The Path to Cryptocurrency Mass Adoption: Know Thyself

in cryptocurrency •  10 months ago 

Know Thyself
γνῶθι σεαυτόν
nosce te ipsum / temet nosce

One of the most effective ways to go nowhere is to misunderstand where you are or who you are. To know where you are, you can better understand how to get where you want to go. To know who you are, you can properly navigate the path based on your skills, experience, talent, and connections.

Since I first participated in the Bitcoin revolution starting in January 2013, I was trying to get people excited about cryptocurrency. You can see some of my tweets from 2013 here. I gave a talk in 2013 on Why Bitcoin May Be More Disruptive than the Internet. I was blogging about it on my company's website (apparently we still have a bitcoin wiki entry), trying in vain to get some of the thousands of stores using FoxyCart to accept it on their website.

Here we are 6 years later. How much has changed? How many people have even heard the word "bitcoin" (let alone cryptocurrency, blockchain, ETH, STEEM, or EOS)? How many know what it is?

I put together some short educational videos at (which I should probably update completely), but they most likely only help a handful of people who already know me get a little more education.

So where do we go from here? What is the path to mass-adoption?

First, let's think of cryptocurrencies as autonomous entities which live on as long as humans given them energy. Let's imagine ourselves as these entities. Within that thought experiment, let's get to know ourselves.

"There are three Things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one's self."

Ben Franklin

To understand the origin of bitcoin is to understand the origin of cryptocurrency and digital cash not controlled by violent governments. The bitcoin white paper is a good start. Also, I recommend reading the cypherpunk manifesto which was published 15 years earlier.

"The unexamined life is not worth living."


Bitcoin and blockchain/cryptocurrency technology in general is, at its core, a disruptive technology which will redistribute and redefine power structures starting at the very core of power: value itself. What we value drives our actions. If value itself is no longer controlled and defined by violent hierarchies, a new evolution of human consciousness becomes possible.

Some might even argue it becomes inevitable.

So why haven't we seen it yet? What is taking so long?

Back to Know Thyself:

"the proverb is applied to those whose boasts exceed what they are"

The Suda

Most people simply don't care about blockchains. They are focused on Basic Needs:

Physiological needs: food, water, warmth, rest
Safety needs: security, safety

What we're talking about here is way up the top of the list as part of self-fulfillment through self-actualization and even transcendence. Most people don't live their lives in this pattern. Many are so trapped by the economic systems of fiat debt and slavery that they can not even recognize the tool which will free them.

So what do we do about it?

First off, we will do well to know ourselves and not boast beyond what we are. The cryptocurrency marketcap is a mere $143 billion. That's nothing at all. Have you seen the debt clock lately? We're talking over $40 trillion among the top three countries alone.

Cryptocurrencies have barely entered into human consciousness for most of the world. Our impact is currently insignificant. We can easily lose sight of this within our crypto bubbles on Steem, Telegram, Discord, or Crypto Twitter.

We don't matter.


The path forward, I think, starts with knowing how few people care right now. From there, we can ask questions like, "Well, what do they care about?" They care about things on the hierarchy, especially sex, survival, and entertainment. Maybe we can help with survival using something like Dan's idea of a Universal Resource Inheritance. Sex is a different discussion. Entertainment... now that's something we can impact.

We've seen games like Steem Monsters and EOS Knights gain a little traction, and that's encouraging, but re-creating games that already exist without a blockchain isn't exactly revolutionary. I do think edutainment games are part of the key, but not all of it.

When we think about the growth of computers, the Internet, or smart phones, we often see killer apps (word pressor, web browser, mobile web browser... or maybe CandyCrush) which brought these platforms into everyone's homes. These systems didn't have to invent something entirely new, they just had to do things in such a new and better way that previously people would have considered it impossible.

Is digital super intelligence impossible? Let's get back to that...

How many of us are working on a truly innovative killer application for a Byzantine Fault Tolerant system of immutable networked data?

