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My own 2013 book Catalyst: A Techno-Liberation Thesis offered a prediction of the political future, viewing the near-term future as a time of crisis shaped by the nature of technology and the slowness of states to adjust to it. As this struggle becomes more acute, guarded new technologies will also get stolen and overflow across borders, going global and penetrating every country before they were intended to. States and large companies will react with bans and lies as they try to save their monopolies. Ultimately, over a longer time-frame, the nation-state system will collapse because of this pressure and an uncertain successor system of governance will emerge. It will look like “hell on earth” for a time, but it will stabilize in the end. We will become new political animals with new allegiances, shaped by the crisis, much as the Thirty Years’ War brought about our Westphalian nation-state model. Six years on from my book, are we any closer to what I predicted?

  1. The internet is “liberating” and “empowering” in a political sense (pp. 2, 3)
    • Uncertain outcome. Will current habits of censorship, de-platforming and other techno-enslavement as a result of controversies like “Russiagate” persist or are they temporary? If the economically or commercially favorable course is one of freedom and the removal of all filters and bans, will we see a reversal in the next few years? As younger politicians replace the old, will the internet become a sacred anarchy again?
  2. “Duplicitous policies” preserve the status of rich countries as exploiters and bullies (p. 11)
    • Yes, and it is increasingly obvious. Such policies became exposed and visible under the Trump administration, which openly declares its national interest to lie in the economic deprivation of others and sabotage of their tech. This has been criticized as harmful to free trade, and has been described as “de-globalization”. Even Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked that the tech war complicates the issue of global inequality (a rare observation seemingly asserted only in the Catalyst Thesis before recently).
  3. “Nano” and “bio” appliances will be in the household and will “shrink” production processes, abridging these processes so they are not corporate or state controlled and are in the “hands of the people” (p. 15)
    • This is uncertain. If there has been progress towards this outcome, it is not visible and has not had a major impact on world events. The possibility of it has started to cause concern for states and monopolistic schemes, but this is more in the ‘alarm’ stage rather than the ‘ban’ stage. More time may be needed, before this trend has a deeper impact on society.
  4. The nation-state system is being weakened by technology, media and globalization (p. 16), anti-state forces are “winning”
    • Well, not really. As of 2019, unless everything we just saw was a hiccup in the grand plan of history, the “ideological mask” of exploitation and division — the nation-state system — has reasserted itself. In almost every policy area in every country, the clock is running backward towards nationalism, censorship, borders, walls, and deep paranoia. Almost everyone on the political left and right is part of the problem, wittingly or unwittingly. Whether you support Trump or think he’s a Russian asset, or even care, your views and values are right out of the Nineteenth Century. We have seen the defeat of net neutrality, along with the passive acceptance of censorship on social media in the foolish assumption it will only be used on targets we dislike or who went too far. There seems to have been a lack of any major follow-up disclosures of government abuses on the scale of Edward Snowden’s, and whether it will ever happen again is questionable. With all these things considered, “losing” might be a better description of the situation for anti-government techno-politics as of 2019. If what is happening is not a minor disruption in the flow of history, it is consequential for the Catalyst Thesis and severely undermines its value. If the “soft” battle is lost as described above, and we revert to a society dominated entirely by strong states and corporations, the “hard” battle of techno-liberation may never start in our lifetimes.
  5. Historical transitions are “dark and filled with reaction” (p.23)
    • Yes. This appears to still be the case. The reaction may be what we are already facing, as all elites invested in the old system desperately try to suppress the global political will, motivated by fear of a new world order in which they are demoted.
  6. “Open-borders global political will” will form as a result of the internet, translation software, and the difficulty of statists in managing the overflow of popular technologies and their users (pp. 24, 25)
    • Yes. Almost every attempt by the media conglomerates and/or state to create a uniform public opinion about an election, a global issue, a scandal, etc. is failing because of alleged foreign “trolls”. They cannot be stopped because the internet’s circulatory system is not for one nation, but completely open to the world. That is the whole point of it, the reason it is the internet. The US 2016 election was the most visible example of the loss of control. Repressive and paranoid statements ensued. But, as of 2019, governments and media still gasp at the results they are getting.
  7. We will see new or experimental technologies shared illegally, the way information is leaked (p. 37)
    • Uncertain. Edward Snowden and Wikileaks do not seem to have captured as many imaginations as they should have, given how central they have been in the story of the internet. It is difficult to argue that the next generation will be even more rebellious, if they are to grow up in a much more monitored and conformist society. If the anarchy of the internet is going to be stopped and the smallest infractions punished as treason, this will damage the thinking of younger people who should have grown up noticing the contradictions in society. If, on the other hand, younger people are increasingly trained to be highly capable in the cyber-world (e.g. coding classes), we may see an even bigger generation of cypherpunk rebels accidentally raised by the state.

