“You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves.
In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.” A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.
So roared the visionaries of the 90s, who built or inspired much of today’s internet, succeeding in persuading governments of the world to not regulate what back then was a very new invention, but leave it to the builders and others to self-regulate themselves.
Governments listened. Their wise decision led to a boom in the 90s due to an explosion in innovation and creativity which has forever changed our world for the better.
It could have been very different and at a different time it might have been, but the great peace of the 90s gave freedom to the visionaries, as well as a podium, allowing them to promise us a global village of no race or gender, no nation, no religion, just ideas.
With an eye to the future, builders came, artists followed, money followed both, leading to the Y2K scare, a dotcom boom, a bust that hardly lasted, in the process transforming start-ups to dominance as industries got disrupted, while completely new ones were created.
Eventually, that creativity seemingly died down. Coders got stuck in building yet another social network or getting your mother to click some ad, but the best of them were looking at something very new and very interesting, the blockchain.
At first, this idea of one dispersed software scattered across computers (nodes) which communicate with each other and update their data they all replicate, creating a global network, doesn’t really sound that amazing.
What can you do with it? – is the first question. Why should I care? – is the second. It doesn’t work – is often the conclusion, with millions of reasons given why it doesn’t.
But something like it has never existed before. It’s new – and that’s interesting in itself. It’s a network that allows co-ordination of many – and that’s even more interesting. It’s code, which means it can act and do things – making it very interesting.
Because now you can just tap into this open network and tell it to do something through code or you can see what others have told it to do or you can use one of their services.
You can, of course, also use a centralized option, but in the open network it’s all automated. The code just does what you’ve told it to do by itself and now everyone can access your code or service.
Those services currently are “basic.” That’s in quotes because transferring a valuable asset in seconds to anyone in the world isn’t a simple feat. In fact, it is very complex, that’s why international fiat transfers take days or even weeks.
But they are still somewhat basic compared to combining the capabilities of the open network to other advances in computer science, such as bots or data algorithms, data feeds, sensors, or machines.
Anything that is currently manually handled and has something to do with monetary transfers or even data transfers can probably be automated by just taping into this open network.
Ticket refunds, for example, can be handled by code, rather than humans. A simple car accident can just go through the smart contract process with data from police reports telling the code what it should do.
But just as current projects may be considered basic, projects combined with other tech may be considered too advance at this stage since there are a lot more low hanging fruits to go through while the technology incrementally improves beyond its barely dial-up stage.
For the smoothest such incremental progress and for the maximum benefit to the world at all levels and positions, governments should follow the wise approach they took towards the internet and give the builders room to experiment, try and fail, create products, and perhaps transform the world for the better.
In the process, there will probably be booms and busts, frenzies and quieter times, maybe blockchain versions of spams and scam e-mails or viruses since everything has a downside, but what may come out of it might be a new smart-phone level innovation. Even, perhaps, a new world where we all wonder how they could live without blockchenized stuff.
For that reason, the blockchain space needs independence and the opportunity to self-govern itself as we experiment with very new things, traveling a path no man has walked before.