Buy/Hold/Trade or Sell/Divest/Disengage: Using Executive Functions in Electronic Hive Minds for Decision Making Around Cryptocurrencies

Buy/Hold/Trade or Sell/Divest/Disengage: Using Executive Functions in Electronic Hive Minds for Decision Making Around Cryptocurrencies

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9369-0.ch005


An electronic hive mind (EHM) can be a distributed virtual community and a mental space for information-gathering, analysis, and ultimately, decision making; it can play the role of executive functioning (in the same way a frontal lobe does for a human brain) and inform real-world actions. To see how this might function, the EHM around cryptocurrencies was explored from multiple social media platforms. This topic addresses an issue that is not fully defined and is of broad-scale mainstream interests. Cryptocurrencies may be everything from virtual ephemera and hot promises to a life-changing innovation. As a phenomenon, it has instantiated in different ways around the world, with cryptocurrency “farming” centers, nation-state-issued cryptocurrencies, government efforts at regulating such exchanges, and volatile gains and losses for cryptocurrency speculators and investors. How people engage with cryptocurrencies can affect their real-world net worth as well as other aspects of their lives, so this is not merely a theoretical issue but one with real-world impacts. This work explores three hypotheses around social messaging, the general membership of the target electronic hive mind, and mass virtual executive functioning and discovers a mind hyped on seductive promise.
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People use their mental processes to understand the world, pay attention to what is relevant, problem-solve, and act, to engage effectively within it. This engagement requires intelligence and strategy, and it requires self-control. Collectively, groups may be thought of as having some leadership and applied rules and bureaucratic structures that enable people to collaborate and cooperate. A core question in this chapter is whether an electronic hive mind, defined as “a sentient and potent mass entity with potential for various types of concentrated mass action as well as dispersed smaller-unit actions, among others” (Hai-Jew, 2019, p. 210). The thinking is that socio-technological connectivity enables people to share ideas and enable particular temporal mind-melds and understandings around topics of shared interest, which may lead to in-world actions. More specifically, this work explores precursors to action—based around cognitive executive functions (such as information gathering, sense making, and planning). These functions are considered analogous to some of the capabilities in the human mind’s frontal lobe and its application for learning, decision making, and action taking. The frontal lobe is also critical in applying “theory of mind,” or understanding others’ thinking and anticipating others’ actions (Stone, Baron-Cohen, & Knight, 1998).

A general assumption is that people may engage the world in a learning way: they gather information, ask family and friends, make decisions (rationally and irrationally, emotionally and unemotionally), test their decision making in the world, gather more data, and repeat.

Analogically, the electronic hive mind (EHM) involves information processing and some decision making. An earlier work showed the importance of having (informed and benevolent) experts in the EHM space to inform the larger publics of complex issues, like cybersecurity (Hai-Jew, 2019). This work explores what the executive function of an EHM may look like:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hash Function: A compression of data into a shorter format.

Social Imagery: Images from the Social Web.

Massthink: A consensus of opinion among a large population with its individual members not critically assessing the thinking.

Spillover Effect: Positive or negative effects from one economic context to another, usually in unpredicted or unforeseen ways.

Pump and Dump Scheme: Artificially raising the value of an asset by sharing false information about the asset and then divesting of the asset once its value rises (and leaving other shareholders to experience the future drop in value).

Asset Bubble: The situation arising from a fast rise in asset valuations beyond that justified by fundamentals.

Immersive Parasocial: The illusion of having a relationship with another human being, often a public figure, in multi-perception-information-rich virtual world spaces; a one-way follower relationship that is mistaken for a two-way relationship.

Fiat Currency: Legal tender with its value backed up by a government (with its resources and capabilities).

Mania: Obsessive enthusiasms, often on a mass scale.

Crypto-Jacking: The theft of cryptocurrencies through various means, especially malware.

Herding Behaviors: The individual or mass emulation of others’ thoughts and behaviors, often without analysis.

Hedging: An action to limit risk.

Electronic Hive Mind: A synchronous temporal and informal patchwork of emergent shared social consciousness (held by geographically distributed people, cyborgs, and robots) enabled by online social connectivity (across a range of social media platforms on the web and internet), based around various dimensions of shared attractive interests.

Cryptocurrency: A digital money secured through encryption and other processes.

Initial Coin Offering (ICO): The initial public offering and rollout of a cryptocurrency to investors.

Frontal Lobe: The front part of the human brain where learning, personality, and actions are based.

Cryptocurrency Exchange: A business that enables the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies.

Executive Function: The directing of mental skills for learning, decision making, and action taking.

Filter Bubble: An isolated mental state which results from being exposed only to ideas that one prefers to hear (enabled by social media that helps filter informational content).

Irrational Exuberance: Investor enthusiasm for particular assets that may raise valuations beyond what the fundamentals and facts would justify.

Portfolio Diversification: Including a range of financial products in an investment portfolio in order to control for risk.

Serial Reproduction: The passing of information from one person to another (often with misunderstandings and mistakes introduced and passed on).

Altcoin: Non-Bitcoin cryptocurrencies considered “alternate” to the main one.

Blockchain: A public digital ledger secured through cryptography.

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