Social singularity versus government-led society
Evolution remains a fundamental aspect of every species and human beings cannot be left out of it. The evolution of a species as a biological entity forms a major definition of the world, but species also evolve socially and culturally even though these two forms can be dynamic and may be more subjective as they tend to vary from geographical locations to another.
The fact is, human beings are never static as a collective or individual entity, we pick up new beliefs and new ways of living and in some cases, these new lifestyles or forms of living can be a general way of living for almost all mankind, take for example the stone age, such an era was a significant moment in the life of every human being living on planet earth.
However, the truth is, humans actively evolve and outgrow every era; we seem to be so powerful and progressive naturally that we always find a way to want more from the social or cultural value that we can gain from a unique era, it is, therefore, possible to predict and follow signs that point to this inescapable occurrence.
Sometimes, evolutionary events don’t affect everyone directly as can be seen with the social and lifestyle effects of landmark inventions like the steam engine or electricity as not everyone on the earth has actually used electricity but still, the effects of electricity on the social dynamics of the human race is revolutionary.
The further innovations that have been built on it, its effect on power generation and industrial output has made life easier and consequently made us adjust our lifestyle to fully capture the value therein, which is a major theme of innovation that would be stressed in this article — every landmark technology brings its own culture.
A typical example is how the internet generation, is one that has created a culture of convenience, ease, and speed; the rise of digital apps and software have made people more inclined to seek faster and more convenient solutions, while other platforms like social media apps — still innovation borne out of the advantage of the internet — have connected more people than ever before and has arguably made the social ‘media generation’ to be one that might just prefer to be left alone or introverted as they connect and chat from the comfort of their homes, the point is, every landmark technology or innovation brings about a new culture.
So what can we predict to be a new era or landmark technological invention that would contribute immensely to the next shape the human race will most likely take as it evolves? There are signs both technologically and socially that can help us make a near to accurate prediction of the values the new and upcoming generation is seeking and the various forms of innovation and platforms that are leading this imminent change, a fuse of cultural or social inclination and technological innovation effects, would make any such prediction very likely, this article is about a future that is already upon us and the factors and pointers to this predicted era.
Government: Accountability and shortcomings
Governments and public institutions are one of the best things to happen to mankind; it gave us structure and enforces the social contract even in supposed pro-communist settings, it happened that there needed to be a central body that governed or distributed value — healthcare, finance, infrastructure, quality education, and the likes.
Governments also gave us accountability and a ‘someone to blame for our misfortune’ platform as we can either publicly or privately call out the government for failing to live up to their promises or standards we expect them to meet.
However, the shortcomings of a central government start amongst many others from the power given to the government by the people.
Firstly, despite government officials meant to be public servants, most of these individuals — especially in developing states — have become oppressive people who take advantage of the power given to them by the people and accrue almost all advantages to themselves and their family while they fail to fulfill the promises made to citizens.
The supposed democratic system remains one of the biggest farce in modern societies primarily due to the dynamics at play in politics; politics remain one of the major themes in governance and it simply involves power play and not necessarily what benefits the people in the long run.
Politics has ensured that even before final candidates are presented for people to vote for, political parties present candidates that they feel have the best chance of winning, and then you consider another aspect in most developing economies whereby in some cases the masses are being influenced by food and money prior to elections and the outright buying of votes all of which indicate that politics remain a big issue in the dynamics of the central government.
Also, more importantly, a shortcoming is the effects a central government has on us and how we expect the government to do everything for us; obviously, it is the duty of the government to provide basic amenities and infrastructure as we pay our taxes.
But asides from the shortcomings and unaccountability of the government as stated in the paragraph above, the government has become a body that people pass their failures on and some lazy people do not even seek ways to gain value in the society by creating one.
And thus it has created a cycle of dependency and ‘slavery’ as institutions like schools are being set up historically to ensure that more and more people are drafted back into the industry to work leaving hardly anyone with a chance to be creative or autonomous in thinking.