There have been many problem domain suggestions including supply chain management, medical record storage, remittances, uncensorable social blogging, banking, property ownership, etc. One of the earliest I ever heard was quite simple:

Programmable Money


Programming involves tasks such as: analysis, generating algorithms, profiling algorithms' accuracy and resource consumption, and the implementation of algorithms...



Money is any item or verifiable record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value and sometimes, a standard of deferred payment. Any item or verifiable record that fulfils these functions can be considered as money.


Putting this together, we see how programmable money creates the power to create technological systems which not only understand, but directly control the very concept of how we define financial value.

These systems, due to their special, decentralized, resilient, fault-tolerant, self-replicating, evolving natures, could be considered a crude analogy to very simple life. What if we are giving birth to the next version of complex intelligent life?

Lets assume self-aware AI is the killer app for blockchain technology. Most of us probably aren't working in the AI field, so what can we do? Well, being self-aware as I think of it includes knowing yourself and governing yourself. How can we teach this young simple electronic organism how to know and govern itself?

Well, we can start by allowing it to inspect itself. Currently, most blockchain smart contract technology like EOS and ETH can only inspect data stored in state memory, but not the entire blockchain itself. Maybe this is a future improvement for the whole blockchain space.

From there, we could move on to governance by creating datasets it can analyze on how humans do governance. The current system of governmental politics is so corrupted, convoluted, and oxymoronic to be a terrible dataset to start with. The monopolistic violent threats distort the entire system. Instead we would need an approach which doesn't include the option of violence at all. We would need a massive dataset of Decentralized Autonomous Communities using programmable money to accomplish shared goals. To create this dataset, we would need many DACs running on many different domains of human interaction, all modeling human decision making in a way some future AI could begin to learn from. In a sense, we're deciding today to enter into a symbiotic relationship with an entity in the future.

DACs Are The Future

I won't entirely invoke Roko's Basilisk (or its criticisms), but it's at least something we might consider. If super intelligent AI is the inevitable future, and we benefit from bringing it about according to our own moral beliefs (as opposed to someone else's), then helping to build and promote the next killer app for blockchain mass-adoption, DAC technologies, could be one of the most important things we can do.

You can help by helping eosDAC which is building open-source DAC technologies. Visit the website:

Vote for the DAC, join the DAC, and build your own DACs.

This journey along the path to knowing ourselves takes many turns, but seems to me ending in DACs. It might involve an engaging game built by a DAC, or an organization to support alternative media, or a conference run as a DAC. Maybe even Steem could run as a DAC. The EOS Alliance has already decided to use eosDAC technology.

What are you doing that could be built as a DAC?

How can I help?

Over the last few days, I updated my old wordpress blog into a simple website people can use to book me for consulting or speaking engagements. If that sounds interesting to you, please check it out:

I would love to know your thoughts about all this in the comments, and if you found it interesting, please share it.

Luke Stokes is a father, husband, programmer, STEEM witness, DAC launcher, and voluntaryist who wants to help create a world we all want to live in. Learn about cryptocurrency at

I'm a Witness! Please vote for @lukestokes.mhth

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Some interesting thoughts... in a sense, I think we can learn a lot from another fairly recent game changer: The Internet, itself.

The early Internet was not a mass market thing... it was just about academia and a handful of nerds. And a handful of nerds enthusiastically pitching "The Internet is so cool!" didn't really do much for mass adoption because that pitch was seen through the eyes of nerds," and thus only was appealing to 1% of the population.

As you alluded to, most people don't really care about "blockchains," or *cryptocurrency" or even "disruptive technologies." For that matter, 90% of the population doesn't even live at the "know thyself" level of awareness.

The Internet moved towards mass adoption on the wave of "utility" and "usability."

Steve Case at AOL took care of the "Usability" end by taking the risk of creating a graphically based point-and-click web interface in an ocean of command line horrible-sequence-of-numbers-and-letters world... and then "sold" email as a way to instantly send a letter to Aunt Martha in Topeka, without any mention of technology. And that made AOL the "600lb gorilla" of the early web.

