Vinay Gupta says “Don’t assume that because the new stuff is weird it’s any weirder than the old stuff. The old stuff is just weird stuff you’ve got used to”.
These comments about the weird stuff come about 17 minutes into the video of Vinay Gupta at Michel Bauwens & the Promise of the Blockchain
The video is mind-streching and well worth watching even if techie stuff like blockchain doesn’t usually grab your attention.The “weird new stuff” Vinay describes is a scenario of potential power shifts when blockchain impacts our lives. The “old stuff” is wide reaching stuff that we are accustomed to, like our present political systems, our financial systems and much more besides. Vinay sets the scene with some milestones showing how computers have increasingly impacted our lives, and then (around 22 minutes in) he goes on to the really important social implications such as what kinds of minds run our society .
Our future is being crafted by people who don’t understand ordinary social interaction
Vinay touches on the old divide between arts and science in our education system, and the different ways of thinking. He points out the potential disruption of blockchain. Most importantly, he explains the way the world looks to the technologists behind blockchain, compared to the way it looks to everyone else.
A key point is when he says that we have to decide if our society going to be run by the lawyers or the technicians – and that both these answers are the wrong answer. It needs to be run by the people. If our society is to be run by “the people” then we (the people who aren’t the powerful lawyers or technologists) need a better understanding of what is going on. Vinay’s presentation is a good place to start.
Most of the the first part of the video is setting the scene, technically and socially. Starting with the early, massive, room-sized, number-crunching computers of the mid 20th century, Vinay brings us forward through the advent of micro-computers and desk-top computing power, to the connectivity of the Internet and the pocket-sized devices and endless streams of information that we take for granted today as we go about our lives in a “connected world”. It gets a bit technical at times, but there is no need to understand those bits in order to appreciate the social narrative. Vinay tells the story from both the social and technical perspectives. He is both sa writer and a programmer, and so he bridges the gap.
The thinking and the need for understanding and involvement
Vinay points out that the minds behind blockchain are the minds of geeks, the oft-mocked personality types who are techno-wizzards but are low on social skills and “normal” awareness of how the world works from a social interaction perspective. (He also points out the wrongfulness of mocking geeks.) Around 25 minutes into the video, Vinay points out that the stories these tehcies had in their heads when they started to build this stuff were Sci-Fi “Cyber-Punk” stories. Vinay seriously advises us to start reading Cyber Punk, because that is the way we can start to understand and share the myths that the technical class has is mind as it accelerates us into a new future. Blockchain is set to be as world changing as the Internet, so it would be wise for us non-techies to have some idea of where it might lead us, and what decisions we need to take to influence its application.
More on blockchain
- BBC business news January 2016 – How blockchain tech could change the way we do business
- In proof we trust – Blockchain technology will revolutionise far more than money: it will change your life. Here’s how it actually works by Dominic Frisby