We Must Not Surrender the Blockchain

Blockchain is a technology with monumental potential.

Unfortunately it is falling prey to the same myopia that has hampered human progress since its beginning.

The overwhelming thing that blockchain provides is cohesion. For the first time in our history we can visualize our collective activity, as a species, in the same way as nature views us, and itself, as a unified, interdependent body.

From space, the earth is a single entity.

This perspective is what blockchain promises to be. That is, if we don’t allow our baser instincts to co-opt it.

I read an article in Outside Magazine years ago about CFCs. There was one passage that really struck me. In it, the author crossed the border to Metamoros, Mexico, following the trail of bootleg R-12. Use of the gas was illegal, but recharging old automotive A/C systems remained a thriving black market. At one point, the Mexican smuggler, who could not fathom why this was an issue, released some of the banned chemical into the air, saying “see, no problem.”

If you compartmentalize, then you can externalize. To the Mexican smuggler, right then and there, CFCs caused no harm, but we know that they cause ozone depletion, with global effects. For millennia, and still today, this is how human beings have interacted with the world. We consider the portion that concerns us, directly, and we disregard the rest.

It is exactly this tendency, and practice, that has lead to climate change, environmental degradation, species extinction, human exploitation.

In years past, we had an excuse, because we were literally incapable of comprehending relationships, and our place in them, that were beyond the immediate. But modern technology has changed all that. Now we have satellites that can image the entire globe, and a networked communication system connecting nearly everyone on earth.

Wikipedia is amazing, not because of any individual article, or even all of them together, but rather because they all are linked, just as they are in real life. Blockchain promises to bring limpidity, not only to the whole of human knowledge, but to all of human activity as well.

On the blockchain, pure transparency assures complete security.

No one can steal your identity, because it is immutable, fixed permanently in relation to that of your parents, and their parents before them. Once on chain, virtual reality ceases to exist. Instead, reality is virtualized.

Reality is. That we portray or imagine it to be different does not change it, so there is no reason to conceal it, unless it be nefarious. No one should fear placing the entirety of their existence on the blockchain, at least not for fear of others. On chain, the only thing one has to fear is one’s own self.

Imagine if there was a public distributed blockchain ledger during the Holocaust.

Would the world have stood idly by while the Nazis registered people at concentration camps and stockpiled poisonous gas? This is the level of transparency and degree of scrutiny that the blockchain is able to provide.

The purpose of the blockchain is not to build Dapps and make initial coin offerings. Its purpose isn’t to create more tools of inequity, division, and surveillance. It is to remove the shackles of preferentiality and injustice, to exorcise the power of dominion, to enable self-sovereignty, to make us each accountable to the unified global community of which we are, incontrovertibly, a part.