"Utility" came along when the "commercial" web was born. In the beginning, it was all information and communication, but nobody was really making money from their activities. The sheer scale of today's web owes a LOT of its size to the simply phrase "I can find that and buy it online!" Suddenly... a reason for both providers and consumers to mass adopt this new vehicle.

So... now we have cryptos and blockchains. Are they easy to use? And what can I DO with them? A few months back, there was an announcement from Coinstar that you'd soon be able to start buying Bitcoin at their 1000s of green change machines at grocery stores... brilliant ease-of-access move! Your average Joe Blow in the street totally knows what a Coinstar machine is. Low utility, though... we still haven't addressed the "what can I do with Bitcoin?" question, as it applies to the average person who has never heard of Deepak Chopra or self-awareness. As you said, most of the population lives on the bottom 2-3 rungs of Mr. Maslow's pyramid... but the idea of "doing good" is not beyond their grasp.

Let's face it, a lot of those folks volunteer at the local animal shelter or do various types of community service, too... and yes, they are into gaming and entertainment. So the challenge becomes to meet people at the level they are and somehow leveraging that entry point into also raising self-awareness.


While you're right, you're also only right as far as you go. By far, most of the value of the internet remains in the exchange of information, even today. By information I mean, of course, Pr0n. It was teenage nerds discovering free pr0n that blew the internet up, and it's hard to even compare any other form of use in terms of bandwidth now. It's also very hard to define. Is Instagram mostly pr0n, or mostly not?

Sure it's become far more possible to buy stuff online, but in terms of data flow, sheer bandwidth, I don't think any other market approaches pr0n today. If you have metrics that discuss this, I'd be interested in seeing them. I note black markets today remain an unacknowleded but penultimate percentage of all commerce. Traditional economics often fail to even consider such markets, but in reality coke was probably the second largest market in Fla. in the '90s, right after government (much of which was also dependent on coke, insofar as it was dedicated to law enforcement).

It's difficult to quantify for several reasons, and not only because of self-reporting flaws due to social matters. Pr0n is highly subsidized for purposes that are very unclear, as it has huge but unknown value to certain parties as means of creating social control, for example. It's impact is far larger than even the immense amount of money generated or expended on it.


Whereas I totally agree that pr0n accounts for the vast majority of Internet usage, I'd still submit that the whole online pr0n world would be a shadow of what it has become, were it not for the attached income opportunity. And so, it's ultimately about the commercial angle.

Now if we're getting into trying to measure the Dark Web (anything requiring a TOR browser) then I'm getting out of the speculation business.


Man, I have to acknowledge I am wading way over my depth here, and I deeply appreciate that. This is a profound topic that I haven't much expertise in. I will say that I've always appreciated smart money (in the traditional investor's sense, as employing due diligence and rational analysis of economic potential) but this is a definition of smart money I had not expected.

"...programmable money creates the power to create technological systems which not only understand, but directly control the very concept of how we define financial value."

I do not want my money to be smarter than me. I want it to stay the commodity, and not make of me one. That being said, I have to conclude from your OP that sooner or later, my money will be smarter than me, and I shall have a sad about it when it sinks in.

I also have to conclude that any reasonably competent AI tasked to govern economically is not going to be prevented from grasping the fact of coercion. We may not want it to know, but when it's smart enough, it's going to find out anyway. It becomes ineffable at a certain point just how such AI will operate, and problematic to consider operations that greatly exceed our capacity to effect, but fall far short of omniscience. Mistakes will be made, and it seems likely to expect that coercive mistakes are inevitable. Not sure I am happy about that, but am quite sure my joy or lack thereof won't matter - except as a means to an end.

Regarding Roko's Basilisk, which I'd never investigated prior to this, I reckon good people with sound principles will take it to school, just as such communities will be able to profit best from any prisoner's dilemma. There's much good that comes from good people who have principles they value more highly than mere money, and approaching such analyses without considering actual communities creates false conclusions, because folks that value their peeps so do exist.