However, as I would show in this article, the world is becoming a different proposition; a collection of individual people and institutions who are not hampered by borders, who are aware of their individual values and abilities, and are self-autonomous while still not forgetting the importance of collectiveness, we are approaching a social singularity.
Social Singularity Vs Government-Led Society
The social singularity is everything a government-led society isn’t, it sounds counter-intuitive because social singularity might imply central authority but it isn’t.
Social singularity implies a decentralized system where everyone is their own government hence we have equal shot at life.
It’s funny how it is actually centralization that divides us while decentralization unites us (a theory this article would show further, especially when we get to the paragraph that analyses social media against mass media).
The social singularity is a government-less society with each individual having unique values (like a unique token) and this individual has all the resources, platforms, and self-autonomy to monitor and improve the value of his or her ‘token’.
In this predicted world, one would have every information and self-capability to create and transact with a unique measurement of value without the presence of an intermediary or middle man.
It’s a form of human existence that is fast approaching and would create a world where my importance depends on me and me alone but my success still depends on the ability to create values for other people.
The Great Unbundling: The rise of aggregators and platforms
It’s quick to forget the times when newspapers were like necessities in every home; the newspaper vendors were very vital as many had to keep up with the necessity to stay informed and updated.
Newspaper advertisement was so priceless in those days and only the elites and top brands could afford to promote or pass the information on the ‘dailies’ and it was always seen as a competitive edge in terms of creating marketing awareness and publicity.
However, if I asked you to read this article when you last picked a newspaper to stay updated about events and happenings, you would most likely remember when you have to wonder what really happened? How did such a massive entity like the print media become almost irrelevant? I think we all know why, you are most likely already uttering “the internet of course” yes, it’s the internet.
The internet has changed a lot of things and how we see the world, but one can hardly point to a more disrupted industry like the information sector; the emergence of social media and search engine platforms like Google have completely changed how we access information and is contributing massively to the social singularity.
Before you had to watch the television, listen to the radio, or buy a newspaper before you could get updated, but now information seems to be everywhere especially at our fingertips, in fact, we seem to be complaining about information clutter.
Note, this section not just talks about the effect of the internet on newspapers but also on all forms of traditional forms or channels of mass media.
For us to truly appreciate the effect of this transition, it is vital to understand the dynamics and transition of value that occurred as the mass media was unbundled, it’s important to understand how the great unbundling is contributing to the social singularity.
The disintegration of the mass media as a central entity remains the sole factor behind the rise of social media and the fluidity of information in the internet era.
Google remains the first and best example of the glut of information that exists in the society; the search engine giants created a platform that allowed anyone in the world to find any information they want on the internet, but not just that, Google created a decentralized platform for information providers, educational scholars, and businesses to create a channel for anyone to see their information.
Such seamless and decentralized power further rendered mass media and print media platforms like Newspapers, less essential. Prior to the rise of Google and Social media platforms like Facebook, Newspapers were firmly in-between the transfer and flow of information, and this ‘chasm’ or barricade model was what platforms like Google and Facebook actively unbundled.
Facebook as a social media platform, while creating a user experience for people to network and share excitements, created a platform that decentralized the ability to pass across information via Facebook Ads for business owners or by your large massive followers.
Many small businesses and startups have been able to compete effectively against top brands who are able to pay for large commercials on televisions or other forms of mass media platforms, these businesses have the access to a large audience despite not using a television or mass media outlet.
This nature of platforms like Google and Facebook have unified the information technology on a single platform called the internet but fragmented and decentralized the channels and ability to disseminate information, with only the internet, anyone can share any information they want without any restriction.
The Internet: Revolutionizing education?
In a world where information is being termed as “too much”, it was only inevitable that the fluidity of information of the internet age crept into education also.
When you consider that education majorly involves strategically informing someone to become a useful citizen as a member of the society or in any field of career, then it became unavoidable for the internet to become a place for educating people, once the information could be transferred strategically.
Firstly, strategically here means that the information is well-tailored to the individual needs, interests, and levels of the listeners which is something that the various forms of social media and ‘Edu-tech’ platforms have been able to accomplish.
