Daniel Krawisz is cofounder of Satoshi Nakamoto Institute, a consistently great repository for thoughts on Bitcoin as a network and bitcoin as a currency. Mr. Krawisz is a well-known personality in the ecosystem, routinely sought for his independent voice. This is his first Opinion Editorial for news.bitcoin.com, part of which was delivered at this year’s Texas Bitcoin Conference.
The Best Leader in Bitcoin is an Investor
What kind of person would make the best leader in Bitcoin? The best leader is the person with the greatest foresight and best imagination. He doesn’t need to know crypto. He is an investor. He is simply the one with the best idea of how Bitcoin will be used in the future. This person is the best leader because he would know best how to use resources today so as to reach the highest value for Bitcoin most easily. He would be someone who bought in early, and who treated his bitcoins as if they were worth a lot more than they were at the time.
However, someone with foresight would have also avoided drawing attention to himself. He would have known that Bitcoin would become an adversarial environment. He would have predicted that other people would do just about anything to get what he got effortlessly. He would want to be unobtrusive.
The person with the greatest foresight, the one I want as a leader, would have been smart enough not to distinguish himself, and he would know how to act dumb whenever eyes were upon him.
Anyone who really knew how to make Bitcoin more valuable would be smart enough not to tell anybody about it. He knows that secrets are the most valuable thing in the market. He would want to tell no one, and position himself best in anticipation of its discovery by other people. The best leader must put his knowledge to the test without drawing attention to himself or even hinting that he knows anything.
In fact, I would consider someone who distinguished himself by his intelligence or foresight as second-rate at best. I am writing now with hindsight. I have had foresight, but I didn’t think far enough. If I had been really smart, I would never have written a single article because I would have realized everything that I wrote about here.
Thus, the paradox of leadership in Bitcoin is that someone who is a good investor knows not to draw attention to himself or to his ideas. For Bitcoin is an adversarial environment in which all attention that one draws makes him vulnerable. The problem is to get good ideas from leaders who want to stay hidden, and distinguish them from bad ideas.
The way that we know this leader is that he is always in the right place at the right time and he avoids all traps that are set for him, but he never does anything that reveals him to be anything other than a lucky idiot. Someone who avoids a trap, and reveals that he was not fooled by it, has shown that he is intelligent, which means that he is too stupid to be a good leader. Same if he succeeds and shows that he knew what he was doing. The best leader would avoid traps and make successful bets without revealing that he has foresight. The leader must be someone who is either very good or very lucky, and nothing about him definitively establishes the difference.
In other words, the leader is invisible. If I can see him, then he is not good enough. If I look at him, I would want to dismiss him as a retarded person and move on without noticing his greatness. A good leader in Bitcoin must convince me that he has Bitcoin’s best interest in mind and that he is not trying to scam me instead. He must also convince me that his plan is actually good. And not just once either. He must convince me again every time he wants me to do anything.
The way he leads is by betting his own bitcoins on Bitcoin’s future. That is how he issues his commands. When he does this, he binds himself to Bitcoin’s success. He does not expect me to bet with him. He takes on the risk himself. He is either a fool who is eliminating himself from the betting pool or a genius who is doing something beyond my understanding. If I can tell the difference, then he is not my leader.
My friends and I had a joke a few years ago after an exchange with someone on reddit who said that the “bitcoin mafia” would never let an altcoin succeed, as if there was really a conspiracy among bitcoiners to suppress altcoins. The joke was that I was the leader of the Bitcoin mafia, and that I didn’t know whether it really existed, and I simply issued my commands to the four winds and was unaware of anyone listening. I did this by explaining that we we would systematically avoid risk by ignoring altcoins; a successful altcoin is therefore an uphill struggle to induce everyone to be more risky than necessary. That is the leader I want.
Tom and Don
I’ll conclude with two of my heroes from literature who I think are kind of like the leader I want for Bitcoin.
My first hero is Tom Bombadil, the nature spirit from Lord of the Rings. His section was removed from the movies because he is a moron who sings nonsensical songs and acts like he’s high all the time. However, the ring of power does not affect him and he does not wish to help destroy it. He appears to be older than anybody else in Middle Earth and, to him, the reign of Sauron would be a short-term kind of thing, and he does not want to risk himself to stop something that he knows he can endure.
Tom Bombadil is my hero because he avoids going along with the crowd and he does not take unnecessary risks when everyone else is. Is he really stupid or is he the true guardian of Middle Earth?
My second hero is Don Quixote, the madman from La Mancha. In book 1, Don Quixote goes mad and believes himself to be a knight and he leaves his job to go questing with his sidekick, Sancho Panza. He has a lot of imaginary adventures and hurts himself again and again. In book 2, Don Quixote goes on more adventures but this time, the people around him have read book 1, and they want to play along and indulge him in his fantasies. It is like his madness has gone out of him and he is now a real leader. Was he stupid or genius? Bitcoin in 2009 was like book 1 of Don Quixote because it was worthless and its future uses were simply the dream of those few involved with it. Bitcoin today is like Don Quixote in book 2.
Don Quixote is my hero because he takes risks on things that make no sense to other people, but which ultimately turn him into a leader. Is he really mad or does he know what he is doing?
My heroes are more like these people. They are nothing like the technocrats who have been attempting to lead Bitcoin recently. They are the ones who truly control Bitcoin’s future. They are the invisible leaders.
He asserts his leadership by showing us that he will lose money if his command is not obeyed. He can do this without revealing who he is. The contract is all I need to see of him because I would know that only a good leader could sustainably risk his money on it. Either he knows what he is talking about and will keep winning money in the future, or he does not and his behavior will be punished over time.
What do you think of Bitcoin leaders? Tell us in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Pixabay, mtgcardsmith