinterest". Work and pleasure. solved, and much safer than actually going there. "It's certainly uncontaminated by any cheese", to quote Cleese.
decimation MMORPGs and other like games probably 'employ' much 'excess' capacity in the US.

mircea_popescu We meet IRL once a year, and even that's extravagant for like half the people. Yet we meet here each day. What if we had to physically drive to Vegas, like Kennedy HAD TO in the 50s ? We would, of course. So "what the driveway cost" would not be a topic of conversation, because Kennedy is not about to not fuck pairs of starlets on accounts of idiotic considerations like that. Who here is on an economy Internet package ? Everyone just "give me the fattest pipe you got" and "oh only that ? INTRODUCE LARGER ONES!"

asciilifeform Lol, yeah, see recent thread where 'what's a gb optic terminal cost plz'.
mircea_popescu Well you should have seen town meetings in the 60s. "FIFTY LANES WE MUST HAS! EACH WAY!"

asciilifeform Laugh if you must, but my town still has these same meetings. The road never actually gets expanded, of course. but there is endless derp on the subject, for so long as I've lived here (~11 years)
mircea_popescu Yeah well you're in the sticks.xvii

Everything else. Literally.

  1. See here #bitcoin-assets +m ; #bitcoin-assets rules and regulations etc. []
  2. Most recently :

    decimation #JeSuisUsefulIdiot : Western Leaders Exploit the Paris Attacks "What was the #JeSuisCharlie demonstration about if not about free speech then? The shortest answer would be: emopolitik. As Colin Liddell has defined it, emopolitik is: “the achievement of political goals and the destabilization of rival political systems through the selective mobilization and projection of decontextualized human emotions and sympathies through social media.”"


    "Concretely, this has meant giving massive publicity and a momentous political significance to the 17 people killed in the Charlie Hebdo and related attacks. This contrasts sharply with the treatment given to any number of other recent tragedies: the 1,400 girls raped by largely Pakistani gangs in Rotherham, England, the tens of thousands of victims of Islamist terrorism in Syria, and the over 4,000 people killed in the Donbass region of Ukraine have not been given the same significance by the Brahmin classes of the West."

    mircea_popescu Yep, that's pretty much what that was. More relevant to our interests : the one public prosecutor murdered by the Argentine state in Argentina. That's what I* care about : statal terrorism. Three guys that fire weapons by hand are not my concern. Three million dickless schmucks sitting behind desks, those are the problem.

    decimation Sitting behind a desk breeds a kind of passive-agressive posturing syndrome.
    mircea_popescu Which has to be beaten out of the afflicted, for everyone's benefit. **

    davout "Emopolitik" <<< this i like.
    decimation Yeah it's a good term. Note that emopolitik is called "political strategy" in the democratic West.
    mircea_popescu Well because the intellect is rarely functioning and universaly expensive to fire up, whereas the emoprocessor is always on. So of course any headcount-based system will try to talk to the latter. This is why you don't want "universal suffrage" : it makes politics a matter of emo manipulation, like marketing. ***

    decimation "System 1" thinking vs "System 2" thinking.
    mircea_popescu Anyway, the solution is quite simple : do not give everyone voice. Have a voicing procedure in place. And the solution will prevail, because the problems universal suffrage straddles its practitioners with are not only unresolvable, but actually heavier than the sum benefits****. As such... it fails on its own.

    decimation One wonders why newspapers haven't caught onto this idea.
    mircea_popescu Because the intellect is rarely functioning and universaly expensive to fire up. Anyway, the only sort of situation where US systems approach survivability are very plain, obvious questions that everyone, even a turtle, would get right. Which is whence the crisis-oriented politics of all US sytems comes from. The only time the US US made sense was during war with Germany. "either yer fer or against!" So in general, sanity only needs very minimal measures to defend itself from the otherwise doomed attempts to relevancy of the US-ists : keep issues from becoming simple matters. Not a hard task these days. (US = Universal Suffrage, not United States).


    * That I is not in the slightest personal, but entirely imperial. It's the Pope saying "I", it's the Doge saying "I", it's the sovereign speaking as to what the world will be like. What the British "Empress" would mean by saying "we", if you prefer.

    ** And it will be. Make no mistake about this : it will be.

    *** That peculiar kind of rape.

    **** See the mounted infrantymen.


  3. Note the plural. It is there because the one man - one woman - equal marriage model is going away, to be replaced by one master - multiple slaves sorts of arrangements. []
  4. On which topic, please review the seminal Kink High piece, with the understanding clear in your head that your fetish is out of favour, and you're now to decide whether you wish to die with it or whether it wasn't really something you cared about all that much anyway.

    Yes, that's right : the irrational, emotionally harried, out of place and unfashionable Repubican of yesterday is you, today. Right now.

    Your "progress" fashion lies dead, like so many other fashions, its blood soon to be gushing freely in the streets. Its blood... that's you. How important is it to you that there flows a lot of blood out of this particular corpse ? []

  5. It's true that Bitcoin is comfortably misreprepresented by people who have little to do with Bitcoin as a sort of cvasi-disruptor for Visa, ie, a parasite on a knot of a knot of a knot of a lost sagebrush (and then even this as lip service only, while actually working to make sure it will be a never-reached high water mark). So what of it ? People thought the combustion engine is a toy, people thought handhelds were toys, people are great at missing the point, especially when missing the point is the comfortable thing to do. []
  6. In the Roman sense of the term. []
  7. See the adventure of Timmy on the topic, and the article discussing it, aptly titled "No, you don't have something to say on the topic". Also topical, the excellent Why I nixed p2p, colored coins and all that jazz, point 4. []
  8. They aren't. []
  9. From the previously linked article :

    What, some guy that has no WoT, no presence, that I don't know Suddenly has an idea ? Suddenly can be a CEO ? No, he can't. Look at NeoBEE for an instructive example. We're not equal, even if we can type the same strings in a box they still aren't the same strings. Depends whose name signs on them. We're not equal, even if two people have "the same idea", in one head it's an idea, in another head it's nothing.

