In case you missed it, we are re-running Miguel Cuneta's explanatory piece on the intellectual rationale behind Bitcoin's rise, first published on in April 2019

Understanding the unstoppable nature of technology.

What is the inevitability thesis of technology? To sum it up in one sentence:

"Once we build a machine, we want it to go somewhere."

Instinctively, this sounds wrong. Don't we usually want to go somewhere and therefore build machines to get there? Didn't we look at the moon and say "hey, we want to go there, let's build a rocket!"? Apparently, that isn't the case. We create technology first, and then we find its uses.

The Inevitability Thesis is an idea stating that once a technology is introduced into a culture, what follows is the inevitable development of that technology. This development occurs not because of technological determinism but because we are "able" to pursue it, and it seems like the right thing to do.

This idea is often referred to as the technological imperative, and this development can occur with little thought or input from society.

In many cases, the only ingredient needed is time.

Some would argue that technology merely opens a door, but who decides which doors to open in the first place? An open door is an invitation, and once we have seen what is behind it, it's almost impossible to close it and turn back.

Let's examine that a bit more.

Technology plays a crucial role in enhancing the basic building blocks of society. Without technology, there is no progress. Without the first forms writing, which were cuneiform ledgers, we would not have the internet. Without the first forms of money, which were seashells, we would not have Bitcoin. Every basic building block is enhanced by inventions and innovations, one after the other, until a pinnacle is reached. Each advancement is amplified by the last, which is why we have exponential growth in technology. The Six Laws of Technology

Melvin Kranzberg's six laws of technology state

1.Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.

Technology interacts with society because its development will always have social, environmental, and human impacts that go far beyond the primary purpose of the tech itself. The same kind of technology will have different results when used in different contexts or introduced under different circumstances.

2. Invention is the mother of necessity.

Every new technology will require additional technical advances in order to realize its full potential.

3. Technology comes in packages, big and small.

Any complex technology involves mechanisms that require different components and processes to make it work

4.  Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.

Technological forces and its solutions may be superior to socio-political ones, but they are both important.

5. All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.

Most history, as it is currently taught, ignores the technological element. The history of technology is the most relevant to our future.

6. Technology is a very human activity — and so is the history of technology.

Behind every technology, there are people. Inventors, developers, users. The function — and weakness — of technology is that it is used by humans, and therefore subject to misuse and abuse.

The Inevitability of Bitcoin The headline on The Times when Bitcoin was launched in 2009.

To understand the importance of Bitcoin as a technology, we have to first let go of our preconceived notions of it. Most people think of Bitcoin as only a digital payment system, like VISA or Paypal, or even a speculative investment or asset, like stocks or commodities, when in fact, it is so much more than that.

We also have to understand how what is perceived as flaws in the technology are actually features.

From the 2011 essay "Bitcoin is worse is better":

"Bitcoin's long gestation and early opposition indicates it is an example of the 'Worse is Better' paradigm in which an ugly complex design with few attractive theoretical properties compared to purer competitors nevertheless successfully takes over a niche, survives, and becomes gradually refined."

Bitcoin is a technological tour de force. It is a new invention, not just an innovation. It's not an app or a product that's trying to acquire some sort of market share from existing payment networks. It is a new kind of software, a network, and type of digital proto-money never before seen in the history of humanity.

Bitcoin introduced us to digital scarcity, forever changing the the digital world by giving it properties that were thought to be only possible in the physical world. To have a unique digital unit of account that cannot be transacted twice will go down in history as one of the most important discoveries ever made by humanity.

The Laws of Technology as it Applies to Bitcoin

1. Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.

Bitcoin, and every cryptocurrency and blockchain that came either from it or after it, is interacting with society in ways we are only starting to understand. The social, environmental, economic, and other human impacts of this technology goes far beyond just an e-cash system. It is a tool that will be used in many different contexts and circumstances.

2. Invention is the mother of necessity, even for Bitcoin.

As Bitcoin's layer 1 technology is solidified and stabilized, layer 2 applications like Lightning Network will naturally emerge, and you can expect more layers as we advance. As much as some people out there claim that the "infallible" Satoshi whitepaper should be the ultimate authority, that's just not how technology works. In order for a technology to reach its full potential, it needs additional  technological advancements. The same goes for every other blockchain  implementation out there.

