To understand the past, we tend to parse it out into eras or ages: The Renaissance, The Age of Enlightenment, The Age of Reason, etc. These are not real events, but rather retrospective measures of a distinct cultural consciousness whether it be in economics or the arts. Michelangelo did not look up at the Sistine Chapel to see an artefact of the Renaissance in the making. He was fully immersed in a creative process that happened to leave an enduring mark on art and culture. These windows are simply devices through which we read and extrapolate meaning and understanding from the past. We find ourselves currently in what some call the Information Age as digital technology has become inseparable from our critical infrastructure and daily lives. Even still, the protocols of the industrial economy are still in play. An opportunity to revive the peer-to-peer, artisanal economic model from centuries past and bring it into the truly networked world was set aside as corporations used their methods to monopolize and commercialize the Internet. I think that the emergence of blockchain technologies provides another opportunity to implement new systems which remove a lot of the corrosive effects of extractive, capitalist economics to give people more agency and sustainability as we move forward in the 21st century.
Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism: is there no alternative? examines our society’s relationship with capitalism and how it has resulted in a strange, self-aware despondency. We attempt to propose alternatives to combat this but to no effect. Slight modifications to the software seem to not do much good either. So how do we go about changing this prevailing condition?
Perhaps we take the Buckminster Fuller approach: give people the tools to make the change themselves. If we can get people to effectively participate in the market then they can become more active participants in a more meaningful economy.
With robust peer-to-peer networks on top of blockchain distributed databases, we can now create applications and platforms which allow individuals to create and contribute to value networks without sacrificing their time to the 9-5 corporate model and its derivatives.
And if you can get companies to adopt a system with the idea that it can eliminate steep transaction costs but still incentivize everyone to do agreed upon work, then that is one step closer to bringing these decentralized applications to the mainstream. Over time, these companies may suffuse into more decentralized entities wherein the individual agents don’t have to give up their autonomy. These composite entities could be nimble enough to survive changing markets and the times ahead. Many paths forward here.
CRYPTO AND VALUE NETWORKS
The crypto-economic space right now is accelerating at an incredible rate. Market capitalizations fluctuate. Each week presents new developments within Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blockchain ecosystems. This market and its digital assets and cryptocurrencies provides people the opportunity to participate in a value network in a constant state of change. While many have profited greatly from this market, it still seems to be in its adolescence. While it may never lose its volatility by its nature, hopefully better tools and knowledge bases will provide newcomers an effective means to securely and confidently operate in this space. Crypto, not bound by geography or centralized entities, can provide the tools and mechanisms that can solve persistent problems and provide alternatives.
THE AGE OF VALUE
The Age of Value will happen when certain technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence begin to change our everyday lives. The nature of work itself will change drastically with the advent of robotics and artificial intelligence. Blue-collar and white-collar alike. When this happens, the main question will be the value WE create.