It’s no secret that I love Bitcoin and have a deep fascination with the entire ecosystem of cryptocurrency. That love affair goes back to working with alternative currencies and barter systems in the 1990s and then extends through the 2000’s as I learned about the possibilities of using digital currencies to disempower banks, corporations, and governments.
In 2017, I jumped into the swirling maelstrom of digital money and began learning everything I could about the good, the bad, and the ugly of Bitcoin and the thousands of digital ‘altcoins’ that exist alongside it. In early 2018, I decided to get as deep into this underbelly as I could by finding a project, joining a team, and building a crypto token.
This is the narrative of that journey. I joined the ‘Lupecoin Project’ first as a supporter and then as a co-founder. Together we built a community, created a token, and shared a vision. There was good, there was bad, and there was ugly. I don’t want to mislead anyone – none of us were deep in the muck – we weren’t doing scam ICOs, ripping off supporters, or figuring out how to steal millions of dollars. We weren’t buying and selling sex workers, drugs, and murder on the famous Silk Road. In fact, we were just a bunch of pretty nice guys trying to build something we thought might make the world a better place – and failing miserably at it.
In Crypto Confidential, my goal is to teach the reader as much as I can about cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, blockchain, and the bizarre communities surrounding this cool technology. After reading this book, the reader will have a much clearer understanding of why blockchain and crypto are among the most important and revolutionary technologies today. In addition, the reader will learn about the bizarre history of Bitcoin and what Ethereum, and altcoins are. Along the way, the reader will be informed about the many scammers, scams, ripoffs, and strange personalities that live in the crypto underbelly.
As a geek, a sci-fi lover, a futurist, a technology lover, a person with a fascination for humans and what makes us tick, and an investor – I am constantly on the lookout for what the next big thing, the next big disruption, or the next human-culture shattering event may be – so reading Shaping the Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab was a no brainer.
Klaus Schwab is the Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum. He wrote a book in 2016 called the Fourth Industrial Revolution – which was one ofthe first books to clearly show just how sudden, powerful, and life chainging the technology we see around us every day is. We are in the midst of the most dramatic change our species has ever encountered. To put things in perspective – let’s take a step way back. This summary is not in the book but is helpful for understanding it.
The Agricultural Revolution (12,000 years ago) turned our species from nomadic hunter gatherers to farmers and allowed for massive population growth. The Scientific Revolution (500 years ago) gave us the tools to study and change the world around us based on what we learned. The First Industrial Revolution (200 years ago) opened the world up to us and allowed us to explore, settle, and kill each other on scales never seen before. The Second Agricultural Revolution (100 years ago) allowed for mass production of food and huge expansion of population. The Second Industrial Revolution (100 years ago) gave us mass manufacturing and electricity. The Third Industrial Revolution (50 years ago) gave us computer, semi-conductors, and the internet. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (now) is changing everything across every aspect of our lives. Schwab’s book identifies the following as being the key technologies of the new world we are entering.
1) Extended Digital Tech including quantum computing, blockchain and distributed ledger tech, the internet of things, and big data crunching algorithms.
2) Changing the Physical World with artificial intelligence and robotics using advanced materials, 3-D printing, and and drones.
3) Alteration of Human Beings through biotechnologies, neurotechnologies, and through virtual and augmented realities.
4) Integrating our environment through clean energy, storage and transmission. Also geo-engineering on both Earth and other planets as well as space technology itself.
After reading this book – it becomes clear that the most immediate threat is that of social upheaval as the need for human workers becomes less through automation, artificial intelligence, and (to some extent) the problem of what to do with all the people who will be using up the resources of the planet. The intent of this book was to both show the coming technology and to let stakeholders know what they can do to make sure that the future is based on a human rights framework that has important human values built into it. We are moving very quickly and the ground we are covering is totally uncharted. We will make many mistakes. Schwab is trying to help us make less of them.
This book dovetailed nicely after reading Andrew Yang’s The War on Normal People – one thing is for sure. Automation is coming and your job is probably not going to last very much longer – no matter what your job is. We are all walking around with super computers in our pockets that are recording data all the time – that data is being used for many purposes. The way that data is used and sorted is key to what happens to us in the future – there are positive and negative outcomes attached to that. Blockchain is much more than jsut cryptocurrency and Bitcoin – it is a revolutionary tech that will change the way business gets done. In fact, it already is. The internet of things on the other hand is one of the ways that our pocket super computers and the quantum computers of the future will be gathering data about us and making decisions for us. Our shoes, clothing, cookware, and more will be gathering data – not just our phones, TVs, cars, and refrigerators.
I was pretty aware of automation technology in the form of robots and A.I. The idea of advanced materials and automated 3-D printing sort of blew my mind, however. Imagine every city or every house having a Star Trek style fabricator where you simply say ‘computer make a pork chop’ or ‘computer make a picture hook’ or ‘computer make a new part for my VW van’ and it either appears in the 3-D printer several minutes later or arrives by drone a few hours later. Not science fiction any longer. It’s happening and it is eliminating the need for warehouses, trucks and truckers, and stores on a massive scale.
