The Information Revolution
In the year 1440 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. He decentralized knowledge from the rich and powerful, kicked off the Renaissance, started the scientific revolution, and changed the entire world forever. For the first time in human history, knowledge was able to be shared relatively quickly and between people that previously would never have been able to access it. Before Gutenberg, books were written letter by letter. All by hand and they took months to complete. Now books could be mass produced cheaply, opening up a world of previously unshared knowledge to the masses and accelerating human progress into the next great democratization of knowledge, the internet.
The internet has made all information free and instantaneous. What an incredible time to be alive! Here we are with the entire world’s collective brain at our fingertips. This new information revolution has given me personally amazing opportunities to learn and grow as a person, just by looking things up and diving into whatever topic I want to learn. I had a good conversation about this the other day at a family function. My thought was that the idea of expertise is going to rapidly change in the coming decade. We are in a time now where you don’t have to go far away from home to the great citadels of knowledge to learn the crafts held there by the experts. Its all right here, in our pockets at all times. You want to learn how an internal combustion engine works? No problem. You need to build yourself a whole house? We got that info for you, for free, right now.
The Financial Revolution
Right now, we are seeing the same level of seismic shift in another area of humanity that desperately needs full decentralization. One that if successful, will mean financial freedom and autonomy for all people of the world; the global financial institutions. Through peer to peer autonomy, cryptocurrency blockchains allow the unbanked of the world to keep their money in a safe, immutable digital ledger. There is no central bank to gamble with your money on a ballooned housing market, or to deny you a loan based on where you were born. The use of cryptocurrency solves a huge problem for most people on Earth, the control of global finance by the banking industry and ruling class. Once cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Etherium, and Cardano are mass adopted there is no more need for central banks or centralized exchanges like the NASDAQ or the NYSE. All of these transactions can happen strictly peer to peer and even better yet without the exorbitant fees charged by these institutions. The new exchanges like FTX, Mdex, Voyager Exchange, still let you invest in projects you have faith in, buying and selling assets without the centralized influence of hedge funds or insider trading baked into them. Like knowledge was before the printing press, financial freedom has always been for the upper classes of society. Strictly held in a central class, the gatekeepers being the institutions that house the wealth. Cryptocurrency eliminates the need for these institutions. Because of that they are VERY vocal against its rise in popularity. Jamie Dimon of Chase bank just last year called Bitcoin a fraud while JP Morgan Chase quietly began offering a Bitcoin Fund for their wealthiest clients. Facebook has also quietly created their own cryptocurrency called Diem. Massive amounts of smear articles have been produced over the last decade to promote the idea that Bitcoin is a scam and will only end in loss. My favorite example of this is the Bitcoin obituaries page which marks each time an article has been written saying that Bitcoin is dead, while showing the price continue to grow as more and more people begin to understand its revolutionary power.
In the last year we have begun to see mainstream adoption of crypto. Brave browser offers a small percent per hour of their token, BAT, just for using their browser. Visa announced they have added certain cryptos to their global settlement platform, which is massive. PayPal and Ebay announced they will begin accepting crypto as payment. And of course most famously, Tesla began, and then stopped accepting Bitcoin as payment as well as investing billions in the cryptocurrency. This brings me to a big part of the case against crypto; Bitcoin mining and the environment. Buckle up!
Proof Of Work, Proof Of Stake, China And Bitcoin
Bitcoin is a first generation, proof of work cryptocurrency. This means that in order for the blocks to be created on the Bitcoin blockchain they need to be mined by computers. Mining is essentially a network of computers all solving and verifying the bitcoin blockchain and as a result a new block is produced, added to the chain, and the miner receives a small amount of Bitcoin for their troubles. Bitcoin mining uses large amounts of computer power which in turn uses electricity. So it is true that the way we get electricity is mostly from non-renewable resources. Especially in a country like China where environmental regulation is essentially a distant afterthought. The issue with the narrative about Bitcoin mining in particular is that the facts do not add up to the hype. Instead of using one side of the statistic and saying that 74.1% of Bitcoin mining is done using wind, hydro and solar, which are all green renewables, most news outlets will use the other side of the same statistic to spin it and say that Bitcoin mining uses the same amount of electricity as the country of Jordan and contributes to 0.2% of the global carbon emissions per year. Same statistic, same numbers, two ways to relay the information depending on how the source wants you to feel about Bitcoin. Now, I am an environmentalist and to me Bitcoin is an inferior blockchain to Ethereum and more so Cardano. But, the unbelievable amount of potential for the people of disadvantaged countries to begin banking themselves, investing, and documenting all of their transactions OUTSIDE of corrupt governments and institutional systems, in my eyes, is a fair trade for these emissions. (This sector of the crypto world is called DeFi, and I’ll get more into that later.) The real grift here however is that the current modern banking system uses twice as much energy as Bitcoin and actually has a much larger carbon footprint. Where is the Bloomberg article citing those statistics?
