Bitcoin is a trend with all the ingredients necessary for changing the world. It spreads virally, funds its own growth, and can’t be controlled from any central point. Like the Web, it could eat the world.
Bitcoin could be the beginning of a massive transfer not only of wealth, but of power — a shift to a new social order. If you change the money system, you change the economy; that in turn changes society, government and industry. The shift to Bitcoins would be more than an economic shift, it would be a shift to a new social order — one built around a “freer market” economy.
Such a shift would be a lot more likely if a new grassroots organization were formed to accelerate, promote and protect the emerging cryptocurrency economy. By helping the cryptocurrency economy to fund its own evolution and defense, it would have a better chance of surviving the inevitable challenges it will soon face.
As this new digital economy emerges, the mysterious Bitcoin creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, could turn out to be one of the most important historical figures of our time.
How Bitcoin would change the social order
The current global social order is ultimately based on our underlying monetary systems and economies. Stable (and unstable) economies are what drive geopolitical change, and in turn, they deeply mold our societies and cultures.
The global economy today is managed, and some would say even controlled, by elite central bankers, including private corporations such as the U.S. Federal Reserve (contrary to popular belief the Federal Reserve is not actually a branch of government, it’s a privately held and privately governed corporation that makes money off of the US Economy).
The reason that Bitcoins are despised by central bankers is that they threaten to undermine their control of global currencies and money flows. If that were allowed to happen, they could lose their grip on global economic activity. This could seriously destabilize the current global economy and the prevailing geopolitical balance of power. It all comes down to money, after all.
Bitcoin’s potential to undermine the very foundations of our economies is bad for central bankers, but not necessarily bad for you and me. Some might argue that the central bankers are a bigger threat to the world than Bitcoins (that depends on whether you believe the world is heading in the right direction or the wrong direction under their control).
Cryptocurrencies can’t easily be regulated or traced, and they have the potential to introduce leaks in the system that could break the carefully constructed paradigms of existing fiat currencies and the power structures that have evolved to manipulate them. In other words the entities that control and benefit most from the status quo old money economy stand to benefit least if cryptocurrencies gain traction.
But painful or not, evolution happens. Crytpocurrencies have all the hallmarks of a change whose time has come. Whether they succeed in the current form, or they simply become a digital currency replacement or equivalent that is just as regulated and controlled as existing currencies remains to be seen. Either way they will change our lives if they are allowed to happen.
The Transfiguration of Satoshi Nakamoto
For the Bitcoin revolution to really achieve sustained hypergrowth, it will need advocacy. There will need to be a way to divert a portion of the Bitcoin economy towards funding initiatives that advocate for, and protect, a healthy, prosperous ecosystem.
I would propose that Satoshi Nakamoto could be reborn in the form of a nonprofit organization: The Satoshi Nakamoto Foundation (SNF) that would have a simple mission: Help the digital currency economy continue to grow and prosper.
The Satoshi Nakamoto Foundation should support and promote all legitimate cryptocurrencies, not just Bitcoins, and it would need to be carefully designed to ensure transparent governance. Look to the Wikimedia Foundation and the W3C, for examples. Two excellent Bitcoin-centric examples are the Bitcoin Foundation and The Mastercoin Foundation.
The Revolution Will be Crowdfunded
To execute its mission, The Satoshi Nakamoto Foundation will need significant ongoing funding. This could be raised from contributions from Bitcoin economy participants.
For example, every cryptocurrency exchange could simply add on a tiny fee to each transaction that goes to this organization, like a cryptocurrency ecosystem tax. This tax could be small enough to make virtually no impact on any individual transaction, but would add up over time. It would be a small sacrifice, and one well-worth making to increase the value of the digital currency ecosystem over time.
The funding from this tax could be used to provide legal defense funds for cryptocurrency market participants, infrastructure improvements around the ecosystem, research and innovation into relevant technologies, marketing and outreach, funding for startups, and funding for other non-profit initiatives to help further the digital currency economy.
It should also be used to buy lobbying influence, and to fund campaigns that put Bitcoin-friendly politicians in office around the world. The Satoshi Nakamoto Foundation should also spend a portion of its resources on initiatives geared towards combating criminal activity and making the new digital economy safer.
If The Satoshi Nakamoto Foundation came into being and was funded sufficiently, it would create a feedback loop: as Bitcoins and other cryptos grow in transaction volume, so would the funding of the organization. This would in turn be channeled to help protect and grow the ecosystem, generating even more and safer transaction volume. Hypergrowth could ensue.
An Economy of the People, by the People, For the People
Unlike other economic governance organizations, The Satoshi Nakamoto Foundation wouldn’t be comprised of a single person or a small group, but rather of up to millions or even billions of people who participate in the new digital currency ecosystem. Instead of an economy controlled by a few, it would it would be controlled by all of us.
This would be revolutionary. But like any revolution, it won’t happen without a fight. If Bitcoins and other digital currencies ever begin to represent a real threat to the status quo, we will see attempts by those in power to stifle them. The many status quo immune responses that will arise to fight the emergence of the new digital economy are another reason why it is important for the The Satoshi Nakamoto Foundation organization to exist.
The Satoshi Nakamoto Foundation needs to happen sooner rather than later, and I hope the original Bitcoin holders (some of whom are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in Bitcoin value) will consider investing some portion of their windfall into an organization like this soon. It’s for their own good, ultimately.
Nova Spivack (@novaspivack) is a technology futurist, angel investor and serial entrepreneur. Presently, he is the CEO and cofounder of Bottlenose, a real-time social intelligence platform that helps corporations discover emerging trends that influence their businesses.