AI x Blockchain Powering Incredible Leverage
Now it is common in Silicon Valley and Wall St to discuss $100B companies with less than 100 employees. Being ahead of the curve has benefits - Life in the Singularity discussed the Trillionaire Solopreneur concept last August.
This was unheard of even 5 years ago.
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This is evidence of incredible acceleration of our collective cognitive leverage.
AI is largely responsible for this rising tidal wave of generative power, but Blockchain is playing an increasing role in ensuring the value created by this world-changing technology stays close to the creators and contributors… not gobbled up by Big Tech platforms.
To fully understand just how rapidly our creative and scientific powers are rising, let’s begin by looking backward across the history of my favorite branch of technological development — cognitive technology.
The history of cognitive tech is a sprawling tale of innovation, adaptation, and transformation, telling the story of humanity's relentless pursuit to amplify our capabilities, extend our reach, and deepen our understanding of the universe.
At the heart of this narrative is a series of technologies that have progressively increased our leverage—our ability to generate work product with less and less input effort. From the invention of writing to the advent of artificial intelligence, each technological leap has marked a significant pivot in human history, reshaping societies, economies, and cultures.
Writing: The Foundation of Collective Knowledge
The journey begins with the invention of writing.
Scribbles on cave walls are 35,000 years old — these are captions it appears.
Writing emerged independently in various ancient civilizations around 3200 BCE. It transformed human communication and knowledge storage, allowing for the precise transmission of information across time and space. It provided the first significant leverage over oral traditions, enabling societies to document laws, transactions, and history, thus laying the groundwork for complex administrative systems and the dissemination of knowledge. Writing catalyzed the accumulation of knowledge, making it possible to build upon the discoveries and insights of previous generations.
Writing serves as the cornerstone of collective knowledge, akin to the bedrock upon which civilizations construct their edifices of understanding and wisdom. Just as an architect relies on a stable foundation to support the weight and complexity of a towering structure, so too does human society depend on the written word to uphold the vast accumulation of knowledge, culture, and innovation that defines our shared history and shapes our future.
The act of writing transforms fleeting thoughts and ephemeral spoken words into permanent markers of human achievement. It is the conduit through which knowledge is not merely passed from one generation to the next but is also critically examined, expanded upon, and refined. Writing is the scaffolding that supports the construction of complex ideas, enabling them to be meticulously pieced together, brick by brick, into coherent structures of thought that can withstand the scrutiny of rigorous analysis.
In the realm of collective knowledge, writing functions as both a repository and a relay system.
Writing preserves the insights of past scholars, inventors, and leaders, much like a library houses an extensive collection of books that span the breadth of human intellect and creativity. Simultaneously, it facilitates the dissemination of new discoveries and theories, acting as a network through which ideas can be shared and debated across continents and epochs. Writing forms a baton of innovation and wisdom that is passed through the ages, ensuring that each successive generation benefits from the learnings of its predecessors.
Without writing, knowledge would be a scattered mosaic of unconnected fragments. Each generation would try their best to hear the oral history, math lessons, agricultural how-to’s and other key information parcels… constantly starting anew without the advantage of accumulated wisdom.
Writing allows for the meticulous cataloging of our discoveries, the sharing of our collective experiences, and the continuation of our never-ending quest for understanding. In this light, writing is both a testament to our past and a beacon guiding us toward a future replete with yet-to-be-uncovered knowledge.
Printing: Democratizing Knowledge
The next monumental leap came with the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century. This innovation drastically reduced the cost and effort required to reproduce texts, democratizing access to information and enabling a broader distribution of knowledge. The printing press catalyzed the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution. Printing amplified the leverage of the written word, making knowledge more accessible and fostering an informed society.
The advent of printing marks a pivotal moment in the history of human civilization, serving as a catalyst for the democratization of knowledge. Prior to this innovation, knowledge was a closely guarded treasure, accessible only to the elite few who could afford the painstakingly hand-copied manuscripts produced by scribes. In this context, the printing press emerges as a revolutionary force, akin to a great aqueduct in ancient times, designed to channel the life-giving waters of knowledge from secluded wellsprings to the broad expanse of humanity thirsting for enlightenment.
The introduction of printing technology by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century can be likened to the breaking of a dam that had long restricted the flow of information. Suddenly, books could be produced in large quantities, drastically reducing their cost and making them available to a much wider audience. This transformation is comparable to the transition from artisanal well-drawing, where water is scarce and laboriously accessed, to a modern water distribution system that delivers water to thousands of homes efficiently and equitably.
