Generations of warfare and business correlate closely, however there is a lag between them. War is roughly one cycle ahead. War adapts more readily to evolutions in strategy, making it an informative leading indicator in domains that are adversarial and competitive.
I believe this makes it an excellent proxy not just for business, but also DeFi.
Picking up where we left off….
We don’t know what 5th-generation business looks like yet, as business is still in its 4th-generation. So I will predict its future the same way I’ve done with DeFi generations.
I believe you can get a lens into 5th-gen business by looking at how onchain, remote DeFi projects operate now. In fact, that’s the environment I currently inhabit. The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. So let me tell you what 5th-gen biz will be like from my futuristic neck of the woods.
In 4th-gen war, the nature of combat didn’t dramatically change, but rather the participants did. I suspect that parallel will apply in 5th-gen business. Radically remote, digitally native teams operating asynchronously and across geographies will become a substantial part of the 1st-world labor force (roughly 1/3 of all jobs). But for knowledge workers it will be by far the standard. Meaning I’d expect approximately 80% of knowledge workers (the laptop class) to be pure remote, and to work essentially whenever, wherever they want.
There are no shifts or ‘clocking in’ in 5th-gen business environments; there are only deliverables. You get your work done as you please, but you get it done. Beyond that your time is yours. Liberating. This autonomy will make you value things you didn't know you valued.
These much smaller, hyper-mobile businesses fit the guerilla metaphor from 4th-gen warfare perfectly. Just as technology facilitated coordination that obviated the need for warfare centralized command, so will it for business.
Individually, these teams cannot take on corporate giants. But en masse as a swarm they present huge disruptions for old-economy businesses that are ossified in their office-building leases and insist on all workers reporting to their cubicles (god I could never return to this). Corporations will experience trouble recruiting and retaining talent, as large salaries and equity packages do not overcome the emancipating autonomy and mobility of 5th-gen business environments.
How do I know what you value will change when you're unmoored from an office? Because it happened to me.
When working in the 5th gen the world opens up to you, and the seductive prison that is golden handcuffs is far less enamoring. Go be a digital nomad, live wherever you want. Money will rapidly have diminishing marginal returns for you once you have enough to not worry about it.
Real-life example: me. You’d have to obscenely overpay me to get me to work for a corporation again, let alone return to an office. There’s no way you’d pay my asking price, because frankly I’m not worth that much. My ask is unreasonably high because you’re effectively paying me to sacrifice my freedom. This is a perk of 5th-gen business you can’t quantify, and employers will soon realize how expensive it will be to insist your best people be handcuffed to a desk.
Distributed networks beget distributed teams.
5th-gen business is defined by its hyper mobility, lack of geographic footprint, and comparatively flat hierarchies where everyone is expected to find ways to create and add value. Divisions of labor will blur, and the skilled hyper-generalist will be a coveted asset.
The irreverent crypto culture will permeate 5th gen and add a flair of playfulness and camaraderie to the digital water cooler. Think gm, inshallah, based, and such. Workplace culture will actually improve, despite the bemoaning of cubicle zombies insisting otherwise. Telegram and Discord replace emails, and your PFP will replace your LinkedIn picture (I’m thisclose to deleting my LinkedIn. Bleh.). The future is now old man.
5th-generation warfare (one cycle ahead)
5th-gen war is a hybrid of cyber and psychological combat. It’s war that transcends meatspace. It often isn’t violent in the normal sense, it’s war of non-kinetic force and an omnipresent mental battlefield. It’s war of information and perception. Experience the glowjob. (click hyperlink if tweet preview doesn't work, it's just an amusing illustration)
The point of violence is to acquire something by force. Violence always seeks to procure either submission or property. Sometimes submission is in service of order. 5th-gen’s violence goals are almost entirely submission by way of manipulation, rhetoric, information, and communication.
Up until now, “force” has been a kinetic, physical construct because the physical space has been the only avenue to apply violence to achieve your objectives. Physical violence happens in atoms, but technology proliferation means minds are now the target: so bits are the conduit.
Software is eating the world, and the exponential, accelerating pace of technology has eaten centuries of what constitutes violence. 5th-gen war is a continuation of the state’s incremental loss on the monopoly of submission, because they do not hold a monopoly on compute.
Compute and information are how mental violence (submission) is wrought. Massive military budgets will increasingly become a bloated red herring that’s not indicative of holistic violence capacity. Because the means of attaining submission are evolving.
Thinking you need 6 aircraft carriers to win wars = thinking you need employees to report to an office to do work. You are existing in a past that is increasingly irrelevant and ignores technological tectonic shifts that are altering human behavior.
In 4th-gen, war is reoriented around covert, terrorist-esque attacks by guerillas. In 5th-gen, guerillas still dominate as participants, however attacks are less of the body and more of the mind from both sides. The Vietnam farmer returns, his rice field is onchain, and he now has cryptography and AGI in his arsenal.
Social engineering, cyberattacks, and misinformation are the paratroopers and fighter jets of this battle. The aircraft carriers are AGI, fully automatic LLMs, Midjourney-style visual disinfo, and autonomous systems. An invasion is closer to a DDoS-style overwhelming of digital infrastructure and less sending soldiers into a territory.
