Looking back from a blockchain future

Posted on 16/01/2020 by Hans J. Schmolke

There are more and more people who say, in ten years’ time, we will live in a blockchain world, in smart cities, where everything is in your hands, but recorded, immutable and transparent to everyone. However, all data will be anonymous.

For governments, it probably will to be like this: They will see that xx% of the population evade their taxes, but there is no way to find out who.

Citizens, however, will be able to move around as they like, but every step will be registered. There will be no step without charging. Charges will be mostly close to zero. For your morning run, you will have to pay 10 cents. However, there will also be incentives, which you either receive or do not receive. Either a charge or an incentive can be symbolic. They can stand for rights or limitations, but often it will be fractions of money.

As citizens, we will carry all of this in our virtual personal wallet. It will contain our money, privileges, rights and limitations. Although all we own will be virtual, we will want to have it engraved into a chip or a piece of hardware, that we can secure behind the walls of our safe. Nothing would be able to be forged anyway, but what is ours should be ours.

For whatever we do, there will be no single step without a contractual situation. The contract may be a simple rule, like ‘you can’t view this movie if you are under 16’. Or it may be referring to a law. However, the bigger the city, the more reasons there will be for additional rules that include all kinds of infrastructure usage. For instance you could choose to be the first one to get into an elevator, although you might be standing at the end of the queue. This would be made possible by paying with a few honors that you have gathered in the past.

Is this a data snapshot?

Who sets the rules? That is traditionally what governments are for, but with the growing Blockchain ecosystem, there is now an inflation of contracts and rules. Most rules will be standardized and supplied by private companies. There will be private companies that check the quality of rules and change them. Private companies will supply the Smart City software. Governing will become the art of setting general rules for Blockchain contracts in a governmental software environment.

So what? Life will go on and will continue to be The Big Thing. People will fall in love, have children, pay their taxes. Or not. Nothing new. Just a different kind of piggybacking, this time of a parallel virtual world, like an invisible big smart phone glued to our back. As opposed to now, it will be impossible to cut the connection to the internet of rules, from its charges and incentives to steer the behavior of individual citizens.

Now, as with all the recording, there will be something like ‘truth’, the political question will continue to be about the balance of interests. But now, it will be pursued over a background of transparency, where everything can be tracked and nothing can be changed. (However it will still need to be decided, what the ‘truth’  means.) 

Looking back to us today in 100 years’ time, those future generations will find it strange to imagine that this ‘piggyback’ once was not there. History students will write theses about our funny life without rules and incentives, and they will probably call our times the ‘medieval wildernesses’.

Conclusion? Let’s be funny and chaotic for a few more years!

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