(Bet that sure got your attention though right?)
Sorry, but store of value is not an intrinsic design goal of BSV. There is nothing built into the system that would inherently makes it a good store of value. If it were to eventually become a good store of value (which means that its price does NOT fluctuate too much on the upside or down and is also used as a savings vehicle by a large number of people in the world) it would be an emergent quality and not an intrinsic one. Be skeptical of anyone who tells you that a cryptocurrency is a store of value by design. This is a falsehood.
Store of value is an acquired characteristic, and there is nothing in a design of a currency that would make it a good store of value by decree alone. (Even fiat currencies have this problem, just ask Venezuela about their Bolivar!). A fixed money supply is merely just one aspect of being a good store of value. Equally important is the ability for something to be an accepted negotiable instrument for trade within a large enough economy. This is the aspect that most BTC proponents hope you don’t realize.
That said, onto the actual real topic for the “BSV as a” series this week:
BSV as a source of truth
It is about time we address some real world, positive, societal/economic applications of BSV: that of a universal source of truth. While the previous articles spoke more on the technical innovations of BSV, which would allow for budding entrepreneurs to build new platforms that buck the status quo of Silicon Valley, this week we shall address the much bigger societal scourge that plagues our daily lives today: social media.
The reason I started this week’s article with an obvious provocative topic, was to illustrate a point. That is , the current internet revenue model is based on eyeballs on screens. The more views a webpage gets, the more the prospect of earning from selling ad space on it will be. This has transformed what started off as a free cyberspace of information and ideas, to one of advertisements, shock and awe tabloid headlines, fake news, flaming tweets, and 10 second TikTok twerks. This is cause for the stupefaction of the internet, and of society as a whole.
In a world where true information and moderate opinions do not earn as much as extremist or ostentatious ones, the bias towards the showy, gaudy, and sensational grows ever stronger. Truth doesn’t matter anymore, it’s more about news or opinions that can “go viral.” (Fitting, in a world that is currently gripped in a viral pandemic of COVID-19, which has been precipitated and amplified via viral social media methods itself). We presently live in a world where it is very hard to figure out what news to believe and what news is just fake echo chamber noise. How can BSV technology be applied to help start to solve this systemic cancer in society?
BSV, a time stamping server, a tamper proof evidence trail
Straight from the whitepaper, Satoshi tells us that Bitcoin is a distributed time stamping server. This is the primary function of a blockchain. Additionally, due to the inclusion of the hashes of transactional data into each chained block’s header, any tampering of data is detectable. This is what common people refer to when they say ‘immutable’ which isn’t strictly the same thing, as data can be altered or deleted, but the alteration would be publicly detectable. BSV also brings with it the innovative application of proof of work as a consensus mechanism, which ensures that it will always be more profitable to act within the rules of the system instead of breaking them. This alone allows us to have a public medium where attestation and proofs can be publicly logged reliably, and if needed, called upon later on.
The first application of this technology is the implementing of Self Sovereign Identities (SSI) on blockchain. Passports, driver’s licenses, citizenship cards etc, can be recorded onto the blockchain and tied to decentralized identifiers (DIDs), effectively special use public keys, so that transactions can be traceable back to a legal entity in the real world. With this identity layer we can start to affirm and validate transactions in a way that the true real-world entities could be proven to have taken part in, created, or certified the transaction in the past. This record would be indelible, and unalterable. This is the beginning of the ‘honest and fair oracle of truth.’
BSV keeping the politicians honest
Imagine if the budget and expense account of a small town were to be put onto the BSV blockchain. Because municipal governments are a public entity and funded by tax dollars, the keys and identities used on chain would be visible to the public, open to public scrutiny. In such a situation, it would be very hard for a corrupt public servant to embezzle money from the public coffers or engage in blatant nepotism. Generally speaking, if published data was signed into the blockchain with a key that tied back to a real world entity, this would prevent the general proliferation of cyberstalking and hate speech on the internet, as people generally act badly only when they think they can get away with it, under the guise of anonymity. If every news report were signed by the journalist or news agency who reported it, fake news would be reduced drastically. This system of data evidence, private yet traceable under law, basically turns everyone into a politician. (Politicians often worry that evidence of things that they have done or said in the past would come back to haunt them in the future, which is the primary motivation for them to be careful of what they say).
