The future of everything is in the crowd — through distributed networks and blockchains which enable privacy, collaboration and trust on an unprecedented scale.
This is the next revolution. Individuals taking back power from governments, companies and agencies by reclaiming their privacy and anonymity. Blockchains remove the need for government intervention in areas the public no longer trust them to control and they remove the need for Tech companies to sell our data to the highest bidder.
Where the internet has stolen our identity and compelled us to share such an abundance of information for the commercial gain and exploitation of only a few companies the blockchain promises a safer path forward. We have surrendered our privacy in exchange for access to services — the platitude of if the product is free then you are the product has never been more true — but the Blockchain offers the opportunity to turn the tide.
I’ve read a lot recently about how the age of the Startup is over — the big 5 are now so big that they will buy up any and all innovation. When that becomes the general consensus I believe there is no bigger opportunity. The contrarian truth is that we are standing at the cusp of the third wave of the internet. These companies have consolidated Web 2.0, while Web 3.0 will be the antithesis of everything these companies have come to stand for.
Where they have hoarded their data, erected walls and created insular platforms to exploit users by harvesting data for commercial gain, a distributed alternative will emerge to each which disrupts everything you have come to expect marking another massive paradigm shift. Companies will eventually emerge that dwarf all that we see now but they will ne entirely different. Where your data is currently collected and held within massive server farms by these companies, you will become the arbitrator of your own destiny by choosing what information you want to share with which services. Instead of willingly offering up information — these companies will request it with the offer of rewards if you permit.
Web 3.0 will be marked by the revolution which see’s the reclamation and ownership of our own data. Where firms have profited from our attention we will sell it to the network and profit ourselves. Our participation will be recorded and confirmed in blockchains and payment will be completed through smart contracts with no need for intermediaries taking a cut of the transaction. Imagine owning your health data and sharing it with a blockchain for the research and discovery of new diseases. Think of permitting a bank to access your credit history and Trust blockchain to see whether they should loan you money.
Blockchains enable a world where micropayment becomes the norm, significantly reducing friction by enabling the turnover of currency to occur at a far higher frequency. If minuscule denominations of currency can be exchanged without the need for any discussions between parties payments can happen both instantaneously and in full.
Smart contract enable the exchange of tiny fractions of currency without the need for you to do anything. If you set up a contract that deducts 0.00000001 Bitcoins for every minute you spend on a website, smart contracts would exchange this when the terms were met. The producer doesn’t have to request payment and the consumer doesn’t have to pay anything — it just happens.
That is the critical innovation that the blockchain allows. It completely removes the need for a third party to ensure payments are made and trust isn’t broken.
If you weren’t a believer at the start of the year you may be starting to come round to the thinking now. Blockchain is the innovation, Cyptocurrency is the means of participation. In order to ensure your privacy remains private, it is essential that anonymous exchanges can occur while maintaining trust at a higher than can be achieved in an analogue world.
Big business are trying to craft the blockchain in their own image, diluting its potential for good by trying to implement private blockchains which they own. Instead of allowing it to remain a private utility which ensures trust between strangers they are redeploying the technology under their own banner.
Simply put, it enables them to significant reduce their expenses while maintaining the same revenue. They can do the same with far less, increasing the reliability of the service while simultaneously reducing the risk. The blockchain reduces the length of time it takes for transactions to be process while also reducing the amount of human labour required to confirm them. The blockchain allows banks and service companies do more work, at a lower cost more quickly. It reduces their dependence on human labour while reducing the risk they take when processing transactions between parties.
Where the blockchain promised a distributed ledger owned by nobody, banks and big business see an opportunity to possess even more information than they already do while arbitrarily inserting themselves as the gate keepers to this new world. They are looking to remain the intermediary in a system where one isn’t required.
Instead of trust being ingrained within the blockchain and the need for intermediaries being eradicated, they are trying to re-imagine this innovation using the existing model, whereby ensuring they continue to profit while offering little of value to the people involved in exchanges, purchases or services.
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