Picture from codeproject.com.
As an agorist (spell-check changed that to “amorist” originally, but I’m going to leave that one alone) it seems to me that things will eventually move from the centralised model of interaction to the more localised model. Having a 500+ person centralised government in a country of millions makes no sense when a more localised government has a better idea of what’s happening and has a better shot of actually representing its constituency. Market forces make it so that buyers and sellers will find the easiest path to completing transactions, and not only do government regulations typically make transactions more onerous, banks, credit companies, and financial clearing houses add burdens as well.
It seems that technology is already bearing this out, with a lot of things going peer-to-peer. For those of you that aren’t familiar with that term, a good example is that instead of your computer exchanging data with a server in a one-to-one connection, the computer exchanges data with other computers, who also exchange data with each other. The most common example of peer-to-peer technology is of course BitTorrent. Many people are familiar with it through that usage.
Technology is ushering in the “glorious agorist future” not because of any planned counter-revolution (though of course there are some that are planning it – I don’t think it’s necessary to do anything but wait) but because it’s what people want. When left to their own devices, people (more often than not) will cooperate peacefully and in many cases for the greater good. (Admittedly, neither of these all the time – there will always be exceptions.) The issue becomes what happens when that can’t occur because some arrogant official somewhere thinks they know what’s best or that people need to be protected from themselves or some unlikely foreign threat.
A perfect example of this is the NSA spying scandal initially uncovered by Edward Snowden. I’m not going to rehash that all here except to say that the end result has been a significant increase in the number of people who are now looking for technological ways to avoid the NSA’s spying. People feel less secure [PDF Link] knowing that the NSA is spying on them, and consequently, are likely to take measures to prevent that. (Some of us were always that careful.) Private VPNs which used to claim to help you avoid censorship now also advertise as helping avoid surveillance. Corporations are likely to start losing billions because of the scandal, and they are certainly not going to take that lying down.
The point here is that a lot of the pressures that exist in society can be solved technologically. It is certainly not a panacea to solve all the world’s ills, but where it comes to people interacting with each other on a voluntary basis, it has quite a lot to provide. The following are some areas where I see this trend continuing.
I was recently on IMI Tech Talk Radio discussing “The Deep Web and Why Washington is Scared of It”. (The show will be available for download in a few weeks.) There is already a trend for people using Tor to get around various restrictions on the regular internet, and I see this continuing. Additionally, things like Project Meshnet are aiming to replace the central telco model of internet provision with a peer-to-peer model. They’ve got an uphill battle, but as the trend towards less net neutrality continues, their path may suddenly get much less steep.
Cryptocurrencies are already being used fairly regularly, and it looks like Bitcoin and Litecoin are going to be the gold and silver (respectively) of this movement. These currencies are already easing monetary transactions between various interested parties, and fees are significantly lower than any other form of payment. These currencies rely on peer-to-peer technology both for the creation of the currency units and the transaction ledger that facilitates exchange and prevents double spending.
A lot of your news already comes from your neighbours, and a lot of ‘professional’ news organisations already go to great lengths to monitor social media and encourage submissions of tips. No less than the father of Video Journalism Michael Rosenblum teaches classes to this effect and expects the trend to continue further with things like Google Glass. (Disclaimer: I’ve taken one of these classes, and I’ve signed up to take the Google Glass seminar as well.)
There is an effort underway that will allow people to continue to share things in public while also preventing their being used later against them. Twitter is enabling forward secrecy. A new project called “Twister” intends to be a twitter-like service built on peer-to-peer technology and the Bitcoin protocol. Google is increasing their use of encryption, as is Yahoo!. Disapora is a peer-to-peer social network.
It may seem redundant to say that a technology that is largely peer-to-peer is going to be peer-to-peer, but the Pirate Bay is making the entire thing peer-to-peer so that even the central location of torrent trackers becomes peer-to-peer.
These are the ones I can think of at the moment – if I’ve missed any I’d definitely like to hear about it in the comments. Thanks!