Before reading this, please read this story originally written by Dan Schwarz, which focuses on the near- and medium-term downsides of rapid AI advancements in the face of our wholly-unprepared society.
The following is a counter-story meant to highlight the solutions for which technology exists today that may help fight against the downsides of AI. It was initially published to Twitter here, and this post is an onchain version of it with minor improvements. You can even mint it!
It's April 2026. I wake up in the morning and check Hacker News.
"Hundreds of Starlink satellites burn up in the atmosphere."
I click the link to Wired. The article is clearly GPT-assisted, I don't trust it, so I click my browser's Ledger of Record extension. The article was written by a 50-something journalist hailing from a pre-Ledger-of-Record era, so there is no onchain link to verifiable information about this incident.
I grumble and open the local web interface to my Ledger node. Having purchased a Tesla before, my wallet already contains the Tesla certificate authority. I query my node — in natural language — to trace any recent information it can find about Starlink satellites rooted in the Tesla certificate. It comes up with a signed onchain statement from Starlink stating that the service is operating normally, and a record of every satellite's spatial coordinates in the last 24 hours, cross-referenced with spatial observation records signed by NASA.
Satisfied, I ask my node to compress this information down to a zero-knowledge proof a few kilobytes in size, and ask my assistant to summarize these findings and include the proof in the summary, along with instructions on how to verify the proof for themselves. I sign this with my own key, and publish it both onchain and as a Hacker News comment. "Hopefully this will save the next schmuck a few minutes of research before falling for this", I exhale.
I get an alert from my bank. I scroll through a dozen spoofed bank notifications that my on-phone assistant tells me are socially engineered.
The NYSE dropped 10% and trading was halted. This drop looks real. I look at the onchain synthetic for the NYSE index, which can’t be halted. It's certainly jumpy, but has barely moved 1.5% below the pre-halting price since. Looks like it was just panic-selling. I move on with my day.
Slack chimes. My engineer in Chile tells me she can't work today due to mass protests.
Me: What are they protesting?
Her: I'm not sure. People are saying the hospital systems are down and I can't refill my meds.
Me: Did you check the medical supply chain records? You know, the one the Chilean government — after the Healthcare Sovereignty Act back in '25 — required all their pharmaceutical companies to record their logistic operations on and that enforces public transparency?
Her: Ah, right. (She asks her assistant to check.) Looks like the hospital an hour or two down from me has what I need, but how will I be able to convince them to give them to me? They claim the whole hospital system is down.
Me: That's OK — the medication bottle will have a QR code on it with its contents and serial number. The hardware wallet in your phone will be able to sign and post an onchain statement that this medicine has been picked up. It’ll come along with a zero-knowledge proof that it was picked up by someone who has a prescription for it and hasn't picked them up since their last expected pickup. That message can be gossiped through any mesh network like Helium, so others will be able to verify the hospital stock regardless of the state of the hospital’s inventory system.
My phone buzzes. It's my Dad. My phone shows that the call is cryptographically confirmed to come from my dad's device, which I verified the key personally when I set it up for him. He starts talking.
Dad: Dan, stay home. I'm seeing crazy things in the news about Teslas going haywire on the highway.
Me: Did your assistant verify the news?
Dad: Some yes, some no. Just stay home to play it safe.
Me: Thanks for letting me know, dad. I'll be careful! By the way, remember what happened with that call from "me"? How you gave your Amazon password to "me" without checking?
Dad: Yeah, that was scary. I've gotten other calls that sound just like you since, too. I've also gotten panicked-sounding calls from someone who sounds exactly like your late mother.
Me: Oh no, what happened?
Dad: Nothing, son. You set up my phone to warn me about calls that don't come from expected callers, remember? The phone told me this wasn't from a confirmed caller when I picked up the phone. When it detected that the voice print matched against your mother's voice, it immediately hung up and told me why it had done so.
Me: Oh, good! Glad to know that's working. Stay safe out there.
Dad: Ok. Bye.
I get to work. My AI assistant is coding a new forecasting tool. I check every ~30 minutes and give it code reviews.
Analytics alerts are firing again. Some users are acting erratically. Their browser automation must be clicking random buttons. I add a temporary increase on the human score threshold on the anti-sybil ZK proof auth flow, powered by Gitcoin Passport. Most of them drop off.
I keep checking the news. More claims about financial turmoil, SpaceX satellites down, Tesla draws driving off the road. I wonder if my friends if they've found out the truth yet. I could ask them, since our phones have end-to-end encrypted and verified messages, thanks to technology we've had since the 90s called cryptography. But our onchain attestations are automatically synced anyway, so I figure their assistant has probably already surfaced it to them. I move on.
The lights in my office go off. I check the circuit breaker - power is out. I turn on my mobile hotspot and tether my laptop. I check the PG&E outage page. It says everything is online. "Of course.", I sigh.
I turn to the chain once more. Plenty of attestations of power outage from my entreprising neighbors, and a lot of automated attestations from the apartment building's backup generators and IoT sensors. I don't trust any of them much, but they do all come with ZK proofs of location thanks to Helium hotspots. I ask my assistant to gather up those attestations and render them as a heatmap overlaid on top of a map of my area. Sure enough, those areas line up with strangely-green zones on the PG&E map. Another grumble. I publish another onchain attestations of my findings to help the next person out.
I learn back in my chair. Being without power sucks, but at least I know the extent of the damage and I know not to panic. It's just another societal panic induction attempt. Psyops.
To be clear: This story is still a dystopia. I hope we don't get to this place.
But the point is this:
If AI is an unstoppable force, crypto is an immovable object.
In other words, it's the only technology we know that may credibly fight back against the downsides of AI. Crypto is source of hardness and a common ground truth.
Thanks for reading. If you liked this story, post an onchain attestation to prove it! This is how we can start to build a collective intelligence network from which the above technology becomes ubiquitous. Other than gas, it’s free.
If you’d like to support the development of this technology, I suggest contributing to the current Gitcoin Grants round. Even a small amount helps, as your selection helps inform the quadratic funding matching algorithm. It is onchain collective emergent intelligence for capital allocation. Contribute here.