I listened to an interesting chat by Alibaba founder jack ma and his thoughts about bitcoin. his responses sounded a bit like mine. while I am not really interested in bitcoin, I am fascinated with blockchain technologies and the application of how markets will work on the planet. south of Zurich, there is a sleepy town where the epicenter of blockchain companies might exist. what astounds me is how few people seem to know about it. I call it the silicon valley of international banking.
while I look at the idea of a cashless society as something good. I keep coming back to a simple flaw in humanity, that being greed and corruption – to ever making such a fair system reality and good for all. it is like when I would go to a café in Santa Fe after church on Sunday and had a $5 dollar bill in my hand. I was glossed over and the hipster millennial crowd that seemed to be the norm at that spot would simply go do their ordering and be paying with a card, of which I am guessing from my time there had many mommy and daddy paying via with “trustfundism.”
I hate to say the last line, but I have no other logical explanation for how a city can do less work and somehow pay for it looking and playing a part on the grand stage of life.
so back to cashless society. will it speed up ordering? not really. does it cut transaction time? yes, but at what cost in back-end energy and resources. does it make people handling the transactions work any faster for optimized service? I can’t say that has. if anything there is a trend for customer connectivity that is perfect for keeping the world operating in first gear, when you have a gearbox that has six gears – five of which never get used.
I really wonder what will happen to all this talk about blockchain, artificial intelligence, and robots in about 15 years when the quantum computer becomes more of a reality for all?
will people be outsourced to automated robots? sure they will. I am guilty of automating more than I wanted with the closed environment agriculture prototypes, not because I wanted to – but because the market was so screwed up with a work ethic and manana time that it made no sense to rely on a human showing up, much less having to explain that half the battle with success is to show up to work. (this actually happened and was the day I said, “automation ho!”)
what I wonder and worry about with humanity are the issues of mental health, actual joy and happiness, love and social interactions. perhaps the chasing of “stuff” or a future view of “I will be happy when…” will wane and the extra time and resources we all should have more of with working to live, not living to work might provide more of a balance in life for everyone. right now I don’t see a great path as urbanization will accelerate, complexity in the social construct will have more people wanting inclusiveness of self but only if everyone else acts, believes, dresses, or behaves like that self. the other part is that I fear as robotic aides and vendors become more common, and the illusion of social media has people thinking they are connected to something/someone/some group – that isolation will be more common.
if you think of some of the science fiction ideas that have been floated in the past 50 years about big brother, the idea of social conformity and the ways for people to all be living the same dream – albeit a seeming lack of heart and soul. I look around Switzerland and wonder, “where is the heart, soul, and passion of the masses?” here you have one of the wealthiest countries per-capita on the planet where I don’t see much need or want in anyone. you have great social structures and programs to live a wonderful life – yet – I don’t see the passion or heart in the culture. I joke that it is a reverse of the united states in that you can hear us talk about how proud we are, yet In Switzerland, false humility is the same disease as USA pride – just with a different costume on.
the other thing I learned traveling with shows all over the planet, is how corruption works in different countries. it doesn’t matter if it is 3rd world or the 1st world. don’t let anyone kid you that corruption doesn’t exist. it is merely a function of the social construct of the country and the social beliefs. I wonder how many voters in the USA realize that “legalized corruption” is another name for special interest groups and lobbyists. in other countries, you have corruption all along the food chain. I had one guy on a crew I would send out when we had problems to fix the reality of our issues with what we called the Mexican way. in eastern Europe, I remember my old girlfriend saying, “I will get my power turned on the legal way.” I had to smile and wonder how long it took her to realize there was no legal way in that country. you paid a fee to get the power magically turned on, or you waited a year or two.
the last part of a cashless society is that once it is in place. you are at the beck and call of the national government to simply do whatever they want. a great example is that when president bush left office, the USA was 8 trillion in debt. when President Obama left office, the number was close to 20 trillion. with president trump, I think we added another 1.6 trillion.
what is odd is president trump probably understands the business better than ex-presidents bush and Clinton – yet – the voters are promised all sorts of great things and no one asks, “who is going to pay for it?”
if you are reading the debt levels of the USA and think ‘my god that is huge!” it actually isn’t too bad in comparison with some of the EU countries that are sucking money from other EU neighbors. if you want to really freak out, go look at the debt levels inside the developing nations where a lot of investment money was planted, post-2008 and ask yourself, “what will happen if interest rates go up 5%?”
that is a bit scary with the reality of having people ask, “how do we cover up another mess like we had in 2007? can we put another layer of make-believe over it again?”
what would a cashless society do in such a place? what would a society do when computer technology will have the capability to blast through all encryption ways?
there is the cool ideology that a cashless society will be transparent. but human nature is such that those in power and or who want control – usually only want a one way street. “I want to know all you are doing, but you can’t know what I am up to.” it might be the foundation for why countries and companies spy so much on each other? it is how robotic markets work anymore – you don’t have a human stop gap to keep a sense of control on it. today, robotic trades are based on algorithms and all the fun things that happen with them.
the problem in the future is that the technologies will be so fast, agile and powerful that it will in a sense render humans as very obsolete in areas where linear thinking or processes are needed.
it leads me to wonder about the idea of the universal basic income, which I have to ask, after being raised in a capitalistic society where if you succeeded, you made a lot, if you failed, you lost. it sounds more like a social program where one has to ask, “is everyone paying their fair share?” or will the society settle into a place in the middle of the bell curve of ‘normal” with life and life seems to be very nice and pretty – yet seeming to lack a heart and soul?
time will tell – but these thoughts are what I am thinking about for 10 minutes on a Sunday in Switzerland. I will have to look at the reality of block chain and the impact of AI and advanced Ai with the idea of some universal income, that probably will be a reality of sorts for the future…even in a cashless society. I don’t think corruption will ever go away, just take another shape/form/method. wouldn’t it be easier if everyone just lived life with common sense?