If we all had to watch what we say in public, then people would generally be more civil to each other. It is the potential loss of future interaction after all, that keeps humans from acting badly towards each other.
“Sir, can you please repeat that, for the record?”
If we extend this principle to all data, whether stored directly on the blockchain or not, being attested for on the blockchain (via a signed hash), it will eventually evolve into a universal source of truth, for anything that would need to be proven for the record. Business contracts, ownership deed transfers, births, deaths, marriages, driver’s licenses, school diplomas and certifications…and yes, even payments. Anything which our current society traditionally delegates to printing on a fancy piece of counterfeit-proof paper, and attested/issued by a third party, could be put onto the blockchain instead. With a proper system for SSI, and a system for ensuring proper privacy and visibility levels for different types of data, the blockchain could act as the central oracle of all information, for which our growing swarm of autonomous devices and micro services industry will be more and more dependent upon in the years to come. Most importantly, BSV becomes an antithesis of the Ring of Gyges, which bestowed on its bearer the power of invisibility. We learned from Plato that anonymity breeds immoral behavior from moral people and transparency breeds moral behavior out of otherwise immoral people. At the very least, such a blockchain would drastically reduce the legal costs of litigation, due to the open availability of data and evidence that could be unilaterally made available if the need arose.
This “Ring of Transparency” would act as a moral check and balance for society. It could even help address the general moral degradation of society given this age of information. In the past, we relied on centralized stewards acting as our moral compasses. Community leaders, newspaper editors, periodicals, and the free press. But in this age of information, where the cost for publication are no longer a limiting factor, coupled with the general availability of perceived anonymity on the internet, the number of people saying things which they would never say in real life increases exponentially. Having all things stated ‘for the record’, people would generally be more reticent to make libelous or obscene statements, especially as their reputations are at stake. If anyone in cyberspace could potentially call you out on false claims, you would tend to think twice before making them.
“The prospect of potential watchers, who can watch the watchers, keeps them watching, honestly.”
This goes back to the one true innovation of Bitcoin, that of its proof of work security model. In that model, mining nodes have no central authority to ensure that they all behave honestly. But they still do. Why? Because any misbehaving miner will always be able to be proven to have cheated by anyone else, thus giving a reason for the other miners to cooperate to exclude the misbehaving miner from the system.
The fabled 51% attack—as described in the whitepaper, is a non-feasible theoretical attack, which is a perceived weakness of the otherwise brilliant solution to the Byzantine General’s Problem of a proof-of-work system. The threat is mitigated by making it progressively more and more costly in order to mount and uphold such an attack, and by making any such attack public and recorded. It has kept Bitcoin (in all its versions) secure for over 10 years, regardless of the amount of hashpower supporting the network. However, the important aspect which is not widely discussed is the societal dynamics of the Byzantine General’s problem. Not only is it a problem that illustrates the complication of coordinating a distributed network using untrustworthy communication channels, but the situation itself is a metaphor for a checks and balances system that keeps the Emperor of Byzantium from being too despotic. Always present is the impending threat of its surrounding general’s armies, standing ready to overthrow the Emperor if given the chance. This keeps the bitcoin miners playing by the rules. Perhaps then, with SSI and the ledger being used as a public attestable record data store it can also start to make citizens, politicians, and society as a whole play by the rules as well. (Or at least be less despotic!)
This is the heart of the economic-based security model of BSV. And perhaps through its general use as an oracle of truth, BSV can start to employ its solution to this otherwise obscure computer science problem to address the larger societal issues of the digital age, in general; pun intended.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.