Community Politics

Day 1277 and Don’t Lose Your Head

Everyone has their entertainment and mine is makes me a little bit of a stereotype. I hate podcasts but do most of my chores while listening to Bloomberg’s Odd Lots podcast.

I was catching up today with an interview with equities analyst Tom Lee. My attention got caught and stuck on his description of Bitcoin.

“Yes, Bitcoin is unlike other asset classes because there is a cooperative value. You know, the people who contribute to the network benefit from it. And that’s different than any other asset class.”

From Odd Lots: Why Tom Lee Thinks We Could See S&P 15,000 by 2030, Jun 24, 2024

Now I don’t think this is unique to Bitcoin. Cooperative value can be found in everything from nationalist politics to luxury handbag resale pricing. But I do this it’s important to have cooperative values be baked into a network for it accrue value.

We’ve traditionally mitigated concerns about market cooperation through clear property rights and legal protections. We’d backed up those claims with things as abstract as a monarch. We’ve evolved to it to the slightly more concrete full faith of the United States and Byzantine bodies of securities law. Fiduciary duty and all that.

But as we become less inclined to trust that the buck does in fact stop “anywhere” we are looking for ways to mitigate that risk. How to operate in a world without trust? You develop trustless protocols. Humans have plenty of intuitions about trust and many these intuitions struggle without a clear person with authority to act.

So I ask if we are heading into a “headless” age?

As distrust in institutional power struggles we are seeking out new ways to continue the business of life and civilization even if a high trust society is in question.

We’ve got networks like Bitcoin that work without a head. We have new corporate structures like decentralized autonomous organization (DAOs) that can operate strictly based on cooperative rules, and indeed now entire memetic cultures (like e/-cc) which hold power while being headless.

Lest you think this is some frontier tech idea that doesn’t apply to you we’ve headless content moderation systems & headless retail platforms. Huge swathes of financial tech is living above the API.

You could even argue that we’ve got headless political parties as the Democrats and Republicans both struggle with defacto heads nobody particular trusts. I don’t know if we can live in a headless democracy. Deciding who is a citizen is a very different matter than deciding who is a shareholder.