💡 Ours is the first age in recorded history where we all record history using the same tool.
In one sense, this entire course has been building up an understanding of what implementing a blockchain at (inter)planetary scale could mean for humanity. Vienna Looi calls it a "world computing fabric" and you can think of it as the great gift of this time, because it is not bound by space in the same sense we are (there is one world machine, which is everywhere and nowhere). Benjamin Bratton calls it "planetarity" - a radically different sort of philosophy. He asks:
How can the ongoing emergence of planetary intelligence comprehend its own evolution and the astronomical preciousness of sapience and simultaneously recognize itself in the reflection of the violence from which it emerged and against which it struggles to survive?
Here, again, we run into the seeming paradoxes waiting in the shadows of anything we truly wish to learn. Can planetary sapience - a world wide web of wisdom - survive the consequences of its own appearance? Can we shoulder what Bratton calls "an unpayable debt", can we learn to receive gifts in good faith and with the kind of responsibility they require to become spirited? Doing so requires creativity and an appreciation of nuance. Automation can be ecological, intelligence can be multiple, "planetarity" need not mean singular purpose: it is diversity, after all, which is an appropriate response to scarcity. To return once more to Ivan Illich (and a co-conspirator of his, Jacky Brown):
We must insist that no model can or should be scaled universally [... Scaling ability is an] adventure of imagining and constructing new frameworks in which individuals and communities can develop.
These new econo-linguistic networks that implement money as a fully programmable protocol, which anyone is free to use and where the cost of speaking meaningfully is well-defined everywhere do not fit well into any model we have. To reference Eric Raymond again, they are neither cathedral nor bazaar. However, as with everything else in this course, serene temples and bustling merchant tables are not mutually exclusive: they are two ends of the same spectrum.
Before we managed to merge the narratives around which we organize with our shared records of societal debt, Jesus had to throw the tables out the temple. However, it wasn't because the two are fundamentally incompatible. Three gospels state that his reason was that the authorities were thieving from the people. If you control the temple - i.e. the people's access to meaning - then you can use it to manipulate commercial transactions for your own benefit. It was these tables of power Jesus overturned.
When you build digital temples no-one controls, then commerce and communion need not be at odds. Faith and finance (and every fiction between) are a reflection of one reality. There is no separation between these activities, bar that which we create for ourselves.
Prompt: A shared global computing surface which spans physical space is the _____ ____ of our time.
Exploring truth together using shared tools no-one controls creates the conditions required to fuel lifelong learning, that is, to scale ability across the species. Language was the first logically decentralized system and increases in literacy have always resulted in large social changes; tectonic shifts in how we relate (to) our shared myths. Scaled blockchains are the evolution of logically decentralized systems for the creation, negotiation, and transfer of value.
Speaking of language, the word "religion" comes from the Latin rehgio or religare meaning "that which binds one". Religion is the original bond: faith and finance are fused linguistically in this word. The most interesting question life will continually ask of you is: "What are you bound to - incidentals, or fundamentals?" Continuously investigating the bounds of your life means peeling away your preconceived expectations. For instance, this derivation of religare from religio comes from the Church Fathers. The classical etymology actually points at another meaning, which is "a careful observation and taking account of (from relegere) the numinous." We are called to account for the way we observe and the care with which we do so. "It is", as Rupert Spira says, "not the world that veils reality: the world is shining with its reality, as its reality. It is belief that veils reality, or seems to."
Keeping with this linguistic thread, the meaning of dīn in Arabic is one's life-transaction. In the original Aramaic, The Lord's Prayer reads, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who are indebted to us." The root of the life we are given is a debt upon us. The highest response possible is to forgive others and pay forward your share.
For too long the means of payment, the means of expressing our gifts in ways which are valuable and which create more value for those around us, have been owned by temple authorities. We now have the opportunity to create more consciously the times in which we live and engineer valuable stories which are not owned by one person or group; just as no-one owns the meaning of words.
What will you use this technology to say?
Prompt: Faith and finance are not separate activities. For instance, the Latin root of the word "religion" originally meant what?