After reading one of the most well-written publications about the analysis of impacts and philosophies of blockchain technology, by Christina Comben, my brain ran amuck with endless questions and concerns for our future as humans. Her article goes very in-depth behind the psychology of blockchain technology, the human mind, and how the two will interplay in the future. She does such an excellent job of explaining the pitfalls and dangers that we will be encountering on the path to mass adoption of the technology and was able to speak with brilliant minds as sources for her references.
If you haven’t read her article, I highly recommend giving it a go:
As we all know, Blockchain’s greatest asset is its ability to store data and have it be immutable. One of the arguments that Christina elaborates on is this ability is a good thing or a bad thing for us as humans? Does this do society justice to store data that will forever be there? Is the data that is being inputted on the blockchain true? Who is to verify its truth? Many questions need to be answered, and blockchain will not provide the answers. We are the ones who will decide what those answers are and how the technology will be implemented.
After digesting her article one of the resounding thoughts that entered my mind was a point she made about how humans tend to weaponize technology. How and in what ways can blockchain be weaponized? We can see the beginning stages of this with the use case of China and their digital Yuan. On a superficial level, one would think this is a great thing for society and humans. No more paper money, no more waste on trees, and no more waste on resources to make coins. Just good old fashioned computing capabilities and electricity. Think again… Centralization of blockchain technology is one of my biggest fears when it comes to the rapid advancement of this technology. Once China is able to successfully deploy its centralized token, what will they be able to do with its tracing capabilities? It could literally trace every token to every owner, change of ownership, what that token was spent on, etc. What happens if the Chinese Digital Yuan becomes the main currency of the world? Is China going to be able to weaponize this against the world? This is something we must think through and understand how this technology can be used to have the greatest positive impact.
Other ideas that Christina walked the reader through was how the human memory works, and why this should correlate in our approach to Blockchain technology. Dr. McGaugh, who Christina spoke with, stated, “What we need is selective memory. We need to remember things that are repeated (and we do) and things that are important (and we do). You don’t need to remember the daily (momentary) pressure on your left foot generated by a shoe. But you would if it were injured. You don’t need to remember that you stepped on a stairway but you would need to remember if you injured yourself on that stairway.” So with this being said, we need blockchain to remember its basic instincts and also have it protect us from the potentially harmful events. How can we accomplish this? Does this mean that we need a world agency to govern consensus on the blockchain? We need to learn from history so that we shall not repeat the mistakes of the past, yet still have truthful information inputted and stored on the blockchain. There are many sides to the story and arguments that surround this ideology and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the future of Blockchain.
The human experience will be changed by blockchain, but we still have the power to dictate what those changes may look like. We must understand that we are the creators, have control over the quality of inputted data onto the blockchain, and must decide if this data should be immutable. In many ways, I can see how blockchain will keep us in check by not being able to rewrite history, and this is valuable in terms of the human experience.
A perfect scenario I would like to walk us through is the Lost Cause Theory here in the United States. For those who don’t know, the Lost Cause theory is an “American pseudo-historical ideology that holds that the cause of the Confederacy during the American Civil War was a just and heroic one.” Imagine if Blockchain was able to document the atrocities of how countries were built and made this unchangeable. After the Civil War in the United States, a false narrative began circulating the South through the daughters of the confederacy about how just and noble the cause of the Civil War. How misconstrued is this? If we had blockchain during this time, would this have even been a thing? The sad part about this is that this narrative was passed down for generations upon generations without much resistance from the majority. Blockchain would have stopped this entire movement dead in its tracks.
In closing, we have a long way to go and a short amount of time to figure out the best direction and policies to decide on how we want our futures to be built. I believe that we will make the right choices as a collective whole, but we must be wary of the big governments or centralized authorities that want to have a hand in what we would consider a future. Question everything my friends.