I heard a very good explanation of where meaning can be found – from internet meme and Kermit-voiced, Dr. Jordan Peterson, the other day. He said that humans have a number of dimensions to their existence and many of them extend beyond their immediate lives; their future selves, the community around them, their descendents – and so on… He suggested that if one patterned one’s activity so that it matched the pattern of these extra-personal components of life… it would register in the body as meaning… I really can’t think of a better way to put it than that.
My contention with technology is that it creates a kind of armour around the human body, that obscures the greater pattern beyond, disabling any possibility of true resonance with the natural environment for which we’re largely adapted. The vitriol I see directed at millenials when they tussle for power with false grievances, is misinformed – because the wreckage of postmodernism has so masked the meaning in everything – and so eroded people’s relationship with the truth – that the only currency in town IS now power. And if they want to get it with a false lever – actually – that’s intelligent behaviour. But what they won’t ever feel through this behaviour, is that they’re leading a meaningful existence… not deep down…
Because it’s only intelligent in the short term… In the long term it’s further misting the glass between us and the external world that unfortunately, we will still have to live in.
What’s coming next, is barely understandable to the average person – which makes its magnititude more than frightening. I went to this Blockchain expert’s house to interview him a while back about – basically, whatever he wanted. I had no fixed idea why I was going, but from his videos on various subjects – I had a kind of intuition that there’s something he knows, you need to know – you’d better find out what the man’s saying.
I’d been getting into medtiation and he was also an expert on that so we discussed all that stuff, and then he told me about this Blockchain stuff and although he had been fascinating up until that point… I tell you man, what he was saying about this new technology that would revolutionise every aspect of modern culture, irreversibly… was literally too boring for me to even engage with. I persisted, however, watching some videos on The Blockchain over the ensuing months, but despite applying my newly honed meditative focus to them – they remained an interminable misery…
Then I realised there was money to be made off this thing and that put a whole new complexion on the enterprise. I immediately rewatched a video on Bitcoin and understood – The Blockchain is essentially the decentralised ledger that has enabled Bitcoin to operate as, amongst other things – a currency. Transactions you undertake using The Blockchain, will be stored not just on your computer, but on a descentralised computer made up from all the computers that are connected. It’s a kind of holographic principle – the mechanism of which, I still don’t understand – that is resilient to hackers – and resilient to lies because anything that’s done on Blockchain, stays on Blockchain – forever.
The frightening part of this technology is what it does to any middle men that exist – be they central banks, taxi firms, estate agents, and so on – this thing allows one user to create a kind of automated marketplace, where taxis for example, state their availiblility and passengers state their need. Once the marketplace has been uploaded, it exists in a decentralised format, and no longer remains the propety of the creator – no, now it’s fully democratised and extensions and improvements can be made by anyone, though these will live and die, according to consumer up-take. (Benefit: no more product obsolescence). In short – it replaces corporations with markets. You see what I’m saying? A real shame none of us have a clue it’s round the corner, eh?
The money for the initial creation of marketplaces comes from a kind of crowdfunding, where fiat investors are paid back with “tokens” or crypto coins, belonging to the organisation’s proposed project. These coins increase in value in the instance of a successful project for a number of reasons – one of them being… um… this decentralised computer ledger actually generates money in real terms, the more people there are using it. Users are essentially processing power – and “mining” Bitcoins is simply the act of you providing the mainframe with more processing power by engaging with it on your computer. So the more a marketplace is engaged with, the more money it generates – which can go back to the coin-holders.
Take Steemit for example – it’s a blogging site, similar to Reddit – each, a plaintext version of Lord of the Flies where the first casualties are style, civility and usability. They’re basically a man’s version of communication. On Reddit you just post, as you do on Youtube, as you do on Twitter, and on Facebook. You post and post and post and hope that your posts are interesting enough to gain a following to whom you can THEN flog something… With Steemit however, the interaction of other users with your post; the likes, the responses, even their readings – these things create more Blockchain, and translate into literal money that’s assigned to your account. It’s given back to you in “Steem” tokens in the hope that you’ll keep spending them on Steemit, donating money to others, using the Steem you’ve earned from old stuff to promote your new stuff… But you can also exchange these tokens for dollars on a crypto currency exchange like Bittrex.
