The turn of a decade is a moment to look back and to look forward.
When we look back, the things that stood out in 2010–2019 are the rise of social media, populism and some tech companies becoming more powerful than complete nation-states.
Of course, there is much more. Apple iPhone 4 was released in 2010 and Steve Jobs died a year later. Its the century of whistleblowers like Snowden and Christopher Wylie bringing Cambridge Analytica to its knees in the biggest data-hack of the century. We will never know if this practice of targeted dark ads has brought Donald Trump to power in 2016.
It is the century of increasing attention for sustainability targets with the Paris Climate accord as the climax of 174 states wishing for the earth to cool down.
This short summary doesn’t do justice to all those other world-changing events that took place in the last 10 years. It brings forward, however, these 3 keywords that coloured our past decade; Technology, Data and Sustainability.
I forgot one very important thing. Something that started in 2008, but had increasingly impact, attention and adoption in 2010–2019. This is the movement of decentralization coming forth of the invention of Blockchain technology in 2008. This birthed also the internet of Money; Bitcoin.
When we slowly open the curtain of the next decade, we can already see the 4th part of the Industrial Revolution setting itself in position on our world stage. This revolution will blur the boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. Key players will be Artificial Intelligence, The Internet of Things, Quantum Computing, Genetic Engineering and Robotics.
But here is the spoiler alert for this new decade; New Technology comes with a promise and a price.
The promise of the internet that would connect us all in a freeflow of boundless information era has become a corporate playground with gatekeepers and censorship that has left billions of people still excluded from the miracle of a worldwide open web. Just to name a big promise and an even bigger price.
The core question for the next decade is this; Will the 4th Industrial revolution lead to a world where humans will serve technology, or technology will serve humans and will clear the path to make us even better humans?
For the answer, we need to look into the promise of the movement of decentralization. Since it offers the opportunity to keep the power of all those innovations and gifts of technology in the hands of the people.
When technology falls in the hands of mal-intend nation states or leaders who’s only goal is world domination, we might find ourselves rather quickly in a James Bond movie where the villain with a white cat can destroy or control the world with the switch of a button.
The elimination of these black mirror alike scenarios will depend on the success of the movement of decentralization.
Here are the 3 main promises of the movement of decentralization for the coming decade.
Will we finally start owning our data?
At the end of this decade, something special happened. Something that might be a prelude for spreading awareness and an acceleration of the process to start owning our data.
It was the short but impactful censorship by YouTube of CryptoCurrency influencers. Around Xmas time, more than 50 channels suddenly were blocked, thousands of videos got removed. Some of these bigger channels have more than half a million subscribers. The makers of these videos spent hours and days in making high-quality content, and YouTube pays them for the views. The extra income comes from affiliate links.
It is a sure thing YouTube influencers bring a lot of value to the crypto space. Sadly most of that value is owned by YouTube the moment you upload your video.
The freaky thing was that nobody had a clue what happened. YouTube didn’t answer any mail. There was only one tweet from TeamYouTube saying that they were investigating what was going on, so this felt like they were not even in control. Did some impersonal algorithm following a new policy just take over the complete YouTube crypto space? A very uncomfortable thought, but one that we probably have to get used to. The rumour went along that it had something to do with new regulations about bringing content for YouTube’s channel for kids.
All of this doesn’t really matter. What it showed quite clearly, is the unbound power of the biggest data and video monopolist in digiland. It showed that your content, your work, your ideas and inspiration at the end of the day is not yours. And with the switch of an invisible button, all of your work, and income, can be removed. Sounds like the villain with the white cat, right?
In return, you get the platform, the exposure, the views and some money. But what would you rather have; your freedom of expression or a sensor trigger happy algorithm sending years of work into oblivion following some very untransparent policies?
It was a big wake up call.
The next decade will be very much about owning our data again. Our content, our creativity and digital work that gives value to the world. The difficulty is in the numbers. When will literally billions of users get the awareness that their data really should be theirs when they are still OK with big tech pyramids owning all of it?
