In the 2005 movie Batman Begins there’s a small, seemingly irrelevant conversation where Commissioner Gordon talks to Batman about the Joker and what he refers to as “escalation”…
Jim Gordon: What about escalation?
Jim Gordon: We start carrying semi-automatics, they buy automatics. We start wearing Kevlar, they buy armour-piercing rounds.
Jim Gordon: And you’re wearing a mask and jumping off rooftops. Now, take this guy: armed robbery, double homicide. Got a taste for theatrical, like you. Leaves a calling card.
Batman: I’ll look into it.
So let’s talk about escalation in terms of privacy, security, finance and the future.
Privacy, Security And Finance
I’ve spoken a few times before about privacy, mainly in my thoughts on the Future Of The Internet. Of course privacy is an evolving thing. For those that care about it – everyone from private citizens to government spies – it changes just like everything else does through time.
From the Nazi’s famous Enigma machines that protected their privacy to End-to-End Encryption that protects our privacy today, this escalation has happened over and over and over again. One side (whomever they are) creates a new form of technology that protects their privacy which is then cracked by the other side and on and on.
As information got digitised, the entire “privacy thing” also got further intertwined with the whole “security thing”. To keep ones life private (eg. your address, name, email, photos etc) you had to ensure it was secured. This means strong passwords, using applications that employ proper encryption and securing your compute devices behind firewalls, DMZ’s, Anti Virus software and more. For many private citizens that don’t have 100 man strong, elite IT security admins this means conceding their information – and thus privacy – to big corporations. The simple right of being a private citizen has morphed into a complex IT nightmare.
This escalation has since gone even further still as many no longer trust those professional IT security teams (eg. your Google, Banks, governments, insurance agencies etc) as repeated hacks have shown how insecure they are now that escalation has increased the stakes yet again.
As it stands today, properly securing your private information and ensuring it’s not stolen, hacked or eavesdropped on by anyone is essentially impossible. Everyone wants your data! However things are escalating once more with solutions to these problems. You can now use DNS over HTTPS (DoH) to secure your website requests from prying eyes like Telco companies and the Australian Government. You can use E2EE (End-to-End Encryption) to secure your private conversations from the very companies that provide these messaging platforms. You can even use TOR to browse the web completely anonymously if it’s used correctly.
The question is… what comes next?
So far I’ve talked about privacy and security but this has now grown to encompass a third realm: finance. Through the power of encryption and computation we now have Bitcoin, Blockchain technology and a whole Crypto world teaming with excitement that’s replacing the existing legacy financial system piece by piece. I can send you 1 Bitcoin without anyone’s permission, without creating an “account” at a bank or even the governments approval. No one can stop me. At least until they buy a $5 wrench!
For 10+ years now no human, company or country – regardless of the power they wield – has been able to stop Bitcoin. Sure people have hacked exchanges but the underlying technology, the Blockchain, has remained impenetrable. Similarly, when configured correctly, there have been numerous cases where even the most powerful countries in the world cannot break encrypted files. Even a lone persons iPhone has become impossible to breach. Just this month it was revealed that German authorities can’t access $60 million dollars worth of Bitcoin that a jailed scammer stole. An entire country losing against 1 man with encryption, it’s astonishing and completely new.
Things have escalated to what seems to be – at least for now anyway – the final point. The point where when done properly, no one can decrypt your files or steal your (crypto) money. It doesn’t matter if they’re another person, a hacker or the most powerful country on the planet. This however poses a problem for legitimate law enforcement and financial laws or taxes.
How does a government tax someone if they’re paid peer to peer through Monero? Currently they can’t. There is no known way for them to know that the person even has Monero let alone how much or when. Bitcoin is more transparent due to its non-encrypted blockchain but even then, it’s near impossible if the transaction is done properly or sent through various coin mixers / exchanges.
As the Crypto Era progresses over this decade and everyone switches platforms once again, it will be entirely feasible to just live in Crypto land. You could get paid in Monero, buy food with it, pay others with it, exchange it into 1,000 other currencies in seconds and more. Together with encryption crypto is also spearheading a push into decentralised platforms. LBRY.tv instead of YouTube, Sia.tech instead of OneDrive or AWS, Audius.co instead of Spotify, HNS instead of DNS and so on.
No more centralised, company owned platforms that lock up your data and sell it to hundreds of companies that then invade your privacy. These new platforms put their users, security and privacy first by being decentralised, uncensorable and entirely governed by the platforms users. By the end of it, I can imagine it being virtually impossible for even a first world country to find out any pertinent information on a properly setup individual.
It seems inevitable now that crypto will fully take over all meaningful parts of the financial system, likely by the end of this decade. Just like with previous systems both the legacy and new will operate in tandem, while the legacy one slowly declines over the years. With this transition I’d expect to see creators and consumers also transition to the new Crypto Era style Web 3.0 platforms mentioned above. With a fully Decentralised Autonomous Organisational (DAO) structure in place running these platforms there will be no servers to block, no companies to regulate or strong arm (through legislation or otherwise) and no way to stop regular citizens from using their superior services. This will mean that their data will be fully encrypted and completely untouchable by even first world governments. Escalation will have once again taken its next step, perhaps its final one.
I have no idea how governments around the world will react and process this transition. If history is anything to go by, most will probably try and fight it for years through regulation and lies or half truths. In the end they’ll still fall and be defeated anyway at great cost to their citizens wealth. This is what happened to the Music industry, the Movie industry and is now happening to the Fossil Fuels and Car industries with Renewables and EV’s. There has been no industry that has yet won the fight against new technology and slow moving, heavily bureaucratic and bickering governments aren’t exactly a hard target for new tech to take down IMHO.
While many still view crypto as stupid, gambling, a waste of energy, a ponzi scheme or just pointless techno babel it’s blatantly clear now it’s not. Multiple, multi billion dollar companies don’t just drop hundreds of millions of dollars into something that’s a useless shit meme. From MicroStrategy to Tesla the institutional world seems to be catching its own severe case of FOMO while the various crypto core systems continue to mature at an increasing rate. If you thought tech moved fast, crytpo is going to look like a blur.
A major part of this site is to help people “Learn. Plan. Transition Profitably.” If you are reading this piece and still think crypto is rubbish for one reason or another, go do step one: Learn. You are already years behind. Don’t be Kodak, you have been warned.
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