Blockchains Are Really a “Trust Revolution”

Jeremy Epstein Business 0 Comments

As you peel back the layers from Bitcoin to Blockchain to Decentralization, you start getting deeper and deeper into the core concept that is being addressed here.

It’s Trust.

Far smarter people than I, like Andrew Keys and Phil Gomes have addressed this very well recently, but I want to explore it here a bit more.

Andrew said it right: “We have a trust problem.”

It permeates governments, news agencies, multi-national corporations.

It seems like the only area of our lives where we all can agree on facts and then have discussion and objective debates about them is sports.

How did we get here?

It really happened within the span of a generation.

When I was growing up, my parents made us watch the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. There was someone who was trusted.

He was the epitome of an area of authority that began when Gutenberg invented the printing press in Mainz, Germany.

Gutenberg’s invention led to a balance of some sort.

On the one hand, information wasn’t controlled by a super elite few (e.g. the Church and the nobility), but it wasn’t SOOO cheap that anyone could print whatever they wanted.

That economic paradigm continued on until the late 1990s and early 2000s when the Web, blogging, social media, etc. hit us and then got super-charged with the iPhone.

EVERYONE had a printing press and there was no gating of content.  Previously, totally crazy people would be shunned and wouldn’t get the money or distribution to get their ideas now.

Now, anyone could get those ideas out and connect with other whackos elsewhere in the world.

Once the playing field for information publication and dissemination was effectively leveled WITHOUT any mechanism for assessing the value of that information to society, it became really difficult to determine what should be trusted and what shouldn’t be.

As a result, instead of feeling gullible by trusting everything, we all retreat and decide to not trust anything. It’s safer.

Hence, trust plummets.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that, like in physics, “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

Deep down, many of us are upset that we can’t trust-seemingly-anyone anymore.

Brexit, the South Korean impeachment, Trump’s election, the Women’s March….and more. All of these are reactions to our perception that we can only trust a very few, limited number of people. And we want to trust more. We want to feel safer.

It’s as if we live in a small village again yet we’re aware it’s a global society.

200 years ago, no one thought about the people on the other side of the world, but today, we’re all acutely aware of their existence and impact on us–and vice versa.

And, yet, we don’t know if we can really trust “them.”

That’s where fear, misunderstanding, hatred, walls, pick your-phobia come from.

Trade, interconnectivity, discussion…these are all good things, but without trust, we can’t really get far.

What blockchain technology represents is the potential to make it possible for us to trust anyone, anywhere, at anytime (or decide not to) and not feel insecure or scared that we are making the right call.

Now, we don’t have to trust, but it doesn’t have to stop us from trading with them or connecting with them.

Why?

Because there are no intermediaries in the middle whose interests we may not fully understand.

We thought we could trust banks…they screwed us.

We thought we could trust government…too much corruption and special interests.

Now, we rely on mathematics and software which can’t be compromised to say, “hey Jer, you can trust this guy, it’s all good,” and you know with 100% certainty that it’s the case.

The impact of that cannot be understated.

  1. First off, an entire world is opened to me.
  2. Secondly, as trust starts to go up, we all need fewer and fewer intermediaries.
  3. Third, an entire world is opened to me (yes, I repeated that.)

Everyone pretty much agrees (for once) that Trump’s ascendancy to the Presidency is a generational shock to the system, watershed moment, uncharted seas (pick your metaphor).  It represents a dramatic shift from one paradigm to another.

It is, but to me, this isn’t about Trump, his personality, or anything like that. It’s what he, Brexit, and the other shifts indicate.

There are a lot of people who feel that they can’t trust most others and they don’t like it. They aren’t necessarily hateful. They just want a real change because they know that being this fearful isn’t the way to go.

[Note: This feeling is true across the spectrum, I believe. The people who join the Women’s March want a real change to…they want to trust that they are valued in society.]

We kind of take for granted how the Internet and social media are just a part of our everyday lives, but their impact on the world over the past 20 years has been massive. In many, many ways, great. But in others, not so great.

And the debt of trust in each other is one of them in my estimation.

The earthquake that has occurred in the past few months worldwide is painful but it provides a massive catalyst for blockchains, Ethereum, new identity, and data storage systems and more.

Maybe I’m a naive idealist/optimist, but I have faith in humanity’s desire to live in peace (for the most part) and I have faith in technology to be the impartial arbiter where human judgment or interests might get in the way.

Blockchains: Welcome to the Trust Revolution