Bitcoin is Cannabis
a Look into Anti-Fragility
I’m often asked the question “What could kill bitcoin?”. All answers to this question are speculative because quite frankly, nothing has ever come close to getting bitcoin to stop working. Bitcoin began on January 3rd, 2009, and for all intents and purposes has been publishing a block every 10 minutes ever since. The meme in the bitcoin world that encapsulates this idea is tick tock next block.
Regardless of whether the question “What could kill Bitcoin” can be answered, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of ways in which bitcoin could be killed, or at least slowed down. If I am going to be heavily invested in something, it is a good idea for me to be aware of its weaknesses.
I think that the best approach to figuring out whether or not bitcoin can be killed, is to find historical analogs to compare bitcoin to based on shared properties. The property I am most interested in exploring is “Anti-Fragility”.
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I believe the term AntiFragile was coined by Nasim Nicholas Taleb. He describes AntiFragility as a property of systems that can be described mathematically in the following way. An AntiFragile system is one that responds to negative stimuli (stressors, shocks, volatility, noise, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures) in a positive way. Put simply, an anti fragile system improves when it is exposed to influences that should in theory weaken it.
Bitcoin as a whole, appears to be “AntiFragile”.
When a group of miners go offline, bitcoin keeps producing 1 block every 10 minutes. The miners that stay online receive more proportionate compensation after miners leave.
Bitcoin is a globally distributed idea and codebase, both of which are protected by the 1st amendment in the United States of America. It was recently discovered that the bitcoin white paper is sitting on every single MacBook. (see here)
When countries (like China) ban it, the network remains unaffected and actually benefits economically from the increased exposure from state actors (Streisand Effect)
When Greenpeace administers a “Change the Code” campaign due to bitcoin’s “on-the-surface” negative environmental impact, droves of people who are invested and educated in the nuance of bitcoin quickly and competently deliver facts to social media platforms.
Bitcoin miners are incentivized to find cheap energy sources which is a driving factor that increases the overall level of decentralization over time.
The bitcoin blockchain is replicated and stored on hundreds of thousands of computers all over the planet. All instances of the blockchain would simultaneously need to be destroyed in order to erase to kill bitcoin. Like a seed, even if one survives, the blockchain may live on and replicate.
I’m sure there are more aspects that make bitcoin anti fragile, but the title of this letter is “Bitcoin is Cannabis”. So what the hell am I talking about there?
Cannabis and Antifragility
Like I said earlier, I went looking for historical analogs for things that are anti fragile in order to determine what happens when something that is anti fragile is threatened with destruction. One of the best examples I can think of, is cannabis, or the marijuana/hemp plant.
Generally speaking, most plants exhibit many aspects of antifragility, but the cannabis plant in particular has been the focal point of almost 100 years of extreme social scrutiny, propaganda, and misinformation campaigns. Guess what… cannabis is still around and thriving.
The criminalization of cannabis was the result of many things, but the major factors are commonly understood to be driven by racism and crony capitalism. That is, foresters, loggers, and paper mill owners rallied and lobbied to get HEMP criminalized by using hemp’s cousin “Marijuana” as a scapegoat. They put out extremely effective propaganda campaigns, now titled “Reefer Madness”, and convinced the public that Marijuana was leading to the destruction of the social fabric. The narrative was that black and Mexican people were smoking marijuana and committing crimes, so we have to make it illegal. Behind the scenes, the forestry industry accomplished the snuffing out of the hemp industry, netting them billions of dollars.
You can’t get rid of a plant
Cannabis never went away. In fact, like many things categorized as taboo within a society, its use increased. For some reason, humans are really curious about things they are told they can not and should not have. It was naive of anyone to think that they could outlaw the growing, harvesting, refinement, and smoking of a plant.
You can’t get rid of fermentation
Outlawing cannabis was as naive as the 13 year alcohol prohibition that took place in the states. Alcohol is the result of fermentation. Making alcohol illegal is like outlawing the natural process of fermentation. Although I’m being a little hyperbolic, I'm trying to illustrate how silly it is for the government to think that they have the power to make a natural process illegal.
It Grows Underground
In both circumstances (marijuana and alcohol prohibitions), the intention of the law was to decrease the use and proliferation of the things in question. The outcome was the opposite. These substances were pushed underground, forming black markets with inflated prices and instantly creating a class of criminals within society. The fastest way to make 10% of your population criminals is to make cannabis illegal. No one stops using cannabis because the law suddenly says it’s illegal, they just find new ways of doing the thing that they want to do.
There is almost an unspoken urgency to keep the thing alive because of the threat from state actors. This is antifragility. People who wish to propagate cannabis or alcohol create systems that keep it from ever being destroyed, making the entire system (markets, facilities, supply chains) stronger.
Bitcoin will be Pushed Underground in the West
This is a prediction of mine. I don’t think that we’ve learned much here in Western Society with respect to trying to ban things that cannot be banned. We’re more concerned with the “optics” of the situation than the reality of the situation. We have to ban marijuana not because we can, but because we want to send the right message “to the kids”. I believe that the same misinformation and propaganda tactics will be used to discredit bitcoin and bitcoin users.
The Stigmatization of Bitcoin and Bitcoiners
Bitcoiners are money launderers, drug dealers, and scam artists. They’re criminals. They don’t care about the environment. Bitcoin boils the ocean and will singlehandedly push temperatures 2 degrees higher globally [lmao — no it won’t]. Bitcoiners are greedy capitalists. Since you can’t seize bitcoin, we can’t take their wealth and re-distribute it to the poor or use it for social programs. Bitcoiners evade taxes. They’re not contributing to society.
I can totally see an attack on bitcoin by state and/or corporate actors from the angle that bitcoin is bad for the environment. That’s an easy argument to make. “Bitcoin uses lots of energy, therefore it’s bad”. It’s a simple, untrue, and effective argument for people who haven’t taken the time to think about the dynamics at play. I believe this angle will be used to outlaw bitcoin, bitcoin mining, the bitcoin network, running nodes, and the use of bitcoin in commerce. Get ready bitcoiners, I put the likelihood that bitcoin will be banned in the west at 50/50.
Bitcoin Will be Stronger
Bitcoin has a massive advantage in the coming information war. It is a digital technology that is anti fragile. “The Youth”, in general, have an exponentially larger edge in seeing technologies they like and benefit from succeed. It is the engrained and at-risk power class that stand to lose their positions. Generally speaking, the class of individuals that will argue for a blanket ban bitcoin are few in numbers and stand to lose a lot of power, control, and money if bitcoin succeeds. The class of individuals that will benefit from bitcoin are plentiful, resourceful, and will inherit the earth.
If the core apparatus of a society rejects bitcoin, it will thrive elsewhere. If it is made illegal, peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges (cash-like transactions) will become the norm. If nodes are illegal to run, they will be run on solar, wind, and hydro, with internet provided by StarLink, behind a VPN.
Bitcoin is the mythological hydra. Cut off one head and 2 more will take its place.
Thanks for reading,