The next section on biotechnology, neurotechnology and altered realities also was a bit of an eye opener. Essentially, I’ve been thinking of gene editing for a while now as a way to cure disease and fix our problems – I’ve read about the ideas of giving us new abilities and physical features but never really considered it viable – now though – these things are happening. The biggest opportunity/threat here is the integration of our minds/bodies with advanced A.I and robotics – we will, very shortly – almost certainly stop being humans as we have been. We will be something different. The perfection of artificial and augmented realities will also expand our world to horizons far beyond what that of Columbus and the colonization of the Americas did.
Finally, there are the ways we are changing the planet and our opportunities in space. We are and have been for a long time – destroying our evnvironment, wiping out the biodiversity of the planet, and giving ourselves the illusion of wealth while we destroy the only true wealth we have. The advent of the fourth industrial revolution has given us tools for accelerating this process or alternatively for reversing it. In addition the death of fossil fuels and the birth of clean, renewable energy are opportunties that can make the world a better place or a worse one. Finally, there is the development of space which the book touches on a little bit.
I bought this book to learn more about the technologies. It covered that but mostly the book was about what we as individuals, companies, governments, or individuals can do to deal with the change and to help bring it about in a way that benefits human values. I appreciated this information. I recommend that anyone read this book – it’s readable but not easy or particularly fun. It will educate you. It was compiled from over 200 individuals contributing information over an 18 month period.
This morning before the closing bell of the stock market, I released the first baseline number for the Vagorithm Index. Today on October 24, 2018 it was 381.33(+1.64) with the number in parenthesis being my societal volatility index number. On scale 381.33 is our baseline for societal change and and radical disruption. A lower number means that innovation and change are happening at a slower pace, a higher number means that change is happening at a faster pace. The volatility number is the daily deviation from a steady technological growth rate. I do not use the Dow Jones Industrial Index or any other index in determining this value. Instead, I look at the rate of change and appreciation of companies that are working within the seven sectors that I believe are shaping the future around us. We do not see how rapidly the world is changing – but from day to day – the rate of change is faster than the annual rate of change less than a hundred years ago. The sectors below are the sectors which are shaping the future.
1. Bioengineering and Genetic Engineering – At the moment, this sector is moving relatively slow in comparison with others because of the important regulation that constrains what would otherwise be volcanic growth. Our ability to change life itself is moving faster than the regulation can keep up. Not only does this affect things like disease and aging but also the ability to grow food, to repair(or destroy) the environment, and much more. Not only can we change the world, eventually when regulations are satisfied or bypassed, we will be changing ourselves and will no longer be Homo Sapiens of any kind.
2. Distributed Ledgers and Blockchain – IBM is doing amazing work with blockchain and food production – as well as many other sectors. While the jury may seem to be out on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – players behind the scenes are building the future of finance, ownership, and wealth. Do not underestimate the power of distributed ledgers to topple governments and corporations.
3. Renewable Energy – our world was built on fossil fuels. It was fossil fuels that gave the greatest wealth and power to men and nations. Now, like it or not, they are being phased out. Renewable energy on a massive scale is coming and it will being new power structures, new ways of living, and new problems.
4. Artificial Intelligence (and Augmented Intelligence). We already walk around with assistants in our pockets that know everything. The interfaces are getting better. Our brains no longer function like the brains of our grandparents but we still use the same structures – not for long. And then there is the singularity – A.I. will surpass our ability to do everything – and will make everything happen much much faster than it already is.
5. Industrial and Labor Automation. In all liklihood, you are going to lose your job. We are all going to lose our jobs. Things will become cheaper and information will become more expensive. Our entire concept of economics will have to undergo a radical transformation.
6. New Materials. Nano-carbon fibres, lab grown meat, more conductive materials, better building materials. A.I. and automation along with renewable energy sources and bioengineering will change the materials we use in almost every instance. Legacy materials will be like hand made woks, a luxury or oddity – not the norm.
7. Virtual Reality, Artificial Reality, Augmented Reality, Combined Reality. In the not too distant future, you won’t have to put on a headset to enter a virtual world and there is a pretty good chance that the virtual/artificial/augmented world will spill over into the ‘real’ world. Will your self driving car be able to crash into the giant billboard – no, because it won’t physically be there – but it will be there – as real as your cousin that you have only seen on Facebook for the past ten years.
These are the main factors that I’ve incorporated into the Vagorithm. There are a couple of other factors that seem important to me. Is this a financial tool? Maybe. Over time you may be able to use it to chart good entry and exit points for the stock/forex/crypto markets – but my main purpose in creating it and sharing it, is to be able to quantify the level of future that exists in the now over time. For what it’s worth – since I began keeping track of these factors (shortly after the election of 2016) – the level of innovation has decreased by 42%. So, by my reckoning – right now – we are in a period of doldrums when heavy resistance to technological and societal change is feeling it’s power. Ignorance is at its most powerful level since the McCarthy Era when people wore blinders and feared what they didn’t understand. The good news is – when the forces of ignorance are defeated – the level of change is going to be almost blinding in its speed.