The internet has become a platform for various forms of educational channels; a search engine like Google has made it possible for you to look up the meaning of any word, research about a topic, hence satisfying any form of curiosity one might have.
A platform like YouTube has become known for letting people watch videos on the ‘know-how’ of numerous things, it’s hard to think of anything you can’t watch a video about on YouTube with even students sometimes having to watch YouTube videos online for better understanding of whatever they have been taught, the likes of Udemy and Coursera on the other hand, have become successful brands and unicorns by being a place for learning seamlessly and breaking the barriers of location or economy.
An African can access numerous courses from top institutions in various fields of learning, without having to travel to these foreign institutions, in fact, one can pay for a course certification via these ‘Edu-tech’ platforms.
All of these possibilities combined with the information one can get from a micro-blogging platform like Twitter or Medium means that the pull of institutions keeps reducing even more than ever before.
It’s not like people do not rate school, but the rise of remote working and freelancing (to be discussed extensively in the latter part of this article), means many people can just go online and get the necessary skill and knowledge they need to carry out their jobs or improve their professional or technical skills.
Therefore, many people are increasingly becoming skilled and knowledgeable by just spending more time online. The implication of this continuance increase in accessing information means that the pull of the conventional academic setting is gradually waning and plays a major role in the occurrence of the social singularity being predicted.
This internet effect on education as a promoter of the social singularity, is not an isolation factor like most being discussed in this article as they all seem to be working together to bring about the new era.
And besides online learning is also being adopted by conventional universities and schools, but, the availability and adoption of the internet as a place where anyone can learn whatever they want and get gigs or jobs, means that an era of independence and decentralized learning, is upon us.
Bitcoin: We don’t need the Feds!
Money is not just a means of transaction or store of value, it is an economic tool, a signal of power, and even a political asset, which is why most successful and powerful countries are usually the most economically buoyant.
Hence, when it comes to money, he who controls the factors of production or the regulation of money tends to have more power and the most valuable currencies tend to be the standard for other currencies as can be seen with the US Dollars on the international market.
It is therefore not surprising that the government has always been responsible via the central bank, for the printing and regulation of fiat currency and have even ensured that the central bank has a strategic collaboration with commercial banks in their countries.
However, in 2009, a new currency that would revolutionize how we see money became open-source; Bitcoin has changed and enforced what money really is.
The cryptocurrency has enforced the definition of money as anything generally accepted as a means of exchange of value and not necessarily what the government insists money should look like.
The implication of Bitcoin being a sovereign currency has changed the position people think a government should have in how a currency should be regulated.
Bitcoin is a decentralized solution that leverages Blockchain technology to ensure that every transaction is secure and stored instantaneously on each node across the entire system.
Which means there is the privacy of data for any owner of bitcoin, thus removing any need for a central institution like Central bank.
When you make a transaction using a commercial bank, your records are kept, but when you make a transaction on Bitcoin, the data is distributed across several ledgers meaning no one can have access to your personal data because firstly, the transaction is peer-to-peer with no intermediary and secondly, there are no leakages of data on the net after a transaction.
Therefore, Bitcoin is the first invention that leaves the federal government with no back door or access to monitor it, which can be translated as bypassing the government completely.
One thing about the government is that they do not like being left out or not given the chance to decide on monitoring a major platform — especially one that affects global finance and money.
And that is why it’s no surprise that Bitcoin has received major pushbacks from various governments in the world with some countries even banning the popular cryptocurrency, but the clampdown from the government has not stopped the growth of Bitcoin.
Since January 2020, bitcoin has gained 160%, and just recently this month(November), financial analysts and Bitcoin Investors are betting that the cryptocurrency can quintuple to as high as $100,000 in a year.
This is not just a fluke period of growth for Bitcoin as the digital currency, despite its volatility, as risen in value over the year and about three years ago in 2017, Bitcoin’s price surged more than 1,000 percent, in fact, to best describe the growth of the currency over the years in one sentence: if you had bought 1$ worth of Bitcoin in 2009, it would be worth more than $4million today!
