GNU’s dream of Bitcoins

Satoshi Nakamoto is Richard Stallman

They might not be the same person, but they seem to play the same role in software history.

I’m not breaking any news here, and I’m not telling you I just discovered they are the same person. Actually, most probably, they can never be the same person at all. But, for me, they play the same role in the history of software.

The Free Software movement is dead!

In the 80’s, Richard Stallman started the free software movement. The movement revolutionized how software is created and consumed, and most importantly, it paved the way for new business models. Nevertheless, the emergence of cloud computing, mobile phones and SaaS deemed the free software irrelevant. Who owns the infrastructure matters way more than who owns the code. I reached this conclusion few years ago, and wrote about it here. But since then, I had the following question.

If the infrastructure is what matters now, who will change the rules of the infrastructure game the same way Richard Stallman changed the rules of the software game?

Recently, I started to realize the Satoshi Nakamoto is possibly Richard Stallman of our age, and the blockchain may be the force to liberate the infrastructure. Chris Dixon reached the same conclusion here too.

What’s next for Software?

What keeps me awake at night, is the question “what’s next?”. I was lucky to change my career in 2012, and to get into the machine learning field early on. This move put me in a thriving career. Nonetheless, I cannot be sure my career, the tools I use and the infrastructure I build my solutions on, will last forever. In a similar fashion to what happened in software, the open source movement makes the code (algorithms) less relevant day after day. Google et al release the source code of their algorithms all the time. They do it because they know that what matters more is the data they have, and the infrastructure they can sell. I am not saying machine learning is also dead, or will be fully commoditized, but I cannot be sure my value as a machine learning engineer will be the same in the market 5 or 10 years from now.

Thus, one of my resolutions for 2021, is to understand blockchains and cryptocurrencies more. I wanna understand the following.

  • First and foremost, their business model. Who makes money and how, away from the obvious methods such as trading. I want to know how ICOs work, how tokens are priced, and who makes money when a token is bought or sold.
  • Secondly, I want to understand the currently infrastructure. I now, most of dApps (decentralized app) are build on Ethereum, EOS, TRON and Dfinity. Are there more? Which ones scales better? Which ones are more developers-friendly than the others?
  • Thirdly, do some shit myself. I only understand stuff if I build them myself, or re-invent the wheel sometimes. So, I want to build stuff on one of these blockchains, and see how it goes? Maybe, learn one of the needed programming languages there, for example Solidity or modern JavaScript.

In a nutshell, I somehow see the effect of blockchain technology on software, but I need to understand it more, and will write about my learnings along the way, if I learn anything worth sharing.

Update: I am referring here to Richard Stallman of the Free Software movement. I do not endorse any of his recent problematic opinions out of that scope.

Machine Learning engineer, Data Visualisation book author, and a bunch of other things,

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