Die Theorie der drei Generationen: Wie Bitcoin in 60 Jahren Massenakzeptanz erreicht.

The Three Generation Theory: How Bitcoin Achieves Mass Adoption in 60 Years.

This editorial by ALEKSANDAR SVETSKI originally appeared in English on bitcoinmagazine.com on February 25, 2023. Aleksandar Svetski is the author of “ The UnCommunist Manifesto ,” The Bitcoin Times, and the viral and controversial “ Remnant Series ,” and head of growth and strategy at Lucent Labs . Christian was enthusiastic and translated the article for the German Bitcoin community.

Digital Portrait of Aleksandar Svetski by Seedor.io

Aleksandar Svetski

The Three Generation Theory: How Bitcoin Achieves Mass Adoption in 60 Years.

Bitcoin proponents are notorious for overestimating how quickly Bitcoin will “ take over the world ” and become “ widely adopted as money .” I too have been in this camp for a long time, but have recently come to a different opinion.

Before you accuse me of capitulating or call me a towel thrower, I ask you to read on and hold your opinion until the end.

I would like to think that I have become more mature in my perspective on Bitcoin. Call it moderation, patience or a dose of humility - but I'm trying to add some realism or " lower time preference " to the often overhyped perception of Bitcoin among some of us. But, as you'll notice, I don't think any of us are " bullish enough " on a longer timescale (my hat's off to @ck_SNARKs ).

Let's dive in.


People are very quick to project technology adoption curves onto Bitcoin; but the problem here is that Bitcoin is not JUST a technology.

It's not just a smartphone or a computer or a social network or a new stock or security or a new payment method or a search engine or a messaging platform or any other new product, app or service.

Bitcoin is a complete techno-socio-economic transformation. It is a reinvention of money from the ground up, incompatible with all previous primitives.

Therefore, not only is it a major change in many ways, but it is also completely different in a paradigmatic sense. These are enormous advantages and enormous hurdles.

Advantages because:
  1. Bitcoin has the greatest possible upside potential. If there is a finite quantity and the market for which it is intended is global money - meaning that it will be the measure by which every stock, every property, every company, every vehicle, every handbag or anything, what exists on Earth is measured - then it follows that Bitcoin will, in time, be the most liquid and valuable " unit of value " on this planet.
  2. When it is inconsistent with the old, it is truly a paradigm shift. And if it is superior (which it demonstrably is in every dimension that matters to money), then it will not only " compete " with the old guard, but replace it entirely. It's not about " opening up a new market ," but rather a winner-takes-all transformation that fundamentally changes the nature of the entire game. It's much bigger.

Hurdles because:

  1. Such change is a big deal. Becoming global money won't be a walk in the park, it won't be easy, there will be a lot of headwinds and corpses will line the path along the journey. Change is difficult even under the best of circumstances and with the most willing partners on our side, and right now we have neither.
  2. The nature of paradigm shifts means that most people don't see them, and even if they do, they rarely understand them. Therefore, it takes a while to reach critical mass (whatever that means), and much, much longer to reach so-called " mass adoption ." But that's not all: people don't like being wrong, established companies in particular don't like being wrong, so in addition to the time factor, we can also expect resistance and ridicule.
These are both real hurdles that need to be recognized. You can't just close your eyes and ears, tweet, " Bitcoin fixes this " and act as if everything is fine, because after all, the following always applies: Number go up. No.

We must understand that we are playing the " greatest game ," as Jeff Booth would say , with the greatest stakes, for the greatest gain, against the greatest adversaries - both external and internal. We are fighting both the establishment and the Cultures in which we grew up.

More needs to change than any of us can imagine.

I don't say this to discourage you from Bitcoin or make you feel like, " Damn - I'm going to die before I see the benefits ," but to a) inspire you that these are probably bigger than you thought, and b) to instill some realism so that you mentally prepare yourself and stop playing short-term games. You have to set your own pace.

Bitcoin is a marathon, not a sprint.


Large-scale socioeconomic changes take generations to become established and normalized. The old guard must die, so to speak, so that those born into the new paradigm can take over.

Each generation is a paradigm shift in and of itself, and each subsequent shift brings with it an entirely new understanding of and relationship with Bitcoin.

Let's explore these...


We are in the first generation of Bitcoin. Let's call it the first chapter or the first " era ". This era or generation will span 20 years and form the “ infection ” phase for Bitcoin.