Printing technology empowered individuals with ideas that challenged the status quo and spurred intellectual, cultural, and political transformations.
Printing democratized knowledge by effectively leveling the intellectual playing field. It empowered the common man with access to literature, science, and philosophy, thereby fostering an environment where ideas could be freely exchanged and debated. This newfound accessibility of information is akin to opening the gates of a walled garden, allowing all who wish to enter to partake in its fruits and contribute to its cultivation.
The printing press facilitated the standardization and preservation of texts, ensuring that knowledge could be accurately transmitted without the distortions of oral transmission or the inconsistencies of hand copying. This standardization is akin to the establishment of a common currency in an economy, simplifying transactions and fostering trust among participants.
The impact of printing on the democratization of knowledge also catalyzed advancements in education, science, and governance, laying the groundwork for the Enlightenment and subsequent intellectual revolutions. It served as the foundation for the modern knowledge economy, where information is the currency of exchange and the engine of innovation.
What we needed next was a way to study the changes around us precisely.
Calculus: A New Language for Understanding
The invention of calculus in the 17th century by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz represented a quantum leap in our cognitive technologies.
Calculus provided humanity with a new mathematical language to describe change and motion, offering unprecedented insights into the natural world. This powerful tool increased our leverage by enabling us to model complex systems, predict phenomena, and harness the forces of nature. Calculus laid the foundational framework for modern engineering, physics, and economics, facilitating advances that would have been otherwise impossible.
Calculus represents a monumental leap in the evolution of mathematical thought, akin to the development of a new language designed expressly for the purpose of deciphering the complex and dynamic nature of the universe. Just as the invention of written language allowed humanity to record and communicate ideas with precision and clarity, calculus provides the tools to describe change, motion, and growth with unparalleled exactitude.
At its core, calculus is the study of how things change.
It breaks down complex phenomena into infinitesimally small pieces to examine how they evolve step by step—a process reminiscent of zooming in with a microscope to observe details invisible to the naked eye. This approach allows scientists and engineers to model the motion of planets, the flow of time, and the growth of populations with astonishing accuracy.
Differential calculus focuses on the concept of the derivative, which measures how a quantity changes as the factors affecting it change. This is akin to understanding the nuances of a story by examining how each chapter builds upon the previous one.
Integral calculus deals with the concept of the integral, which accumulates these small changes to determine the total effect over time or space. It resembles compiling a comprehensive history from a series of individual events, each contributing to the whole narrative.
The application of calculus extends far beyond the realm of mathematics, permeating the sciences, engineering, economics, and beyond. It serves as a universal tool for solving problems that involve dynamism (change and motion), enabling humanity to harness natural forces, design complex machinery, predict economic trends, and tackle countless other challenges that require an understanding of how variables evolve over time.
Calculus, therefore, is not merely a branch of mathematics; it is a new language for understanding the intricate and ever-changing tapestry of reality. Like any language, it opens up new vistas of comprehension and expression, allowing us to articulate and explore concepts that were previously beyond our grasp. It is a testament to human ingenuity and our relentless pursuit of knowledge, providing a means to unlock the secrets of the universe with the elegance and precision that only mathematics can offer.
Physics: Unveiling the Laws of Nature
The development of modern physics, particularly through breakthroughs in the 19th and 20th centuries, offered profound leverage in understanding and manipulating the physical world. Discoveries in thermodynamics, electromagnetism, relativity, and quantum mechanics revolutionized our conception of the universe, leading to technologies ranging from steam engines to nuclear power and digital computers. These advances set the table for the modern computer and significantly increased our ability to generate work product, propelling humanity into an era of rapid technological progress and industrialization.
Physics stands as the intellectual colossus that unveils the fundamental laws governing the universe, serving as a lighthouse guiding humanity's quest for understanding the cosmos. It delves into the essence of matter, energy, space, and time.
This pursuit allows us to decipher the universal principles that underpin the physical world, from the infinitesimally small quarks to the vast, swirling galaxies.
The exploration of these laws has not only expanded our grasp of the universe but has also laid the groundwork for the next generation of computing technologies. Physics, in its quest to understand quantum mechanics and the behavior of particles at the subatomic level, has opened the door to quantum computing—a field that promises to revolutionize data processing by harnessing the peculiar principles of quantum superposition and entanglement.
This leap from classical to quantum computing can be likened to the transition from the abacus to the modern digital computer. Just as the abacus laid the foundational principles for performing calculations, classical physics provided the framework for the first generation of computers. These machines, built upon the electrical and mechanical principles discovered in the 19th and 20th centuries, have transformed every aspect of human life, from communication and entertainment to science and medicine.
