The old world was just weird

Everything was based on debt.  The break from the Gold Standard in 1972 was done because the United States no longer had the reserves necessary to support the global demand for US Dollars.  The entire decade was a bank run as the US and the world adjusted to the change in monetary system, one we had not seen since the debasement of the Roman Empires currency two thousand years before.  The foundation of everything was a promise that no matter how crazy things got, the Federal Government would always pay on the treasury bonds, with interest.  For decades, we hunted for investments that would give us a return on our capital that was higher than the constant increase in prices.  Some people threw their value into the Treasury Bonds, not recognizing that they were the foundation of the decay, not the secure foundation of a portfolio as they had been promoted and advertised for hundreds of years.  Other nations dispensed with the circus of raising a debt ceiling, but the politicians used the clowns to keep the people both entertained and at each other’s throats every few years.

Bitcoin and Ethereum changed everything.  No one ever discovered who Satoshi Nakamoto was, and that’s probably a good thing.  Some would have worshiped the Author as a God, while others would have done anything to destroy whoever or whatever had dispelled the illusion that had caused so much disruption during the early to mid 21st century.  But by the year 2030 it was obvious that nothing would or could go back to the way it had been.

Nations dissolved, some violently and some peacefully.  Once the supply chain started using IPFS and tokens to manage data storage and value transfer, the transparency of who was leaching off the transaction costs made it easy to trace the source of products, services and true costs.  The companies that embraced this transparency and the public outcry that resulted became global players with customer and citizen loyalty that rivalled or even exceeded the team spirit of international sports.

There are two main components to the new monetary asset landscape.  The first is of course Bitcoin itself, representing the sum total of all monetary and financial value of the entire Sol system.  Other digital assets exist and have their loyal users, but they are all priced and freely exchanged with Bitcoin so they are simply side chains of little consequence to most people.  The second component is Ethereum, which maintained the Proof of Stake protocol after the transition to 3.0 but is now the system wide transaction currency upon which 90% of all commerce takes place.  It took until after 2025 for Vitalik and the other developers to recognize the best functional capital design and how it relates to population, but when they finally launched into the global transformational phase, the world was ready and waiting.  Going from a few hundred million coins to 8 billion over a few years caused the perceived price to fall temporarily, but the result of bringing every human on the planet into the same monetary and transaction system was transformative in ways nobody could have predicted.

Now there is no division between the investor class and anyone else, because everyone can take advantage of the same opportunities.  Of course there is inequality, but there is also a much better understanding of how the system operates and how to build our financial foundation.  Those who felt the transition the most were the middle men, the gate keepers, the high priests of finance who were constantly trying to advertise their expertise in reading charts, graphs and technical details that kept people away.  Some of the fancy tools they used are still around and people have fun in the metaverse building more detailed models and 4D graphics renderings of this or that period of history.  The data is out there if you want to spend time on it.  Have fun.

When I said everyone, I meant it.  There are almost 10 billion people on or around Earth now.  And each and every one of us is known, respected and provided for by the systems we have put into place.  You can have as much or as little privacy as you want, we kept the heart and soul of the old 4th amendment to the original US Constitution.  Everyone is secure in their effects and affairs, and the only way to break through the shields that you choose to have in place is via a warrant issued by a registered governance institution.  Laws still exist, and they are enforced by market supported agencies in full public transparency.  The media continues to keep watch and they tell our stories, but these days when something is revealed as a problem action commences immediately to try and solve that problem. No more waiting for months or years.  No more endless debates that divide and conquer while those who stand to gain from the chaos count the gains.  Data is collected from live feeds and historical records instantly, tokens are staked as votes on the table of justice and decisions are made to repair what was broken and prevent future harm.  The Native tribe mantra of looking back seven generations and looking forward another seven generations is the core of our justice system.  All in public view and review.

We all have our favorite sectors, industries, companies and geographical divisions, and now we can capitalize on them, going from broad sectors or regions down to the most narrowly focused projects.  Want to invest in Africa or South America as they continue their meteoric rise?  There are dozens of tokens that track those entire regions.  Is there a specific solar project at a specific latitude and longitude that is supporting a family member back home?  You can buy the token of that solar farm and capture a fraction of the mining rewards collected by those panels, all while helping to provide a constant income stream for your family though the shared staking service.  And your family back home can stake some fraction of their capital into any project on the planet or around it.

We no longer need brokers.  Defi won, hands down.  The transparency that the old regulators demanded was always there, built into the systems from the very beginning.  What was missing was not people looking over our shoulders, but people looking over THEIRS.  And not just some people, but all of the people.  Full public transparency shook the trees and the earthquake caused a great deal of loss.  Dynasties fell, and new ones rose in their place.  The billionaires who were actually doing the right thing we’re rewarded, and the others disappeared.  The bill in the US Congress to make this happen was controversial, but in the end inevitable.  Nobody wanted to be seen on the side of secrets when it was those secrets that were burning the world around them.

