Bucky discovered Bitcoin, and Satoshi built it.
1. Bucky recognized a problem with the existing monetary system.
2. He prioritized fixing it with a "world accounting system" backed by energy.
3. A key to the solution was a global energy ecosystem of renewable energy he called "energy income."
However, there is more to his story:
In Bitcoin, there is a discussion about whether Bitcoin is a discovery or an invention. My goal is not to settle that debate but to daylight a Bitcoin contributor rarely discussed. While his name occasionally gets tossed around with Tesla and Ford, I would argue Buckminster Fuller (better known as "Bucky") has written more on the concept of Bitcoin than just about anyone.
Satoshi Nakamoto's work has an uncanny fidelity to the life work of Bucky. In fact, there is circumstantial evidence tying Satoshi to Bucky, but I will save that for another thread.
I also want to make the case that many of the second and third-order benefits of the network that are often attributed to luck or coincidence (like the environmental benefits of mining) were part of Satoshi's plan.
Some shared concepts between Satoshi and Bucky that I will cover include:
Don't trust, Verify
Money, Banking, and Wealth
Zero and Scarcity
Let's dive into each of them.
So, who is Bucky, and what does he have anything to do with Bitcoin?
In the 1960s, Buckminster Fuller (Bucky) introduced a concept where people came and competed, or cooperated, to make the world work for 100% of humanity through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone.
He recognized a problem with the existing monetary system. After a lifetime of study, his most important key to solving the problem was a "world accounting system" backed by energy.
He understood building is more productive than fighting.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
"We must remember that our grand strategy is based on producing the artifacts that will induce the right behaviors rather than depending on politically enacted and enforced reforms."
He understood the need to think for yourself.
Aka, "Don't trust, verify."
"I sought to do my own thinking, confining it to only experientially gained information, and with the products of my own thinking and intuition to articulate my own innate motivational integrity instead of trying to accommodate everyone else’s opinions, credos, educational theories, romances, and mores, as I had in my earlier life."
He understood language can be insufficient and potentially misleading.
Bucky invents new words or uses everyday words in new ways precisely because he is attempting to steer clear of the limiting habits of thinking we all inherited.
“We still say the words sunrise and sunset, even though we have known for hundreds of years that the earth revolves around the sun!”
"Words are tools—and once you have learned how to use a tool you will never forget it. Just looking for the meaning of the word is not enough. If your vocabulary is comprehensive, you can comprehend both fine and large patterns of experience."
He understood those in power can privatize gains and socialize their losses.
"This results in private enterprise making a $900 million bad gamble and having the capability of passing on their loss to the public."
"What the colossus’ media call “inflation” is, of course, deflation of humanity’s buying power. Inflation does not increase the true values nor produce more or better goods."
He understood "WTF happened in 1971."
"When in 1972 all the power-structure capital had converted its dollars into gold, oil, or other highly concentrated and mobile equities, then-President Richard Nixon severed the U.S.A. dollar from its government-guaranteed gold equity value of $35 per ounce, the U.S.A. people’s dollar buying power plummeted—now, in 1980, being worth only 5 cents of the 1971 U.S.A. dollar."
He warned of the hidden banking insolvency.
"With control of the “Free World” media, the colossus hopes to postpone world realization of the fact of U.S. bankruptcy for ten years."
"The 150-year-long “infinite wealth” poker hand and its uncalled bluffing were over. The called hands were suddenly down. It turned out that the “wealthys’” wealth was nonexistent."
"What the banks had been doing was to loan the people’s deposits to other people. The banks had no money themselves."
He understood there is a limit to issuing US treasuries.
"Nothing to stop the U.S. Treasury from issuing 2050 notes, but how far into the future can [they] keep selling U.S.A. promissory notes?"
He understood: Not your keys, not your coins.
"We, the American people, are going to have to guarantee our own bank accounts."
"People have always believed that when they put their money in the bank, it stayed there. They had no idea it went out on loan within minutes after it came in."
He understood changing rules is devastating to society and analogizes it to a wealthy neighbor he had who used to change how to score his childhood pickup baseball games because he owned all of the equipment.
"The corporate colossus alters the scoring values by increasing prices to ensure that the industrial game will always be won only by the “richest.” It is reminiscent of the following incident of my boyhood."
"If you want to deeply and utterly depress someone, change the rules, and change them often. Force them to do something meaningless. Change the rules arbitrarily. That's what really demoralizes people: being imprisoned in a system of arbitrary rule changes. No hope for stability and no way out." — @dergigi
He understood change can happen too slowly to perceive.
"I have discovered that one of the important characteristics of most economic trends is that they are too slow in their motion to be visible to humans."
