I always find it amusing that some of the biggest critics of disruptive technology trends are often technologists. Whenever our senior IT team gets together, I am often criticized with the phrase “that’s impossible”. It reminds me of Einstein’s famous quote, “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.
In much the same way, it has been almost impossible for engineers and investors of my generation to consider secure decentralized information stores and data processing for the future. Instead, they worry about building bigger data centers and more centralized cloud storage. Or they pin their hopes on intellectual property and copyright in a world where information is becoming free faster than ever. To me, these priorities are like investing in pressed vinyl or cellulose film when magnetic tape was becoming popular.
Today’s focus on “big” flies in the face of history. Software-based big routing and massive storage centers are all the craze right now, even as self-healing meshes and wireless beam-forming technologies become more evident. It is almost as if everyone forgot the PC revolution. Or even the story of humankind: distributed decentralized systems resonate with our evolutionary collective consciousness, and we were highly distributed highly independent egalitarian societies for close to two hundred thousand years.
To think we can quell our human nature, in the long run, by artificially limiting resources through outdated models of hierarchal centralization, powered by unrealistic mentality based upon the psychology of loss aversion, is just naive. This point can be illustrated by this quote by Elon Musk about fossil fuels, “If we know we have to get off oil no matter what, we know it’s an inescapable outcome, why run this crazy experiment of changing the chemical composition of the oceans and air by adding enormous amounts of CO2 that have been buried since the Precambrian era?”
We know there is limitless potential in decentralized processing and data storage. We’ve already successfully created a fully functional and secure P2P environment on the global internet. Why wouldn’t we focus on developing a global mesh of decentralized nodes, using Blockchain to manage it?
The decentralization of technological power – and human history – has made the shape of the future easy to predict. We, as individuals, hold more power than any time in the past century. And we literally hold it in the palms of our hands. The writing is on the walls: we are the forefront of the next great wave of disruptive technology. Beware to those filling data warehouses with the current storage craze: the next wave is bound to make your Blockbuster platform obsolete. Although I do hear vinyl is making a comeback.