Sorry, Bitcoin, it’s Libra’s turn now.
by Michael K. Spencer
With the Hacker Noon publication leaving and crypto content being downgraded on Medium, suffice to say that we won’t be reading much about “decentralization” here anymore.
That watchword for a generation of young men interested in building the future as developers, programmers and blockchain and crypto enthusiasts, is well, kind of dead.
Crypto Bans and Crypto Clones by BigTech
Bitcoin was invented in 2009. Fast forward to 2019 and recession worries, crypto bans and crypto Ad bans by BigTech like Facebook, Google and Twitter, have meant crypto is more taboo than politics. And while Facebook seeks to clone a ‘crypto’ called Libra , the future of decentralized blockchain tech is in doubt.
When you create a consortium of payment and technology companies who control the nodes, that’s the total opposite of what decentralization is. A pretender to the throne. A fraudulent heir. That’s exactly what the Libra Association wants to be.
BigTech Made a Choice to Become Super Platforms
Permissioned blockchain will rule a world of paywalls. Subscriptions and walled gardens appear to be Silicon Valley’s favored path forwards.
A place where tech companies can become even more lucrative island nations . And we know where that leads. More advertising and less freedom.
We are on the verge of an age of super platforms.
Reading an interview of Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin in the Toronto Star (Toronto: apparently the “new” Silicon Valley), one gets the feeling of how suddenly old “crypto speak” and Bitcoin alternatives and altcoins now feel. The mainstream media and Big Tech won, blockchain startups lost funding faster than you could say “ICO Fraud”.
Picture it, a world at the brink of the next global recession. A world of near-zero growth propped up by consumer sentiment in the United States, propped up and manipulated by Presidential tweets that exhort “Fake it till you make it”, Wall Street. All enabled by technology. That’s the world we’re living in today.
In a world of uncertainty and algorithmic abuse, it seems cryptocurrencies and their various tokens were too uncertain and uncanny to be tolerated by governments, technology companies and the mainstream media. In mid-2019, Bitcoin is again rarely mentioned.
Decentralization is a Myth
Decentralization has been reduced to a myth. Crypto has been defeated and Bitcoin hype reduced to speculative fancy and a vague notion of digital asset territory. This, even as some of the richest men in the world prepare to profit from the Lightning Network and Bitcoin’s eventual future.
When Facebook called Libra a “crypto”, our trust in blockchain and crypto immediately took yet another trust beating. ICOs and the surprising success of some fraudulent ones had tarnished the reputation of this arena of legit innovation and new visions of a more peer-to-peer internet. Trust can kill and if you are a BigTech bad actor, you can also kill what you clone.
As Libra faces the usual and expected show of regulatory hurdles, crypto media might as well have been banned.
In the exploitation of the data age, it’s more profitable to create a matrixthan to unite or serve people. Your attention, data, and agency has or will be monetized.
They Killed “Decentralization” On Purpose
In 2014, Buterin was awarded a $100,000 Peter Thiel Fellowship for his work in developing the Ethereum platform and associated digital currency Ether. Now 25, Ethereum didn’t live up to the hype and more altcoins twinkle out of existence than we can realistically keep track of.
The world just isn’t ready for decentralization. Governments, banks, Tech companies, they all want power and centralization is superior for retaining this power, influence and the gigantic ad revenues that drive how the internet really works.
As young consumers leave Facebook and super apps like WeChat, there’s nowhere good for them to go. The biggest platforms have been polluted and become outdated, but the alternatives aren’t that great. Instagram and TikTok? Really?
The dream of decentralized ecosystems that privilege people instead of profits don’t exist yet in 2019. The entire model of the internet is corrupt. Now in an age of data, the Cloud, AI and harnessing even more revenue from users, advertising has no place for decentralized products. Growth and not ethics rules the show.
A Tit-For-Tat Universe of Duopolies
ByteDance clones Facebook and the patterns repeat themselves.
There are no startups or blockchain tech companies you can trust in the future of super platforms. There’s no room for them to exist or thrive or even get adequate funding after the death of ICOs.
Decentralization itself is too dangerous an idea to let live in its pure form.
Everywhere you look in technology, industries are governed by powerful duopolies, both in the West and in China.
- Google and Facebook in Advertising
- AWS and Azure in the Cloud
- Alibaba and Tencent in China
- Android and iOS in mobile OS
- Huawei and Samsung in smartphones sales
- Google and Amazon in consumer AI (personal assistants)
- Baidu and Alibaba in smart speakers in China
- Walmart and Amazon in retail
- Alibaba and JD in E-commerce in China
- Huawei and Alibaba as new models of State backed corporations.
- Amazon and Apple as ecosystems of bundled consumer subscription lifestyles.
Something Weird and Totalitarian is Occurring
Capitalism, in 2019, is actually moving fast to new levels of centralization. This will further the agenda of rising levels of wealth inequality.
You can see evidence of this in BigTech every month and more with each year.
Microsoft bought out GitHub, it wants to own open source. Salesforce continues to evolve by acquisition and partners with China’s Alibaba to fuel global growth.
Google and Alibaba get more into the Cloud, Amazon and ByteDance get more into advertising.
This is the world we live in.
The Beginning of the End of Capitalism is Arriving
RIP crypto, decentralization and brave ideas that Governments and Technology monopolies would never tolerate.
The old world order lives. The end of the capitalim has begun. The Middle Class is being dismantled as more 20-somethings churn from it with each generation.
Automation is coming, deep learning is maturing and our health data is next. These are the topics I write about every week.
Super platforms, the ultimate experiment in centralization? They will be impossible to break up in the mid 21st century. As China and the United States clone each other into a black mirror world order .
Decentralization is no white knight that’s going to save us.
The AI hype fuels GDP growth and a ramping up of economic inequality and unequal distribution of wealth.
The stock market becomes even more powerful. Decentralization dies on the doorstep before we could even meet her. Sorry about that.
Sorry, Bitcoin, I guess even you were bought out.
Only 1 million people at most own Bitcoin and a few own the majority of it. What a scam.
A recent study says Microsoft is the most likely company to build an equivalent of “Skynet”. If it wins the JEDI contract with the pentagon, this could be closer to reality.
We’re closer to AI than we are to decentralized governance that improves our collective intelligence.
Neural interfaces could manifest decentralized governance of everything, but that’s what, in the 2060s?
That’s a long time to wait for a revolution. Get ready for the dark tech years. Get ready for the cold tech war.
Decentralization , rest in peace, RIP.