The Wall Street Historical Museum still maintains the facade of the buildings, and there are even some people who stage reenactments of the biggest trading days over the past few centuries.  Black Friday in 1929 is a popular one.  Gold Thursday players often seem like they are starting in one of the ancient Greek tragedies when they recount the fall of the value of the metals commodity market on the day that the first kg of Gold was mined on an asteroid.  Visiting these historical places today reminds me of visiting Salem, Massachusetts and visiting the museum of Witchcraft.  Old spooks designed to scare children and keep them in line.

There were people on both sides of the old left and right divisions who wasted years and tons of capital trying to convince us that the only way for us to survive the coming apocalypse was to follow the sound of their pipes and ignore all others.  Those who allowed themselves to be swept along in that tide eventually drowned, thankfully not taking the rest of us with them.  And this kind of noise came from all sides, until they were finally silenced by the overwhelming evidence against their poorly thought out positions.  Free market was always a lie, and socialism lost the battle that all -isms eventually succumb to, losing the core of their meanings in conflicting and contradictory definitions that are nowhere close to reality.  There are parts of the core messages from each side that retain meaning, but using the two sides as weapons against our fellow man will hopefully never be seen again.  It said a lot about the future of our civilization when both sides decided to just give up the advertising bonanza that was costing them so much and join the rest of us who had given up on them decades earlier.

Because the truth is that we don’t live in a burned out post destruction wasteland.  We live in paradise, at least when compared to the old days of the industrial revolution.  Climate change is on the retreat as CO2 levels come back down.  Biodiversity will take centuries to recover, but we now know enough about what we have and we are all dedicated to preserving it.  The Great Recycling initiative succeeded when the United Nations signed off on the tokenization strategy.  Planting trees and cleaning beaches were no longer just moves of desperation or attempts by small groups of inadequately funded but dedicated believers, they are a well supported enterprises employing millions of people all over the globe.  Not only in urban areas where people lived where they could see the trash all around them, but under the grass of all of the landfills, inside and at the bottom of lakes and streams, under the surface of the ocean, in the air above us.  We thought that this would be AI cleaning up after us, but why depend on an AI system when there are billions of people looking for a way to contribute, to earn a living and to save and stake capital for their families and their future while improving and repairing the world they live in today.

The metaverse was not a retreat from the world, it was a training ground.  If people could and did spend thousands of dollars to joy ride a rover on the surface of the Moon, why not build a rover that could be remotely piloted to pick up trash along a city street, with tokenized compensation based on how much you and your rover could collect.  Transparency guaranteed so nobody could claim your share of the work.  Bird watchers could follow their favorite song birds via drones that were tiny and silent, collecting migration data that scientists paid well for.  Land management was no longer limited to ranchers and cowboys, they could now employ dozens of helpers who used data collected from any number of sources to watch every member of the flock and keep them safe, all from the comfort of home unless you really wanted to be in a saddle.

The landfills became prime mining areas for the basics of glass, metals, and organics.  Everything was collected, broken down and then sold off as components to industrial players who made good use of the material.  Why spend the money to mine raw which cost so much thanks to global discouragement regulations when there was a well equipped army of diggers operating independently or in teams to reuse what humanity had spent the last 300 years tossing into waste streams?

Even in space people are cooperating globally to prevent the Kessler syndrome by hunting down and collecting the nuts and bolts that had been lost in orbit for a hundred years.  The advantage here was that the major players pay a premium to hunters who work tirelessly to clear their orbital paths.

These things had always been on the drawing board but the problem was that nobody could figure out a way to “pay for them” in the ancient tax and spend government financed fiat nightmare.  It’s almost like people did not understand what capital was in the first place, let alone how to use it, accumulate it or save it effectively.  With tokenization, all of that changed.  Suddenly things like the Plastic Bank, which was a proof of concept, showed that everyone across the globe could understand that cleaning their world could be done and that the effort involved had value that could be and would be rewarded.  At first it was municipal governments working alongside private charities that launched the concept to try and deal with the massive amounts of recycling and waste generated by the Amazon driven delivery economy.  Got a box of a certain size in good condition?  There is a market for that.  Have things that you need to get rid of?  Whatever it is, there is a market for it.  And when everything is on an open blockchain, the risk of fraud goes away almost entirely.  Confirm a pickup with a scan of a pre-generated code, and everything from the transfer of value to the data management of the supply chain takes place behind the scenes automatically. 

