Next For decades, almost all financial institutions, financial institutions, and governments around the world will be strongly influenced by a small but powerful group: the blockchain.
Do you believe that? Or are you one of those people who think blockchain and crypto boom are a big, decade-old deception – Dutch illegitimate baby tulip bubble, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and wackier access to the free internet? No doubt you — like me — are not in that situation. Instead, you wish someone would just show you how to think about it wisely and unwisely instead of just falling into a binary trap.
Binaries has been on my mind a lot since I took the editorial seat at WIRED last March. It is because we are at a time that seems to be an inflection in the recent history of modern technology, when the various binaries that have been taken lightly have been questioned.
When WIRED was founded in 1993, it was the Bible of techno-utopianism. We wrote and developed inventions that we think will change the world; all he needed was a release. Our covers were intelligent, criminal, visionary — and especially the rich, the white, and the men — the most prominent men of the future, to regenerate human nature, and to make life worth living and enjoyable. They were much braver, more productive, richer and cooler than you; in fact, they already existed in the future. By reading WIRED, we have written, you can join in there!
If that expectation was binary 0, since then the mindset has shifted to binary 1. Nowadays, most media outlets focus on the disadvantages that technology companies run amok. It has been given to us Tahrir Square, as well Xinjiang; and blogosphere, as well manosphere; unlimited opportunity of Long Tail, as well as the constant danger of gig economics; mRNA vaccine, as well Crispr ana. WIRED did not hesitate to address the issue. But it forces us – and I in particular, as an incoming editor – to consider this question: What does it mean to be a WIRED, a genius born to enjoy technology, in an age when technology is often demon-possessed?
For me, the answer starts with rejecting binary. Both expectant and hopeless professionals miss the point. A study of the last 30 years did not make the mistake of thinking that technology could make the world a better place. Instead, we were wrong to assume that the same technology was the answer – and that we would be wrong to take technology as a problem. It is not only possible, but also unusual, for professionalism to do both good and bad at the same time. A powerful rotation that makes billions of dollars faster and leaves companies that have failed later to be able to lay the groundwork for permanent change (figure A: the first dotcom explosion). A social networking platform that has helped citizens to get rid of tyrannical rulers (Facebook) can also lure people to unite and think in groups and become a tool of oppression. As F. Scott Fitzgerald once put it, the wise man must be able to keep his mind focused on the task at hand while at work.