"Humans do not get out of the way of that which they cannot see moving."
"To see this change, we have to devise ways to measure things and watch the measurements change. Then, once we can see the change, we can study why it happens. This is what we must do if we are going to successfully think about the changes ahead and how to deal with them." — @RayDalio
He expected mainstream economics would be unable to predict the implications of something invisible like digital gold.
"Economists traditionally try to maximize what you have, but the idea that you could go from wire to wireless or from visible structuring to invisible alloy structuring did not occur to them at all. It was outside their point of view—beyond their range of vision."
"No economic accounting books list metaphysical assets."
He warned about the infodemic via "news."
"This invisible world-around warring to destroy the enemy’s economy wherever it is operative, above all by demonstrating its homeland weaknesses and vulnerabilities to the rest of the world, and thus hoping to destroy the confidence of the enemy people in themselves, is far more devastating than could be a physical death ray, for it does everything with nothing. Furthermore, it operates as “news,” which moves around the Earth by electromagnetic waves operating at 700 million miles per hour."
He warned of psychological warfare because there is no cost to spamming the population.
"Instead, they can readily involve, induce, and persuade individuals of the other side to look for discontent wherever it manifests itself and thereafter to “amplify” that condition by whatever psychological means until the situation erupts in public confusion, demonstrations, terrorism, etc. The idea is to make a mess of the other’s economy and customs."
He understood the "Woke Madrassa."
"The highly idealistic youth of college age who are convinced that they are demonstrating against war are, despite the most humane and compassionate motives, often, in fact, the front-line soldiers operating as unwitting “shock troops.”"
He understood extortion via foreign investments.
"The Wall Street lawyers told Mr. Eisenhower that they didn’t like the over-altruistic social viewpoint of the Marshall Plan for helping underdeveloped countries. They liked foreign aid, but not exclusively for the development of underdeveloped countries."
He understood Witgenstein's Ruler and the importance of a pristine/sound unit of account.
“The act of measuring always alters that which is measured.”
He understood what "bits" are.
"…the principle of progressive subdivision and selection of the relevant half is used, and each progressive subdivision is called a "bit," and the number of subdivisions totally required are known as "so many bits."
He understood the importance of a global accounting system congruent with our biophysical reality.
"World Game will become increasingly effective in its prognoses and programming when the world-around, satellite-inter-relayed computer system and its omni-Universe-operative (time-energy) accounting system are established."
"Kilowatt-hours will become the prime criteria of costing the production of the complex of metabolic involvements per each function or item."
"The world-unifying electric power accounting will be the beginning of the omni-energy accounting for world economic management."
"...humanity will perish on this planet...if the World Game’s world around computerized time-energy accounting is not forthwith inaugurated."
"There can be no planetary equity until...we have but one accounting system."
"…the computer’s politically unbiased problem-solving prestige will have brought about the world’s completely integrated electrical-energy network grid."
"This will make possible a world-around uniform costing and pricing system for all goods and services based realistically on the time-energy metabolic accounting system of Universe."
"World Game considers all fossil fuels to be nature’s own savings account, deposited in our “Earth bank” and not to be stolen by exploiters. Everyone knows we should live on our (energy) income, not our savings account."
He knew "pollution" was misunderstood.
"Pollution is nothing but resources we're not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value."
"Pollution is simply energy—in the form of unfamiliar matter—which the timing of the omniregenerative cosmic system cannot immediately use but must use later."
"Society must become aware of the high value of these recovered chemistries. For example, the amount of sulphur coming out of all the chimneys around the world annually exactly equals the amount of sulphur mined from the ground and purchased annually by industry to keep its wheels turning. The computers will quickly show that the value of the recovered chemistries turned over to the government will more than pay back the cost of their rebates to the industrial companies. The computers will also show that the reduction in cost of respiratory ailments and other deleterious smog effects brought about by elimination of the smog constitutes an out-and-out profit to society."
"Society must become aware of the high value of these recovered chemistries."
He knew Energy was not scarce and it is fundamental to our well-being.
"The amount of energy being electrically generated and consumed became the most sensitive telltale of economic health."
"There is no energy crisis—there is only a crisis of ignorance."
He knew methane and volcanos could be monetized.
"Humanity’s cosmic-energy income account consists entirely of our gravity- and star (99 percent Sun)-distributed cosmic dividends of waterpower, tidal power, wavepower, windpower, vegetation-produced alcohols, methane gas, vulcanism, and so on. Humanity’s present rate of total energy consumption amounts to only one four-millionth of one percent of the rate of its energy income."
He understood energy curtailment was a missed opportunity.
"What the customers don’t use of the surplus generated power is pure loss to the “public” utilities."
