tl;dr: A very powerful podcast questions whether we are content with giving up our personal freedom and exhibits the necessity for decentralized solutions.
One of my favorite podcasts is Exponential View with Azeem Azhar.
The range of topics, technology, and depth that he brings to conversations with the highest quality guests is just fantastic.
A recent episode, entitled Surveillance Capitalism with Shoshana Zuboff, is one that I think everyone needs to listen to.
It is as stark a reminder as you will find about the unique dangers inherent to the current models for our digitally dependent society.
Zuboff, in no uncertain times, explains how we are all digital serfs to a few technical oligarchs.
We often look at China as an example of a surveillance state, but Zuboff points out that the rest of us are living in one as well.
The big difference is just who is watching, not the fact that we are being watched.
We all love the convenience of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and the others, but we are willingly and mindlessly giving away our freedoms in return for it.
What’s more, because the data stores that these companies have on us and the algorithms that they use to drive our behavior are closely guarded secrets, we are in the dark about how our lives are being run.
The Washington Post (owned by Jeff Bezos) has been seeking to capitalize on the anti-Trump emotion with a tagline “Democracy Dies in the Darkness.”
The irony is that the darkness that Zuboff sees isn’t necessarily the Trump presidency, it’s the massive data centers of Amazon (and the others) themselves.
Zuboff’s challenge to us is to be more thoughtful about the trade-off and ask if it is worth it.
Given the possible threat to democracy, personal agency, and free will, it sounds like she thinks it isn’t.
I think she may be right.
Naturally, my first thought turned to how blockchains-by decentralizing data stores to protect individuals and allowing algorithms to be inspected- provides possible salvation.
Possible. Not guaranteed.
However, after listening to this podcast, I certainly felt a stronger sense of purpose about why decentralized solutions are not just nice to have, but a must-have.
The Blockchain Liberation was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.