It might still take a few days to get something from one part of a continent to another, but just like the IPFS system itself, content based supply chains can identify the closest source for what you need and can get it to you as quickly as a pickup can happen.  It doesn’t matter in the cloud who you are or who you are buying from, it’s all just cloud layers.  Sure the big players like Amazon still get a lot of that business, but when the layer 2 apps came out and people could indicate that they wanted to avoid this or that source for products and distribution and it no longer delayed their purchases, these big companies got on board with the demands for reform really fast.  The alternative was to allow those layer 2 apps to eat their market share and make them not just invisible but utterly destroyed.

The challenge of trust has been with us for thousands of years, and with tokenization it became an understandable and trackable resource.  China, before it collapsed, tried implementing a social score system that provided positive rewards for good behavior and negative rewards for bad behavior.  But their citizens didn’t agree to the subjective identification of good and bad, and the black market explosion caused the entire system to self destruct much like what had happened on the Soviet Union a half century earlier.  When trust is recognized as a commodity resource in the metaverse and people no longer have trust in government institutions, it is the institutions that collapse.  The Blockchains had made it ever more costly to maintain the firewall anyway, so that was erased when Web 3.0 started to show such incredible returns on a global investment scale.

Putting a value on carbon in a global market was a dream for some and a nightmare for others.  So many systems designed in the 20th century were dedicated to making sure that one company, one country or even one person gained while the others lost.  We wasted so much time and it cost us all so much.  The US Dollar seemed like a good idea at the time, but all it took was the launch of the OIL cryptocommodity for everything to collapse.  Being able to buy and sell oil using the token meant that you no longer needed permission from the banks.   The other major commodities followed with their own tokens, and then services followed.  Gas prices became less and less meaningful as the EV market replaced ICE vehicles, and with the decentralized and global market for electricity generation energy prices stabilized and became universal.  And the banks no longer mattered.  But the real change came when the CARB token was launched with the goal of not just reducing the amount of carbon we put into the atmosphere but to literally pull it out of both the air and the oceans.

Value itself is a civilization based resource, so as soon as the markets told the UN which way the wind was going to blow them, they decided to finance the creation of the token design that would save us.  Nations pledged capital into the pool.  The staking rewards from that pool went back to the countries that had invested into the token, along with a portion going to buy the reserve asset.  Some of these rewards were used to finance the development and distribution of the equipment that people needed to clean things up, and the more we saw success in the efforts of these early adopters, the more money was staked, the more the reserve asset was purchased and the more equipment could be financed.  People thought that the bubble of the carbon price would collapse, but because of the fixed supply of the reserve asset, such a collapse turned out to be pushed further and further ahead of us on the timeline.  We still hear chicken little every once in a while, but the data doesn’t show that will happen.  A well designed system of value management can do this easily.  We just had to trust the market of ideas to come up with a solution.  Imagine trusting people again.  It’s amazing.

The Fundamental Resources of Civilization

Civilization is a human construct, taking vast amounts of energy and time from millions, even billions of people around the world.  Civilization would not exist without those people, so there must be specific things that humans bring to the table of the universe in order to transform a raw landscape with physical objects, energy and natural laws into something that can be called a “civilization”.  This essay is an attempt to explore those things that only humans in our experience have ever brought into this universe in abundance.

There are four major resources that are created of, by and for the human mind, body and soul.  By soul I do not mean spirit, which would get into religious context that are beyond the scope in many ways but integral in one specific way.  Religions are passed from person to person and down from generation to generation in the form of stories, ideas, concepts.  Whatever the language, whatever the medium, it is the story that is told that we want to focus on here.  It’s the information, the data.  It can be measured, either in the number of words in a book, the number of pages in a manuscript, the number of equations in a proof, the number of rows in a database.  Data can be stored, it can be shared, recorded, the content can be reviewed, hashed, etc.  Whatever language is being used, it can tell the same story in different ways, from different perspectives, but it all comes down to what is being relayed.  In all of its forms, data is the soul of civilization, telling its story to its members and keeping that story alive as that civilization grows and changes over time.

The second primary resource of a civilization is productive capacity.  This is the ability to take an idea and turn it into an object or to use it to do useful work, taking the materials, energy and natural laws of the universe and turning it into something usable by humans for human needs and wants is truly magical.  Productive capacity is that spark of genius that takes a series of numbers and transforms it into a visual chart, or taking a natural law like heat and pressure and turning a gear shaft with fire and steam, that capacity can be measured.  It’s the efficiency of an engine, the value of an invention, the yield of a farm or the assembly quota of a manufacturing plant.  It is the ability to do work.  Not the value represented by the speed of an engine or the price of a crop or manufactured good, but the sheer transformation of raw materials into finished product, or the generation of ideas in the pure service economy.

