Ted Koppel “Lights Out”: What About Payments?

Released this month, Ted Koppel’s “Lights Out” describes the total collapse of society subjected to an extended blackout, and then he described the ‘survivalists’ or ‘preppies’ that stock up water, food and guns to ride it out since government is not doing much of anything. Thorough as Mr. Koppel is known to be, he overlooked one huge problem that may be turned into the much sought after solution. Modern society operates on ready payment for goods and services, mostly between strangers — united by the value of the US dollar. Over 90% of payments today are electronic. No lights — no payment. No payment, no service, no merchandise — strong arm tactics feed the strong, and the rest wither — talking about months of blackout, owing to a massive cyberattack, the kind unleashed by Stuxnet to bring down Iran’s nuclear program. And while it is prudent for citizens to secure a couple of thousands of dollars in cash, any such amount will run out quickly. Fortunately there is a solution, only that government planners are not very interested in it. BitMint LLC proposed to issue digitized dollars that will be streamed down to smartphones and computers. This will be emergency money — unusable, untradeable until the authorities turn it on (the magic of cryptography). Paid via battery operated devices, the emergency dollars will power up the nation. For money people will haul for their neighbors, service the weak, exert themselves for the other. A nation as a whole cannot rely on widespread friendliness and compassion to last for six months until the lights go back up. As Ted Koppel quotes in his book: “We have lived for centuries without electricity, we can do it again”. It’s true, only that for all those centuries without electricity, we had currency and a vibrant payment dynamics. The digitized emergency dollars will be redeemed after the crisis is over. Until then they will power a nation, tap its ingenuity, and make all of us into problem solvers. Write to Gideon@BitMint.com for further details.