Blockchain Won’t Change History

The great age of (dis)information. Blockchain is the only safeguard we have for protecting against the malicious use of technology to engineer social disruption.

I’ll start with the bad news: if you were hoping for FUD, this isn’t it.

Let’s discuss the role of society’s curators and how these Quiet Elves of Order actually play a fundamental role in our understanding of the world. Especially as we seem so talented at continually refining our rate of information production.

The Truth is Out There

I think of Reddit as an aggregator for ideas. Concepts are continuously pitched to groups of people and are given the opportunity to sink or swim.

One particularly fascinating Subreddit is r/UFOs (bear with me, Scully). Real or not, across the spectrum of subscribers there is a broad difference in how people opt to use information.

Some users choose to demand factual evidence. Others choose to vehemently back second-hand accounts.

Neither is wrong. The problem lies in our sketchy approach to recording history. Our education systems teach hand-me-down snippets of the past. Many cultures rehash the same timelines in vastly different ways.

The past becomes blurred as we move forward. German Philosopher, Walter Benjamin, alluded to this in his 1940 thesis, On the Concept of History. His metaphysical representation of consciousness, ‘The Angel of History’, is continuously stretched between trying to remember the past and also make progress.

We’re at the constant mercy of information overload.

So then… Blockchain Won’t Change History

It’s clear then that we largely undervalue curators. We’re increasingly relying on those that order the world around us as our IRL and digital spaces further intertwine.

But we can take this up a level. What’s even more powerful is records of events, research, or bodies of work that are agreed-upon by consensus and through decentralization. There could be a single and authenticated timeline of something, instead of it existing in many schizophrenic realities, like some sci-fi storyline.

This is a foundation for collaborative progress that focuses on building through shared, verified ways of thinking over the long-term. More so, introducing a tokenized structure for rewarding the efforts of curators, could feasibly engineer an ecosystem that self-perpetually prizes efficiency and accuracy through human endeavor.

We can see this creeping onto mainstream social media platforms already. Twitter Communities is embracing the effectiveness of curation by consensus, in a similar fashion to Reddit.

AI: All Imitation?

Blockchain is hanging on the coattails of AI right now. That’s fair enough, as we’ve barely tapped its potential.

We’ve also barely taken the time to appreciate the implications of having a near-infinite number of machines that look, sound, and feel convincingly human. 

Which would be fine if they didn’t have their own issues with history. There’s something about ChatGPT’s outsized ego, for example, that would rather see it create knowledge than accept it doesn’t know something. It’s still up for debate whether this is a chad or jerk move.

Introducing random information into a world that’s already frantically trying to cope with data overload is a recipe for chaos. Any productive value that AI could bring is immediately scrubbed out without checks and balances.

It’s also equally important to be mindful of non-neutral information. AI is continuously being ‘trained’ to be ‘socially-palatable’, but who ultimately defines that? And are their motivations transparent?

Stamp of Approval

As we see more practical implications of AI, and it plays an active role in society beyond just superlatives, we’ll experience an increasing demand for the kind of accountability that only blockchain can facilitate.

There is simply no other form of technology right now that lives and dies by its integrity. Which is ironic considering its perception away from Crypto Twitter.

But, in reality, this is just a tiny aspect of what decentralized networks are capable of. Curators as mediators of knowledge are the only straight line we have to clear understanding and consistent progress in this age of ballooning (dis)information.

Could we finally start protecting people against malevolent technology use, like propaganda and social media manipulation, and ease that general sense of society-wide anxiety growing around automation?