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Gunpowder was a huge innovation. Those who had gunpowder generally had a massive advantage over those who did not (just ask the Native Americans). And those who had more gunpowder generally had a massive advantage over those who had less.

Given this, one would think that China, the original government that invented gunpowder, would have gone to great lengths to prevent the recipe for gunpowder from falling into the hands of competing nations. did. The gunpowder recipe was a state secret within China for a couple centuries.

But eventually that secret leaked (all secrets do). And what did countries who acquired the knowledge do after that? Did they all get together with China to suppress the use of gunpowder worldwide so that no state would obtain an unfair advantage over another?

Of course not. If they had even tried, such a cartel would have been entirely unsustainable from a game theory perspective. The incentive to secretly defect is just too great.

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And since no nation could be sure that it’s competitor nations were not secretly defecting, everyone would defect in the end. The cartel would collapse in short order.

The only game-theory-stable outcome was therefore for countries to compete among themselves to produce and foster gunpowder production, and to innovate upon it. This competition among nations would eventually lead to a more stable state (a “Nash equilibrium” of sorts), where a sufficient number of countries had sufficient stockpiles of gunpowder to dissuade attacks by others (though, of course, sometimes attacks still happened, albeit usually against countries ill-prepared to defend themselves).

Blockchains are, like gunpowder, a strategic asset. Those countries who use blockchains will have massive efficiency advantages over those who don’t, and those who use them more will have a massive advantage over those who use them less.

But unlike gunpowder, Satoshi never attempted to hide his recipe for blockchains. Rather he published the recipe openly on the Internet from day one. Consequently, nothing is gained at this point from any nation state trying to suppress blockchain. It can’t be kept secret (you can’t unring a bell), and no cartel to materially restrain it will successfully hold. Any country that does successfully suppress it will strategically fall behind those that don’t, very apparently and very quickly.

As with gunpowder, there’s only one game-theory-stable outcome possible with blockchains: Nation states will not cooperate to suppress it but will compete to foster it. Every rational nation-state will realize that a nation’s relevance and influence is best preserved by leading the world in blockchain development rather than by resisting it.