Many who talk about bitcoin act as if the technology was invented yesterday. This is because bitcoin is in its infancy, but what you might be surprised to know is that authority was aware of the danger of being put out of work by technology as far back as the mid 1960’s. Some of the technology used in bitcoin was also already around during that time. Many middle class jobs have been replaced by automation. That trend started with the lowest jobs first and has been moving up the employment ladder ever since.
For those unfamiliar with the plot, Captain Kirk is replaced by the M5 computer designed by an eminent scientist named Daystrom that can handle all the requirements of the captains chair, essentially rendering Kirk useless. But the computer begins to make mistakes. First it fires on and destroys a freighter ship with no one aboard, then it goes on to make worse mistakes, killing Star Fleet crew. Then the computer locks everyone out and a fight for control of the Enterprise ensues. In the end, the message seems to be that “authority” can never be replaced and attempts to do so are foolish.
Nevertheless the trend toward automation continues. Taking this logic to an extreme, replacing humans might be almost as bad as extinction of all life on the planet due to centralization of authority. Without challenge, humans will begin to wither and die. What I’m suggesting here is that technology’s place should be to ensure fairness and prevent mistakes.
Another implication in the episode is that everything should be able to be reversed in case something goes wrong. Andreas Antonopoulos addresses this concern in "Hard promises, soft promises"...
The basic misunderstanding is about what it is that should be reversible. Authority that makes soft promises can never deliver hard promises and mathematical predictability. But a smart contract that operates on hard promises can be written in such a way as to introduce consumer protections. The latter gives autonomy, predictability, and security, but the former produces tyranny.
The analogy of the computer taking control in Star Trek was not perfect. For one thing, that computer was even more centralized in it’s authority than Donald Trump. I don’t advocate replacing one central authority for another central authority whether it be human or mechanical. Is the threat of AI taking over a network such as bitcoin, and re-centralizing all control into an “electronic spirit” with a will and a purpose realistic? Perhaps, given enough time. The book of Revelation seems to mention something similar.
What Prevents Artificial Intelligence from taking over Bitcoin?
The implication is that nothing is intelligent enough to defeat AI. This remains to be seen. But in the realm of bitcoin, an AI attacker would still have to perform the tasks that miners on the bitcoin network currently do which is guess the nonce, or it would no longer be bitcoin. The main threat in this area is with the computational ability of quantum computers. We are still many years away from such capabilities and quantum resistant SHA is being developed right along the side.
The particulars of political decentralization are also a long way from being worked out. In some ways the PoW (Proof of Work) algorithm is the most radical in that it completely replaces human authority. This is a little different from say Delegated Proof of Stake (or Steem's Proof of Brain) where witnesses are selected (voted in) and then at intervals according to the relative stake, each witness is selected to process blocks in accordance with the size of their stake in the network.
We are likely to see a hybrid involvement between consensus algorithms and human political intervention for a while. But one of the main advantages of consensus algorithms is accountability. Currently, governments are nearly completely unaccountable in most countries. Authorities go after other authorities not according to sound principles of governance, but in accordance with political whim and personal advantage. While decentralization disintermediates authority, the blockchain provides accountability. It's the answer to the issue of "What did they know and when did they know it?".
It's interesting to note that a few public officials are getting into trouble with their digital trails, but this doesn't seem to be enough in relation to the general population. My guess is that everyone involved is in neck deep with government favors and that a lot of what has been happening in secret has never been fully exposed to the public. I strongly suspect that they cover each others back because if they don't then they all go down with their ship.
Bitcoin's first act to flatten the system of hierarchy and create accountability, will be through undermining the system of financial exclusion set up by governments and their banks. The equity drain that starts by 3rd world adoption will happen because fewer people will need to participate in using the USD. As fewer people use the USD, the value of the dollar will go down and the nations ability to support the debt will collapse.
This will eventually force governments world wide to downsize, but before that there will be great unrest, wars and violence directed at those involved in cryptocurrencies. Jeff Berwick seems to think that we're on track for a dollar collapse by the end of the decade. I think that's a little too soon, but not far off.
Agorism and Localization will Return
Along with the trend toward decentralization will be the trend toward localization. The reason the media likes to hype globalization as a good thing is because it's good for the owners of the media who have elevated positions in finance. Globalization is just another word for "centralization of wealth". The more wealth that can be aggregated into one place, the more parasites can profit and the more invisible the theft.
Contrary to popular opinion, globalization is not more efficient. It is actually less so. Big problems become smaller problems when you localize and split up the big problem into smaller chunks. This same idea goes for government.
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