The next 10 years will witness the systematic manipulation of human life at a scale unrivaled in history. For all the recent controversies over privacy and surveillance, the real threat is ahead of us.
Unless new approaches to online identity and data management take hold, both governments and private actors will move inexorably from knowing you to shaping you. Blockchain-enabled decentralization will develop as the only viable response to the iron logic of data centralization.
Kevin Werbach is Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he focuses on emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain. This essay placed first in the “Decentralized Futures” writing contest, organized by NESTA, a U.K. innovation foundation.
Blockchain believers often talk as though today’s early-adopter use cases, such as cryptocurrency trading and decentralized finance, will lead straight to mass-market adoption. As the inevitable ‘killer apps’ appear, so the story goes, blockchain-based systems will conquer the mainstream. One might imagine that we’ll all soon be trading digital collectibles and relying on token-curated registries for accurate information. Governments will lose control over money, and blockchain-based smart contracts will replace court-enforced legal agreements. Uber, Facebook and the banks will wither away in the face of tokenized alternatives.
This narrative is wishful thinking. In most markets, intermediaries will endure for the same reasons they always have: they provide value. The
Trending: Reporters Call Out Biden in Minnesota and Say “What’s the Point Of Coming Here”