Could Bitcoin be a Kardashev Hinge?
Above is an illustration of our journey as it might have appeared to Kardashev, if he had still been around now.
He is known for his characterisation of stages of civilisation.
Currently, we are somewhere between Kardashev 0.5, and Kardashev 1.0, in the age of Bitcoin creation.
Bitcoin appears to fit into this scenario of transition in a very surprising way.
When first introduced, Bitcoin was produced entirely from conventional secondhand power.
By that is meant power produced by energy extracted from Earth, which was put there in the first place by the sun, thus is secondhand, compared with energy harnessed firsthand from the sun.
In the diagram above, firsthand energy paths are shown in blue, secondhand in red.
Red was picked specifically as that means danger.
The head of the stick man representing pre-Kardashev humanity is red, to show consumption in that time being almost exclusively of secondhand energy.
In the time of transition from pre to post Kardashev humanity, the head of humanity is amber, to show a mix of consumption, of both first and secondhand energy.
Post Kardashev, its head is green, to show consumption entirely of firsthand energy, thus complete independence from the stored energy of Earth.
Red-amber-green, just like traffic lights, which everyone understands, seems kind of appropriate.
It is important to be clear in this distinction, since “standard” terminology used by “Green” and “Renewable energy” industries only muddy the waters.
Since introduction, partly due to its ever increasing difficulty of production by design, Bitcoin has gone through a steady expansion to now being a massive global industry, consuming several countries-worth of energy, with the load being distributed around the world, across miner installations.
We might think that this consumption has to be harmful, until we realise that it has to be mostly solar powered, since that is the form that must be used for miners to remain competitive, in a highly competitive industry. After all, solar energy costs nothing after establishment of the required solar power infrastructure.
In other words, firsthand energy is exclusively free, after installation of the means to receive it, and since we are able to generate money with it, including even the money needed to maintain it, and expand it further, its entire existence is free.
Not just “Cheap”, but free.
Profit driven businesses do not like to use that word, since free means zero, and many economists sums blow up when we try to put zero into the calculations of profit.
Dividing by zero implies infinite profit, in terms of percentage.
Subsequently there is an overwhelming desire to continually increase the solar infrastructure powering Bitcoin, by each mining entity, in pursuit of always more revenue.
By design, Bitcoin is limited to 21 million tokens.
If we accept that Bitcoin has indeed resulted in a massive increase in solar energy, and that it will continue to do so until the last coin is minted, it follows that each Bitcoin has contributed to adding a certain amount of solar energy capacity.
Energy is matter, is money, is information, all are interchangeable via the markets.
So for the first time in the history of our species, a significant amount of wealth is being added to our economy in the form of free energy from the sun.
Now we have the physics to show that the world economy is no longer a closed box.
That is a physical explanation of why free money can, and is issued with no noticable negative effects on its value. In fact if anything, we see an increase in the value of freely issued money.
Global wealth can obviously no longer be quantified as a fixed amount of energy, oil, gold, information or whatever, confirming further that a gold standard can no longer be a true reflection of a share of value.
Now there is an ever increasing amount of wealth, donated from the sun, a source which is absolutely extraterrestrial.
Closed box world resource accounts can no longer balance.
Logically following on from all the above, we see that the value of each Bitcoin has two components. One representing the market value of the capital sum of fiat paid to purchase it, and another representing the amount of solar power infrastructure which it “Pushed up”.
The second term is time dependent; a quantity of Joules per second.
We notice its value increases to infinity with time, compared with the capital part which decreases to zero in comparison.
There, maybe we see the end of capitalism, independent of any government.
It is not clear yet how much more solar infrastructure computation of the remaining Bitcoins might deliver to our world, but it seems feasible to expect it could be enough to transition the entire power consumption requirements of humanity over to, thus finally putting us into Kardashev 1.0.
In consequence, the capital value of Bitcoin would no longer be important, since all advantage of having capital, in the presence of abundant free wealth as solar energy, would be superseded.
What would be the point of saving, if there was abundant free money for all people?
Further, what would be the point of retiring, if productive life was no longer really “Work”, which we wouldn’t choose to do anyway?
But, each Bitcoin will always represent a quantity of solar power energy capacity; a fixed rate of firsthand energy flow.
Currently, our total rate of energy consumption is around 17 Terra-Joules per second.
Ideally we would like to have more than is needed, in order to remove the need for batteries, in presence of a worldwide power grid.
A convenient target, with maybe enough headroom of surplus energy, could be 21 Terra-Joules per second.
If that was to be our solar capacity, it would conveniently divide by 21 million Bitcoin, giving a solar energy capacity per of 1MJ/sec (One Mega-Watt) per Bitcoin.
So each Satoshi, as a 1/100 millionth part of a Bitcoin, would be worth 0.01 Watts (10mW) of solar energy, just enough to power a small LED.
Could Bitcoin turn out to be such a hinge, that swings us across the transition from Kardashev 0.5, to Kardasheve 1.0?
And what then, how will such a new free solar energy economy work?
Perhaps we might see a way that all energy streams will be allocated, to perhaps a per-person, forever stream of personalised crypto coins which could be traded in markets, who knows, but there seems lots of possibilities, all good.
As always, all thoughts and comments are most welcome, as long as we stick to the subject.
I am always eager to discuss, to get to the truth, to see the final destination of our species.
One thing is for sure, it looks incredibly bright.
Let’s hope not too much more suffering before we get to it.
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Thanks: Nick Nielsen, for your fitting article upon the passing of Kardashev, here in Medium.