In this century, Web titans like Google, Facebook and Twitter have handsomely rewarded their investors via business models based on paid ad revenues. Now we - the consumers - owe the social debt built up by the free speech and unregulated surveillance upon which they were built.
The idealism of the open Internet has dissolved into rancor and cyber attacks. Suffering from polarized politics and identity theft, filter bubble ennui and phishing attacks, society has become increasingly more brittle as the Internet has become more centralized.
A new generation hopes to build a better version of the Internet on the blockchain. We are going to have sound money as native currency (Bitcoin), programmatic consensus systems for every application (Ethereum), and decentralized autonomous governance (DAOs).
Will it work? It's difficult to know the future precisely, but the best way is to create some part of it through action. Each of us is called to play a role. With that in mind, I am going deep down the rabbit hole of Bitcoin, decentralized identity and smart contracts.
I seek a world where are better known by the people we know and less known by the people we don't know. This must happen for our society to remain durable, and for our economy to thrive. These three elements frame my own exploration.
Durable edge of capitalism - Free markets must continue to thrive. There will be regions and platforms where people speak freely and bring solutions on their own initiative. Yet, they must be restrained in a way that ensures opportunity for all. If not restrained by individual morality and community ethics, restraint will come through outside regulation.
Local Identity, Global Anonymity - The current model we have for establishing trust on the Internet is unsustainable. Institutional consolidation puts more and more people into fragile systems with fewer people to resolve increasing complexity. Artificial Intelligence will not solve this problem. It learns rules from the past, as the future unfolds by evolving principles. People solve this problem. And the people who know us best are the ones who know us face to face, who work side by side with us and share our experience.
Internet Credentials - We will use established credentials that give us the anonymity we deserve on the Internet. We will share evidence of what we have done and can do. We will be over 18, under 55, heart healthy, interested in certain books, or sports. What we will not be is a consumable resource easily abused. We will retain our anonymity, even as we share bits of our identity that are relevant in the moment.