Bitcoin is essentially a way to transport information in a decentralized, verifiable way, and because of this, it allows for some very interesting possibilities in the areas of robotics and artificial intelligence.
The fascinating thing is, that as long as the robots can gain access to the Bitcoin network, they won't have to ask permission from anyone to transact. In the future, this could potentially untether machines from their human masters, allowing full autonomy, and spawning a giant robot economy in the process.
Think that's a little far-fetched? Well, here are a few ideas on how it could possibly work.
Driverless cars are poised to enter our roads in a big way in the next decade, but what happens when you combine that technology with a few other innovations? You have Tesla making massive strides with their electric cars, developing automated battery charging stations and building out infrastructure around the world. Add Bitcoin into the mix and you have a way for cars to autonomously drive people around, earn money, and then pay charging stations to automatically refuel them.
It's not just about personal transport though. Think about something like postal services. Imagine never having to miss a package again, when you can request a delivery using your phone and have a robot postman come to you, whether you're at home, work, or walking down the street.
3D printing has the potential to disintermediate larger scale manufacturers, once the issues of speed, quality and range of printable materials improves. Imagine local communities having their own microfactories, where all that's needed to transact are some blueprint files and bitcoins.
The exciting part of this is that the robots could also repair and replicate themselves, using the bitcoins they have earned to buy new materials.
Similar to how 3D printing could decentralize manufacturing, the same may be true for energy production. Instead of everyone being connected to a centralized grid, we could reduce our reliance on those systems with ever moving, and thinking generator robots. I mean it's not out of the question to imagine solar or wind generators that can monitor weather forecasts, analyze the data and physically move to the most efficient locations. They could create their own mini power grids and offer their energy in exchange for money.
Since all of these robots need to connect to the Bitcoin network somehow, they would all require network interfaces. That means they'd also have the potential to communicate with each other, creating massive, ever changing mesh networks. That could make us rethink how we pay for, and consume internet, phone and TV data. For example if you lived in a city full of autonomous cars, you could communicate privately with other people using these adhoc networks and never have to touch traditional phone or internet providers, and again this could all be paid for, potentially by the second, with Bitcoin.
Thinking about these ideas separately is fascinating, but there are potential problems with supply chains, and how these robot systems could remain autonomous. The really mind-blowing thing is what happens when each of these systems of transport, manufacturing, energy production and networking combine, when the robots start interacting with each other. Once these systems reach a certain level, they could essentially close the loop and be 100% autonomous and self-sustaining. They'd be like a worldwide perpetual-motion organism.
Firstly, the manufacturing and 3D printing microfactories would be able to create, repair, repurpose and replicate all these new systems. From cars, to solar panels, to computer chips, and charging stations, it could all be self contained. The driverless technology would provide the logistics, the networking drones would link everything together and the energy production bots would power it all. They could react in real time to market forces and shift resources around the globe when needed.
All this seems like science fiction, but I can't help feeling that something like this is almost inevitable? The decentralized architecture of Bitcoin does have the potential to enable a world like this, and if the potential is there, someone will try to realize it. Whether people would want to live in that world is another question all together.