The Blockchain and the Future of Everything
Writing, money, and ledgers, are the three basic building blocks that allowed humanity to progress past the days of foraging for berries and hunting wild game to the advanced global civilization we are today. Writing allowed us to convey knowledge and information that made it possible to cooperate and build on the findings of others. Money allowed for the efficient allocation of scarce resources and the facilitation of trade. Ledgers allowed all these activities and transactions to be recorded so we could trust one another beyond immediate friend groups. Being able to trust one another is perhaps one of the most important facilitators of economic and social activity. When you perform a transaction you trust that the service you’re getting is what you paid for. When you put your money in a bank, you trust that the bank is a reputable third party to store assets. When you use the internet you trust that your data is secure and won’t be given away to bad actors.
Being able to trust a person, a service, or a device is integral to the functioning of a complex and evolving society. Oftentimes the progress of society is limited by barriers to expanding trust whether it be avoiding scams, processing data, or embracing the promise of the digital age which understandably has many worried about trusting the technology to be secure. For this to happen, we will need to collect and process a tremendous amount of information about everyone and everything. Giving all that power to big corporations or governments to handle doesn’t sound like a great idea either.
That is what makes the promise of blockchain technology so revolutionary, as it possesses the potential to accomplish all these requirements to facilitate trust in a digital revolution without assigning that power to any authority, private or public. This is the topic of The Truth Machine, a book co-written by Michael Casey, a senior advisor at MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative, and Paul Vigna, a reporter at the Wall Street Journal who specializes in cryptocurrency. The book was written in 2018, which is a true testament to its value as its predictions about the promise of blockchain technology only continue to realize themselves.