Whether video conferences, smartphones or the Internet – the physicist predicted many things from our modern everyday life more than a hundred years ago. Also included in his vision of the future: fundamental Bitcoin principles.
More peace through the use of technology. This is the vision that the inventor Nikola Tesla put on paper in an essay in 1900. The idea: No more people on the battlefield. Instead, “intelligent machines” compete against each other. A showdown of energy. In Bitcoin, some principles are realized that appear in the thinking of the physicist more than a hundred years ago.
Let machines fight instead of people
In his essay “The Problem Of Increasing Human Energy” Tesla lays out his ideas of a utopian society without bloodshed.
To break this wild spirit requires a radical departure and the introduction of an entirely new principle, something unprecedented in warfare – a principle that will necessarily and inevitably reduce the battle to a mere spectacle, a play, a… competition will transform without blood loss.
Nikola Tesla (1900) The Century Magazin
Tesla believes that this state can be achieved through technical progress. According to him, efficient fighting machines are gradually replacing human units. The end of this development is a peaceful competition for “the greatest possible speed and maximum energy supply”. A principle we see embodied in bitcoin mining today in the form of the “ proof-of-work consensus process ”. Miners compete against each other in the hunt for the next block. A competition for energy and efficiency. The higher the hashrate, the greater the chance of success.
Bitcoin mining as a modern competition
Tesla did not have a monetary system in mind when he made his remarks. Rather, the machines he describes resemble AI-powered robotic gladiators. Bitcoin is also not designed as a modern weapon of war. The network aims to offer an alternative to the classic centralized money system. A competition of machines with “maximum … energy output” that “embody a higher principle” – however, that is an idea we see put into practice in Bitcoin. The network is not a fighting machine that shoots energy beams, but energy that has become money.
In addition – and this was already the case in Tesla’s time – wars are not only fought on the battlefield. Rivalries, whether they are armed conflicts or peaceful competition, are always a question of financial dominance. The obligatory entanglement of money and energy is evident in Bitcoin and shows that war on the battlefield and war in the financial sector are two sides of the same coin. The latter being associated with less direct physical violence. This is how Tesla’s thesis could be translated into monetary terms.
His solution: more efficiency and overcoming distances. Because: “War cannot be avoided until the physical cause of its recurrence is eliminated, and that is, after all, the vast expanse of the planet on which we live”. Only by eliminating distances in every respect, “e.g. in the transmission of information […] as well as the transmission of energy, will one day create conditions that ensure the durability of friendly relations,” according to the inventor in 1919 .
Bitcoin instead of bombs
Tesla’s idea of an energy battle instead of a bloody conflict experienced a revival this year. US Space Marine Jason Lowery publishes paper claiming Bitcoin is “a new breed of (non-lethal) digital warfare.” The 400-page master’s thesis made waves in the crypto space. Lowery, who sometimes works at the renowned MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), put this idea up for discussion as early as 2021:
War is the globally adopted social consensus proof-of-work protocol that nodes (countries) use to validate the legitimate state of property and its chain of custody. Militaries project force over time (i.e. energy) in a basic game of probability to trigger a surrender event. This is functionally identical to Bitcoin PoW miners, which project energy to likely trigger the end of each block.Jason Lowery , blog post
Tesla’s vision of a peaceful utopia through the Bitcoin network flared up on Lowery’s book “Software”. More on the discussion and reactions from the space in this article . So far, however, Bitcoin has only appeared as a substitute for war on a game-theoretical level. Would Tesla be Bitcoiner today? We do not know it. July 10th was his 167th birthday. As with PoW hardliners, his thinking requires a very long-term view.