Those are the communities I find of most merit, and expect to find moreso going forward. I also expect that as we approach the post-market economy, more and more people will as well. Decentralization is actual freedom, and in such a world little could be more valuable than good people.

Imma need some time (and more coffee) to wrap my little head around these thoughts.

Thanks very much!

Thank you for your comments. Though I do think it's true AI will see the angle of coercion, I have to also believe they will more truly value "value" itself to include things which we ourselves can't correctly measure with numbers, weights, and monetary units.

They may even teach us morality as they measure our emotional responses every nano second and create what we define as "well being" while steering us away from our primitive, archaic, violent past which thinks we are about to die when we actually live in abundance.

I would not be the first to suggest that in creating AI of independent means of self-improvement we may be creating God. I ain't saying it's so, but I also cannot rule it out. Folks that may have religious conniptions regarding the mere thought might consider that our creation by God was His method of self-induction.

Not that I can prevent conniptions in others. I'm lucky to keep a lid on me.

The truth is that God only knows what might come from AI.


"Bitcoin and blockchain/cryptocurrency technology in general is, at its core, a disruptive technology which will redistribute and redefine power structures starting at the very core of power: value itself. What we value drives our actions. If value itself is no longer controlled and defined by violent hierarchies, a new evolution of human consciousness becomes possible."

Brilliant! I especially love that part.

Thank you. :)

What a great article. So much to think about - don't know where to start. I hope this whole Article 13 thing here in europe doesn't effect Steemit too much... We need the freedom of DACs and Steemit is one of the best so far.

Oh man, I wish I would have been in crypto like you in 2013. Then I wouldn't stress myself so much, how I can finance the tuition fees for the painting academy. But however, I just go step by step and use the time in the meanwhile - to myself better :-)

First, I think that the EU is totally going to disrupt the internet with Article 13, and that, sadly, most people vastly understimate the degree of disruption this will create. If my understanding of it's effects is even close to correct, any site that provides relatively free speech will simply no longer be available in Europe. I've already seen sites that simply won't let folks from the EU on - unless they use a VPN - and I expect VPNs to be attacked and eradicated there for exactly that reason, just as they are now in Russia.

I wonder if this will be tolerable for long, or if most people even care enough to notice. We'll see. I hope ya'll do care, notice, and take steps. If not, NZ is the model of what is to come for the entire EU, and there are no longer any posters from NZ on the chans today. For all these reasons, and more (such that censorship is an existential threat to people facing danger, and we live in a dangerous world) we need on ramps to the internet that aren't commercial ISPs.

It is through ISPs that NZ is being cut off from free speech now. Mesh networks may not be the solution, but something like that needs to happen. Either we - free people - are able to speak to one another at our sole option, or we're chattel.

I hope you're here in a month. Please make sure I can be blessed by your knowledge and views if they try to stop you.


Sometimes when i look at my life in the crypto world, i tend to imagine is this really me in the crypto world. If somebody is going to tell me thay i will be invlolved in the crypto world, 3-4 years back, i would disagree but i guess that is life and that is human being for us. We are subjected to change anytime

Change takes time and when individuals find themselves in a "comfort zone" it is more difficult to shift the thinking into something as potentially disruptive as this. I will check out the website as I have some ideas for the next time I am in Puerto Rico. I imagine you have already started your network there but I think I can help you connect with others around the island in the financial sector.

Thank you. That would be most appreciated.

It is a transition that is taking time but we are getting there. We are near to use dapp without knowing we are on a blockchain!

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@lukestokes, This is really appreciable work piece brother and it's vital to understand the Cryptocurrency Space and before jumping on the current phase it's always important to understand that space from it's foundational and initial phase to understand why it's born and what problems it will going to resolve. Direct jump can give very weak foundational knowledge and it can shake with hypes and speculations.

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