In Guardians of the Truth, Yudkowsky contrasts a defensive versus a productive stance towards truth and knowledge. Briefly, “guardians” of truth have nothing to offer but their guardianship, and their resistance to new ideas that might corrupt their precious truth. Producers of truth, however, actively seek out, explore, and examine strange new ideas, in the off-chance that they may find truth.
It is fascinating to consider these stances in relation to Bitcoin.
The Obsession with Original Satoshi
A certain section of Bitcoin users treats the original Bitcoin whitepaper with near-religious reverence. This is an essentilly defensive stance towards cryptocurrency, with such users viewing themselves as “guardians” of “Satoshi's Vision”.
One essential problem with such defensive stances is that language is fluid. The meaning of a word changes over time. The words selected by Satoshi may have more than one meaning. Though the letters of the whitepaper remain forever fixed, interpretation of it changes over time.
Thus, such obssession often gets split into various camps whose interpretation of “the vision” gets mired into the diverging meanings of words, as well as personalities who have particularly strong expressions of their interpretation.
The Obssession with Improving Over Satoshi
Oppositely, another section of Bitcoin users treats the Bitcoin whitepaper as a starting point. Such users do not consider divergence from the original Satoshi design to be some kind of heresy, but instead consider this a necessity for future improvements that Satoshi was unable to foresee.
Though Satoshi was brilliant in his insight regarding Bitcoin, in the end, he possessed a sentience mechanism with finite resources. More colloquially, “Satoshi was merely human”. This is the driving thought behind this section of Bitcoin users.
In spite of leaving behind the letter of the whitepaper, this productive position makes its followers converge towards similar opinions of what direction Bitcoin should take.
This is not due to some conspiracy or being paid by the w^Hlizards of Blockstream. Rather, it is a consequence of the fact that such a “generative” stance uses as basis the physical laws of the Universe. Here, metrics on usage, measurements of latency and bandwidth, computations and logical processes valid across domains outside of cryptocurrency, all dominate over the mere words of Satoshi. Here, the basis is the the universe we live in, which remains constant over all places and all times within that universe.
I must say that my sympathies are strongly towards improving over Satoshi.
Though I may not be as brilliant as Satoshi, in the end, Satoshi is dead and will never contribute to Bitcoin again. It is the responsibility of us his heirs to drive Bitcoin forward.