We are living in a new world. As Andreas Antonopoulos put so eloquently, “now that we have crypto-currencies, it’s not sovereignty that determines currency, it’s currency that creates sovereignty.”
Bitcoin has helped declare independence for the Internet, and it appears it will continue to disrupt the status quo until that independence is recognized. If we’ve learned anything from P2P technology, it’s that our rules bend around the tech, not the other way around. But if our rules bend around the tech, could we one day be living in a world where our borders do too?
Take the concept of decentralized autonomous states, or society if you like. The idea is that a political faction could be distributed throughout a global network and tied together with common currency, laws, and ethos. Voting could be done democratically and transparently through blockchains. Citizens would be able to see where their money is being spent in the system, and officials would be held accountable for where it goes.
Death Row Democracy, a cryptocurrency crowd-funded web series, takes place in a fictional universe where these states exist, in which blockchain technology is used to create more transparent and open political systems. Closer to reality, the tools for these systems are being built as we speak. I asked Permacredits and Ethereum team member Anthony D’Onofrio how a DAS might come to be in the future:
“Well, if you look at the way that states have traditionally been defined, it has been geographically bound. We now have a global currency that demolishes previously established boundaries. What we can do is begin to codify a set of beliefs that defines who we are as global citizens, and this is the beginning of a sovereign state. Once Ethereum’s up and running, there will be no technical reason that someone couldn’t set up a state where anyone could agree to pay “taxes” and receive some benefit.”
As we narrow the scope, individuals could even gain tread towards their own sovereignty. There are currently efforts being made towards “owning your own data.” Companies like Meeco.me and Maidsafe could feasibly build simple user interfaces for individuals to access their data in a completely decentralized internet. Your info would be accessible only to you (no third party servers) and you could access it from anywhere in the world. You could even sell your data to third parties, creating bidding wars for their services.
With the way things are going, it doesn’t seem unlikely to have a future where everyone has their own ‘coin’ and declares their own individuality through the representation of that coin. Imagine this scenario: everyone creates his or her own coin- say I create Camcoin, and you create Youcoin. Camcoin is a collection or portfolio of all the different currencies / values that I accept and send, Solarcoin, Permacredits, Bitcoin, Ether, etc. but distributed in a pie graph to show what percentage of each coin or value I want to accept and send. I owe you some value, but Youcoin doesn’t accept some of the values I do because we have different beliefs. I send you Camcoin, anyways, proportional to how much I owe you, and the Tradenet does all the unmatched trading automatically in the backend. You receive all the coins or values you accept and our transaction is complete.
Not only can I choose to do business with you, but I can choose to not do business with you as well. It seems likely we’ll trade our beliefs like badges, choosing what we want to support in society while maintaining our independence.
Communities, like colonies of the new world, could be formed from correlations of value, and the community itself could create its own sovereignty by trading a “basket currency” (collection of multiple currencies represented by one) to other communities around the globe. Maybe this is where we’ll see the formation of decentralized autonomous states, and truly see sovereignty 2.0 in action, until then only time will tell.
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