Over the last several decades, we’ve seen a new, major, way that people, and now their computerized devices, communicate – the “Internet”.
A century ago, communication was mostly done by physical exchange of books, papers, speech, touch, gestures and such.
Over the last century, electrical means such as telegraph, telephone, radio and television were added, allowing the simulation of such physical communications over long distances.
Over the last few decades, a new communication fabric, the “Internet” or “Web” has matured, allowing fair, reliable, rapid, and massive communication of digital packets. The underlying Internet is for the most part quite neutral. Myself and a fellow geek on the other side of the planet can exchange encrypted digital packets over the Internet, just as easily, securely, and reliably as two board members of a major New York bank can exchange images on their mobiles, while they sit next to each other in their board room.
“Smart” cars, electric meters, refrigerators, light bulbs, national super computers, satellites, factory robots and wrist watches can and do also participate on (communicate or send data over) that same Internet.
Our civilization’s Digital Communication Fabric, anticipated by visionaries in the 1980’s, is now a mature capability available to, in frequent use by, and trusted by most humans and by their “smart” devices, and by most corporations and governments and their various computers.
Electrification was an earlier, essential prerequisite, that went also went global over the century of the 1900’s.
With the early prototypes of the blockchain technology underlying Bitcoin and various other such cryptocurrencies, we can now envision a third globalization of infrastructure, a global (even solar system wide) Digital Decision Fabric.
Over the coming decades, humans, their institutions (governments, corporations, …) and “smart” devices will become participants in a civilization wide Digital Decision Fabric.
This underlying fabric will become an underlying means for multiple parties to formulate, decide, record, and monitor decisions that, a century ago, would have usually been made face to face, or by exchanging papers through a postal service.
Our personal, corporate and government lives are rich with decisions involving money, debt, property ownership, government licenses, authorization to enter non-public spaces or view non-public information, medical records, citizenship, elections of public officials and corporate boards, stocks and bonds, passports, sales receipts and bills of lading, and so on and so forth.
Currently, we make wide spread use of computers held by the individual participants in decisions effecting all this physical and virtual “stuff” to facilitate such decisions. No bank of any size could possibly manage anymore without using computers.
We also make wide spread use of the global Digital Communication Fabric, aka the Internet, to communicate some of these decisions.
But currently such decisions are reached between multiple parties, such as voting, purchasing goods, exchanging property, or extending and collecting debt, are made “face to face” either in the physical world, or in electronic emulations, such as over Zoom, of the physical world.
This is changing.
A new means of making decisions is manifesting. The blockchain underlying Bitcoin is an early, clumsy, slow and deliberately, inherently, and unavoidably inefficient, variant of such decisions fabrics.
In the coming decades (assuming that some mini-ice age or alien invasion doesn’t cause our civilization to collapse once again back to another stone age, or worse) we will see a rich, widely trusted, widely used, very flexible, decision fabric develop, enabling people and their smart devices to make a wide range of decisions, large and small, rapidly, efficiently, and fairly.
These decisions will effect our personal, corporate and governments money, debt, property ownership, government licenses, authorization to enter non-public spaces or view non-public information, medical records, citizenship, elections of public officials and corporate boards, stocks and bonds, passports, sales receipts and bills of lading, and so on and so forth.
It is vital to the well being of humanity that this Digital Decision Fabric not be controlled by a few tyrants, whether operating through tyrannical governments or monopolistic corporations, or oligarchical fronts for either.
I suspect that much of the fear mongering being hyped over technocracy, 1984-like surveillance and control, and such is intended to get us to demand that “someone” fix that – make that impossible.
Give no other party that power … not the Pope, President nor Wealthy Capitalist.
We “fix” that, we subvert the threat of a Digital Decision Tyranny, one day, one decision, at a time. We need not “bug out”, go “off grid”, or avoid our civilization’s evolving Digital Decision Fabric. Rather we can and most of us should push each day, as best we can, as best we understand, in our own individual and various ways, to shape and encourage that evolving Digital Decision Fabric to be fair, efficient, fast, neutral, reliable.
Most of us will not be directly coding or implementing that fabric, just as few of us actually designed the core architecture of, or wrote the core networking software that underlies, the now world-wide communication fabric, the Internet. We can and should support and encourage those individuals and institutions developing this decision fabric whom we understand to be most determined and able to get the core architecture and protocols of this evolving Digital Decision Fabric “done right”, for the ages.
A Digital Decision Fabric will be more powerful, “richer” (providing essentially new ways to make decisions), than the old-fashioned ways done face-to-face, or by their paper or electronic emulations, just as our Digital Communication Fabric is already rapidly showing itself to be, compared to face-to-face communications, or even emulations thereof.