Catalyst is read in less than a day, and can be found on Kindle as well as in print. It was written to bring together a number of ideas and predictions I presented in articles at the IEET website, h+ Magazine, and other websites and includes full lists of sources. If you prefer to see more first, follow @CatalystThesis on Twitter or sign up to the email newsletter.

An Interview with Jennifer Gidley

by Tracey Follows, Founder/Director of the Female Futures Bureau

Jennifer Gidley is a former President of the World Futures Studies Federation (2009−2017), a UNESCO and UN partner and global peak body for futures studies scholarship, she led a network of hundreds of world leading futures scholars and researchers from around the globe. An adjunct Professor at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS in Sydney, futurist, author, psychologist and educator, Jennifer is a prolific author of dozens of academic papers, serves on several academic boards, and most recently authored Postformal Education: A Philosophy for Complex Futures (Springer, 2016) & The Future: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2017).

Tracey: I spoke to Jennifer about her perspective on Female Futures.

One of the issues we discuss a lot at The Female Futures Bureau is why more female futurists don’t have a higher profile. And Jennifer agrees that it’s not because they aren’t around:

“I actually believe there are a large number of female futurists globally, and probably always have been. I would suggest that there are as many women involved in futures studies and foresight work as there are men…”

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David Brin: “Our midweek posting resumes the ongoing saga of transparency and freedom, and how (surprise?) each year’s declared “secure” system gets stripped bare, in the next. Now it’s Yahoo and Equifax and Billions of records. Millions of sincere people can see an Orwellian nightmare looming. Yet, the common reflex is to call for more shadows and walls! For us to HIDE from elites! It won’t work. It cannot work. It will never work. But there is an alternative. The very same trick that got us our freedom and wealth, in the first place.”

“We will not preserve freedom by hiding. Nor will it ever be possible to conceal info from elites. Moreover, that is not how we got the freedom that we already have.”

“We will remain free by aggressively applying these tools upon all elites. It is the only way we ever got freedom and it is the only way we can retain it.”

The reason why people will always have a hard time believing in the idea of reciprocity in transparency is that it that knowing the elite’s misbehavior is completely useless unless you have some way to punish them. Or to put it in this little dialogue: Elite: I can know everything about you, peon, including your treasonous thoughts. Peon: I also know everything about you, including your treasonous actions. Elite: That’s cute. I also have a death squad. What you gonna do about it, insect? Peon: Oh… Forgot about the death squad. Without some way for mister peon to counter act the traditional strengths of elites, ie: money, power, lackeys, brute force, he is going to be very reticent to give up his one advantage of stealth.

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I was asked this at, where I answer questions under the pen name, ‘Ellery’. But the query deserves a companion question, and so I approached the reply by answering two questions.

You might have asked “Why was Bitcoin designed to have a cap?” But, instead, you asked “Why is the cap set at 21 million bitcoins”. Let’s explore both questions starting with the choice of a circulation cap…

Why set the cap at 21 million BTC?

The choice of a cap number is arbitrary and in fact, it could be 1 or it could be 1 hundred trillion. It makes no difference at all and it has no effect on the economy—even if Bitcoin were to be adopted as a currency all over the world. If it were set to 1 BTC, we would simply discuss nano-BTC instead of 1 BTC for amounts of about $650.

In fact, we already do this today. For many purposes, people are concerned with very small payments. And to best discuss these payments, we have the Satoshi. There are 100,000 Satoshi to each bitcoin (BTC).

What is important, is that the total number of bitcoin (regardless of how many units there are) can be divided into very tiny fractions. That way, the total worldwide supply can be divided into smaller and smaller slivers as market adoption gains traction. Everyone needs to earn, save, spend or pay with a piece of the pie. All users need to know is what fraction of the pie do I control? and not how many ounces, pounds, Kg, or tons is the pie. That is just a number.

