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News Link • Counter-Economics

With The Napster of Banking Round The Corner, Bring Out Your Popcorn

• Rick Falkvinge
If you want a crystal ball of the next battle, look at what many techies are doing right now, but that is obscure and hasn’t caught on; something that has a very clear and attractive use case once it becomes easy enough.

Here’s what’s on my radar: banking. There’s at least a dozen different variants of decentralized cryptographic currencies and transaction systems out there, very sophisticated and totally incomprehensible. There’s Ripple, BitCoin, ecash and others.

When this tipping point happens, there won’t be any central point of control over economies. It will be like everybody traded in cash, traditional anonymous cash, once again. Why, then, will this make governments dump a ton of bricks on the Internet?

Up until now, from the perspective of governments, it’s only been some friends complaining about a sales slump of CDs, so governments have given them some legislative breadcrumbs to shut up. How do you think governments across the world are going to react when they realize they’ve lost the ability to tax the public?

Imagine the ramifications of that for a moment. The governments of the world are on the brink of losing the ability to look into the economy of their citizens. They stand to lose the ability to seize assets, they stand to lose the ability to collect debts. No application of force in the world is going to help: everything is encrypted, and destroying a computer with any amount of police firepower will accomplish zilch.

All the world’s weapons in all the world’s police hands are useless against the public’s ability to keep their cryptographic economy to themselves. Won’t make a scratch.

If you thought the wars over knowledge and culture were intense, I believe we’ll see much more interesting events unfold in the coming decade. The decentralized, uncontrollable economy where one lifetime employment is no longer central to every human being is something I’ve called the swarm economy, and I predict it will redefine society to an immensely larger extent than the ability to get rap music for free.


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