The Tremendous Power Of The Byte; Digital Information & Beyond
This is what quantum theorist John Archibald Wheeler meant when he coined the phrase “it from bit.” He wrote, “Every ‘it’— every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely—even if in some contexts indirectly—from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits.”
A bit is just that: an answer to a yes-or-no question. One bit is the smallest unit of information known to us. Computers—at their core—are machines that process information. They represent bits as the flow of electricity. At any given moment in time, for every tiny part of your computer or phone, electricity either flows or doesn’t flow—yes or no, one or zero.
One Bit = One Binary Choice
If we had only one bit available, we would be able to represent any one binary choice; Does electricity flow here or not? Is a light switch up or down? Is a light bulb on or off? Life is more than just one binary choice, however. For example, we care about music, art, and messages from loved ones. All of these contain more than just a single bit each. However, we can break down all of these things into collections of bits. This very truth explains how you can listen to your favorite piece of music through your phone. A computer takes the sound and breaks it down into lots and lots of individual bits, individual yes-or-no choices, individual ones, and zeros.
Once the sound the musical performance produced converts to digital information (a whole stream of ones and zeros), this information can be copied and shared as many times as we want, almost instantaneously. Seconds after the computer in the recording studio makes the recording available on the Internet, your smartphone can download this information, decode it, and send it to your earbuds to enjoy the music. All this is possible because of the powerful idea that music—like everything else in our universe—is fundamentally nothing but information and can therefore be perfectly represented as a sequence of ones and zeros.
How Do We Get From Bit to Byte Now That We Know What a Bit Is?
The simple fact is that a one-or-zero choice is not rich enough to represent everything we care about accurately. For example, a musical note is not just “on or off.” It has pitch, loudness, timbre, and a profile of harmonics, and these elements keep changing in time. Numbers can represent all these qualities. We just need more numbers than merely zero and one. This observation’s basic idea is that if we utilize not one but two bits, we can actually represent four different numbers. Whenever our two bits are zero and zero, we call that number zero. When the two bits are zero and one, we call it one. One and zero we call two, and one and one we call three. Let’s take this one step further and see how much we can do with three bits. Three bits allow us to represent eight different values:
000 –> 0
001 –> 1
010 –> 2
011 –> 3
100 –> 4
101 –> 5
110 –> 6
111 –> 7
It turns out that given n bits, we can digitally represent:
This number gets big fast, exponentially fast. For example, we can already represent 256 different values using just eight bits. This is a byte. A byte is simply an array of eight bits, a unit of information that can take on 256 different values. A byte is sufficient to encode one English character and even leaves room for some additional, special characters. If you are interested in how this works in practice, look at the ASCII table. By using 256 different values for the amplitude of a sound wave, it is also possible to encode speech so that it can be understood when played through a speaker. For high-fidelity music, two bytes are used for the amplitude, which gives 65,536 different choices—enough to be indistinguishable from the original sound, as long as our speakers are of high enough quality.
The Byte, More Than Just A Unit Of Information
A byte is, therefore, a unit of information, but it is more than just information. It is digital information. Why does this matter? Digital information technology is superior to older analog technology because digital information does not degrade when copied, read, or distributed worldwide. When cassette tapes were used to store music or videos, what would happen if you played a particular tape ten thousand times? What happened if you made a copy of a copy of a copy? The quality would decrease every time.
This does not occur with digital information. If you record a song on your phone, you can play it thousands of times, share it with your friend, who can share it with her friend, who can share it with all her friends, and every person who ends up receiving a copy of your song will be able to hear it just as clearly and perfectly as you recorded it. This is the power of digital information.
The tremendous power of digital information has led to an unprecedented explosion in sharing knowledge and skills. It has made it, so the most powerful corporations on the planet are now the ones that enable the flow of information. Unfortunately, these corporations have become so powerful that they have recently started shaping and fiercely censoring the flow of information. This abuse of power has reached the point where many of us now live in an utterly fake reality: “war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.”
This is Where Digital Money Comes In
Bitcoin is digital money. It is censorship-resistant, self-sovereign, and can be stored entirely safe from physical and chemical attacks. Bitcoin is accessible, making international transactions in mere minutes, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. You, the bitcoin owner, decide when and where to send it. No banker, no dictator, no judge can prevent you from doing so. Bitcoin, digital currency, is how we take our power back. Bitcoin is how we take our power back from tyrannical governments, the megacorporations that bribe them, and the bankers wielding the ultimate authority over the entire corrupt setup. Every human being now has the ability to opt out of that game by exiting the fiat-money scheme and converting fiat to bitcoin.
At Byte Federal, This is What We Aim to Accomplish
We strive to make the world-changing technology that is cryptocurrency—digital money—easy to access, easy to use, and easy to understand. We give you, the individual, the tremendous power of the byte. Armed with this power, you can take control of your financial future and break free from the chains of the rigged system. One human being at a time, we are transforming this world into a place of true freedom, sustainable industry and commerce, and boundless opportunity for everyone.