Incidentally, the same could be said of gold (it can be shaved very thin), but gold is not quite like computer bits. It has industrial and cosmetic value, and this intrinsic demand for gold (beyond it’s role as a pure monetary instrument) has an effect on supply and demand along with the influence of investment, circulation, savings and reserve.

Why is there a cap at all?

At the beginning of this answer, I suggested another question: Why is Bitcoin capped at all? After all, the monetary supply in every country grows. Even gold production is likely to continue for centuries to come. Why not Bitcoin?

Satoshi designed Bitcoin to eventually become a deflationary currency. I believe that he/she recognized inflation is an insipid tax that constitutes an involuntary redistribution of earned wealth. With a firm cap on the total number of units that exist, governments can still tax, spend and even enforce tax collection. They can go about business building bridges, waging war and providing assistance to the needy. But without a printing press in the hands of transient politicians, they can only spend money with the consent of their constituents and residents.

Of course, they could borrow money by issuing bonds. But with a capped currency, each creditor would earnestly believe in the will and ability of the country to repay its debts.

In effect, monetary policy is restricted to the business of the governed, but the money itself is not coined by a domestic treasury. It is the province of something that is far more certain than a human institution. It arises from pure math. It is open and transparent. In effect, everyone is an auditor. That’s because the bookkeeping is crowd sourced.

For prescient legislators and national treasurers, Bitcoin presents far more of an opportunity than a threat. It is good for both government, business and consumers, because it forces everyone to be open and honest. Ultimately, it builds trust in government, because no one can cook the books, water down wealth, or print their way out of debt.

What about recession. Isn’t it a result of deflation?

Deflation doesn’t lead to recession. Rather, it sometimes accompanies a recession. Recession is caused by an uncertain job market, war, a massive supply chain interruption or political upheaval. In one way or another, it boils down to a lack of confidence sparked by one of the economy’s core foundations: consumers, investors, business or creditors.

Bitcoin as currency removes a major impediment to confidence. By creating a system that cannot be rigged, it fosters trust in government along with an open and transparent treasury.

Philip Raymond co-chairs CRYPSA and was MC at The Bitcoin Event in New York. He writes for Quora, LinkedIN, Wild Duck and Lifeboat Foundation, where he sits on the New Money Systems Board.

According to The Clarion Project, a political information bureau that warns westerners of the growing threat from radical Islam, ISIS has published a ‘kill list’ that includes the names, addresses and emails of 15,000 Americans.

Clarion_300So far, this is interesting news, but it is not really new. I found ISIS, Hezbollah and Al-Qaida kill lists going back at least 8 years. This 2012 bulletin complains that NBC would not release the names contained on a kill list.

A kill list is newsworthy, and the Clarion article is interesting—but the article has more “facts” with which the publisher wishes to generate mob frenzy…

  • It explains that 4,000 of the names on the Kill List have been leaked by hackers
  • It echos a report by Circa News that the FBI has decided to not inform citizens that they are on the ISIS kill list.

In a clear effort to whip up and direct audience indignation, it asks readers to take a one-question poll. Which answer would you choose?

  1. I have a right to know if I am on an ISIS kill list
  2. I do not need to know if my name is on the ISIS kill list.
    The FBI can protect me without my knowing

Let’s ignore, for a moment, that the editorial comment appended to answer #2 involves a misleading assumption (i.e. that your safety is related to inclusion on the list and that you need or would be the focus of FBI protection). Even before this cheap tactical mis-direction, I am frustrated with the sleazy promotional and shock tactics of The Clarion Project (formerly,

Muslim Imam, orders the destruction of Christian churches

This a pity—because the Clarion Project also creates and distributes valuable educational literature. For a few years, they were the credible standard in defining and issuing warnings about the dangers of radical Islam—especially as it is seeded and spread from within. The Clarion Project also produces terrific “wake-up” videos and documentary evidence about life under Sharia law and the shocking intolerance, misogyny and disrespect for human rights that characterize ISIS. It highlights the brutal tactics that emerge when regional governments are controlled by religious zealots. Like any repressive dictatorship, ISIS rules through fear instilled by bands of roaming thugs and by turning everyone into snitches.*

But the Kill List Poll points to a growing trend at Clarion. Four years ago, I objected to Meira Svirsky’s inflammatory report that criticizes a DOJ official for refusing to answer a complex and subtle question with a Yes-or-No response. The Clarion Project has a critical and noble goal. But pushing the emotional hot buttons of an audience by over simplifying or vilifying subtleties undermines the entire organization. In the end, it only demonstrates that they are bullies. And just like Donald Trump, bullying plays only to mobs. It is no the way to win hearts and minds.