Quantum computing, however, represents a paradigm shift in our computational capabilities.
By exploiting the quantum states of particles, these next-generation computers promise to perform complex calculations at speeds unimaginable with today's technology. This is like to moving from navigating the seas by the stars to harnessing the power of GPS satellites, offering precision and efficiency previously thought impossible.
The implications of this shift are profound, with the potential to unlock mysteries in physics, chemistry, biology, and beyond.
Quantum computers could simulate molecular structures with unparalleled accuracy, paving the way for new materials, medications, and energy sources. They could also solve optimization problems in seconds that would take classical computers millennia, revolutionizing fields such as cryptography, logistics, and artificial intelligence.
We’ve talked a lot about fabrics and networks so far, now let’s explore the ultimate version of this — the internet.
Internet: The Global Mind
The invention of the internet in the late 20th century marked a pivotal shift in human leverage by creating a global network of information exchange. It has reshaped every aspect of society, enabling instant communication, the proliferation of knowledge, and the emergence of a digital economy. The internet has lowered barriers to information access, fostered innovation through connectivity, and created platforms that leverage collective intelligence on an unprecedented scale. It represents a new paradigm in cognitive technology, transforming how we learn, work, and interact.
The Internet, often heralded as the greatest invention of the modern era, can be metaphorically envisaged as the "Global Mind" an expansive, interconnected network that mirrors the complexity and capability of the human brain on a planetary scale. Just as neurons in the brain transmit information through a vast network of connections, enabling thought, memory, and action, the Internet facilitates the flow of information across the globe, connecting individuals, communities, and nations in an intricate web of digital communication.
This comparison highlights the Internet's role as a dynamic repository of collective human knowledge and experience, akin to the human brain's function of storing and processing vast amounts of information. The Internet, with its databases, websites, and forums, acts as the collective memory of humanity, preserving our history, innovations, cultures, and ideas in a digital format that is accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
The Internet's capacity for real-time communication and data exchange mirrors the brain's synaptic activity, where neurons communicate through electrical and chemical signals. Social media platforms, instant messaging, and video conferencing tools serve as the synapses of the global mind, enabling instant and seamless interaction between individuals, regardless of physical distance. This rapid exchange of ideas and information facilitates collaboration, innovation, and the spread of knowledge on a scale previously unimaginable. It functions like the long-term memory of the global mind, storing information that can be retrieved, shared, and built upon over time.
In essence, the Internet as the global mind represents the collective intellect and consciousness of humanity, a digital brain that spans the planet, enabling individuals to contribute to and draw from a shared pool of knowledge and innovation.
Artificial Intelligence: Amplifying Human Potential
AI technologies are transforming industries, from healthcare diagnostics and financial analysis to autonomous vehicles and personalized education, significantly increasing our capacity to produce work with less input effort. AI represents the pinnacle of cognitive technologies, providing leverage by augmenting human intelligence, automating complex tasks, and generating insights from vast datasets.
AI not only enhances productivity but also challenges us to rethink the nature of work, creativity, and intelligence. It holds the promise of solving some of humanity's most pressing challenges.
AI acts as a sophisticated extension of human cognitive capabilities, enabling us to analyze data, solve complex problems, and create innovations at a scale and speed beyond our natural abilities. It is as if we have harnessed a new form of intellect, one that works in tandem with ours, to explore realms of possibility previously confined to the realm of imagination.
The development of AI can be likened to the crafting of a multifaceted lens through which we can view the world, revealing insights and patterns invisible to the naked eye. Just as the microscope and telescope expanded our understanding of the micro and macro cosmos, AI algorithms decipher the hidden structures within vast amounts of data, unlocking new frontiers of knowledge and understanding.
AI's ability to learn from and adapt to new information mirrors the human process of learning, albeit at an exponentially faster rate and with a capacity for unbiased analysis that can surpass human cognitive limitations.
AI's role in automating routine and repetitive tasks is akin to the invention of the wheel in its transformative impact on human society. It frees individuals from the time expense of mundane tasks, allowing them to focus on creative, strategic, and interpersonal activities that foster innovation and progress. This shift not only amplifies human potential but also elevates the quality of life and work, opening new avenues for personal and professional development.
Artificial Intelligence represents not a replacement of human intellect but an expansion of our collective capacity to innovate, dream, and achieve.
