Richard Edelman said about the new Trust Barometer report that,
“We’ve gotten to a point where there’s a loss of faith in the system. That there’s a sense of unfairness.”
Richard Stacy (I suppose I’m on a “Richard” theme here) offers an example of this in his post, Gaming Democracy, where he cites an article from the Guardian by Carole Cadwalladr about Robert Mercer and says we have entered the “Age of Algorithms.”
It is an age where the so-called “Masters of the Algorithm” can create opaque ways to manipulate control over the existing power structure and ensure ways for the “wealthy to use their wealth to become even wealthier.” Richard (Stacy, that is) sums up the threat to Democracy that the algorithm poses by saying:
“The only way to re-establish democracy and create any sense of regulation or oversight over the activities of the Masters of the Algorithm is transparency.”
Now, I’m a long-time Richard Stacy proponent. If he had a fan club, I might even be an officer. In this post, at least, I think he misses an opportunity to take his final argument even further. That is, how do we get the transparency he believes we need?
That’s right…open-source, decentralized protocols secured in blockchains.
Will this be the panacea to any Mercer-type subterfuge?
No, definitely not.
(I should add that I don’t fully buy Carole’s argument and I think traditional MSM does have some “fake news” elements to it…think Dan Rather).
But I think it offers hope.
Richard points this out himself as he makes perhaps the most critical observation about the concurrent shift to the Age of Algorithms…the shift in trust from institutions to processes.
Blockchains have been called a “trust machine.”
At their heart, lies a series of protocols (aka processes) which are voted on and supported by the community.
Now, granted, there are scenarios where control of the protocol can go to the wealthiest…HOWEVER, and this is a big one, if people see that control rests in one place or is too concentrated, they can choose to abandon the protocol and take their votes/assets, elsewhere.
Is it utopia?
Of course not.
But it does provide a transparent set of rules that is open for inspection and action by the community (democratization) and which can be censorship-resistant, thus avoiding some degrees of manipulation.
If Richard is right…and I think he is, the shift from trust in institutions which are managed or manipulated by people to processes which are governed by math and where the “wisdom of the crowds” can take effect offers another piece of the evidentiary puzzle of the inevitability of this technology.