Science fiction and the blockchain

guakaguaka Member Posts: 18
edited February 2014 in Watercooler
Cory Doctorow has been posting on Boing Boing and tweeted some BTC related stuff, but last time I asked he remained skeptical. (Note: I still admire most of his novels.) See also

Now this begs the question: Is there one science fiction writer who has written about blockchain technology, before and after the Bitcoin genesis?

Also asked this at SO:


  • StephanTualStephanTual London, EnglandMember, Moderator Posts: 1,282 mod
    Not aware of one - incredible literary potential there :)
  • Jam10oJam10o Member Posts: 61 ✭✭
    Stephenson also has a similar idea in his book Reamde. Digital "gold" again :) Not exactly blockchain though, as is the case with Cryptonomicon, which describes a gold-backed digital currency.
  • sjenkinssjenkins Member Posts: 28
    Charles Stross, Neptune's Brood, has "slow money", an e-currency that you can transmit from one star system to another. Its repeatedly referred to as a bitcoin but there's definitely no blockchain involved: Its based on being signed by trusted banks.
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    @Jam10o et al. Etherium-SF snippets, <=200's and others here, perhaps? Look forward to browsing as they ... arrive!
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    <=200 sample 001? The artifact was a blockchain. Old. Hard nut to crack, old crypto. Quaint 5GB key but soon broken. The kernel a surprise. DNA seq of the ancients. Well one of them. But why blockchain ... her?
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    <=200 sample 005? The artifact was old, v old, an old blackchain. Its quaint 50GB key, soon hacked. But, Oh! the kernel! So wonderful! Seemingly, DNA seqs for whole biomes. Now we can fast-forward neoTerra!
  • sjenkinssjenkins Member Posts: 28
    edited March 2014
    <=2000, sorry about the extra zero :)

    Ella pulls the latest sim results up on the screen but soon finds she's staring through them not at them. Digital physics, the search for the computations that underly reality itself, it's interesting stuff but takes rather more concentration than a messy divorce is leaving her time for.

    Anyway the results are a pile of crap. Modelling particle interactions as bidirectional cellular automata had seemed promising at first but the wave functions never came out right and entanglement? Forget about ever getting that to work: Yesevny's N-Ledger theory was more likely to be correct and that's the one that says we all live in a seventeen dimensional spreadsheet.

    Tim buzzes through. Fourteen years old he wants money for something. What, Trainers? Again? And for some reason knowable only to his generation he needs to pay for them with ItCoin of which she has none rather than Bitcoin of which she has barely enough these days anyway.

    How do you get ItCoin from Bitcoin?

    Does he think she's made out of money?


    The sim results swim back into focus. Ella starts tweaking the code. Suppose that particles aren't perturbations spreading both ways on a cellular automaton but transactions leapfrogging each other on an ever growing blockchain. Given the right topology and a cascading confirmation strategy the wave functions would just fall out for free. Entanglement? Well any interaction would force transactions onto the same block and once there they'd stay that way no matter how much their associated balances diverged in future. Entanglement could be nothing more than careful double entry bookkeeping.

    Ella starts the sim running. It'll take an hour or so to complete but she's already pretty sure the results will back up her son's theory: That yes, Tim, despite all worldly indications to the contrary, your mother really is made out of money.
  • Jam10oJam10o Member Posts: 61 ✭✭
    <200 ... They stood, shivering, outside the walls of the city. The lack of connection to the fabric unnervingly apparent. They were now truly free, but at what cost? ...
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    @sjenkins re ... <=2000, sorry about the extra zero :) Huh? Not problem! Bring them ... on! :)
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    <=200 sample 010? No-one's sure when the blockchain went sentient. Some say at the first blackchain morph. Others, when the blackchain economic wars began. For others, it was implicit from the start. Too late now!
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    <=200 sample 015? The hacked blockchain arifact held a cryptovirus. Our techs, admiring its elegance, forgot its subtlty. It dove straight to our substrate. Designed to evolve, whole biomes blossomed there ...
  • guakaguaka Member Posts: 18
    Not blockchain but very relevant to Ethereum, Stross' Accelerando:

    "Malice – revenge for waking him up – sharpens Manfred's voice. "The president of is The secretary is, and the chair is All the shares are owned by those companies in equal measure, and I can tell you that their regulations are written in Python."
  • TheravadinTheravadin Member Posts: 4
    Of course I've heard of Bitcoin; it's all over the media these days. But I'm just getting into this cryptocurrency thing, and it's fascinating. Curiously, I just read Accelerando and enjoyed it, especially the first section on near-future tech. He describes many ideas that actually could be implemented in something like Etherium. The interesting thing is, Accelerando was published back in 2005. So these ideas have a history going at least that far back. I'd love to know more of the backstory.
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    <=200 sample 020? Panicked by Ethereum, legal firms tried auto-xlators. The subtlety of natural languages unappreciated, consistency issues arose. $Trillions lost, law firms fell exponentially to class actions.
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    <=200 sample 025? Legal firms mostly detroyed, the Devs were next for the rack. Unable to explain even the natural logic behind their code, guillotines began to appear. Nor even then were the crowds appeased.
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    <200 sample 30? The ancient blockchain cryptovirus called DeepSleep continues to outpace our monitors. The techs make excuses but we know things that can slip in and out of the substrate at will can't be good.
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    <= sample 35? DeepSleep continues to evolve! Morphing into every interstice of our substrate, our techs thinks some strains asymtote to garden-of-eden states, slip behind event horizons and then out of existance?
  • giuliogiulio Member Posts: 7
    Perhaps the closest is Accelerando by Charlie Stross, with Economics2.0 and distributed self-managing companies in the cloud. Written before Bitcoin, so doesn't mention blockchains explicitly.
  • jTAjTA Member Posts: 50
    @sjenkins Almost a perfect piece! Enjoy seeing it trimmed back to "regulation." :)
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