"Integration of the electrical-generating networks of neighboring localities, whose peaks and valleys inherently differ to some degree, the excess of any of the network’s member utilities at any one moment is frequently used by other grid members’ peaks. When this happens, it brings pure profit to the excess-power-generating seller."
He understood digitization could save the trees from newspaper.
"We can discontinue newspapers and save the trees."
He understood Bitcoin would be the ultimate Store of Value and everything else (including gold) would eventually fall to its marginal cost of production/utility value.
"Computers will relegate all gold to its exclusively functional uses as a supreme electromagnetic conduction-and-reflection medium—with its supremacy amongst metals also manifest as rated in weight and bulk per accomplished function. The computer will relegate all physical substances to their uniquely best functional uses."
He understood the role hydro energy could play.
"With such hydro development the 54 percent of humanity in China, Southeast Asia, and India will all become physically prosperous in high degree."
He understood our economy is currently subsidized by the millions of years of cosmic energy in fossil fuels, aka "The Carbon Pulse."
"These non-life-support-producing employees are spending three, four, and more gallons of gasoline daily to go to their non wealth-producing jobs—ergo, we are completely wasting $3 trillion of cosmic wealth per day in the U.S.A."
"We then asked him to figure how much it would cost nature per each gallon of petroleum for that much pressure and heat for that much time, were it calculated at the retail rate for that much energy for that length of time as charged us by the public utilities. The cost came to well over a million dollars per gallon."
He knew knowledge was the key to turning "something" into a resource.
"We have always had enough resources. What has happened that now makes the difference is that we have vastly increased our know-how of specialized innovations, all of which invisible realization integrates to make possible success for all."
He understood the power of Zero. He has an entire chapter dedicated to it.
"The discovery of the symbol for nothing became everything to humanity."
"That curtain would never again have been raised had it not been for the discovery of that something-called-nothing—the cipher. Because it was “nothing,” the information-monopolizing, physical-property coveting power structure had overlooked it."
He understood the difference between a discovery and an invention.
"Patents can be granted only for special cases—i.e., limited physical-practice applications of abstract generalized principles, which principles alone are inherently metaphysical and unpatentable, being only 'discovered' and not 'invented.'"
He understood the importance of a globally integrated electrical grid.
"The amount of energy being electrically generated and consumed became the most sensitive telltale of economic health."
"This world electric grid, with its omni-integrated advantage, will deliver its electric energy anywhere, to anyone, at any one time, at one common rate. This will make possible a world-around uniform costing and pricing system for all goods and services based realistically on the time-energy metabolic accounting system of Universe."
"The first step in bringing about the desovereignization will be the closing of the gaps in the world electric power grid. The world-unifying electric power…"
"The world-unifying electric power accounting will be the beginning of the omnienergy accounting for world economic management."
aka "The Macro Chip."
He designed a map to show how it could be done.
He understood technology was deflationary.
"As a consequence of this never-ceasing technological increase in overall efficiency, the actual overall cosmically predicated costs of energy generation have always and only decreased."
He understood the potential for a network state
"The world energy network grid will be responsible for the swift disappearance of planet Earth’s 150 different nationalities...The 150 nations act as 150 blood clots in blocking the flow of recirculating metals and other traffic essential to the realization of the design science revolution."
He understood small things can have significant impacts.
"I see one minuscule computer chip completely altering the whole world scene."
He understood that Bitcoin is nonpartisan.
"This will bring about a large series of surprising mergers of heretofore opposed interests."
He understood that Bitcoin is inevitable.
"The political leaders will be forced by their engineers and science-educated public to choose to integrate, and the ideological differences will vanish."
Bucky understood the value of anonymity.
In 1932, Bucky was the editor of a magazine called Shelter. He was unorthodox in that he decided to remain anonymous, although he edited the entire publication himself. He understood how jealousy and competition hinder thinking and openness to new ideas. He wanted people to think for themselves and not blindly accept or reject the beliefs of others. He referred to himself as "4D," a pseudonymous person or group.
He understood we were on the brink of change.
"Dear reader, traditional human power structures and their reign of darkness are about to be rendered obsolete."
Bucky often referred to himself as a "trimtab"—a small rudder that can change the course of a large ship with a small amount of force. It was his analogy for how a single person can start to make a big difference.
Given the breadth of his work, it is likely that Bucky was a trimtab for the ship we call Bitcoin.
These are just a few of the many concepts Bucky tirelessly wrote about until he passed in 1983. It seems likely that Satoshi was influenced—directly or indirectly—by the work of Bucky. Regardless, I believe the timely work of Bucky deserves some attention, and I think it will resonate knowing it came from someone who was not just talking their bags.