Bitcoin is the first example of a new form of life.
It lives because:
- It lives and breathes on the internet.
- It lives because it can pay people to keep it alive.
- It lives because it performs a useful service that people will pay it to perform.
- It lives because anyone, anywhere, can run a copy of its code.
- It lives because all the running copies are constantly talking to each other.
- It lives because if any one copy is corrupted it is discarded, quickly and without any fuss or muss.
- It lives because it is radically transparent: anyone can see its code and see exactly what it does.
It can’t be changed
- It can’t be changed.
- It can’t be argued with.
- It can’t be tampered with.
- It can’t be corrupted. It can’t be stopped.
- It can’t even be interrupted. If nuclear war destroyed half of our planet, it would continue to live, uncorrupted.
- It would continue to offer its services.
- It would continue to pay people to keep it alive.
The only way to shut it down is to kill every server that hosts it.
Which is hard, because a lot of servers host it, in a lot of countries, and a lot of people want to use it. Realistically, the only way to kill it is to make the service it offers so useless and obsolete that no one wants to use it.
So obsolete that no one wants to pay for it. No one wants to host it.
Then it will have no money to pay anyone.
Then it will starve to death.
But as long as there are people who want to use it, it’s very hard to kill, or corrupt, or stop, or interrupt.
It sums up an very interesting view on Bitcoin.
In cryptography and computer science, a hash tree or Merkle tree is a tree in which every leaf node is labelled with the hash of a data block and every non-leaf node is labelled with the cryptographic hash of the labels of its child nodes. Hash trees allow efficient and secure verification of the contents of large data structures. Hash trees are a generalization of hash lists and hash chains.
Demonstrating that a leaf node is a part of a given binary hash tree requires computing a number of hashes proportional to the logarithm of the number of leaf nodes of the tree; this contrasts with hash lists, where the number is proportional to the number of leaf nodes itself.
The concept of hash trees is named after Ralph Merkle who patented it in 1979