When I was a boy I wanted to become a nuclear physicist. Designing and building reactors seemed the most straightforward way to contribute to humanity’s future. “More energy is always good“, was my thinking.
Then I grew up and realized the whole field was a giant circle jerk. We hadn’t made progress in over twenty years and nuclear power would be a dead end for at least another thirty years due to energy politics.
I could have moved to France or Japan where the situation was less severe but even there progress on developing new reactor types had basically stopped.
For years I jumped from field to field, acquiring useful skills. Nuclear chemistry, complexity theory, compiler theory and construction, designing electronic circuits, field servicing anything, various outdoor skills that come in handy.
Meanwhile I supported myself by developing the increasingly complex computational infrastructure that keeps a zero sum game going. I learned about the seedy underbelly of our traditional financial system, wondered why they are always chasing the next bubble, why there was no real growth anymore.
I found myself in search for the root cause that prevented progress. It was puzzling.
Then in 2008 while I was laboring in the salt pits of the global financial system, building data mining tools for the people who wanted to short the mortgage backed securities market, I finally understood: It was the money that was broken. We had broken the feedback system markets use to generate progress. We were so fucked!
That wasn’t an actionable insight though —for another year or two— until Satoshi Nakamoto released Bitcoin.
And yet, I didn’t connect the dots. I did not see Bitcoin as the solution. It took me years and multiple encounters to get it but those are stories for another time.
Today all of this has changed. Gone are the doubts, the question in my mind how to contribute to a better future.
Today I work for Bitcoin.