These three things could jump-start this big data migration from centralized owned to decentralized self-owned
- When there is an amazing alternative that pays you more than the convenience that the current content platforms give you. This payment can ultimately be in a new token that rewards your attention, even when it is looking at ads. The BAT token is an example. It rewards your attention and comes along with a ‘clean’ Brave browser. 8.7 million people use it at the end of 2019, and the number is growing. Many crypto YouTubers migrated to LBRY that is an open-source and decentralized content sharing platform. DTube is another example build on the STEEM blockchain.
- When there is increasing censorship that blocks, removes or violates your content, freedom of expression and speech. According to CEO and Founder of LBRY, Jeremy Kauffman; “Building a business or a following on YouTube is building on quicksand. YouTube regularly censors and bans creators, with capricious and arbitrary rules enforcement.”
- More and more people start to wake up to the fact that what is presented by Facebook and Google is not the reality, but something you want to see to stop asking questions. So it starts with asking yourself questions; do you want to remain blind in the land where data is your king?
The solution is decentralized platforms for content sharing, social digital engagement, authentic sharing, decentralized market places and everything that really benefits and rewards the user and will impact his or her daily life in a positive way.
Sustainability & the Blockchain
When you are not technical, and you have no idea what a Blockchain is or does, this is what you need to know;
Blockchain technology is the next evolution of databases and it will cut out middlemen in almost all industries.
A Blockchain is an extended network of connected computers. It's a digital ledger, used for accountancy, digitalization of stocks and supplies, tracking and calculation.
The blockchain can take over the function of middlemen that need to certificate, validate or give permission.
This is huge.
Even more, when you take into account the fact that a Blockchain can be decentralized, meaning it is not owned by a corporation, government or any centralized entity.
To let a blockchain do its work costs energy. But the wins will by far outrun these costs. The increase of efficiency and cutting away from the costs of expensive middlemen will eventually make this place much greener. It will SAVE massive amounts of money and energy.
These are 3 industries that will benefit when we look at sustainability only
- Blockchain technology and circular economy
The re-usage of goods is a bottleneck for sustainability. Circular economies are already up and running advocating the re-usage of parts, designing out waste and pollution and regenerating natural systems.
What can Blockchain technology bring here?
This worldwide open database will become a tracking system for digital assets and allow people to get the maximum worth for their goods. It also allows buyers to verify the ‘realness’ of the product and its lifecycle history. Also, the secure transfer of the product or asset ownership will come along with it. This can apply to almost any product that can be verified, exchanged and has value. Just imagine the implications for a second.
Your second-hand goods will be precisely validated and a possible sale will be powered fast and secure. No more middlemen like eBay of Amazon needed since decentralized marketplaces like Numundo will slowly take over.
Just imagine this;
You want to sell something. You make a photo, place it on the decentralized marketplace. The next moment you know, a drone comes to pick it up, and TJING, money, or tokens, are added to your wallet. The ‘old’ tradition of negotiation will be an extension built into the App when you like.
2. Blockchain and Carbon Emissions
Due to the current hijack of carbon credits by the gatekeepers of today, up to 85% of the potential value in carbon credit trading remains unrealized.
But here comes to Robin Hood of cutting costs and turning around pyramids; Blockchain technology
This is called The Carbon Grid Protocol. Their aim:
Our ultimate goal is to promote the widespread adoption of carbon credits in blockchain as a valuable and readily tradable asset class.
Again the same story. The middlemen need to be taken out and centralization needs to transform into decentralized and transparency.
3. Blockchain & the energy market
Blockchain will naturally create environmental benefits by ensuring the significant reduction of corruption in government and its collusion with the financial and energy industries
James Wallace, Co-Founder, Exponential University
When consumers produce something out of their consumption, this is called prosumption. An example is people putting surplus energy back on the electricity grid of their country. Distributed ledgers can act as a new driver to enhance the level of integration and development of this energy retail market. The combination of prosumption and blockchain tech can lead to microeconomic movements, eventually over borders.