Blockchain: The Truth Engine
Blockchain technology emerges as a groundbreaking innovation, acting as a "Truth Engine" that heralds a new era of decentralized global systems. This technology, at its core, is akin to a ledger of immutable truth, maintained not in a centralized repository guarded by a single entity, but distributed across a network of computers worldwide. Each participant holds a copy of this ledger, ensuring transparency, security, and trust through collective verification, much like a tapestry woven from countless threads of truth that, together, form an unbreakable fabric of veracity.
This fabric supports the weight of all the participants.
Without blockchain, under the Web 2.0 framework, heavy Corporate Networks sat in the middle of the internet and used gravity to pull most of the value that was generated into their Income Statements and Balance Sheets.
Blockchain takes gravity out of the equation by streamlining processes, reducing fraud, and ensuring fairness and accountability in a way that is deeply integrated into the fabric of society.
The decentralized nature of blockchain can be likened to the shift from feudal systems, where power and knowledge were concentrated in the hands of a few, to democratic societies where power is distributed among the populace. Blockchain democratizes information and authority, enabling peer-to-peer transactions without the need for traditional intermediaries such as banks, governments, or corporations. This shift not only reduces the potential for fraud and corruption but also enhances efficiency and inclusivity in transactions.
At the heart of blockchain technology is the principle of consensus, ensuring that each transaction is agreed upon by multiple parties before it is recorded. This is analogous to the scientific method, where hypotheses are subjected to peer review and must be corroborated by independent researchers before they are accepted as truth. Blockchain's consensus mechanisms ensure the integrity of the data stored within its network, making it a powerful tool for creating a single source of truth that is both transparent and tamper-proof.
Blockchain's application extends far beyond cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It serves as the foundation for a wide range of applications, including supply chain management, digital identity verification, and secure voting systems. In these contexts, blockchain acts as a catalyst for transformation, much like the printing press in the Renaissance, which democratized knowledge and laid the groundwork for the modern world.
Blockchain technology powers decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and smart contracts — a new paradigm of governance and contractual agreements. These innovations can automate and enforce agreements securely and impartially, without human intervention, akin to a self-regulating ecosystem that operates according to the laws of nature, with each part playing its role in harmony with the whole.
In essence, blockchain technology stands as a beacon of truth and trust in an increasingly digital world. It represents a seismic shift in how we conceive of and manage collective agreements, ownership, and identity, offering a blueprint for a decentralized, transparent, and equitable global society.
As this technology continues to evolve and mature, it holds the promise of reshaping the very foundations of our economic, political, and social systems, guiding us towards a future where power and truth are distributed amongst all.
The Future of Cognitive Technology
BCIs (brain computer interfaces) using well-placed piezoelectric magnets are eventually going to bypass the keyboard, voice-to-text and all other inputs.
This will stem from I/O rate efficiency and privacy.
We live in an age where a laser can read the keyboard clacks off the glass window in your home office, and determine what you are writing. Being able to think your engagements with the AI vs typing them is an obvious advantage here.
AI swarms are going to handle a great deal of the “work” each of us does. We will engage with their work product, tweak it, and come back tomorrow to see what they yield. We will have one “tuner” AI system that knows our preferences very well, and that system will engage with our different swarms and singular intelligence systems ensuring they align with our long-term preferences and current objectives.
Think of the unbelievable leverage in having AI swarms dedicated to:
finding new topics for you to research
explaining the implications to your current endeavors
forecasting the impact of integrating some/all of these topics
communicating with prospective new members of your different networks
…and 1,001 other applications in personal and professional settings
I’d love to spend more time walking in New York City with my girls than at my screens — this is an incredible future we are materializing in the present.
Here is what we know for sure — the history of technology, particularly cognitive technologies, is a narrative of increasing leverage. Each innovation, from writing to AI, has expanded human capabilities, enabling us to achieve more with less.
One person really can accomplish their dream — on a 100% solo mission. Complex dreams have always required the ability to find other people who share your vision, then you need to communicate the vision and keep everyone aligned.
24/7, 365… in rapidly changing conditions.
It is incredibly difficult - many worthy companies fail because of internal strife not lack of interest from the outside market.
Now our society has the ability to use the leverage of AI x Blockchain x Internet and generate + distribute instantaneously to billions around the world. Without the infrastructure and people requirements of the past… while armed with all the incredible capabilities we have earned over thousands of years.
These technologies have not only transformed our external world but have also reshaped our intellectual landscapes, changing how we perceive ourselves and our place in the universe.
Life in the Singularity is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.