I call it that because at this stage Bitcoin infects the system. It is a type of virus that attaches itself to hosts, who then act in such a way that it spreads further. Its goal is to infect key infrastructure, key minds, key levers and the key systems in the current paradigm. It must first implant itself as unnoticed as possible and then enter into a kind of symbiosis with the host as it grows, so that both the ever-growing group of hosts and the virus (in this case Bitcoin) benefit.

We've seen this happen before.

At this stage, Bitcoin had to prove that it was something someone would exchange for money ( or pizza ). It had to show a significant, commercial " proof of concept ", which was achieved with Silk Road . It had to go through an early phase of monetization ( Mt. Gox ) and then inspire an entire industry of copycats because what it did was so transformative - which is what we saw with Shitcoins.

This leads to a lot of speculation until we eventually reach significant enough saturation in terms of total market cap or liquidity that we can phase transition to a new paradigm.

We are currently in the middle of this first generation's speculative mini-era, or the infection phase of Bitcoin's early life.

While some of us radicals view and use Bitcoin as money and our unit of account, the rest of the world generally sees it as a speculative asset or something to " exchange " for more euros. There's a reason why it's correlated with markets, and while there are some signs of decoupling , it's really still early days and people will continue to treat it as a " risky " asset in the near future.

Some people call this " bad " and argue that it distracts from what the original promise of Bitcoin was - but I think they are missing the point. Money makes the world go round and that has never been more true than in the modern, material world in which we live.

Therefore, to have the greatest impact and ensure the most effective symbiosis, Bitcoin must be an economic and financial entity.
To fix the degeneracies, Bitcoin must subsume the degeneracies and then slowly, like a virus (or in the case of Bitcoin, an anti-virus), infect the hosts and begin changing them.

The reduction in time preference and the subsequent adaptation and maturation of people's behavior is an often observed example of this effect. If you want to learn more about this, read Saifedean Ammous's article in the " Austrian Edition " of Bitcoin Times: " Making Time Preference Low Again ."

So there you have it. Generation one, a span of 20 years. We have been here for 15 years and are very well on track. The next generation is still five years away, and in those five years we will see two more halvings, a huge amount of speculation and a real acceleration towards the liquidity or market cap saturation mentioned earlier.

At the same time, the course for the next generation is being set behind the scenes. This of course brings us to...


Imagine you were born in 2009, the same year as Bitcoin.

You grow up in a world where Bitcoin has always existed. As a child, you took it for granted that money was a digital thing, and this complicated idea of ​​opening bank accounts or walking around with printed paper notes and plastic cards seems strange or strange to you.

You'll be 20 in 2029, and maybe you haven't really thought about speculation yet. Maybe instead you see a problem that needs to be solved and you simply see Bitcoin as a tool to solve it.

Remember that the Bitcoin price will be significantly higher during this phase and volatility will be lower. Things like the Lightning Network will be more advanced, along with other abstract layers anchored in Bitcoin. This makes you view this early, emerging infrastructure as a kind of toolbox rather than a speculative asset. In fact, you might see other things the same way and decide to play with them, but because a) Bitcoin has matured and volatility has died down a bit and b) so many services now offer Bitcoin as a funding option, you decide that Bitcoin is the default is by which you will measure your profits. It is no longer primarily a speculative investment.

There's even a chance that your parents were first generation Bitcoiners and taught you the principles or passed Bitcoin down to you and you grew up with it. So Bitcoin is not just something that has “ always been there ,” but something that you deeply understand.

These ideas aren't far-fetched, given the era in which you grew up. Imagine how you and your generation will view Bitcoin and how you will use it. Completely different, yes.

In this era, Bitcoin will finally move away from the speculators and into the hearts, minds and hands of the builders.

The 20-somethings who are raising capital and starting companies in this era will use Bitcoin, Lightning and other layers as tools that will give them such a significant advantage in the world that we will see a whole range of products and services that Integrate money into their business processes, similar to how communication is embedded in everything we use today.

The incentives will evolve in such a way that having Bitcoin and its abstract layers in your toolbox will give you superpowers.

But... keep in mind that for much of this era, the generation before you will still be in charge. There will still be a cultural, normative aspect that sees Bitcoin as foreign or speculative and will cling to the past despite " all that's going on ."

In this era, the new builders and first generation Bitcoiners on one side will be pitted against the remaining old world elite who still own much of the fiat wealth (stocks, bonds, real estate, corporations, shitcoins, etc.). First and second generation Bitcoiners will still be in the minority, especially in the early days of this era. But of course no great man has ever shied away from a fight - no matter the odds.

Looking forward 20 years to 2049, I don't think any of us can begin to imagine the kind of infrastructure, products and services that will emerge, and how much the tides will change.

Of course that brings me to...


