It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow. — Robert H. Goddard
Imagine a world without money as we know it.
Not a world without money, but one where that money means something different. Where it’s a tool of democracy and liberation. Where it’s run by communities, not governments and banks. Where currencies can grow, evolve, decline, and be removed from the system with no-one any the poorer for it.
If we do it right, that’s what cryptocurrency can bring.
The past decade has seen a huge debate about the global financial system. The 2008 crash proved a point that we should have learnt long before — that just because a system is run by banks and governments doesn’t mean that it’s going to work well. Businesses were relying on bankers and venture capitalists to fuel their growth. Those financiers, completely detached from the reality of everyday life, made decisions that had nothing to do with what society needed. They traded in increasingly complex financial units that weren’t about real value, creating a complex web that collapsed into ruin.
Skip forward ten years to now. Looking at how the old powerbrokers have responded to catastrophe, you might think that nothing has changed. In many areas, businesses are still reliant on bankers and venture capitalists. Currencies and economies are run by the old rules, the ones that caused us so much trouble in the past.
People are hoping for change, but that hope has not become a reality.
Skip forward another ten years, maybe twenty, maybe thirty, and we could see something very different.
Away from the mainstream, a radical transformation has been happening. Cryptocurrencies have allowed startups to seek funding not just from big finance but from ordinary people. Investors aren’t just men in suits and skyscrapers — they’re suburban moms, aspiring professionals, unemployed industrial workers living in trailer parks. They are anyone and everyone.
Cryptocurrencies are the ultimate act of globalization. Not just the flow of goods and resources freely around the world, but the creation of currencies with real freedom of movement. Currencies that are controlled not by nations but by international communities of interest. They’re growing in value and popularity. Soon, they could take over the financial world. In the process, they will transform it.
Think about the way that an ICO works. People come together to put money into a project they believe in. In return, they receive currency that will grow in value as the project does. Money that’s grounded in something real. Something that anyone, from an ordinary shop worker to a multi-million-dollar venture capitalist, can invest in.
Now think about what an economy based on this will look like. A diverse range of currencies, swirling around the globe like the eddies of an ocean. Each one flowing out from a community of people engaged in its product. People who understand how it works. People who care.
Those people become the custodians of the currency. They advocate for it, knowing the value that lies behind it. They spread the word about the company. As they spend the currency, they increase others’ awareness of it and of the value behind it.
The product, its linked company, and the community spread their influence together.
When people talk about the quest for artificial intelligence, they think about vast heaps of processors. But this is real, globe-spanning artificial intelligence. A mind built out of hundreds, thousands, millions of others. Knowledge of products and of value being channeled through ICOs , seeing the best currencies launched, then acting through those currencies to influence the world around them.
These aren’t currencies grounded in gold. They’ve been created for an age of transformation, and unlike those old currencies, change suits them.
New currencies will be founded to support new businesses in their rise. Thanks to the transparency of blockchain, people will be able to trust them, even if they’ve never seen them before. They can follow the record back to the company that put out the currency and to the community around it. They can see the expertise used to create this currency and to decide whether the ICO was worth backing. They will know whether or not this is something of substance.
Not all companies will last and neither will all currencies. As startups are absorbed by larger businesses, their currencies will be absorbed too. To ensure ownership, the new bosses will buy up the old currency, just as they currently buy up shares. And because their own currency’s value will also be recorded on blockchain, they’ll have to pay a fair price. Then they’ll quietly mothball the old currency, its days of usefulness past, its value absorbed.
Currencies will rise and fall, but the system around them will remain. One of communities become collective intelligence. One of human AIs creating crowdsourced wisdom.
In this world of blockchain finance, everything moves faster. Payments don’t have to go through banks but arrive almost instantly in the wallets of recipients. A payment can be made around the globe without incurring currency exchange fees.
Supply chains and business processes grow faster, as payments are technologically tied to transactions. No need to send in bills or invoices. The smart contract will pay out the fee.
It’s a future in which not just business but society will be transformed. If anyone can invest in a business, if anyone can peer into the workings of currency, then power is devolved away from the old elite. Governments, bankers, and venture capitalists may still have their place in the financial system. They might even become middlemen, helping others to engage with ICOs and new currencies. But their days of dominance will be over.
As currencies are tied to businesses and the value they produce, as the old functions of shares and currency merge through crypto, as blockchain brings transparency to transactions, the world will be transformed.
Maybe it’s just a dream. But the dream of today can become the reality of tomorrow. These shifts have already started. In a world hoping for change, can they be held back now?
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The Dream of Tomorrow was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.