Share Button

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/76592024@N06/

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/76592024@N06/

In a story published today by major U.K. newspaper The Telegraph, technology reporter Matthew Sparkes claims that the rapidly growing bitcoin network is more than the decentralization of money. As Sparkes sees it, blockchain technology is actually the “gateway to a coming digital anarchy.” While such views are nothing new within the fringes of the bitcoin community, it’s a little surprising to see a mainstream publication pushing the idea that bitcoin’s innovations could uproot many of the core structures of modern society … and that this might not be a bad thing.

In fact, Sparkes suggests that this historic shift is already happening.

We used to need banks to keep track of who owned what. Not any more. Bitcoin and its rivals have proved that banks can be replaced with software and clever mathematics. … And now programmers of a libertarian bent are starting to ask what else we don’t need. … Until recently, we’ve needed central bodies – banks, stock markets, governments, police forces – to settle vital questions. Who owns this money? Who controls this company? Who has the right to vote in this election? … Now we have a small piece of pure, incorruptible mathematics enshrined in computer code that will allow people to solve the thorniest problems without reference to “the authorities”.

Sparkes imagines a near future where “driverless taxis” roam from city to city seeking fares, and automated drones deliver everything from groceries to illicit drugs, all without any input from centralized authorities. He suggests that a trustless system such as the blockchain could remove “greedy, corruptible, fallible humans” as the weakest link, allowing for safer, lower-overhead world where “centralised power of any kind will seem as archaic as the feudal system.”

It’s difficult to generalise about motives when the membranes separating control and anarchy, creativity and disruption, greed and philanthropy have become so alarmingly thin. Remember that the entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley and its many global franchises are usually young enough to be impressionable and excitable. Yes, some of them they may qualify as utopians – but, like utopians throughout history, they are ready to use destructive tactics to reach their goal. … What is that goal? Right now, and put simply, it’s to create what they regard as “incorruptible” versions of the websites, networks and financial institutions which we all rely on every day – to remove the man in the middle and any ulterior motives he may have.

The longform and extremely comprehensive Telegraph article doesn’t paint an entirely rosy picture of bitcoin’s present or future, but it is an outstanding overview of where the fundamental blockchain technology is today and where it could be headed in the near future. Many of the major forces driving bitcoin innovations are explored, many of its most interesting advocates are briefly profiled, and many of its coming uses — from domain names to voting — are examined in detail.

Share Button