Is Blockchain Socialism even a term? Blockchain technology has the immense potential to lead the next Industrial Revolution – one powered by data. It promises to resolve the myriad social, financial, and administrative problems that mankind faces today.
However, can the same technology take away the very freedoms it promises – that of privacy and anonymity? The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up a whole new debate. As the influenza-like illness sweeps the entire world, technology is increasingly used for patient tracking, mass surveillance, monitoring, public movements, and much more. Under the garb of detecting and tracking the virus outbreaks, authorities are using privacy-infringing tools that most people would have dreaded a few weeks ago. Is blockchain socialism coming?
Blockchain Socialism is coming – Is everyone ready?
So, are we living in a world where every conversation, movement, human interaction, and decisions are scrutinized, recorded, and observed? Well, the answer is a resounding yes. Will the current situation tragically snowball to give birth to a ‘Social Credit System’ where citizens are rated for regulatory compliance? To a certain extent, many nations already employ such technologies.
Chinese authorities are boasting how their surveillance mechanisms have reigned in the Coronavirus. Their proactive citizen tracking algorithms helped identify, track, and rate citizens according to the health risks they pose. Chinese investments in blockchain technology are at an all-time high. Prominent cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects have Chinese roots.
The technology that promised anonymity and privacy is being used to create a dystopian social surveillance system. A decentralized digital system with a community-controlled feature-set can empower societies. However, in the hands of an authoritative government, the same technology can be used to wield centralized control over the masses.
COVID-19 accelerated an already frightening trend
The governments around the world are bowing down to COVID-19. Curfews and lockdowns have become a universal response. To a certain extent, governments are justified to enforce lockdowns to cut the chain spread of Coronavirus. Social distancing is a sure way to halt the virus’s progress. If implemented with an ethically right intention, these methods would serve their ‘medicinal’ purposes well.
However, it is shocking to see governments pursuing legislation that violates individual privacy. As the panic grips the populace, authorities bring in draconian tracking and surveillance systems. Tech companies are roped in to track location to enforce social distancing. The media no longer remains free to report on the situation.
The virus has given the governments an unbridled right to violate citizen’s rights. Civil liberties are going for a toss the world over. Now the governments can record data related to your health, location, movement, and even conversations. The ‘Western Democracies’ that cherished the humanist ideals of freedom, privacy, and civil rights are now loving the China model. The seeds of blockchain socialism have been sown.
Lessons from 2008 crash forgotten
The year was 2008. Financial collapse exposed the fragile underpinnings of the centrally controlled monetary system. It became evident that governments weren’t in control, and seemingly-infallible economic infrastructure was vulnerable. From the ashes of the ‘Great Recession of 2008’, emerged blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Back then, they were the common man’s tools for financial independence, a decentralized system that governments can’t poke and incorruptible by the regulatory red-tape.
What was Elixir yesterday, quickly tuned poison in the hands of the authorities. Today, blockchain technology is creating sinful surveillance, and tracking solutions meant for authoritarian governments. And it has been happening for many years now. COVID-19 just accelerated the trend.
Blockchain Socialism can have devastating consequences
Yesterday’s beacon of hope can soon turn into shackles. The draconian Blockchain Socialism based systems used today do not even adhere to ‘Socialism’ ideals. Even Socialism has certain positive aspects to benefit society. The current blockchain-powered control mechanisms serve only one purpose – ensure the submission of citizens.
In the near future, blockchain can be developed further to create a social credit system. The system can store a citizen’s data. And when you add surveillance drones, AI, and facial recognition into the mix, the results can be the total annihilation of privacy. This is the stuff of pervert dreams of an authoritarian government.
That being said, there are people working to make sure blockchain technology works for the good of humankind. Heroes that ensure blockchain serves to protect a citizen’s privacy. Whether it is a privacy-focused cryptocurrency or wallets, blockchain will always remain true to its fundamental values of freedom and privacy.