Five Corporation-Crushing Disruptive Technologies That Will Empower the Masses16/07/2013 19:50
Everyone knows we are at the mercy of huge corporations in multitude of ways. Just look at Big Oil. We are wildly dependent on them as not only individuals, but as a nation and a world. Though Exxon stands atop the global economic podium, the technology sector isn’t far behind. Apple made nearly as much in profits in 2012’s fourth quarter as Exxon (a ridiculous $8.2 billion). Let’s bring that number down to Earth a bit. Americans are spending an average of $444 per household per year on Apple products alone. For further evidence, just look around your living room, or better yet, consider the origin of the screen you’re currently staring at. Chances are, one swollen oligopoly or another made all the pieces of technology you’ve surveyed in the last few seconds.
However, chinks in the armor of these untouchable behemoths are beginning to take shape, leading some, like MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld to question the sustainability of today’s techno giants. (more on that later).
It wouldn’t be the first time an unforeseen corporation-crushing power shift occurred. Unpredictable “Black Swan” events like the advent of the PC and the emergence of MP3 left the music and computing industries confronted with a sea change that was impossible for them to adapt to.
This next wave of disruptive tech will decentralize power, putting it back into the hands of the people. It will usher in a time where we will make our own belongings, fund our own ventures and master our own bodies and consciousnesses. What makes this all the sweeter is that huge corporations and governments are either ignorant to it, or powerless to stop the radical change that’s coming.
5- Decentralized Currencies (Bitcoin)
As Henry Ford once said, people would revolt if they knew how the banking system worked. He was right on the money (no pun intended). Many say the millions of protestors from Wall Street to Brazil to Europe have no cohesive message, but one thing is for sure, they hold similar philosophical gripes toward the world’s increasingly esoteric and sluggish financial systems.
As impossible as it may seem to circumvent the world’s financial oligarchy , some ingenious, irony-loving programmer(s) (they likely came from the very community of counter-culture that openly ridicules the system) are trying. At the very least, they’ve managed to insert a pesky thorn in the side of governments and banks a like. I am of course, referring to Bitcoin.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard a great deal of buzz surrounding this particular crypto-currency, especially in the last few months. Bitcoin experienced a meteoric rise along with an equally spectacular crash in a matter of weeks, leading many to jump on and off the bandwagon. However, at the time this article is being written, a Bitcoin is still worth a far from paltry 90 dollars. A simple Google search will yield a variety of opinions concerning the longevity of Bitcoin. In fact, there’s plenty of speculation as to the next big digital currency will be.
Regardless, the fame gained by Bitcoin proves that many are willing to entertain the idea of using and investing in a digital currency, and that’s a regulatory headache for governments and big banks alike. Retailers have also shown a willingness to play ball with Bitcoin, which only exacerbates the problem for those who consider it and other decentralized currencies to be pesky. Another popular hypothesis is that it’s just a matter of time until a big online retailer like Amazon begins accepting a digital currency like Bitcoin and once that happens, expect other big players to follow suit.
4- Crowd Funding
The general idea behind crowdfunding is so simple in principle that it’s a wonder no one thought of it sooner. What it lacks in complication, it makes up for in practicality, and creative people have taken advantage in a big way. How big you ask? About 2.7 billion dollars big. That’s how much money was raised via the digital medium in 2012. That number may not be shaking up the conventional economy much at this stage in the game, but it certainly gives scores of worthy people the funds they need.
Pretend for a moment you’re in a band with a bit of a following. A successful crowdfunding campaign would basically enable you to completely circumvent the need for a record label. That means you don’t need to miss out on the lion’s share of the profit from your record sales and you don’t need to justify the marketability of your music, or compromise your vision; pretty attractive, right?
To be fair, crowdfunding isn’t always cash conjuring magic wand. The vast majority of campaigns fail to meet their goals. In other words, if you’re just starting a project and you don’t have a way to get the word out, you’re pretty much doomed from the start. Still, this is an extraordinarily young phenomenon. The amount of money raised via crowdfunding nearly doubled from 2011 to 2012 and 2013 will likely be another record year.
I’d start my discussion on this little piece of Nobel Prize winning nano tech by telling your what it does, but a more appropriate question would be what doesn’t it do? It’s the strongest substance known to man, it’s more conductive than copper it’s biodegradable, it’s a super capacitor, and did I mention you can make it at home? This substance that sounds like pure Science fiction has unbelievably humble beginnings. In fact, when scientists began experimenting with it they were extracting it by rubbing the tips of pencils on Scotch tape. Everyone is scrambling to gain patents pertaining to graphene, but by virtue of it being a substance that’s so simple to create yourself, it’s going to be impossible to stop people from tinkering with it.