This is the generation of mass adoption. This is where our children's children come into adulthood. They really won't know a world where Bitcoin hasn't existed, and they may even grow up not knowing what fiat is.

The end of this era is when the last remnants of our generation will begin to die away, and the tape that held the old infrastructure together will unravel. The City of Fiat will be abandoned and we will enter the phase of true mainstream adoption.

You might be thinking, " No, man. It's going to happen faster, because look at all the technology that's going to be developed by then. "

But I would reply: "Sure, a lot of technology will have been developed by then, but I am convinced that a significant number of people will still be hesitant to sell their house, car, products or services for magical Internet money. "

That number will have dropped significantly, but if you believe that governments, large corporations, and people who have succeeded in life using one method, will buy into a 40-year-old money and prefer it to things like property that have been around for a long time Thousands of years exist, then you're kidding yourself.

Bitcoin is where we will end up, but the wealth has to change hands first and that takes time. That's why I believe the third generation will usher in the phase of mass adoption. They are coming of age in a world where we have superior financial technology and economic infrastructure that allows them to use Bitcoin as capital . The most liquid, widely accessible, significant and trustworthy form of capital in existence.

Carry that over to 2069, and you're talking about a completely different world. This is when Bitcoin truly comes of age. It is the phase in which fiat either dissolves, dies or becomes a relic of the past, while Bitcoin becomes both a global settlement layer and the global money.

It is when Bitcoin, or an abstracted application layer anchored on it, becomes an integral part of almost all technological applications used by people around the world.

At this point, Bitcoin is no longer the virus but has merged with and created a new host.

I don't know what happens beyond that. But it's exciting to think about. We will be in a completely new paradigm at this point.


You will notice from the way I express myself that my certainty about what is happening at each stage decreases as the distance increases. I'm pretty sure what's going to happen in the next five years, and I have some degree of confidence for at least the first half of the second era, but beyond that I can only make guesses and give broad outlines of what's likely.

That's because I'm human, and humans always underestimate compound interest, while Bitcoin is subject to more compound interest than pretty much anything else we know of (at least as an asset, if not in other areas). With every day that passes, with every new Satoshi held by every new user, with every new miner plugged in, with every new merchant accepting Bitcoin, with every new node running and with every new Lightning channel that opens, Bitcoin grows and multiplies.

None of us are prepared for what that means for three full generations, and unfortunately many of us will not live to see it. But that's the lot we drew.

Our generation has given us both the gift of being the founding fathers of a new world and the curse of enduring the clown world for that privilege. Even if we don't get to truly enjoy the fruits of this labor, we will be the generation that goes down in history as the one that changed everything.

I don't know about you, but that sounds like a worthwhile compromise.

The first generation Bitcoiners are like those who laid the foundation and first stones for the cathedrals of the ancient and feudal eras. They would never see these structures completed, but they would forever be remembered as their founders.

And who knows - perhaps we will look down from beyond and admire what we have done, just as the greats before us did for their creations.

I don't know it.

What's important, and this is what I want you to know, is to recognize that Bitcoin is a multi-generational phenomenon. It is not Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, a smartphone, PayPal, Visa, a stock or a mere commodity. It is so much bigger than all of these things combined, and because of its fundamental importance, it will take time for people to spread.

It will take a few generations for it to become normal. It will take our deaths to reach its potential - not that we need to be rounded up and shot, but our generation must make way for the next and the one after that for the new paradigm to truly take hold. Once we get away, Bitcoin will really thrive.

I hope you keep this in mind when considering Bitcoin.

We have to be careful about projecting technology adoption curves onto it and trying to tinker with it out of disappointment. What isn't broken doesn't always need to be repaired or upgraded, and in fact, perhaps Bitcoin's most important feature is the fact that it will not change, or change very little, over the time periods to which I have referred in this essay .

If Bitcoin's consensus rules have remained unchanged and it's been " tick-tock, next block " for three, four, five decades, then of course people will have developed what is most important for a new socio-economic standard and paradigm: Trust.

And as much as Bitcoiners hate that word, trust is important - the truth is, you trust what you can verify most. That is why, after a few generations, Bitcoin will be the most trusted monetary, economic and communication layer in the world.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that it challenged your thinking. Follow the original author @SvetskiWrites on Twitter for more and look out for his new book "The Bushido Of Bitcoin" available for pre-order in March on Geyser.fund .

Aleksander Svetski is testing a new Bitcoin app called "OpenTip" that lets you reward Bitcoiners for work that matters to you. You can try it out here (this is a regular QR code):

OpenTip QR Code to tip Aleksandar Svetski some Bitcoin

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