Ten Principles of Bitcoin Ethics

Our guest author Christoph Bergmann on the convictions underlying Bitcoin. Can we all agree on these ten points?

Bitcoin is for me a technology that embodies freedom. This goes far beyond the currency Bitcoin (BTC), which I realise is a view not everyone shares. Nevertheless, I believe that the wider Bitcoin scene, despite all disagreements, can agree on the following ethical principles.

1) Freedom of speech is better than censorship: Bitcoin protects freedom of speech by preventing censorship. Free discourse is the best way to shape public opinion. It is harmful to suppress dissent.

2) Decentralisation is better than centralisation: If possible, any function should be decentralised. Decentralised structures are more durable, resilient and reliable, while centralised middlemen create single points of failure, dependencies and friction. If it is possible to remove middlemen, this should be done.

3) Competition is better than a monopoly: A free market of competing suppliers is more efficient and fair than a monopoly or cartel. Money should also be in competition.

Ma’at, the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth, justice and wisdom. CC by TYalaA

4) Free choice is better than coercion: When people choose to do something themselves instead of being coerced, they do it happier, more motivated and more efficiently. Free choice by individuals also allows them NOT to do something, and can thus block irrational, inhumane operations.

5) Free markets are better than states: services and goods should be provided by the free market. The state should only provide what the market cannot, and intervene in it as little as possible.

6) More autonomy is better: Individuals and small groups should be as autonomous and independent as possible. If it is technically possible to increase the autonomy of individuals, this should be done.

7) More privacy is better: Individuals should enjoy the highest possible level of data protection. They should be free to decide what private data they disclose. Mass surveillance must be prevented.

8) More transparency is better: Public institutions should be as transparent as possible. If you hand over your power of decision to representatives, you should be able to observe and check their work.

Ama-gi, the first written word for freedom (in Sumerian)

9) Inclusion is better than exclusion: Social systems should be inclusive. They should not exclude anyone, but be open to every member of society, regardless of their gender, age, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

10) Achievement is better than authority: It is not who you are but what you do that matters. The disposition of decision-making power should not be based on authority but on merit. A meritocracy is better than an aristocracy. Proof of work better than proof of authority.

Bitcoin is a technology that promotes these ten principles. It is not an end in itself, but a tool to achieve these goals.

This goes beyond Bitcoin as a currency: for example, when financial services are decentralised on Ethereum or Rootstock, when Monero, Z-Cash or Pirate Chain expand privacy, or when the crypto ecosystem creates a free market of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. All of that, in an ethical sense, is Bitcoin to me.

Please use our Telegram group to discuss these theses!

Christoph Bergmann is the editor of Bitcoinblog.de, Germany’s leading publication on cryptocurrencies.