Dear Black People — Don’t Chug the Blockchain Kool-Aid
Hello Beautiful People! Blockchain doesn’t solve human problems.
We’ve got to get that statement out first and foremost so we can address why blockchain isn’t a magical elixir for the vast social, cultural and economic issues facing Black, Brown and marginalized communities worldwide. Blockchain is a tool. Decentralized Ledger Technology (DLT) (the technical name of blockchain) are pieces of thirty something year old technologies that have been assembled into a jazz band of ledgers, records of transactions, transparency and cryptography that when they come together create a notion of security and trust. Alas, this technological symphony in no meaningful way addresses the social ills that have created and left Communities of Color in the unjust states we’re fighting to free ourselves from and dismantle.
What Black and Communities of Color need globally is representation in government, the right AND ABILITY to vote, be heard and for our fellow human beings to give AF about perpetuating the systematic political, economic and social oppression of marginalized communities. Blockchain doesn’t do that. Cryptocurrencies definitely don’t do that. In many respects, Cryptos (the abbreviation of “cryptocurrencies”) just add a fresh coat of paint to the traditional barriers of entry of awareness, accessibility and affordability. But before you FOMO (fear of missing out) yourself into a frenzy, below are a few items for your awareness and consideration.
If you’re new to blockchain, Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and the debate around decentralized ledger technology, welcome! Make yourself at home and if you only take one thing away from this, try to remember this,
“Technology doesn’t solve human problems. Only Humans can.”
Humans have to decide that a) its a problem (e.g.: global warming, mass shootings, paid maternity leave, affordable housing, homelessness, non-predatory banking, clean air and drinking water etc…) and b) that the sacrifices and social, cultural and spiritual changes needed to correct the problem are worth it.” Short of that, it doesn’t matter what manner of technology tools humans develop. From fire, to the bow and arrow, written language, the combustion engine, electricity, atomic energy and the internet — humans have always had the ability to create, from their imagination and ingenuity, technologies that change the very essence of who we are as a species. Alas, they does not change what we are as a species….Human and #HumansSuck. So, as you venture down this rabbit hole that is the emotionally driven debate about what the role technology should play in shaping Humanity’s evolution, keep in mind that Humans are our only customers until the AIs take over and Blockchain doesn’t solve human problems; only humans can.
Cryptocurrencies — Blockchain’s favorite flavor of kool-aid.
This is typically where the screaming and yelling starts. The Church of Bitcoin Maximalist have little tolerance for the crypto faithless. Meanwhile the Orthodoxy of Dollars doesn’t understand that cryptocurrencies are just the latest iteration of magical thinking and no more to be feared than good customer service. Before we back into our faith-backed corners of quasi-economic backed belief, a few questions regarding cryptocurrencies for your consideration:
- How do cryptocurrencies address unemployment?
- What have cryptocurrencies democratized?
- How do people with no source of income acquire cryptocurrencies?
- Why would a poor person adopt a medium of exchange (currency) that they can’t pay their rent, buy food, or cover their basic needs with?
- How do the lives of those living in poverty change, even with mass Bitcoin or cryptocurrency adoption?
The poor are poor. Blockchain doesn’t wondrously fix the last few hundred years of exploitative capitalism, predatory banking or the institutional legacies of slavery. Cryptocurrencies do not solve human problems, particularly those of poverty and social injustices because tech is just tech. Even with body cams and crystal clear audio, Eric Garner can’t breath, most folks don’t know who Sandra Bland is, and the perpetrators of these moral trespasses may only run the risk of paper cuts while relegated to desk duty with Officer Timothy Loehmann. Technology is just that, tech. Man and woman-made thingamajiggies that often highlight the ills, document the inequities and can be used to increase awareness of them but don’t change them. The majority of the time, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, technology doesn’t even sway the scales of justice beyond a gentle breeze of insouciance and human apathy.
Cryptocurrencies are at best a customer service battle of faith. You want to believe in cryptocurrencies the way the Government believes in quantitative easing. Whether you’re a bank, a so-called decentralized exchange, or the latest ICO, you’re vying for the faith of customers. You need “Adopters” from early ones, to fast followers, and new recruits to the Orthodoxy of Dollars, to the faith and Congregation of Crypto. Be it fiat or crypto, the real battle isn’t the tech. The tech, regardless of centralized or decentralized, blockchain or database, works. The battle is over the customer service experience that believers (adopters, aka customers) can trust. And trust me. Your tech won’t solve human problems of greed, ego and esurience. In short, don’t chug the cryptocurrency kool-aid. It’ll just leave you thirsty for justice, confused and frustrated as to why you’re still being treated as an economic minority.
Stable Coins — They don’t exist.
I am so frustrated with the marketing evils of so-called stablecoin enthusiasts, provocateurs and marketers that it’s difficult for me to have a serious conversation about them. That conversation is tantamount to arguing with a naked, deranged man, holding a can of Red Bull, 150 feet up on a ledger on whether or not he can fly. You simply cannot have a “stablecoin” pegged to fiat currencies or assets anymore than the dude on the ledge will sprout wings and soar.
Fiat currencies are not stable. A “fiat” currency is any currency issued by a government authority, e.g.: the US Dollar, Kuwaiti Dinar, Euro or Pound Sterling. Fiat money values fluctuates as much as the mood of the markets, inflation and the joys of inverted yield curves, Brexits as they happen, or Presidential tweets on a particularly bad day. Likewise, assets like gold, diamonds, oil etc…are not stable either. Next time you go put gas in the tank, tell me how stable that price is.
