The Sovereign Individual ~ by James Dale Davidson and William Rees Morgue
The Sovereign Individual is one of those books that forever changes the way you see the world. It was published in 1997, but the extent to which it predicts the impact of blockchain technology will give you chills. We are entering the fourth stage 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 an income anywhere, we now know that those who will truly thrive in the new information age will be location-independent workers who are not tied to one job or career . The drive to choose where to live based on savings is already more appealing, but this 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 increasing power of individuals will coincide with decentralized technology eating away at the power of governments. The death toll for nation-states, they predicted with extraordinary foresight, would be private, digital money. When that happens, the dynamic of governments as immovable bandits robbing hard-working citizens of taxes will change. If you have become a person who can solve problems for people all over the world, then you are about to enter the new cognitive elite. Don’t miss this one.
Choice quote: “When technology is 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 ~ by 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 shout to its friends that it has seen a threat coming towards them. “Danger! Danger! A lion!” A monkey can lie too. She can jump up and down the cliff and wave a stick around and yell about a lion when there really isn’t a lion. He’s just going crazy. But what a monkey can’t do is jump up and down and wave a stick around and yell, “Danger! Danger! A dragon!”
Why is that? 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 in large numbers with strangers. There are no gods, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws, no religions, and no justice in the universe beyond the collective imagination of human beings. We are the ones who make them so.
It’s all a pretty magnificent preamble to where we are today. After the Cognitive Revolution and the Agricultural Revolution, Harari points you to the Scientific Revolution, which began only 500 years ago and which could usher in something completely different for humanity. However, the money will remain. Read this book to learn 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: “In contrast, Sapiens live in a three-layered reality. Besides trees, rivers, fears and desires, the world of Sapiens also contains stories of money, gods, nations and corporations.”
The Internet of Money ~ by Andreas M. Antonopoulos
If the two books mentioned above help us understand the historical context in which Bitcoin first appeared, this book expands on the “why” question with infectious enthusiasm. Andreas Antonopolous is perhaps the most respected voice in the crypto space. He has been traveling the world as a Bitcoin evangelist since 2010 and this book is a compilation of the talks he gave on the chain between 2013 and 2016, all prepared for publication.
His first book, Mastering Bitcoin, is a deep technical dive into the technology aimed specifically at developers, engineers, and software and systems architects. But this book uses some choice metaphors 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 lock in mass adoption.
“When you first drive your brand new car in a city,” he writes, “you are driving on roads used by horses, with infrastructure designed and used for horses. There are no light signals. There are no traffic rules. There are no paved roads. And what happened? Cars got stuck because they lacked balance and four legs.” But fast-forward a hundred years, and cars that were once ridiculed are the absolute norm. If you want to dive into the philosophical, social, and historical implications of Bitcoin, this is your starting point.
Choice quote: “Bitcoin isn’t just money for the internet. Yes, this is the perfect money for the internet. They’re instant, they’re safe, they’re free. Yes, it’s internet money, but it’s so much more. Bitcoin is the internet of money. Currency is just the first application. If you understand that, you can look beyond price, you can look beyond volatility, you can look beyond fashion. At its core, Bitcoin is a revolutionary technology that will change the world forever. Come join.”