My Answer to the Poll

  • I do not need to know if my name is on the ISIS kill list


Both ISIS leaders and radical clerics have repeatedly declared that *all* Americans, American allies, Jews and non-believers may be killed on the spot or taken as sex slaves to pleasure suicide bombers and Jihadist soldiers. quranThey state that doing this fulfills Jihad and prophecy and is sanctioned by the Holy Qur’an. With this in mind, I the choice of poll responses is political, selfish and offensive. It assumes that readers are idiots…

The multiple choice answers are incomplete and misleading. Of course, Americans have a right to know if they are on a kill list—and, in fact, we already know We are all on that list!

About Radical Islam

The warning bell at the heart of Clarion journalism is an alarm that must be heard—very loudly. Radical Islam is a cancer and not just figuratively. It exhibits all earmarks of a spreading cancer that invades and attaches itself to its neighbors while building offensive outposts far from the region that it started. It has not yet been contained and excised. It presents a significant ongoing threat to our safety, our health and our wealth.

—Philip Raymond is a Lifeboat board member and columnist. He hosted The
Bitcoin Event and is co-chair of the Cryptocurrency Standards Association

* I could illustrate my point with photos of men being burned in a cage, the abduction of preteen school girls from their homes (they were give to soldiers), a child slitting the throat of captives, or a women having her nose cut off because she was raped by a stranger. After all, in the twisted world of radical Islam, anyone who is different, unique gay, Christian, or not in agreement with the local Imam are to be tortured and killed.

But I can similarly point to even this comparatively mild video. It shows a Turkish music store under attack last week (June 2016), because a group of thugs suspects that the band signing autographs represents secular hedonism—or that that fans must be consuming alcohol during Ramadan.

Anyone who has heard of Bitcoin knows that it is built on a mechanism called The Blockchain. Most of us who follow the topic are also aware that Bitcoin and the blockchain were unveiled—together—in a whitepaper by a mysterious developer, under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.

That was eight years ago. Bitcoin is still the granddaddy of all blockchain-based networks, and most of the others deal with alternate payment coins of one type or another. Since Bitcoin is king, the others are collectively referred to as ‘Altcoins’.

But the blockchain can power so much more than coins and payments. And so—as you might expect—investors are paying lots of attention to blockchain startups or blockchain integration into existing services. Not just for payments, but for everything under the sun.

Think of Bitcoin as a product and the blockchain as a clever network architecture that enables Bitcoin and a great many future products and institutions to do more things—or to do these things better, cheaper, more robust and more blockchain-01secure than products and institutions built upon legacy architectures.

When blockchain developers talk about permissionless, peer-to-peer ledgers, or decentralized trust, or mining and “the halving event”, eyes glaze over. That’s not surprising. These things refer to advantages and minutiae in abstract ways, using a lexicon of the art. But—for many—they don’t sum up the benefits or provide a simple listing of products that can be improved, and how they will be better.

I am often asked “What can the Blockchain be used for—other than digital currency?” It may surprise some readers to learn that the blockchain is already redefining the way we do banking and accounting, voting, land deeds and property registration, health care proxies, genetic research, copyright & patents, ticket sales, and many proof-of-work platforms. All of these things existed in the past, but they are about to serve society better because of the blockchain. And this impromptu list barely scratches the surface.

I address the question of non-coin blockchain applications in other articles. But today, I will focus on a subtle but important tangent. I call it “A blockchain in name only”

Question: Can a blockchain be a blockchain if it is controlled by the issuing authority? That is, can we admire the purpose and utility, if it was released in a fashion that is not is open-source, fully distributed—and permissionless to all users and data originators?

Answer: Unmask the Charlatans
Many of the blockchains gaining attention from users and investors are “blockchains” in name only. So, what makes a blockchain a blockchain?

Everyone knows that it entails distributed storage of a transaction ledger. But this fact alone could be handled by a geographically redundant, cloud storage service. The really beneficial magic relies on other traits. Each one applies to Bitcoin, which is the original blockchain implementation:

▪Fully distributed among all users.
▪ Any user can also be a node to the ledger
▪Permissionless to all users and data originators
▪Access from anywhere data is generated or analyzed

A blockchain designed and used within Santander Bank, the US Post Office, or even MasterCard might be a nifty tool to increase internal redundancy or immunity from hackers. These potential benefits over the legacy mechanism are barely worth mentioning. But if a blockchain pretender lacks the golden facets listed above, then it lacks the critical and noteworthy benefits that make it a hot topic at the dinner table and in the boardroom of VCs that understand what they are investing in.

