It is one million years in the future, and human society is intergalactic. We’ve reached the far stretches of the “universe” and maybe even interacted with some other civilizations. Trade is nothing what it once was, and money can’t be pieces of paper.Instead, a futuristic version of Bitcoin – perhaps based on the original protocol itself – infuses intergalactic human trade and a human society that human beings of today would not recognize.
Not only are decentralized digital currencies booming with the new multi-planet society, but people store their bitcoins in their brains…
I thought that for today’s blog, it would be interesting to revisit Carl Sagan’s question: “What does it mean for a civilization to be a million years old? We have had radio telescopes and spaceships for a few decades; our technical civilization is a few hundred years old … an advanced civilization millions of years old is as much beyond us as we are beyond a bushbaby or a macaque.”
Today, in 2013, we have had the Internet, truly had the Internet, for a little over a decade. Since then it has become not merely a tool of mass media, but it has indeed become mass media its’ very self. Not only is it still revolutionizing virtually every entertainment industry, it has also resulted in most of our economy running on software, something that baby boomers and the World War II generation could scantily imagine until the last thirty years.
Michio Kaku is a professor of theoretical physics at City University of New York and he believes that Sagan’s question is no longer speculation, writing that “one day, many of us could gaze at encyclopedia that contains the coordinates of perhaps hundreds of Earth-like planets in our sector of the galaxy. Then we will ponder with wonder, as Sagan did, what an intelligent civilization a million years’ ahead of ours will look like.” Perhaps some of us will ask: “Do they accept Bitcoin?”
Who knows, goes the logic, perhaps humanity will soon discover Earth-sized twins of our planet orbiting nearby solar systems. As the existential shock wears off, will we look to them with wonder and wanderlust? A new understanding of ourselves in the context of the universe will reinvent the holographic sky in our minds. Is someone looking to us with similar wonder and wanderlust? Will one day we have to send money home to our families on good ole’ planet Earth via Bitcoin?
The Russian astrophysicist Kardeshev defined three levels of advanced civilizations based on how they harness energy to fuel their societies. All three stages or categories of civilizations, including the most advanced Type III, would still be bound by the laws of physics which enable us to predict the behavior of the universe from the subatomic world to the large-scale structures of the universe.
Type I civilizations would have technological levels like ours today. This metric is generally arrived at by figuring total energy consumption. Carl Sagan estimated that Earth qualifies as a .07 civilization while he lived. Type II civilizations would be capable of harnessing the energy of their own sun. Type III civilizations would be able to utilize energy on the scale of their own galaxies.
If human society had harnessed all of the power of the sun and later its own galaxy, would Bitcoin still be relevant? More pressing, could amendments to the protocol itself make it relevant? Assuming the mining of all 21 million bitcoins had been completed before human society even began harnessing the energy of the sun, then what difference does human advancement make for BTC?
Kardeshev calculated that the energy consumption of these types of civilizations would be separated by a factor of about 10 billion. In 1963, he searched for trades of the more advanced type II and III civilizations’ at the 920 MHZ wavelength creating an uproar of excitement thinking he had discovered signals from a Type II civilization when in fact he had not. He had found a quasar with a red shift.
Similar transpired in 1967 when regular signals were detected by radio telescopes at Cambridge, England. These turned out to be the first discovery of a neutron star.
Kaku believes, along with with Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson, that even though human civilization has only recently begun to master planetary engines – fossil fuel, passive solar, win, geothermal and nuclear fission – humanity will, within two centuries, attain Type I status.
Human society would need to grow modestly. A mere 1 percent growth, according to Kardeschev’s numbers, means that it would take 3,200 years to reach Type II status, and 5,800 years to reach Type III status.
Theoretically, it would take centuries or even millennia for a Type I civilization to terraform nearby planets. Then, we would arrive at a Type II civilization, and that stage in which human trade is put under extraterrestrial scrutiny. Clearly, the Federal Reserve system would be unsustainable in this environment.
As for decentralized currencies like Bitcoin, since it is totally understandable that humanity would make it a priority to bring 4G across its galactic realm, they have more than a chance. In fact, they could be the only way to trade should humanity find itself a home away from home.
The Type III civilization is “truly immortal. It has exhausted the power of a single star, and has reached out to other star systems. No natural catastrophe known to science has the capacity to destroy a Type III civilization.”
Some theoretical problems of forming a Type III civilization begin with Einstein’s theory of relativity. Nothing travels faster than light. Including block chain confirmations. This speed limit holds back a civilization’s capacity to expand intergalactic. There will have to be developments in human understanding of the universe in order to Bitcoin devs to figure out how to make Bitcoin faster than the speed of light.
This could delay the transition from a Type II to a Type III civilization by perhaps a million years or so, one human physicist estimates.
Granted, all of these conjectures assume human beings get more advanced in a linear fashion. It also assumes that biological creatures in the universe are similar to us and evolve similarly.
Here we today, however, with less than a century of binary artificial intelligence. Many scientists talk seriously about parity and beyond Artificial Intelligence. This “beyond” will be exponential, and many believe it will arrive this century. They say, the big philosophical question is not what human society will look like in a million years, but, rather: if “we” survive a million years, what is “we?” Do we identify with dinosaurs and fish in this society, or the AI we have become.
If Bitcoin is a part of that equation, then you can be sure “we” will be using brainwallets.