Ethereum Manual for Digital Primitives – Chapter I – Computational Power

Humans are extraordinary creatures, distinct from all others, who after millions of years of evolution, can afford to live in a reality tailored to their needs. No longer do they have to flee from tigers seeking to devour them, nor wait days in a cave for rain to cease before hunting; now, they merely sit in front of a peculiar metallic object adorned with a bitten apple, tapping it with callous-free fingers. Moreover, one can observe them walking in vast buildings filled with every kind of food, exiting laden with bags, seemingly giving nothing in return. In reality, many will notice humans inserting a card into a device similar to the aforementioned metallic object, then tapping some more before leaving the building. From these behaviors, one may deduce that this magical card ensures human nourishment and that tapping with fingers is quite fashionable. Fashions are fleeting, so let’s shift the reader’s attention to this magical card and its relationship with the strange metallic objects.

The reader must understand that in the digital era, most of humans’ possessions are contained within these strange metallic objects, henceforth referred to by their name: computers. This revelation might seem absurd, as one might wonder how a cave could fit inside a computer. It is not the cave that resides in the computer, but the information that said cave belongs to a certain human. Herein lies the secret, not to be belittled: if previously, the ownership of a cave was guaranteed by Homo sapiens and their stick, today it is assured by mere information in a computer. Consider the last time you took a blow to the head; such would be unnecessary in the modern world.

And the card, what does it do? Simply put, every property in a computer is linked to a card, so a human wishing to transfer ownership of their belongings to another uses the card to confirm possession. Indeed, the reader must understand that these computers cannot recognize a Homo sapiens by sight alone, the card compensates for this deficiency.

The more curious will now have many questions, so I will delve deeper into the workings of computers for the reader unfamiliar with their mechanisms. Computers are mainly of two types: small and large. Small computers are those humans carry in their pockets and those with the fruity ornament; they do very little by themselves, capable of solving a math problem or providing entertainment but not much more complex. For instance, information about cave ownership is too vast for their brains. Hence, Homo sapiens have also built larger computers capable of performing a much wider and more complex range of tasks. And there’s more! Human ingenuity has led to the creation of an almost instantaneous communication system connecting small and large computers worldwide.

The reader has thus understood that small computers physically reside in Homo sapiens’ pockets but communicate with large computers where property information is accessible. It is clear that every human owns their small computer (henceforth called a phone) but who owns the large computers, or servers? This seemingly naive question is the muse of this text. The answer is that large computers, or servers, are owned by a few. In fact, the inspiring question follows the previous one: if the cave properties of all humans are inside the servers, and the servers are owned by a few, do these few own the information of all properties? To clarify this point, let’s return to when Homo sapiens were exchanging some of their goods for food in the food-filled building. If the server owner had decided to delete all property information, the poor Homo sapiens would not have been allowed to leave the building with bags full of food. Most Homo sapiens do not actually own their cave or generally their belongings; they simply trust leaving their property information in the servers of these few beings, which I will define as “information monopolies”.

The information monopolies of the 21st century are Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. A large percentage of servers are in the hands of these three entities. One might think that the financial asset information of a Homo sapiens is in their bank’s server, but it’s likely in one of the servers of these three information monopolies. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to think that the stick-wielding human might actually be smarter than the Homo sapiens of this century, at least he didn’t depend on anyone.

It is crucial, before continuing this analysis, to give the reader an overview of the state of civilization in the 21st century. In Europe and the United States, most humans generally live a financially stable life where problems arising from centralized information don’t emerge, but this isn’t the case everywhere. For instance, in many South American and African states, governments force information monopolies to block their subjects’ properties. Homo sapiens in these regions experience their digital self-determination radically differently depending on their state of residence. Some are indifferent because they face no difficulties, while others live with the problem daily because they are unable to use their assets as a bargaining chip.

Computational power is not simply the strength of a computer, but the political, cultural, and social power of those who own the servers. Computational power, in the information age, goes unnoticed, unspoken of. The masses are like a primitive man tapping with his thumb on the phone, not questioning what’s happening, why it’s happening, or how it’s happening. Thus, the reader is invited to this analysis of the contemporary digital world, its problems, vulnerabilities, and how thousands of hackers worldwide are working to create the foundations of a better reality, where Homo sapiens can truly regain the power to define themselves economically, politically, and socially.