Bitcoin — Subverting the Would-be Gatekeepers, Overlords, and Central Scrutinizers
by Chris T. Armstrong
I was having an online discussion with someone about groups of “elites” and their power over other people/groups. My contention was that there are many technological innovations that have happened and are continuing to happen that are tending to cut out the “gatekeepers” — those whose permission we once needed to acquire in order to participate in certain (many) activities/industries. His contention was that there have always be elites, historically, who impose their will on others and he saw no reason that that would change in the future. I said:
“Well, history is the past…and it is a non-Transhuman, non-Singularity past. The future may not only be more different than we imagine. It may be more different than we CAN imagine. Your argument presupposes that there will always be elites and they won’t be ‘obsoleted’ by future technological developments that disintermediate them.
He went on do say he distrusts ANY group and thought that groups, per se, wield power over individuals.
I think Bitcoin may be a good example of a large group of people — a “decentralized network” — whose system has cut out middle-men and does not control individuals who use it. In the past 10 or more years, we have seen several examples where the gatekeepers have been undermined and replaced by systems that are not controlled by any “central scrutinizer.” That is not to say that Bitcoin has perfect security and cannot be undermined my an “evil-doer.” It is still evolving, but so far it seems to be a good example of huge groups of people working together and autonomously without a controlling “overlord.”