    Yes, quite that strong. A complete demantelation of the naive universalism(s) of the socialists. Theirs is a vague intimation that somehow "ideas" are universal, and an even vaguer implication that somehow words "can mean the same thing", or else that words mean something independent of their source. That you can have authorship without auctoritas, that "what" is said is what matters, to the detriment of the who saying it. Nonsense of the first degree, through and through.

    There's nothing universal, nothing at all. There isn't an identical or even similar "soul" that "all people" share, thus making them somehow, somewhat "the same thing". People aren't the same thing.

    That soul pudding can not be translated into some sort of "reason", as in you know, there's one universal Reason making all people the same thing. There isn't such a reason, nor is language going to work as the new name for Plato's soul. Words have meaning only in context, and context is a strict function of auctoritas, the who involved.

    tl;dr : Plato is still an idiot, and his contributions are still more notable in comedy than philosophy. []

  10. He did, obviously. Proposing that the grandly magnificent b-a uses something is the most flattering proposition one can make about that something, much like a woman offering her cunt is making the most flattering statement about herself that's conceivable : the proposition that her cunt would somehow be worth my attention. []
  11. This is not possible. []
  12. Since there's no actual value in the subject matter ignored, ignoring it is not unlike ignoring the firm convictions of the mentally ill. Such things exist, people in an asylum somewhere could go on about them at length, what difference does it make ? []
  13. Incidentally, this is exactly how Bitcoin has in point of fact worked. In other words, it's not a speculative discussion, but merely a recounting of actual history. []
  14. Here's a thought for all the "sustainability" scholars, jetting here and there to eat catered meals and sleep in hotels they don't own and can't afford to pay for: when are you going to come up with a "sustainable sustainability research" paradigm ? One where you manage to pay for what you yourselves, personally, consume, out of the value you yourselves personally produce ? No, finding a[nother] sugar Daddy does not count. No, no matter how you disguise it. No, it's not true that "everyone lives off a sugar Daddy. Ready for the most challenging challenge ever ?

    Didn't think so. Now stfu. []

  15. See that corn thing to understand the mistress metaphor. []
  16. The socialist regimes of Eastern Europe spent the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s chasing the mythical steel-ton-per-capita metric. Exactly for this reason : it worked against the Axis! Sure, it worked for against Axis in 1944, and it worked for Romania, too, up until about 1965. After that... ouch. []
  17. Washington, D.C.

    It's not even a joke. What do you think Baghdad is, today, and how is that estimation impacted by the fact that it was the capital of the world centuries ago, and the place where the whole Christendom went to learn math, even more centuries ago ? []

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7 Responses

  1. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Monday, 26 January 2015

    Updated to add 5.

  2. Not all that disruption is caused by bitcoin. Bitcoin is a symptom on a larger trend.

    Physical goods still require transportation. And people too. Not for the same reasons as before but still...

    While paper (itself replacing the stone) may no longer be the relevant /predominant mean of information transfer and storage, the need to transfer and store information still remains. Solutions change. Same for Vinyl, CDs etc.

    Disruption changes what the prefered solution is (sometimes issues exist as part of solutions to other problems). Ex: One can still use/buy entirely hand made clothes...

  3. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 28 January 2015

    Not all that disruption is caused by bitcoin. Bitcoin is a symptom on a larger trend.

    This I readily grant. However, Bitcoin is the piece of the puzzle that had been missing to empower all the other bits, as it turns out it's kinda central to the whole thing.

    Almost identically, one could say that not all the disruption post-Renaissance was caused by the steam engine, which was merely a symptom of a larger trend - and this'd be, strictly speaking, true. Also part of that trend, a certain disregard for religion, for instance. Nevertheless, without the steam engine the trend would have never happened, whereas without any other element the trend would have happened just as well, simply differently flavoured.

    Physical goods still require transportation. And people too. Not for the same reasons as before but still...

    Not to the same degree as before, either. Pretty much the only reason people still require transporation is copulation, and god knows they're doing a shitload less of that these days.

    Disruption changes what the prefered solution is (sometimes issues exist as part of solutions to other problems). Ex: One can still use/buy entirely hand made clothes...

    Disruption changes the political implication of economic activities. Ex : one could be a major political force being a tailor, and have a dedicated Tailor's Tower in the fortress of Sighisoara. Today, being a bespoke tailor yields nothing of relevance. Meanwhile being relevantly involved with Bitcoin puts one above the presidents and assorted ex-powers of today, much like being Fugger put one above the Holy Roman Emperor at some point past.

  4. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 28 January 2015

    PS. This is probably a good companion : http://trilema.com/2014/a-complete-theory-of-economics/

  5. Great article Mircea, thank you.

  6. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 29 January 2015

    My pleasure.

  1. [...] should be a very instructive exercise to anyone seriously dedicating themselves to understanding what Bitcoin is disrupting : RealTime Worlds owed 104.5 mn in dollars, MiniGame owes 8`797.38234042 in Bitcoin (about 3.5 mn [...]

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