Archives For Economics

Cryptocurrencies Are SO Money

September 18, 2017

The purpose of this post is to explain in simple terms why cryptocurrencies are not a currency, not an asset, not a store of value, and not an investment. With apologies to the guys from the film Swingers, cryptocurrencies are (so) money.

What is Money?

Money was invented to be a physical (and now digital) representation of productive energy. Whether it is the energy from sun, soil, water and toil used to grow an ear of corn, or the labor and resources expended in painting your house, the energy spent practicing and performing music, or getting your CPA so that you can attest to a client’s properly reported financial statements, it’s all derived from energy and it all has a dynamic value when measured in terms of money. Blockchain miners might agree with that run-on sentence. Is there a difference between currency and money? With regard to cryptocurrencies, that may be the crux of the problem.

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I feel that in 2016 we find ourselves on the precipice of so many major technology-driven transformations that it was impossible for someone like myself not to be overly self-indulgent in better understanding the many trends and their driving forces. If you appreciate the magnitude of what’s coming, you’ll understand I chose the term ‘precipice’ for good reason. Life in 10 to 20 years will be quite different than it is now. Though it may seem to some in 2025 0r 2035 that the evolution was gradual, the impact will probably be lumpy to many.

As has been the case with previous tech driven change, there will be positive and negative impacts, but I believe that the impacts will be felt more soundly by wide swaths of the population than in prior times. Imagine what life will be like the day after cancer is cured. Imagine how many drivers will lose their profession once self-driving vehicles become the norm. Imagine how good you will feel when a high performance pill is taken that has been personalized to your genetic makeup. Imagine the financial markets when the world turns to the bitcoin currency standard. Imagine the perfect prime rib steak being grown in a lab without the collateral damage of bovine methane that contributes to global warming. Imagine the townspeople arriving with their pitchforks as described by Nick Hanauer if economic disparity is left to grow unmanaged. Imagine being able to solve almost any problem perfectly by buying some cheap AI over the web. Then imagine the person who you used to pay to solve that problem wondering what they are going to do for income and how they will pay off the loans on their PHD.

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English: The monk Samten who came to Samye Lin... English: The Tibetan monk Samten who came to Samye Ling with Sherab Palden Beru around 1967. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog post is the third of a four-part series on the Hotel California Scenario for future social, local and mobile media, apps, platforms, and solutions (SOLOMO). In the first post, I likened lyrics from The Eagles Hotel California to a future SOLOMO scenario where the User is the Interface, The World is the Computer, and the Situation is the Network. The second post suggested that it will be increasingly possible to do an “end-around” your smartphone passcode lock to access the sophisticated, powerful and user-friendly data mining that play a central role in the highly personalized experience we are coming to expect. This third post explores legalities and practicalities of privacy rights, emerging use cases, and possible outcomes. I am not an attorney, nor consider myself an expert on digital privacy, but I can read the tea leaves on where we are headed.

Can Anyone Keep Up with Privacy TOS?

The companies creating what I am calling the Hotel California future want to provide you with offerings that you will pay for because they improve lives and business performance. There will be other less obvious costs as well, highlighted ahead.

New SOLOMO product introduction is rampant and adoption is rapid. Generally, this indicates that no one wants to be labeled a Luddite, and expectations are high that new technology delivers advantages. In this type of insatiable market setting, who has time to read every line of a Terms of Service (TOS) document, or to recheck boxes every time privacy rules change?

In the last post, I covered how data mining will be done regardless of passwords and passcodes. NetFlix just succeeded in changing a law to allow sharing of your viewing history on social media. This means, figuratively for now, that your television can watch and report on you, and most people do not even own connected TV’s yet.  There appears to be some sort of after the fact opt-in clause that is unclear to me, however, it must be renewed every 2 years.  Is the renewal of your privacy rights on everything from robocalls to social media platforms to television to perhaps offline shopping eavesdropping really going to be programmed into everyone’s to do lists?

Moreover, if you download an app that you only use once and then shelve with the other 100 apps, don’t be surprised if the TOS you agreed to when downloading the app allows continued data mining and/or rights to your data.  Repeatedly forgoing these rights, whether through the TOS or expiration of opt-ins, is a cost of your new free service or inexpensive app.

The free and freemium service platforms and apps that are so helpful to us can also require approving lengthy CYA terms of service so protective that you’d need a team of lawyers to distinguish the egregious from the simply liberal. Of course, a quick policy change can turn what is the simply liberal today into the egregious tomorrow.  At some point, regressive analytics turned into predictive analytics and that will soon give way to persuasive analytics – how do we get you to buy a product you would not ordinarily try, or go somewhere you would not ordinarily go?  This has been a core goal of any marketing for decades, but the manners in which it will be done are changing rapidly. For example, which friends can we enlist, knowingly or otherwise, to persuade you using new forms of digital multi-level marketing? Does anyone really think that last month’s Instagram policy over-reach on their rights to market using your photos will never be repeated by another friendly startup with an innocuous cartoon logo? Changing policies that affect how others view you are another cost of using free platforms.

Today’s Evolving Models of SOLOMO Data Capture

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English: Jack Dorsey and Barack Obama at Twitt... English: Jack Dorsey and Barack Obama at Twitter Town Hall in July 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption]

This is the second part of a 2 part blog on evolving government power.  The first was entitled “Why Tax Rates Must Rise On The Top 2%”

What has already changed regarding the essence of power vis a vis changing media? The ability to consolidate popular power via ownership of major media and traditional forms of power is continuously waning, especially within key growing segments of the electorate like busy Moms, Hispanics, African-Americans, and of course, youth. Anyone with a blog, a Twitter and Facebook account or similar social media, can broadcast and promote ideas one to everyone, globally, instantaneously at almost no cost. Moreover, adoption past the chasm is bringing us to a “tipping point” of personalized anytime anywhere any form media as the preferred means of receiving mass communication. Witness, that the current administration has recently asked us to tweet to hashtag #my2k in order to force the opposition’s hand in lowering tax rates for 98% of Americans. They’ve begun to take the power of social media past the election, and into the governing. It is clear that news and opinion is being digested differently, and given the relative costs of the web versus cable TV we can expect to see more media channel substitution in coming years.  Once Apple shows us how it has “cracked the code” on TV, we may well see a spike in substitution that shifts our attention for a decade or more.

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The answer to all world problems that will manifest themselves in grave ways in coming generations can be summed up in one word: Innovation. – Ed Rodriguez

Innovation