If 10% Of Humanity Turn Bitcoiners, Central Banking Goes Extinct

Justin O’Connell
Activist Post

What might it take for bitcoin to go mainstream?

Scientists have found in recent years that when a mere 10 percent of the population holds dear a certain belief, this belief will be adopted by the lion’s share. In 2011, for instance, scientists at Rensselaer used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion.

“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski.“Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”

The findings were published in the July 22, 2011 early online edition of the journal Physical Review E in an article titled “Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities.”

A curious finding of the studies is that the percent of committed opinion holders required to shift majority opinion does not change all that much from one sort of idea to another – the percentage of committed opinion holders needed to influence a society remains about 10 percent. It does not matter how or where the opinion starts and spreads in the society.

According to that last bit of logic, it doesn’t matter if an opinion starts on the Internet. When 10% believe in it, it spreads like wildfire throughout the rest of the society, from the digital to the analog world or vice versa…

The conclusions were reached via computer models of numerous types of social networks. One of the networks had each person connect to every other person in the network, and the second model included specific individuals who were connected to many people, which made them opinion hubs or leaders. Within the bitcoin network, the opinion hubs and leaders are those who were early into the bitcoin scene or simply active in their networking within that scene. Many probably run businesses of their own.

The final model gave every person roughly the same number of connections, and the initial state of all models was dominated by traditional-view holders. These individuals held a view, but were open-minded to other views.

The scientists then added true believers through the networks. These people were set in their views and ways. As those true believers began to interact with those of the traditional belief systems, the tide gradually and then abruptly shifted.

“In general, people do not like to have an unpopular opinion and are always seeking to try locally to come to consensus. We set up this dynamic in each of our models,” said SCNARC Research Associate and corresponding paper author Sameet Sreenivasan. To accomplish this, each of the individuals in the models “talked” to each other about their opinion. If the listener held the same opinions as the speaker, it reinforced the listener’s belief. If the opinion was different, the listener considered it and moved on to talk to another person. If that person also held this new belief, the listener then adopted that belief.

“As agents of change start to convince more and more people, the situation begins to change,” Sreenivasan said. “People begin to question their own views at first and then completely adopt the new view to spread it even further. If the true believers just influenced their neighbors, that wouldn’t change anything within the larger system, as we saw with percentages less than 10.”

The implications of the research are considerable.

“There are clearly situations in which it helps to know how to efficiently spread some opinion or how to suppress a developing opinion,” said Associate Professor of Physics and co-author of the paper Gyorgy Korniss.

The researchers, to be sure, are interested how the percentage might change when inputs are made to a polarized society. Rather than holding one traditional view, the society instead holds two opposing viewpoints, like in the Democrat versus Republican example.

The research received funding from the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) through SCNARC, part of the Network Science Collaborative Technology Alliance (NS-CTA), the Army Research Office (ARO), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Bitcoin Adoption

The pace of change gets faster all the time, and evidence shows that adoption also spreads faster today.

Bitcoin’s progress over the past five years to become the world’s first global currency has received widespread media comment, but tracking bitcoin’s spread scientifically with acquiring trustworthy data sets has been a bit more difficult. Significant outliers render much of the numbers meaningless, such as wallet downloads. So, if 500,000 QT-clients have been downloaded, for instance, how do we know whether or not many of those are from the same party?

Nonetheless, as the Genesis Block examined, these data points can give us insight. That blog took a look at global wallet downloads, demonstrated interest by region, exchange volumes across currencies, mining node locations, real-world interactions around bitcoin, and the major companies and investors pushing the bitcoin economy forward.

The Genesis Block began by looking at those countries which had the most downloads of bitcoin software and then calculated those trends over time. This model is not inclusive of all bitcoin users, as hosted wallets, thin wallets and holdings at exchanges are not reflected in this data set. The blog found that the US was the clear frontrunner. China had few downloads for a country of its size. There was nonetheless a documentary aired by China’s largest state-run broadcaster in the spring of 2013 which led to many more downloads than before. Russia was an early adopter but has since slowed relative to growing interest elsewhere.

The Genesis Block normalized for country size, comparing total wallet downloads to the population of each country in order to find penetration into each region. In so doing, the website noticed Nordic countries are leaders in bitcoin adoption. As the charts indicate, one probable reason for this is the region’s scientific literacy, and relative access to tech. The Nords are online en masse.

Search engine traffic shows the waxing and waning interest across disparate regions. Another chart shows key countries across a timeline since bitcoin’s introduction to the world. Google Trends, wherefrom the data was received, normalizes search data for population size and and then assigns a value of 100 to the region or time period with the greatest number of normalized searches. Normalized data from other regions is then compared to that on a scale of 0 to 100.

Ultimately, with bitcoin correcting over recent months, there has been a drop in interest. But, if scientists are correct, it is reasonable to believe that when 10% of individuals on the planet are aware of bitcoin, and believe it a viable option, digital currencies will have be on the cusp of the mainstream. How this plays out has yet to be seen.

[Editor’s Note: For more writings by Justin O’Connell on bitcoin, marijuana and other topics, click here.]

Questions or comments? Join the discussion at The Dollar Vigilante.

Justin O’Connell is the Head Researcher at Dollar Vigilante and Chief Executive Officer of GoldSilverBitcoin. He is also the author of the first full-length bitcoin book, Bitcoinomics, and administrator of the Bitcoinomics website. Justin is also a co-host at Our Very Own Special Show, a lifestyle podcast about music, news, life and other topics. He lives in San Diego, California. His writings mostly deal with gold, silver, bitcoin, technology and culture.

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