Technologies of deception supplant and influence the need for kinetic combat. Think deepfakes, honeypots, memetics, psyops, false flags, surveillance, cryptographic backdoors, and other weapons of duplicity. The state will not have a monopoly on this artillery.
Vietnam farmers in the onchain rice fields not only have more raw manpower behind the screens, they’ll likely have tech that’s as good, if not better, than the state’s. This is a first, and dramatically rebalances the odds. Theory: guerillas are often successful because they have the dominant motivation (very important, more on this in Part 4)
On battlefronts: 5th-gen attacks are best waged without you even being aware. Subtlety over all else. Even the lack of attention something gets can be a tool to redirect focus elsewhere. Here’s an illustrative excerpt from a brilliant piece by @patio11 in respect to the federal response to the banking/SVB deposit crisis:
Wars of perception and Pavlovian-style messaging that get you to act unthinkingly are more prevalent than you think, and the best ones are those that are unquestioningly accepted. The granddaddy of them all hides in plain sight. The granddaddy of them all hides in plain sight. If everyone believes something is real, it kind of is.
Even when something actually is scandalous, 5th-gen tactics can simply elide over it when state-aligned media chooses to not make it a front-page story. Redirect attention. The order of information is a strong influencer for how important you'll perceive that information to be.
Watergate on page 7 isn’t Watergate anymore, it’s irrelevant that the info is identical. How it’s framed and promoted to you informs the feelings you have (that you think are your own). It has to be on the front page for it to matter. Here's an example of soft 5th-gen manipulation.
5th-gen war loves the shadows. The best instantiations of 5th-gen attacks are unknown. If you know you’re being attacked, you raise your defenses. Calling it covert is an understatement, it ideally manifests in a way where the population doesn’t even know a war is happening. If you’re able to perpetuate an attack where the subject is unaware it’s occurring, you’re much more likely to achieve your psychological objectives. And the objectives are almost always psychological.
In 4th-gen DeFi, the US and its bureaucratic class truly internalizes that power is a zero-sum game, and that crypto represents a reduction of that power. They won’t understand it as inexorable though, they will think they can stop it. They will not take kindly to it. Here's a brief interview with me elaborating:
The US becomes openly hostile to DeFi in a way that intimidates investment, deters building, and effectively forbids existing onchain. This will cause a brain drain out of the US as DeFi mortally wounds the US’s financial supremacy that its empire relies on. US lawmakers are not strategic or thoughtful enough to avoid this. It will finally become apparent there’s a war on crypto, just like there’s a “war on drugs”.
Legal strategies that rely on laws made before computers will not be a productive use of your time. A cartel will never willingly relinquish territory to an upstart. Legal arguments are simply post-hoc justifications for actions they're going to take.
When a cartel declares war on another cartel, you don’t look to law for how to respond, you look to game theory. Analyzing the Wooden Canoe Act of 1918 ain't it. A cartel will never willingly relinquish territory and revenue to an upstart. Legal arguments are simply post-hoc justifications for actions they're going to take. It’s an uncomfortable way to view crypto, however it’s the only lens through which state actions will make sense.
The actions and words of regulators and politicians confuse DeFi people. They see ridiculous statements and think “What! This is so factually wrong how can they be this uninformed?! We just need to educate better!”
No, you don’t.
You will become more at peace with things when you understand how words so breathtakingly stupid can actually be logical. You just really won’t like the logic.
It’s because they do understand what crypto means for control you’re seeing rationale that makes no sense if interpreted literally.
They're leveraging politicized language to advance political goals. Please rest assured word has indeed got out on the new paradigm.
The US is a theater-kid-occupied government ruled by authoritarians, but they’re not this dumb. Ask yourself how reasonably smart people can utter things so inane… they know what they’re doing.
“crypto executives” lol
I’d also like to emphasize a core concept for the Vietnam farmer: you don’t have to actually win! You just have to not die.
A persistent presence and indefatigable spirit eventually exhaust larger foes. Empirically so. Remember what wars the US loses now, they’re not to superior adversaries. They’re to rice farmers and goat herders.
We want this more than they do. The dominant motivation wins (Part 4 analyzes motivations in detail).
It’s funny, I’m rather blackpilled near term (<10 years), but totally whitepilled (clearpilled) long term. I didn't realize this until someone said in a chat I was "optimistic".
Me? Optimistic?! Actually... yeah, if you zoom out enough. Why the contradiction and confidence?
Would you like to go torrent something from The Pirate Bay right now? Because you can. Do you know how long they’ve tried to stop that? Ok so picture Pirate Bay with a huge (growing) global network, armed with cryptography, AGI, massively well capitalized, and with all the intellectual talent.
Peer-to-peer networks are unstoppable. Let alone this kind. You can’t stop this.
Take the clearpill: the next decade will be hard, but over a longer timeline DeFi cannot be defeated. It’s not a politically motivated claim, I believe it to be genuine game-theoretic certainty.
Part 4 coming next.
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