Carl Cervone

A Greenpill Manifesto

November 17, 2022

A short manifesto in response to the FTX debacle, crossposted on Supermodular

Humans created money to coordinate better
Old money has no values programmed into it
Old money manifests the values of the people who control it
But it doesn’t explicitly state what those values are or who they are intended to best serve
Nor does it require that the people who control the money have the authority to do so granted to them from the free consent of the people who use the money

Until recently, only nation states possessed the power to issue money
Crypto enables anyone to issue new forms of money
This new money, however, requires the issuer to set explicit, immutable constraints
You can program both laws and values into this new form of money
And you can use this new money to mobilize & coordinate people who share those values

This is a profound difference, worth restating
As humans, we have - and will likely always have - an unbounded set of coordination problems
Up to now, we’ve had only a single money system to deploy on all such problems
Now, we have an unbounded set of money possibilities
Now, we have the power to better calibrate the properties of the money we use to the problem we face

Here’s an analogy:
Until the late 19th century, bloodletting was viewed as the remedy for the majority of illnesses
The field of modern medicine was enabled from the realization not just that bloodletting was ineffective but also that specific health maladies require specific diagnoses, prescriptions and procedures

As a civilization-scale breakthrough, programmable money may be more like the discovery of fire than modern medicine
The power of fire was immediately apparent to all humans
Fire is uncontainable: once someone knows how to capture fire, they cannot be stopped… as long as they are not behind bars

It took millennia for fire to enable foundational technology improvements
If only warriors were interested in fire, we might get guns but not steam engines
If only engineers were interested in fire, we might get steam engines but not pizza
If only Italians were interested in fire, we might get pizza but not penicillin

If only bankers and autocrats are interested in crypto, what will we get?

To increase the possibility of crypto being a net good for the world, there need to be as many clusters of people with different backgrounds, motivations, and use cases building with it

We are optimistic that in the long run the uses cases that will have the greatest adoption will be the ones that have the greatest positive benefits for the greatest number of people

Critically, this is a bet not on technology, but on humankind
If you are willing to take that bet, then how do you engineer the highest probability of success?

Unfortunately, no one individual or group can engineer it
Such an endeavor is as futile as trying to create a “Council for the Responsible Use of Fire”
This is a global collective intelligence problem, not a central intelligence problem

The greenpill movement is an invitation to people of all stripes to imagine and build with crypto

It is an urgent movement because a positive-sum future is by no means guaranteed
It is a movement that is under existential threat from people using this technology solely for short-term gain and from blanket regulations attempting to stifle the worst types of behavior

Greenpillers need to speedrun the ponzis and myopic forms of regulation
Greenpillers have no right to expect they will inherit a better world
Greenpillers must work with renewed urgency to build a better world.