3. Technology comes in packages, big and small.

Blockchain technology is very complex. Not only does it require peer-to-peer networks, consensus mechanisms, distributed systems, and cryptographic algorithms, it also needs a lot of unknown and unpredictable elements like game theory and incentive schemes to work perfectly in sync with the whole system, otherwise it will fail. In fact, a lot (if not most) of these implementations have failed or are failing. Bitcoin's resilience and anti-fragility comes from the simplicity and elegance by which it has combined these elements together. More about that in Taylor Pearson's tweet thread below.

4.  Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.

Money is a great example here. Money seems to be a very simple type of technology, something we invented to facilitate trade, but as trade became incredibly complex, money had to evolve with it. The evolution of money has not been a technological one but a political and economic one, causing economic disasters and even wars. As the world entered into the digital information age, the struggle of money to evolve and facilitate this new kind of economic traffic has been mostly a power struggle between powerful corporations or governments. The average person has had ZERO say in the development of money as a technology in the digital age -they are merely pawns expected to comply with all the rules and be surveilled and mined for data for the profit of a few. Rarely do we have the chance to let technical factors overrule the human element.

Bitcoin showed how that can be done.

5. All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.

Most history, as it is currently taught, ignores the "money" element. The history of money is very relevant. We can look at the short history of modern monetary theory and see how relevant it is to our future.

Thankfully, we now have a technology that gives us a chance to write our own independent and self-sovereign history of money. We can now minimize trusting human institutions and take a mathematical and algorithmic approach, writing a new chapter in the now combined history of money and technology.

6. Technology is a very human activity — and so is the history of technology.

Behind every technology, there are people. Inventors, developers, users. The function — and weakness — of technology is that it is used by humans, and therefore subject to misuse and abuse. Bitcoin is our first taste of a decentralized system of money governed not by people but by algorithms. By as much as possible taking out the human factor and centralization of authority, it eliminates several points of failure, making it more resilient as a technology. It's impact will still be a socio-economic one, but for the first time, there will be no threat of  violence or coercion in the adoption of this new form of money and  technology.

The Doors are Now Wide Open, Now What?Image from @Muststopmurad

We have a long way to go.

A lot of people use the internet as an analogy for Bitcoin and blockchain technology, but the truth is, it is much closer to the invention of the Telegraph. The internet is the pinnacle of telecommunications technology, while the telegraph was its first iteration. In the same way, Bitcoin is the first iteration of a new kind of technology, and it will still evolve and combine with other technologies to reach its full potential. By no means does this mean Bitcoin will become obsolete — it is a network, and therefore becomes stronger as its network effects take hold. It is software, and therefore can adapt and evolve as the need arises. In the future, its many use cases and layers will probably be nothing like how  we use it today, yet the underlying technology will be the same.

We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and  underestimate the effect in the long run. — "Amara's Law" by Roy Amara.

The difference here is that, unlike the telegraph to the internet, this won't take two centuries. The pace of development for technology has exponentially increased, and as we have seen in the last ten years, Bitcoin has opened a pandora's box of innovation, commerce, and  development at a scale and speed that we haven't seen since the dotcom era.

There is no denying the fact that the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009 is the reason why we have a cryptocurrency and blockchain industry today. When it was released as open-source software, there was no turning back. By simply allowing people to voluntarily develop it without needing permission, it unleashed the full economic potential of  the networked digital age.

It's too late, nothing can stop the Bitcoin protocol and every technological advancement that will follow in its wake.

Bitcoin didn't just open the door — it kicked it down from its hinges so powerfully that this door will never be closed again.

If you liked this article, follow me on Twitter! Miguel Cuneta

Miguel Cuneta (@MiguelCuneta) | Twitter
The latest Tweets from Miguel Cuneta (@MiguelCuneta). Kindness Maximalist. Don’t let time surprise you. Co-founder, Satoshi Citadel Industries (est. 2014).,…
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