Forget Uber. These Are The Time Ticking Bombs Of Sharing Economy No One Tells You About.
“Sharing economy” continues to divide. It is either being torn apart or worshiped on a pedestal. Uber, an app connecting riders with private drivers, has sparked fierce protest around the world, demanding government intervention and regulation. On the other hand, the company behind the product is heavily backed by tech giants like Google Ventures or the Chinese search engine Baidu. But why would anyone stand against this wonderful ecosystem of the common man serving and getting served by its peers? Nobody is. That’s the point. If you think the debate is about you, the common man, you have missed the train. It’s about who has the monopoly on the common man. Companies such as Uber are getting a slice of that monopoly by being the market mediator and they have been reaping the enormous profits all by themselves and the government, being the ultimate market-mediator that it is, is not so happy about it.
Sharing economy is synonymous with peer-to-peer based sharing, but the controversies are far away from having anything to do with ‘the peers’. Sharing economy wars are gatekeepers’ wars. It’s the companies and institutions giving you access to their peer-to-peer market that hold the control. While the Uber drama is making an impact on the cab industry, the power of flipping the entire sharing economy on its head, lies somewhere else. Let’s talk about the time ticking bombs of sharing economy no one tells you about.
Money infrastructure sits at the core of our economy as it distributes the wealth of almost every human on earth. The centralized banking system has been the ultimate monetary authority for centuries. They get to control the money supply, they get to manage the world’s wealth distribution and yes, we must trust them that they’ll do everything right.
Cryptocurrencies want to change that. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency used in a peer-to-peer system, where users can transact without the middleman. While Bitcoin, became the first decentralized cryptocurrency in 2009, there are more than 740 cryptocurrencies as of today. What makes the cryptocurrency infrastructure so promising to us is Blockchain, the distributed ledger system, making secured peer-to-peer transaction possible without a banking intermediary. Still baffled by it? Watch Bitcoin explained and made simple by The Guardian.
If you are tired of the currency war, then, there are those who want to bring us back to basics. Bacon for Beans is a free peer-to-peer barter trading platform, allow you to trade directly what you have for what you want. Which means, no money involved. While money, a tool invented ca 6000 B.C to solve the problems of barter, has brought in another set of new problems: inflation, deflation, currency devaluation, currency exchange fluctuation and most concerning of its all — the intermediaries, who gets to control YOUR wealth. While cryptocurrency is made possible with the advances of computers, computer algorithms can also easily solve the inefficiencies of barter that started the invention of money in the first place. And that is the aim of this new trading platform.
Fight For The Internet a.k.a Net Neutrality
The Internet is us connected. It is the largest and the most advanced peer-to-peer communication infrastructure ever made. Human communication builds social, economic, political, technological and cultural advances. Digital communication over the Internet has accelerated our advances in a startling fashion. But, the mediators of the Internet, known as Internet Service Providers (ISP), want us to pay a heavy price to have access to this sharing infrastructure of communication. Verizon, Comcast and other big players want to manipulate the traffic by means of delaying, prioritizing or blocking based on user, content, platform. It’s true, they own the pipes, the own the cables and they own the gates. But just because you have the guns, doesn’t mean you should do it. Net Neutrality fights against these ISPs turning internet traffic into THEIR lucrative business model. The Net Neutrality principle stands for equal treatment of all data on the Internet, not differentiating by user, content, site, platform or mode of communication.
The legal future of net neutrality remains uncertain and if the fight is lost, the way we use to conduct peer-to-peer trade, will never be the same.
Human advances have made it possible for us to communicate, share and trade ever so effectively. Sharing economy is here to stay but it is going to be undoubtedly reshaped in the future. For better or for worst? That’s up to the collective ‘us’ to decide.