Now it’s this crowdfunding thing, done through Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs that first got me interested in engaging with the boringness of the Blockchain. After all, these are set up for new and growing companies – and if we’d have put £100 into Snapchat in 2011 – that £100 would now be worth £170,000 – which is fairly competitive interest. We were, of course, prevented from doing this by a) our ignorance, b) our morality and mainly c) the fact that investors are traditionally only allowed to invest fixed amounts above, say £50K or more. With ICOs, you can throw in a tenner.
Having imbibed, all the left brained boringness there is to imbibe on this matter however, I wouldn’t advise people dabble in the cryptocurrency exchanges because it is completely and utterly, gambling – and also, if you’re going to do it well – it would be a full time job, so why not just do a more interesting one instead. The other problem is that the ICOs are now almost impossible to get into because they’re oversubscribed and also – they now have what’s called a “pre-sale” which is the pre-ICO sale where investors investing over say 50K get in at a lower price before the rest of us – so essentially, it’s reverted to the old system – this, in the space of perhaps the last two months.
It’s also wildly unpredictable, not because one can’t predict business news, but because the men on there – and they are all men, can’t seem to see what’s coming – and so behave like a bunch of hysterical schoolgirls. This week for example – the market cap – or amount of value in the entire crypto marketplace – plummeted from over $140bn to under $100bn in a matter of hours when China, not known for its openness to global forces that undermine its economy, closed down one of its major crypto-exchanges. I’m sorry, not when that happened – that actually happened a day later, the market plummeted when a popular Chinese investor on Twitter – said he’d heard a rumour that that was going to happen. As a result of these 140 characters – everyone immediately “dumped” their funds and every company-coin, along with Bitcoin and it’s major competitor Ethereum slumped to lows not seen in months and years. Bitcoin went from nearly $5K to below $3K, Ethereum from over £300 to under £200… And it’ll take them a while to recover… Er… I think… Who knows what’s next? So it’s not the best place for people’s money, in that sense.
Although, it probably is worth storing some money in Bitcoin itself, as this is set to rise a fair bit in the coming years… However, you take a risk if you do – because government regulations may come in to make using it illegal or seriously limit it’s applications. There’s no actual way to stop its use as it literally doesn’t belong to anyone – so you know – if you’re rich enough – put in £100 or 1K and forget about it. Prepare to lose it and be happy if you don’t. Just don’t fucking lose the password to your wallet – because here’s the thing you learn when you buy bitcoin – this new online Universe is designed by extremely left-brained and intelligent people, almost exclusively men (over 99% men), who don’t need graphical user interfaces, think in code, and would never EVER lose their password. So if you want in, you have to operate in the same way.
The other thing to watch out for is the hackers – who are just as intelligent, if not moreso and you should read a few articles on the tactics they use such as duplicating company sites so you’ll type in your password, sending very professional looking emails that direct you to a cloned site, bombarding your online wallet to get its password and take the funds – these are very sophisticated operations.
So anyway, having read all this, with trembling hands, I went to cryptomate.co.uk – and asked to buy £50 of Ether (Ethereum’s token). The site dispenses with foreplay and curtly tells me to strip down to my wallet. “Fill out this simple form on the right.” That’s right, if you find this at all complicated or disquieting, YOU’RE the one with the problem – NOT US. We’ve all agreed it’s simple.
Okkaaayyy…. I’m asked for my “wallet address” and apparently “left pocket” won’t do… So off I go and undertake the truly troubling and equally no frills process of creating a wallet on myetherwallet.com… I work out what the fuck “the address” is and paste it into cryptomate, tell them – I want £50 of… Ether… please… “Do you have an online bank with faster payments?” No tick-box for “presumably” and “Do you agree to the terms and conditions” No tickbox for – “It would help if you’d give me a link to them.” Yes and Yes – what’s the worst that could happen?
