“The fate of all of us here has been to know that we are prisoners of power. No one knows why us in particular, but what a great fortune!”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Oligarchy of Programmers?


A twitter interaction with Pietro led to him sharing with me the following video:

I do think that bitcoin as an amazing technological innovation (that may give birth to other valuable inventions), but I also believe it is, for now, a useless one. If to embrace the metaphor from the video – bitcoin is like the invention of the engine. However the engine itself is a useless thing to anyone but engineers who understand and can work with engines. And engineers can speak passionately about what can be done with this engine but that doesn’t make the engine anymore useful. For an engine to become useful someone must transform it into something non-engineers can use – a car, a boat, a tractor, a plane, a drill, whatever. Doing that is way outside the skillset of engineers.

For all the wonderful things described in the video to come to life there is a huge road of end-user product development ahead. Who is going to do that?

Open Source Developers? Though I am a big fan of and live almost entirely with open-source software there is one thing that open-source, as a community, fails to do – and that is to create end-user products. The amazing proliferation of Linux is not as an end-user product but as an engine developed by engineers for other engineers. So I do not see the open-source community being able to deliver the promised future in the video.

Venture Capitalists? So far most (if not all) of the developments that have given public awareness and rise to bitcoin have been made by people with parasitic vested interests – to exploit bitcoin for profit. Their entire mentality (from business models to code) is closed and is a parasite on top of the open system. Given the generic abilities of the bitcoin system – there is nothing to prevent parasites from attaching themselves to it. If you are engineer involved in bitcoin you can get along (have a wallet) without help from anyone else. But everyone else is going to have to through the parasites to gain acces … and the parasites are going bring with them fees … but more importantly exploitation … they are going to bring with them the same faulty mentalities that have brought us to where we are. That is a change that takes more then technology.

Either way – bitcoin is going to both feed an already vast digital divide and move power from finance geeks to  software geeks.

What is amazing to me is how, in the most practical way, bitcoin has almost zero relevancy to my actual day-to-day life. Granted I do not live a typical life, but my life is at a kind of middle-ground between those living in the comforts and delusions of technology and those who will either go to sleep hungry today or slave through the day for their food. Zero relevance. That itself is a problem, but a bigger problem is that the makers of this technology cannot see it.

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