What if the future arrived and nobody noticed?
Picture by @DrWom
The below is an unedited copy of my very first steemit post (https://steemit.com/cryptotech/@drwom/what-if-the-future-arrived-and-we-didn-t-notice-well-most-of-us-didn-t-anyway) - save having a shorter title to allow me to copy the link to my steemit profile. The original post was published in June 2017.
Cryptotechnology is on the verge of game-changing social disruption across economies, government, industry, finance, trade, law, communications and the arts. Creative disruption will impact our communities, businesses, policy makers and the legislature. And we don't know where it will all land.
As a child I grew up in a household where my mother’s mental illness cast the shadow of uncertainty over daily life. I didn’t know mum was mentally ill. Dad didn’t tell us. To us, the mood-swings and intermittent crazy was normal.
I would escape from the endless emotional roller-coasters by reading science fiction and fantasy, playing guitar, and dreaming about my favourite roleplaying games: SPI’s Dragonquest (swords and sorcery - soooo much better than AD&D) and GDW’s game of adventure in the far future, Traveller.
Traveller enabled the imagination to create a universe populated with swashbuckling adventurers, aliens, and starships fast and sleek (or more likely slow and without enough turrets). And it allowed for the creation of whole empires made up of star systems, with asteroids and planets, and with worlds: big and small, wrapped in atmospheres benign or corrosive, covered in endless oceans, deserts, cities and alien cultures to explore.
Worlds with starports, where you could purchase passage off-world, or your very own starship - if you were rich enough.
Worlds with technologies ranging across the spectrum from those with populations in the process of inventing uses for rocks and fire, to those harnessing the power of interstellar jump drives and the powerful computers which enabled their use.
In Traveller, together with the other data which explained the world, a planet’s technology was measured on a scale of 1 to 15+, and referred to as the world's 'tech-level.’
The earth at the time (circa 1977+) was tech-level 7. You can track back in history to imagine what tech-levels 1-6 would look like. Engrossed in my imaginings, sometimes I would gaze up from my books to look around: see the state-of-the-art TRS-80 16k home computer and the wall-mounted telephone. And I would wonder when the future would arrive. When we would reach the next tech-level. When would the promised interstellar jump drive and laser rifles be commonplace?
Now, years later, I wonder when the future did arrive. Because I think I missed it.
Yes, some things I did notice. Surely the internet was a leap forward. And smart phones (thanks Apple - brilliant). These things took us up a tech-level. But as disruptive and enabling as they were at the time (and remain), it is the applications which they have enabled which are the true indicators of change.
And now Bitcoins and their multitude of cousins have, in the last couple of days, surpassed US $100B in total market capitalisation. What are they even? As to the technology aspect of that question, there are better people to answer that than me.
But as to the social, economic and policy angle, we are all in this together. Cryptocurrencies are game changers. The currency bit? Bitcoin and others (DigiByte, Litecoin, Dogecoin for example)? That’s just the beginning.
But cryptocurrency? A clunky name. I prefer the idea of cryptotechnology - or cryptotech - because it encompasses the promise of broad-sweeping creative disruption. And because cryptocurrency is more than a currency innovation.
For example, imagine the long term implications and innovations enabled by the promise of these altcoins (a term essentially meaning alternatives to Bitcoin):
*Ethereum promises a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.
*Siacom revolutionises cloud storage. It splits apart, encrypts, and distributes your files across a decentralized network. Since you hold the keys, you own your data. Unlike traditional cloud storage providers, no outside company can access or control your files.
*Golem is a global, open sourced, decentralized supercomputer that anyone can access. It's made up of the combined power of user's machines, from personal laptops to entire datacenters. Anyone will be able to use Golem to compute (almost) any program you can think of, from rendering to research to running websites, in a completely decentralized & inexpensive way.
*Steem is a blockchain-based social media platform where anyone can earn rewards - and is ideally suited to discussing cryptotech.
*Augur combines the magic of prediction markets with the power of a decentralized network to create a stunningly accurate forecasting tool.
*Ripple works with banks to transform how they send money around the world — a necessary step to compete in today’s growing economy.
*Stratis offer simple and affordable end-to-end solutions for development, testing and deployment of native C# blockchain applications on the .Net framework.
*Dash is Digital Cash You Can Spend Anywhere. Use Dash to make instant, private payments online or in-store using a secure open-source platform hosted by thousands of users around the world.
*Factom creates products that transform the way organisations secure and share their data. Their products safeguard the most critical government, commercial, and non-profit systems.
(All information copied from the cryptotech websites.)
Now our tech-level has just been upgraded.
Maybe there aren't any spaceports yet, but we are entering into a new world, nonetheless. And cryptotech is moving, to multiple destinations - even if don’t know where the first port of call will be, or how long it will take to get there.
Yet we can safely assume that the landing will be short-lived before we're off again.
Which adventure will you take? Where will you go?
Because we can either join in or be left behind.
More to come.
Please contact me if you are writing about the big ideas playing in the background of cryptotech. I would love to follow you.