Value is a third primary resource of civilization, and I’m talking about the core functions of money itself, those being a medium of exchange, a unit of account and a store of value.  Money can come on many different forms, and can be measured in many different ways, but all of these are aspects and facets of those core concepts.  Whether we are talking about fiat currency within a jurisdiction or country, or commodity money representing a specific amount of a material, our economic system depends on our willingness to accept that things have a certain value and that those things can be exchanged for goods and services.  Just like different languages can tell the same story in different ways, different currencies can hold and represent the same value in different ways.  Whether you are talking about the highest valuable national currency in the world with the New Zealand Dollar or one of the least valuable currency (not including the hyperinflated ones) like the Iranian Rial, we do accept that they each have a certain value that can be used to purchase goods and services around the world.

The final primary resource of civilization that only exists between creatures with a certain sized neural network within the brain is trust.  When one gives their word that they will do something and they follow through, they build that trust, and when someone breaks their word either through intent or forgetfulness, it degrades that trust.  We can even bypass some monetary value in a direct trading economy when we mutually agree that painting a picture is worth a certain number of dinners or a ring is worth a lifetime of memories.  Sure, the painting might be valued a certain amount if you look at it exclusively as canvass, ink and time, but our ability to strike a bargain and come to an agreement can change the value at will.

What got me thinking about all of this in the first place was the rise of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.  There will only ever be 21 million Bitcoin in the network once all of the coins are mined.  But each Bitcoin can be easily subdivided into 100 million decimal components, called Satoshis.  That final mining operation to bring all 21 million Bitcoins into circulation is projected to happen in 2078, and the expected population from the United Nations for that year is 10,637,573,903.  I know that this is just math, but if we take 21 million, multiply by 100 million, and then divide by that population figure, we get an equal distribution of 197,413.43 Satoshis per person in 2078.  That’s with all things being perfectly equal.

Bitcoin is a store of value, a unit of account and a medium of exchange.  The act of the exchange and the creation of the blocks in the blockchain is an act of productive capacity, turning raw data into a unit of work, moving money from this wallet to that wallet, and keeping it all on a shared and trusted ledger.  But it’s just one of a thousand different blockchains out there, each of which has a value, both in terms of market capitalization and individual unit worth in the open market.

Let’s get back to the analogy.  A resource in the real world can be abundant or scarce.  There are oceans of water on Earth, and there are also vast deserts.  Water is only one resource though.  The Sahara desert is composed of sand and dust that is carried across the Atlantic Ocean by the wind and drops in rain drops onto the Amazon Rainforest, providing a great deal of the nutrients and materials over time that the Rainforest needs to thrive.  Scientific investigations into what the global effects would be if efforts were put into turning the Sahara green again with plant life and rich forests showed that it would reduce this transfer of materials to South America and that the Amazon might end up losing much of the nutrient rich soil, becoming a less dense forest, even a savannah or desert given enough time.

Now think about the resources of civilization in those terms.  There are places in the world where data is very scarce, people don’t have access to education or any information, they are limited only to what stories are passed from generation to generation and the knowledge that they need to survive.  And there are great libraries that hold vast numbers of books, information filling every corner in quantities that no individual human could ever consume in a single lifetime.  There are places in the world where thousands, even millions, of people live with a revenue of less than a dollar per day, and then we have places where thousands of dollars are spent by a single person for a hotel stay for a single night, or millions of dollars pass from hand to hand in heartbeats or even shorter timelines within commodity trading markets.  There are fields of war where thousands of years have passed since anyone trusted anyone else, and other places where the struggle to survive means that all productive energy is spent just moving water from a river to a cache basin to do a single load of laundry for a single family.

What makes a civilization a “success”, and how can that be measured?  The reality is that it is the equality or inequality, the equity or the lack of equity in any or all of the resources of civilization that can be used to quantifiably measure the success of that civilization.  We don’t need each and every person in the population to have exactly 197,413.43 Satoshis in 2078, but we also don’t want to see a world where a small number of people control wallets holding 20.9 Million Bitcoin while the rest of the world fights over just 10,000,000 Satoshis.  Even given that as just part of the total economic picture, it still reflects the metaphor of Deserts, Oceans and Rainforests, with different resources available in different quantities in different places, and all resources needing to be put together deliberately for civilizations to thrive.

The physical resources we have available on Earth are limited, and they do create limits to what we are capable of doing on this planet.  But the Solar System is more than just Planet Earth, it includes all of the other planets, the asteroids, the comets and even the Sun itself.  And this system is only one of billions of star systems within one among billions of Galaxies in the Cosmos.  What we must do is use the resources of civilization, which are information and data, productive capacity, money/value and our willingness to trust ourselves and our fellow man to reach beyond just the Earth towards the stars.  And we must do so with equity and equality at the center of the story of humanity.