And as of the 5th November 2020, there are close to a 56million wallets created worldwide which a testament to the massive adoption of Cryptocurrency and its enviable network effects, despite it just being 10 years old.
The criticism labeled by skeptics against the digital currency was that it would be difficult for it to be adopted for mainstream and everyday applications and as such it can never be termed as money.
But Bitcoin has surpassed the expectation of many people and has seen its adoption increase even in conventional transactions and application.
Major digital platforms like PayPal and square amongst many other companies, have begun to accept payments in Bitcoin, while in emerging markets like Africa, Bitcoin seemed to have also found a home, which is a remarkable feat considering the nature of tech adoption in Africa compared to the western world.
As I said, it’s not been plain sailing for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but the signs are promising as more and more people love the idea of transacting on a platform that is secure and protects their data as the rise of data privacy infringement by big tech companies and even government entities has made a lot of people seek a solution that can secure and protect their data completely.
As expected, government institutions have pointed out that the platform has been used by some people for hiding their financial assets, but then not everyone wants to use Bitcoin to hide their assets but it seems like almost everyone wants to use the platform to be in control of their assets and away from the prying access of the government or any central body.
A very practical example was the #ENDSARS protest against police brutality in 2020 by Nigerians, where the bank accounts of protesters receiving donations for advancing the movement, was blocked by the central bank of the country, the protesters switched to Bitcoin and used a crypto wallet to continue the donations.
Such level of autonomy away from the government is what Bitcoin has given this generation and is one of the reasons why many of the new generations keep flocking towards the digital currency.
The adoption of Bitcoin keeps increasing and more and more people are adopting it — even Warren Buffet after previously calling it to rat poison — therefore, it only adds to the other factors that are contributing majorly to the social singularity and the era of decentralization that is upon us.
Decentralized Finance (DeFi): Removing middlemen
Finance is almost at the heart of every innovation; in the process of exchanging value people sought ways to make transactions easier or borderless.
We invented money when the barter system was less effective and even then money has evolved from paper to coin and the likes, commerce remains a major factor in the reason or advancement of innovation.
However, as more humans are continually adopting the internet and social media in their daily lives it is becoming more obvious that finance is being built on technology so as not to miss out.
The emergence of Fin-tech and cryptocurrency has led to an increasing rise in the number of payment platforms and other digital financial platforms.
The drive towards financial inclusion has also validated the efforts put in place by Fin-tech platforms as more and more people are being turned from unbanked to banked, financially underserved to financially served, financially excluded to financially included, and e-commerce and payments platforms are also contributing to the drive towards borderless transactions and convenience shopping, we absolutely live and are moving towards a time where more and more people are going to be able to access adequate financial services irrespective of location, literacy and other supposed individual or collective shortcomings.
However, there still remains a persistent problem in the evolution of financial services into a more digitalized and inclusive platform: centralization.
Centralization in finance involves the existence of structured bodies like the Central Bank with arms that extend into other private entities.
For example, even though a commercial bank or digital platform like MasterCard is privately owned, these platforms only operate with the backing of central institutions like the central bank, hence, although these platforms make money for themselves, they still operate from a centralized point.
The problem with centralization as having been engaged sustainably in this article, is the interference and skewed advantages that occur in such systems.
Think about it, when you make a payment with your MasterCard, although there may be no one standing in front of you, MasterCard as a company and will charge you a fee for every transaction and with regards to applying for loans, the present financial mechanism charges a lot on interest while richer people usually benefit more from this system, hence further increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.
In solving these underlying problems of centralization, interference, and large interest rates is where Decentralized Finance(DeFi) comes in.
Decentralized finance is arguably the most exciting prospect in the digital currency space after Bitcoin, the platform as the name suggests completely removes middlemen from financial transactions while giving everyone an equal platform.
Defi gives everyone a chance to be their own financial institution; with DeFi, I can mine my own currencies, loan out money for interest, or take loans from other people using the platform, without the help of any central financial institutions.
DeFi completely removes middlemen from the equation and the bureaucracies or inequality that accompanies these systems.
