Inequality is a Feature Not a Bug

MiniThesis - Cybernetic Inequality 

Digital networks and data increasingly codify value as transition toward an information economy progresses. Governments’ power over markets is waning. Surveillance opportunities placated them at the expense of control. Code is the new law. Existing capital holders are currently in the best position to write future law of civilization, and their primary motive is profit. Inequality is growing as the socio-technical system evolves.

The architecture of modern Internet applications/services reflects capital’s growing control of cyberspace. Connected devices are designed primarily to siphon and aggregate value in central positions through API-mediated platforms. IoT continues this trend. Pervasive and excessive concentrations of capital will abound. Platform monopolies are making global economy overly rigid in key areas with new players building inside existing company’s platforms.

Inequality will not fix itself, so how are we to begin? Guaranteed minimum income is a pipe dream. A negative income tax offers more realism, but is similarly unlikely. Maturing the sharing economy is the low-hanging fruit. However, without architecture changes it risks mirroring the old system. Moving from centralized radial network architectures to peer-to-peer architectures is key. Literal meshes are long goal, but blockchain approaches begin the path. Two broad exploration areas: 1. New revenue models for social networks based on microtransactions with cryptomoney. 2. Trust and contracting systems encoded to distributed databases.

The goal is enabling the sharing economy to express more of its latent emergent potential. New forms of money can allow nebulous digital “social capital” to act as actionable capital. Money is essentially a social network; this conceptual merger has not been explored in sufficient nuance and offers fruitful prospects. This is not a panacea, it is a beginning.