The Sovereign Individual ~ James Dale Davidson and William Rees Morg
The Sovereign Individual is one of those books that changes the way you see the world forever. It was published in 1997, but the extent to which it predicts the impact of blockchain technology will give you goosebumps. We are entering the fourth phase of human society, moving from the industrial to the information age. You need to read this book to understand the scope and scale of how things will change.
As it becomes easier to live comfortably and earn money anywhere, we already know that those who truly thrive in the new information age will be workers who are not tied to one job or career and are location independent. The need to choose where to live based on savings is already more appealing, but it goes beyond digital nomadism and freelance gigs; the foundations of democracy, government and money are shifting.
The authors predicted Black Tuesday and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and here they predict that the growing power of individuals will coincide with decentralized technology that erodes the power of governments. The death toll in nation states, they predicted with extraordinary insight, will be private, digital money. When that happens, the dynamic of governments as stationary bandits robbing hard-working citizens through taxation will change. If you become someone who can solve problems for people anywhere in the world, then you will enter the new cognitive elite. Don’t miss this one.
Choice quote: “When technology becomes mobile and transactions take place in cyberspace, as they increasingly will, governments will no longer be able to charge more for their services than they are worth to the people who pay for them.”
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humanity ~ Yuval Noah Harari
Whenever I want to impress upon someone how good this book is, I ask, “Do you want to know the fundamental difference between humans and monkeys? A monkey can jump up and down on a rock and wave a stick around and scream to its friends that it saw a threat coming. ‘Danger ! Danger! Lion!’ A monkey can also lie. He can jump up and down on a rock and wave his stick around and scream at the lion when the lion isn’t really there. He’s just joking. But what the monkey can’t do is jump up and down and wave his stick around and scream, ‘Danger! Danger! Dragon!'”
Why is this? Because dragons aren’t real. As Harari explains, the human imagination, our ability to believe and talk about things we’ve never seen or touched, is what has elevated the species to cooperate with strangers in large numbers. There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws, no religions and no justice beyond the common imagination of human beings. We make them that way.
It’s all a pretty grand preamble to where we are today. After the cognitive revolution and the agricultural revolution, Harari takes you to a scientific revolution that started just 500 years ago and could start something completely different for humanity. The money, however, will remain. Read this book to understand that money is the greatest story ever told and that trust is the raw material from which all kinds of money are forged.
Choice quote: “Sapiens, in contrast, live in a three-layered reality. In addition to trees, rivers, fears, and desires, Sapiens’ world also contains stories of money, gods, nations, and corporations.”
Internet Money ~ Andreas M. Antonopoulos
If the two books mentioned above help us understand the historical context in which Bitcoin first appeared, then this book expands on the ‘why’ with infectious enthusiasm. Andreas Antonopolous is perhaps the most respected voice in the crypto space. He has been traveling the world as a Bitcoin preacher since 2010, and this book is a summary of the speeches he gave on the circuit between 2013 and 2016, all ready for publication.
His first book, Mastering Bitcoin, is a technical in-depth look at the technology, aimed specifically at software and systems developers, engineers, and architects. But this book uses some metaphors of choice to explain why you can’t ban Bitcoin or shut it down, how the scaling debate doesn’t really matter, and why Bitcoin needs the help of designers to ensure mass adoption.
“When you first drive your new car in the city,” he writes, “you’re riding on roads used by horses with infrastructure designed and used for horses. No traffic lights. No road rules. No paved roads. And what happened? Cars are got stuck because they didn’t have balance and four legs.” But fast forward a hundred years and cars that were once ridiculed are absolutely the norm. If you want to swim in the philosophical, social and historical implications of Bitcoin, this is your starting point.
Choice quote: “Bitcoin is not just internet money. Yes, it’s the perfect internet money. It’s instant, it’s secure, it’s free. Yes, it’s internet money, but it’s so much more. Bitcoin is internet money. It’s a currency just the first application. If you understand that, you can look beyond price, you can look beyond volatility, you can look beyond whimsy. At its core, Bitcoin is a revolutionary technology that will change the world forever. Join in.”