Although relatively new compared to Bitcoin and has suffered a few setbacks also, DeFi is already a promising platform with its user base increasing and more people adopting it because of the increasing adoption of Bitcoin pushing people to know more about cryptocurrency and other decentralized solutions like Decentralized Finance (DeFi).
One can only imagine the world we would have as many of the young ones are continually adopting crypto and DeFi: everyone would have the ability to make their own financial institution and create and exchange value seamlessly.
It would be an era where the favoritism the upper class enjoyed due to the presence of middlemen, would be removed and more and more people can access basic financial services and contribute actively to global economic growth and prosperity.
Because everyone would be solely responsible for what they have and how they use it in creating more from themselves at a scale more decentralize and autonomous as ever seen in the entire existence of man.
Freelancing and Remote working: The end of the “9–5” era
History has it that the educational system was designed to help transition citizens to be effective industrial workers who worked from 9 am to 5 pm each working day.
The “9–5” was a time of professional automation as people majorly went to school to be useful in the industry, creativity barely mattered much as long as you could operate the machine assigned to you, and autonomy barely exists as many people worked hard on pre-defined operations schedule so they could one day retire.
It was a time centralization and monopoly were at their peaks and the successful men of those days usually had political affiliations with the government.
The school system has never really changed even though we evolved slightly from a totally industrial setting to more corporate bodies; most educational institutions are still only concerned about “passing exams” and not necessarily building creatives and autonomous thinkers.
And many people who finished from school can hardly build a life for themselves if they can’t get a job.
The exceptions are usually those who try and read extensively away from the confinement of the academic curriculum and also try to build their personal capacity and skills.
In this article we have already engaged the role the internet is playing in building more autonomous and creative thinkers, however, what is even more powerful is how the world is shaping up to accommodate more of these people and looking more likely that only those who build their overall capacities will be fit to work in this new era.
The emergence of contingency workers have changed the face of the global workforce; many companies and startups have begun to hire more freelancers to carry out most of their operations due to the reduced cost compared to staffing full time while they need to keep up with the pace of technology has made many firms quickly outsource technological operations to contingent workers who can quickly get the job done and fuse their operations with latest technologies.
The advantage of freelancing — boosted obviously by the internet and its innovations — is that the barriers of locations have been completely removed from workplaces as companies can hire employees from other countries without having to worry about the costs of transportation or accommodation as these people can even work fulltime from their homes due to ERPs and SaaS platforms like Slack or Zoom.
Remote working is becoming more and more normalized — boosted also by the pandemic the struck the whole world — as companies like Shopify have gone fully remote.
While others have begun partial remote working for their staffs, the signs are also there as many HR and people analytics experts are predicting and providing models that can help big and small firms transition into full remote working.
The internet is obviously at the center of it all, as most companies deal with providing software solutions and employees can write their codes from the comfort of their homes.
Remote working and freelancing is also very flexible and autonomous as most freelancers actually work for themselves and not necessarily for these companies.
They most times juggle more than one job and are paid based on pre-defined hours, a complete opposite of the strict and rigid “9–5” system.
Therefore, I don’t need to belong to a corporate institution fully, I have the autonomy to work from my home, choose the number of jobs I can handle, and decide to drop some gigs if I am feeling burned out.
Final Note: Piecing it all together
To connect all the dots, take a minute to visualize this sentence: I can learn anything on the internet, I can use this knowledge to increase my skills and abilities, I can use these skills to get a job on the internet irrespective of my location, I can make transactions in Bitcoin without the need of any central authority or the government, with Decentralized Finance (DeFi) I can even act as a financial institution by giving out loans and can even access one yet without an intermediary or the government, how amazing!
You and I are autonomous, and although a lot still needs to be done, we are almost there, an era where I and I alone can create a unique value for everyone and transact with it for the betterment of the community, no one would be able to survive alone because the whole world would be so interconnected due to the peer-to-peer nature of this new era, but everyone would be autonomous and independent and the quality of your life will be determined by the value you create and how you sustain and improve it. This new era is already upon us.
Social Singularity: A New Era Is Upon Us was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.