This will completely disrupt, transform and reform the electricity market. As mentioned above, the expensive middlemen put in place by corrupt governments will bleed out, since electricity will now be traded peer to peer on a non-controllable network. What needs to be done here is creating a new electricity grid infrastructures. A huge job, but it can be realized and needs to be realized.
Something that is gifted humanity for free, the sun for example, and wind and water, can be turned into energy with some investment. Why not let the people make those investments, and make their money back amongst themselves?
Decentralization and the revolution of money
Bitcoin and crypto is ‘only’ the value exchange side in the movement of decentralization. The reason humanity and technology have decided to disrupt the ‘money side’ first is that money is behind our biggest challenges as humanity today.
Crack the problem of money, and you crack humanities biggest sour tooth; pyramid systems and the banking cartel
We are so used that our government, the federal reserve, or some ‘trusted’ institution creates money, manages the economy and makes wise decisions that should benefit us, hard-working middle-class.
The last decade, more and more information on how the money system really works has surfaced. You can start with the question of why you never learned at school how ‘money’ actually works. When we would teach our children the truth about how our money system works, they would call that criminal. Why can a privately owned institution like the federal reserve print money, and when uncle joe starts printing money he goes to jail for a very long time?
Hard to explain to a 14-year-old kid
The banking cartel is a cartel since nobody calls it a cartel. It hides in the dark, and yet operated in plain sight. Again, middlemen have been set in place to suck out giant streams of money out of its flow. In our money system, the punishment for this ‘rent-seeking behaviour’ is way less than the reward. Nobody went to jail after the 2008 financial crisis. So when you have access, when you are part of the 5% financial elite, you just leverage again, but this time even more. Till the system collapses again every 8 to 10 years. Taxpayers like you and me will be asked again to bail out banks that play casino with trillions on forex trade and, in fact, bet short on our next economic downfall too, you guessed it, make even more money on our misery.
Until the 3rd of January 2009, exactly 11 years ago, when the first Bitcoins were mined.
A decentralized form of new money. The internet of money. Owned by the people, with a maximum amount of ever be mined. So, a scarce digital asset.
The possible cure to a system that seems to benefit only a happy few, and leave millions on this planet wonder how their hard-earned money decreases in value while prices go up, so the only solution is to take another job, work harder, burn out faster and have more stress.
Or use the exit; Bitcoin.
For this, trust is needed. Trust in a trustless system since Bitcoin runs on a Blockchain, that is fundamentally built on a non-personal network of nodes. The elimination of the human factor is, in fact, the only way to eradicate corruption. Why? Because the old system taught us it works like that.
The evolution here is the transformation from a system that is rotting away from corruption, theft and moral blindness and greed to a system that is in fact run by technology to successfully remove that single point of failure.
Seen in this order, Blockchain technology will make us more human, and technology is helping us reach our next level.
A change at system level is highly needed. In fact, in my opinion, it is the only way to reach any sustainability goal, to thrive in circular set up of economies, to replace the current corrupted system of money and to replace it with peer to peer exchange and trade of goods and services, electricity, carbon credits and virtually anything that can be turned into data and stored forever, transparent and sometimes even anonymous on a blockchain.
Get ready for the future, support the movement of decentralization.
I have given some key examples and conditions for the success of this movement. I hope I was able to show you that it is possible to use all those new technologies in our daily lives to thrive as humans, to connect to each other authentically and to take care of our earth and our communities.
Have a great new decade with your peers, friends, family and loved ones.
I am a crypto educator. I write because I want my words to make a positive impact in the world. For this, I initiated the medium publication “Spirit of Crypto”. My passion is to bring tribe together and as a storyteller, I tell the story of a better world through the revolution of money and the movement of decentralization. I believe a change in our economic system is key for us humans to thrive.