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How Will Blockchain Fix the Centralization of Data?by@pixelplex
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How Will Blockchain Fix the Centralization of Data?

by PixelPlexApril 20th, 2022
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'Blockchain' -- a relative unknown to the majority of Internet users and a familiar topic to you and me -- has an enormous potential to change how we interact with our devices, our daily transactions, and our respective governments. Several excellent books have been written on blockchain technologies that you should take a look at, but the one we will reference the most is written by George Gilder and is titled Life After Google. Gilder argues that within the past decade, we have been able to make phones with exponentially faster processors and larger memories, but an increasing amount of processing and information storage is done remotely from massive data centers in places like Oregon. The centralization of data by behemoths such as Google and Amazon is the clearest example of an inherently broken and insecure system of internet use. The blockchain can fix that.

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'Blockchain' -- a relative unknown to the majority of Internet users and a familiar topic to you and me -- has an enormous potential to change how we interact with our devices, our daily transactions, and our respective governments.

Several excellent books have been written on blockchain technologies that you should take a look at, but the one we will reference the most is written by George Gilder and is titled Life After Google.

Gilder argues that within the past decade, we have been able to make phones with exponentially faster processors and larger memories, but an increasing amount of processing and information storage is done remotely from massive data centers in places like Oregon.

The centralization of data by behemoths such as Google and Amazon is the clearest example of an inherently broken and insecure system of internet use. The blockchain can fix that.

Before we go any further, we should define in the simplest terms that we can what a “blockchain” actually is; many experts such as Gilder describe the blockchain as an immutable ledger (think of the one you would write your name in when checking into a hotel, but imagine that you write your name in permanent marker and that the ledger can’t be burned or shredded).

This description is accurate and gets the point across - a blockchain is, in its most basic parts, a ledger that operates somewhat like the way our current Internet system works, distributed through a series of nodes (computers, like the one you are likely reading this on right now).

Because of its immutable nature, the blockchain system has security as a part of its core functionality; this contrasts with our current Internet system, which was originally intended to freely distribute information between a network of computers.

Security was added to our current system as an afterthought when we began to use this network for monetary transactions (Amazon) and distribution of services (banking, email, etc.).

The goal of a blockchain Internet system is to distribute the information that is being centralized in massive servers to everyone connected to the network, through these same “nodes” that make the Internet network possible.

Instead of Google storing a file with your name on it that contains every email you have ever sent or received through their services or every search you ever made through their charming little search bar, all of this information will be distributed among everyone.

Only your unique ID will be attached to it (think of it being like a Social Security number - everyone has one and it would often be used to verify that you were who you said you were).

If successful, it is unlikely that the use of the blockchain would stop with 'only' ensuring a more secure Internet.

While Nakamoto created Bitcoin as a transactional currency that they hoped would work as a decentralized gold standard, by limiting the number of Bitcoins that could ever be produced, they made Bitcoin become an inherently deflationary currency.

This deflationary nature caused Bitcoin to be treated more as an investment than as a transactional currency, eventually leading to the crypto bubble bursting in November of last year.

Gilder described this phenomenon best on page 139 of ​Life After Google​, when he said: “In order to have a standard of value [cryptocurrency] must stand outside all value schemes. It must be valueless in itself.”

While the crypto bubble may dissuade future attempts to create cryptocurrency-based economies, Nakamoto laid the groundwork for a new and more secure way to process payments; even if cryptocurrencies aren’t used for daily transactions, they may serve as a guiding force for future tokens that could be useful for other unforeseen applications.

“In order to have a standard of value [cryptocurrency] must stand outside all value schemes. It must have value in and of itself."

Finally, the uses of the blockchain extend past our daily use of currency and our system of the Internet and into the very implementation of Democracy itself.

As it was with cryptocurrency, projects like Democracy Earth (democracy.earth) exist as proofs of concept - blockchain technology promises the most secure and accessible implementation of direct democracy that could have ever been imagined.

The same infrastructure that would allow us to decentralize our private information and conduct secure transactions would also allow us to vote on any measure, instantly and with ease.

Democracy Earth has placed great care in designing its system (using the Ethereum protocol that Buterin authored) to enable users to downvote or upvote any motion (á la Reddit) using a limited number of tokens that are renewed after a determined period of time - they even have the structures in place to allow for proof of identity and the organization of groups that could collectively vote on public or private motions.

For a look into the potential future of blockchain-enabled democracy, look no further than Democracy Earth and implementations like it. 

We were watching an episode of The Orville (a very funny and smart homage to Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek) when we realized the potential for blockchain technology to revolutionize our way of existence from the personal level to the governmental.

In this episode members of the starship Orville’s crew go down to a planet that looks remarkably similar to 21st century Earth, but after running into some trouble with the locals they discover that this society has implemented a dystopian version of a blockchain-fueled direct democracy where a person’s guilt or innocence is dependent on the opinions of the masses.

While we don’t believe that our society would fall into the same trappings that this fictional one did, the existence of blockchain technology is itself proof that a revolution is upon us.

Will we be ready?