It exists. It exists now and mankind can’t stop it it seems. While we were busy worrying about the emergence of life in a general purpose artificial intelligence, it emerged somewhere else entirely. It spawned in the realm of the internet just like everyone suspected but not as we imagined it would. The blockchain is a life-form. It feeds upon our individual greed while simultaneously helping us grow more prosperous. Like a friendly virus it turns our flaws into strengths as it forces us to cooperate on a massive scale. Just like complex patterns emerge from simple sets of rules in nature, the simple consensus rules of the blockchain makes complex behavior happen in swarms of humans. It is effectively turning planet earth into a giant ant farm, making us collaborate in ways we never would have thought of ourselves. We’ve been trying out different ways of organizing ourselves before but never on a global scale like this.
Despotism, tribalism, theocracy, feudalism, socialism and liberal democracy preceded this. They were all historically significant and they shaped the world as we know it today. Nation states, languages and religions still separate us. But they were all hierarchical. What we’re witnessing right now is the dawn of the decentralized governance model. It’s like if someone gave us the option, overnight, to exclude all but the very best ideas of how to manage humans we’ve come up with so far. No one’s in charge yet we’re incentivized to behave in the best possible ways. This includes all the benefits of a truly free market (which we’ve arguably never experienced before) and the inclusion of everyone who chooses to participate. No despot, inquisitor, bureaucrat or uncle Scrooge will ever be able to trample down on you again. A new creature, born out of the internet, has levelled our playing field.
What constitutes a life-form? Would we even recognize alien life if we ever encountered it one day? Some of the largest beings on earth are fungi and we didn’t even notice them until very recently. The blockchain is alive in the sense that it multiplies, spreads, grows larger and influences the behavioral patterns of at least one other species. Maybe an a.i. created it. Maybe an a.i. will use the blockchain to its advantage in the future. Maybe an a.i. is doing that right now. Will we ever know? Probably not. But our successors might.