“Right, wait there” it says, (I’m paraphrasing) “We’re just off to find a bloke who has some Ether – give us half an hour”. And off it goes in the background, leaving you with just a clock counting down from 30 minutes, causing you to wonder if this really is the best way to be marking time before death. “OK we’ve found someone – here are his bank details. Now send him the right amount of money, via your bank account, OK? You’ve got 15 minutes.”
“You fucking what, mate?… Cryptomate?… You’re not fucking serious are you? I’m to trust this man, who I’ve never heard of… And just send him my money in the hope that a couple of hours later… I’ll just have funds in my Myetherwallet, Ether-wallet?” “14 minutes 38, 14 minutes 37, 14 minutes 36…” “You fucking what?” “14 minutes 33, 14 minutes 32 – it’s your own payment time you’re wasting, luv – maybe this Cryptocult is too complicated for you, after all… maybe this is why no women want to come here – too stupid…” “Well, if you put it like that…”
And with that – I’m in the matrix. The tokens appear in my wallet within two hours, and I’m en route to becoming a crypto millionaire… I later discover that if you go round there late at night, asking for Ether – it tells you all its vendors are likely asleep – so whilst it’ll try asking, it can’t promise anything. Basically, this is how few people know about what’s coming… Hardly anyone (but the major banks) are doing this.
And d’you know what… I’m pleased about that! This is the calm now… I mean, seriously – enjoy the last of this time. The global economy’s about to be flattened, as people in mudhuts and refugee camps start up extensive economies, free of government and central bank inteference. Perhaps it has to happen and will ultimately be a good thing – it’s just the getting there, I’m worried about. People who buy bread with a wheelbarrow of notes, wanker-bankers, people from bartering cultures, scammers, hackers, chancers – everyone’s going to be anonymised, de-localised and trading with each other. Different attitudes, different training, different motives – really no point crying about it – this is just the evolutionary dynamic – and you’d better learn fast.
So that old film, Network – where there are no countries now, only AT&T – I think it’s well underway… And what’s frightening is the amount of different coins we’ll have to deal with… if you buy Corn-coin that offers discounted cornflakes to investors… then you’re always going to be wondering how Corn-coin’s doing on the exchanges, aren’t you? Should you dump your coins for profit and just pay for the cereal like a normal person? Have your coins gone up so much that you can actually dump them and buy a house with the profits? This is the facebook of the future – another conflation of survival with tech, rather than the underlying behaviours of survival…
And crucially, how shall you report your taxes – if no one really knows that you’re doing all this because you’re converting Corn-coin into “Monetha” with which to buy the house – (yes, again, Monetha already exists and is favoured for activity that seeks to remain untraceable) then how will the government collect taxes at all? Will we all end up coin-obsessed criminals, heading for Anarchy… In a way, I don’t see how we can’t be going there… This stuff is literally ungovernable, save for switching off the power… which you know, might be the last resort of a desperate government… but given that the media are the backbone of our species – that in itself would be Mad Max…
I was interested to note that the Blockchain expert suggests people store three days of food and water in their homes as standard, just in case of an emergency at any time. He says there are legal weapons you can have in Britain – just for hunting and stuff but could be helpful for self defence. As I was leaving, I wondered how I might stay in touch with him, in case I needed more information one day… I was interested to note that the more I understood of what’s coming, the more I felt a benefit to not having any dependents (which is always a red flag)… And I was interested to feel a kind of submission to an ineluctable trend…
I wrote all my school essays with a pen and paper, and felt annoyed at having to sign up to emails and invest in mobile phones and crap like that – these were all unutterable irritations, getting in the way of general living… Now these things ARE living, and now here’s a new wave of technology with an even more solipsistic culture surrounding it – and we’ll just have to adapt – for survival… So less time for reality – NO time for reality – no capacity to survive out there… Just more and more tasks to be learned and transacted – all in service to industry – insulated from meaning. “Well, I guess that’s what happens to us then.”