The most “stable” currency in the world is the Kuwaiti Dinar. $3.29 US dollars = 1 Kuwaiti Dinar. That “peg” has been in place and steady for decades. Whatever the value of the USD is, the Kuwaiti Dinar is always 3x that of the dollar and sometimes more. The Globe’s stable currency of choice is the USD. The poor, and this means you too, can no more get Dinars than they can magically come into possession of Dollars or Bitcoin. Remember that kool-aid? Check the flavor because stable coins don’t exist.
Lastly, pegged currencies do exist and blockchained-based thingamajiggies colloquially called coins and cryptos may and can be accurately referred to as “pegged currencies”. As they are pegged to the fluctuating, not stable, market susceptible value of fiat currencies and assets. Referring to them as “stable” is a marketing ploy of scammers, employed solely to take advantage of the ignorant. Try not to be culpable in exploiting the ignorant members of your community. That is just the perpetration of the status quo and how will we ever change humanity for the better if we can’t evolve past our human selves?
Institutional Stable Coins — are digital beans for accounting
Whenever a financial institution says they’re creating a “stable coin”, unless you are part of the bank’s or institution’s ecosystem, why would you care how they do their accounting? This is not to dismiss that there are risk associated with stable coins. “Stable coins” aren’t coins at all. They’re just a ledger of internal IOUs in a closed ecosystem of accounting. Why retail users and humans get excited or use XRP or other so called stable coins mystifies the mind. Why anyone other than the brain dead believe Tether isn’t an outright fraud is so mystifying at times I feel like I’m the man on the ledger, with a can of Red Bull thinking I can fly or talk sense to the masses. Again, don’t chug the stable coin kool-aid, it is literally not for your consumption.
Facebook Libra Coin — A Trojan Horse named Libra.
You may have heard that Facebook is creating its own so called stable coin / cryptocurrency called Libra. The LibraCoin is probably the most dangerous notion to democracy since someone said, “There has been no collusion and everyone knows the President can’t be charged with a crime”. The Libra Coin conversation is a longer one. Check out this short article, “A Trojan Horse Named Libra” that summarizes why that particular flavor of kool-aid is arsenic based.
Blockchain — this Decade’s Blu-Ray Disc
Remember when VHS tapes got replaced by laserdisc? And then laserdisc were going to be replaced by DVDs? And billions of dollars later, DVDs were going to be replaced by Blu-Rays? And then all of a sudden Blu-Ray got replaced by Tivo for about 20 minutes, before Video on Demand dominated a tech minute only to be replaced by Streaming? Blockchain is really cool tech. Blockchain also has the potential to disrupt and fundamentally change many facets of technology infrastructure, gadgets and business operations. However, blockchain is just the latest chapter in the book of Digital Transformation. Blockchain isn’t hot sauce. You can’t put that shit on everything and turn it into fairness, equity, access or justice. In five years, humans will still suck (#HumansSuck) and blockchain will be about as exciting as wifi, bluetooth or BlueRay technology.
As Black folks and Communities of Color life is hard. We are all seeking fairness, justice, economic security and happiness. Will blockchain provide that? Like all tools, they’re only as wise and useful of the craftsman wielding them. Alas, human hands tend to be small, which is odd for creatures with such big egos.
Don’t chug the blockchain kool-aid. It’s probably got shitcoins in it.
If you want to change society technology alone isn’t going to do it. People have to make that decision, typically within their hearts, mind and souls. Will blockchain help people think differently? Well the transparency of blockchain networks shame humans into improving their behaviors? History tells us, “nope”.
That said, lets not give up hope. We once decided to put a human on the moon and left our lonely, little, blue marble suspended in this great universe just to take a photo of it. So, as a species we aren’t completely without hope.
As we journey to discovering that hope that will lead humanity to salvation, here are some resources to increase your awareness of the possibilities of blockchain and other emerging STEAM technologies. Share them wisely and encourage others to advocate for inclusive technology policies, programs and initiatives in all communities.
- Satoshi’s Original White Paper: https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
- The book “Digital Gold”
- The book “Debt the First 5000 years
- www.BlockchainLibrary.org. Also recommend following Mark Hakkarinen, the founder of #BlockchainLibrary.
- www.chainhaus.com — To take programming classes for blockchain, python, ethereum, vyper, smart contracts etc… They’re based in New York City. Also recommend following Jamiel Sheikh, founder of #Chainhaus.
- www.blockchaintrainingalliance.com — They provide blockchain education in Belgium and Dubai. I also recommend connecting with Veronica Murguia, who coordinates all things blockchain in Dubai. Tell her I sent you.
- www.maureenmurat.com — Dr. Maureen Murat, Esq. is a blockchain, securities and tax lawyer licensed in Florida and New York.
- www.law.unh.edu/blockchain — This is the University of New Hampshire School of Law’s Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and the Law Certificate Program. Warning, I’m the co-creator. ;-)
Blockchain Thought Leaders who I follow — these are thought leaders in the space whose commentary and post you should follow and read. Its amazing how much free education you can get if you just bother looking. Its very similar to going to the library. Its free. But when is the last time you went?
Thank you for reading my post. On LinkedIn and for Blockchain Business Magazine, I regularly write about technology, cannabis, crowdfunding, real estate, health and compliance investing trends. To read my future posts simply join my network here or click ‘Follow’. Also feel free to join me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
About Samson Williams
Samson is an internationally recognized anthropologist and expert in Operations & Technology, Blockchain, Cannabis, cryptocurrencies, mobile payments, mortgage finance and organizational change management in FinTech.
Samson is ranked among the globe’s top innovative technology professionals for his cutting-edge research and applications in crowdfunding, tokenomics and digital securities. Samson is an adjunct professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law , Columbia University and Principal consultant at Axes and Eggs. For business inquiries Samson can be reached at email@example.com