It’s a blistering, dry morning in the middle of the Nevada desert. Thousands of people line up, arms outstretched, ready to make their full-fledged sprint into the notorious, yet unknown U.S. Air Force facility known as Area 51 base. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of assailants and aversion to harming innocent people, the guards lay down their weapons and allow these ridiculous crusaders access to the secret research taking place there. Sure enough, the Area 51 raid has worked and alien hunters turn a corner and find themselves face to face with a real-life alien.
Now what? Aliens are real, they’re here and they’re ready to chat. How do you begin to communicate with something that has no commonality with you? Here’s an interesting idea of where to start.
Math as Area 51 Communication
Bits are either ones or zeros, designed to convey either a “yes” or “no” based on whether electrons are passed through a gate or not. Show an alien that exact structure in action, and it will allow us to form the basis of communication.
If 1 means yes, then 1 - 1 = yes minus yes which equals no or 0. Now the aliens understand minus because there’s no other operation you can put in between yes and yes to get no. Now you can demonstrate plus: 1 + 0 = 1 and 1 + 1 = 2. Now they know that two is the next number after 1 and have begun to build the schema to use arabic numerals to communicate via math. Rinse and repeat to build out the number system, explain multiplication/division, get through calculus, etc.
Math is the language of conveying facts: It’s where you would have to start when communicating with an alien since even a smile or a head nod may not be innately understood from the start. English and all other languages are simply ways to add color to fact (math) and transmit value through communication.
We Are All Earthlings
Once aliens begin to communicate with us mere earthlings, the next obvious realization is that they see us as just that: earthlings. We’re no longer American, French, Chinese or Russian. We’re all members of Earth, and in our interactions with an alien species, we are simply one group.
Very quickly, we will need one system of value and communication across the world, and you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that the whole world would agree to solely use the USD in order to do business with aliens. The USD is the world reserve currency and is already widely used, but people will not be satisfied for long with having to use a currency in their everyday lives that they ultimately have no control over and that has no interest in seeing them succeed, no matter where they live on the planet.
What I’m getting at is that there will need to be a global currency that isn’t controlled by any one entity, and we’d need for that currency to have already been established and for the infrastructure to already be in place. If only we had a solution…
Bitcoin will be the obvious way for us to unify our world under a common value system. Bitcoin will be how we transact with aliens.
There’s an added boost for Bitcoin too: It’s based on those 1s and 0s that would be the most basic way to communicate in the first place. Bitcoin is effectively math money and, therefore, would be the first choice for aliens to transact with as well.
Thanks to SegWit and the Lightning Network (or at least what the Lightning Network could eventually become), it would be possible not only for aliens to transact in bitcoin locally (local to Earth anyway), but also take it with them back to their own planets and create mesh Lightning Networks to trade there. Effectively, aliens would be able to treat bitcoin in the same way Americans treat euros, and, assuming they also have a digital monetary system equal to bitcoin, we might be able to do the same with their currency.
Bitcoin in Peace or War
This is all assuming these aliens are not adversarial creatures. Should they want war, we’d have to figure out ways not only to physically protect ourselves but also to economically protect ourselves.
Let’s assume this advanced civilization cracked quantum computing. With a few keystrokes, they could take down segments of our legacy financial system; the cryptography protecting it is weak in some places and allows for many points of failure. Bitcoin, on the other hand, would presumably be nimble enough to emergency hard fork into a quantum-safe algorithm, and potentially emerge relatively unscathed. Score another one for Bitcoin.
If the aliens are conquerors in the same way the Nazis were during World War II, you could also presume they’d want to capture items of value and take them for themselves. They wouldn’t be able to capture bitcoin though. Besides the fact that a desperate earthling could quickly transfer his or her bitcoin instantly anywhere else if faced with imminent peril, aliens also wouldn’t really know where to look for the bitcoin, and a person could even be walking around with a brain wallet and really make their bitcoin unconfiscatable. Bitcoin would be the ultimate protection of wealth from invaders, alien or otherwise.
So I’m not saying that during the Area 51 raid a group of millennials and Gen Zers will actually muster the courage to rush our industrial military complex. I’m not saying if they do, they will come face to face with our galactic brethren. All I’m saying is that, if both of those things happened, it would be yet another potential catalyst for bitcoin to emerge as a global monetary system.
This is a guest post by Brandon Green. Opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine or BTC Inc.