Some venture financiers realize this, of course. But, I wonder how many Wall Street pundits stay laser-focused on what makes a blockchain special, and know how to ascertain which ventures have a leg up in their implementations.

Perhaps more interesting and insipid is that even for users and investors who are versed in this radical and significant new methodology—and even for me—there is a subtle bias to assume a need for some overseer; a nexus; a trusted party. permissioned-vs-permissionlessAfter all, doesn’t there have to be someone who authenticates a transaction, guarantees redemption, or at least someone who enforces a level playing field?

That bias comes from our tendency to revert to a comfort zone. We are comfortable with certain trusted institutions and we feel assured when they validate or guarantee a process that involves value or financial risk, especially when we deal with strangers. A reputable intermediary is one solution to the problem of trust. It’s natural to look for one.

So, back to the question. True or False?…

In a complex value exchange with strangers and at a distance, there must be someone or some institution who authenticates a transaction, guarantees redemption, or at least enforces the rules of engagement (a contract arbiter).

Absolutely False!

No one sits at the middle of a blockchain transaction, nor does any institution guarantee the value exchange. Instead, trust is conveyed by math and by the number of eyeballs. Each transaction is personal and validation is crowd-sourced. More importantly, with a dispersed, permissionless and popular blockchain, transactions are more provably accurate, more robust, and more immune from hacking or government interference.

What about the protections that are commonly associated with a bank-brokered transaction? (For example: right of rescission, right to return a product and get a refund, a shipping guaranty, etc). These can be built into a blockchain transaction. That’s what the Cryptocurrency Standards Association is working on right now. Their standards and practices are completely voluntary. Any missing protection that might be expected by one party or the other is easily revealed during the exchange set up.

For complex or high value transactions, some of the added protections involve a trusted authority. blockchain-02But not the transaction itself. (Ah-hah!). These outside authorities only become involved (and only tax the system), when there is a dispute.

Sure! The architecture must be continuously tested and verified—and Yes: Mechanisms facilitating updates and scalability need organizational protocol—perhaps even a hierarchy. Bitcoin is a great example of this. With ongoing growing pains, we are still figuring out how to manage disputes among the small percentage of users who seek to guide network evolution.

But, without a network that is fully distributed among its users as well as permissionless, open-source and readily accessible, a blockchain becomes a blockchain in name only. It bestows few benefits to its creator, none to its users—certainly none of the dramatic perks that have generated media buzz from the day Satoshi hit the headlines.


Philip Raymond is co-chair of The Cryptocurrency Standards Association,
host & MC for The Bitcoin Event and editor at A Wild Duck.

Steve Forbes sits across Brian Singer, a partner at William Blair, as Blair explains the potential of blockhain encryption to empower individuals. He also explains why credit card companies are beginning to embrace a technology that undermines their high fees.


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“Modern life relies on satellite sytems but they are alarmingly vulnerable to attack as they orbit the Earth. Patricia Lewis explains why defending them from hostile forces is now a primary concern for states”

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This short post is not about Bitcoin. It’s about a new method of organizing and arbitrating communications that is at the heart of Bitcoin

We hear a lot about the blockchain. We also hear a lot of misconceptions about its purpose and benefits. Some have said that it represents a threat to banks or to governments. Nonsense! It is time to form a simple, non-political, and non-economic explanation…

What is a Blockchain?

The blockchain is a distributed approach to bookkeeping. It offers an empowering, efficient and trusted way for disparate parties to reach consensus. It is “empowering”, because conclusions built on a blockchain can be constructed in a way that is inherently fair, transparent, and resistant to manipulation.

This is why blockchain-backed systems are generating excitement. Implemented as distributed and permissionless, they take uncertainty out of accounting, voting, legislation or research, and replace it with trust and security. Benefits are bestowed without the need for central authority or arbitration. The blockchain not only solves a fundamental transaction challenge, it addresses communication and arbitration problems that have bedeviled thinkers since the ancient Egyptians.


—Philip Raymond, CRYPSA Co-chair
Cryptocurrency Standards Association