Proof of stake cryptocurrencies like Cardano’s ADA, which is a whopping 1.6 million times more energy efficient than bitcoin, are the future of everything in our digital world from finance to electronic medical record keeping. Countries like Ethiopia and Georgia are already using Cardano to revolutionize the record keeping of their education systems. While other 3rd generation cryptos like VeChain are revolutionizing verification on the supply side of the global economy, others like Theta will decentralize delivery networks and make streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu vastly more efficient, faster, and higher quality. The greatest advances in technology are always at their core the ones that solve a deep issue. Cryptocurrency doesn’t just solve one issue, it solves many.
DeFi: Decentralized Finance, Yield Farming, And Goofy Swap Names
DeFi is probably the most exciting space in cryptocurrency. With all of the revolutionary ways that blockchain technology will change our world over the next 20 years, DeFi is the most explosive and the reason that financial institutions hate cryptocurrency. At the heart of DeFi are Dexs, or Decentralized Exchanges. These are the non traditional exchanges where you can purchase and trade different cryptocurrency, peer to peer. The next ground shifting element of DeFi is the lending platforms that have been built for investing and loans like Aave and Compound. Using these platforms you can take out crypto backed loans, gain interest on your crypto by staking it out to lend to others, otherwise known as Yield Farming, which can give you average returns of 6% APY and can actually get as high as 200% in very short bursts and rare cases. These Dexs, for the most part have names that end in Swap as they are places where you can exchange, or swap one coin for another. PancakeSwap, SushiSwap, UniSwap, and an upcoming Dex on the Cardano blockchain will be called SundaeSwap. Why all the food names? I really have no idea, trends are a powerful part of our human experience and apparently in the new financial revolution, bucking the authoritarian dryness of the current financial institutions is taking the form of naming things after food.
Yesterday I discussed art in the new digital world which is much more brand appropriate for us here as a web design studio and as life long artists. But I don’t think these two topics are mutually exclusive. I had an experience recently that crystalized this in an easy to digest thought and I’ll share that now.
Authoritarianism And The Stagnation Of The Creative Spirit
Recently I spent a couple nights in a campground in the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Its an incredible place naturally but what is also incredible to take in is the purely Anarcho-communistic form of self government the people living in a campground take on. By the way, it also seems to be totally instinctual. Because you are all there together, way out in the woods, enjoying nature, everyone is very friendly. People are offering you beers and asking about your life and where you come from, everyone is very mindful and quiet once the sun goes down and the common understanding is that of humanity and respect for the others around you. All this happening while there is no one in charge. No enforcer with greater social power than the common person armed with a gun and a badge making sure everything goes smoothly. Its a really beautiful thing to notice, and a place that it seems artistic ideas between Ty and I were flowing freely and endlessly. We were unencumbered by any kind of oppressive forces just left to sit in a beautiful place and contemplate things outside our immediate needs because they were all being met.
This is completely different than the following environment I experienced; the authoritarian oppression of the airport. Here, my immediate community was prodded into long lines where we were interrogated and had wands waved over us. We were then forced into another line where we were told to take off various pieces of clothing and place them in designated trays. The correct tray for the correct items mind you! And if you are confused and have to take extra time to do this, the stresses of the others behind you will begin coming out in whispers and scowls. Then all of your belongings, as well as your body, are subject to x-ray imaging so they can literally see every single part of matter human or not that you are carrying. And alas, as long as you are not holding any contraband, you are spit out the other end of the cattle car where everyone immediately starts drinking.
Under this kind of environment there is no way to have the mental energy to reflect on art or creation. Your day to day is solely focused on the task at hand, and the power of the authority you live under staring down at you, waiting for your next faulty move. In this example we can see how the world of art could EXPLODE if all of the people of this world could gain financial independence from their centralized governments and institutions. Not to mention the ability for people to keep the rights to and maintain their artwork, which I wrote about yesterday. People could begin investing at an early age, lending and borrowing as they need and if they want to, might actually have the financial freedom to leave their country for a better home. Speaking pretty boldly here I know, but there is a world in this possible example of our future where authoritarian governments lose the power to exist simply by not having enough people to govern and prop up the state.
The Future We Can Take Vs. The One We Are Being Given
Is any of this probable? No, I don’t think so. But is it possible? For the first time in human history it actually is. And that is enough for me to continue watching the crypto space and learning as much about this disruptive tech as I possibly can. To me, it is the only future we can invest it. Away from centralized powers of corruption and greed. Cryptocurrency could lead us into a new dawn of creative enlightenment and the greatest century that the humanities have ever seen, surpassing the Renaissance on a global level. The tools are here, we just have to use them.