Better Late Than Never: Crypto as the Foundation for Information Exchange

• Date Published:
May 22, 2024
A reflection on our digital evolution. This article covers privacy and centralization, and envisions a more decentralized and privacy.
Better Late Than Never: Crypto as the Foundation for Information Exchange
Crypto as the foundation for information exchange

It’s easy to underestimate just how far we’ve come. Since Turing first created the ‘Practical Universal Computing Machine’ in 1936, our society has inexorably wrapped around our new promethean tools. Since the 1980s, when increasing miniaturization of processors combined with advances in semiconductors brought computers into our homes and into our offices, every aspect of business, exchange, and productivity has on-ramped into the digital. These days, we all carry supercomputers in our pockets with enough processing firepower to, quite literally, take us to the moon. 

This social digitization has been led, primarily, by the corporations with access to the latest tools. From operating systems like Windows to help the average user interact with code, to server farms through which the castaways of the internet flow, to the internet which began as an open-source, open access network of nodes to the vast, byzantine bureaucracy of ISPs, router hubs and fiber optic cables cross-crossing under the oceans it is today. 

More about open-source exchange tools and the costs

The Problems of the Current Internet

This has caused problems. This will cause problems. The eroding state of privacy, the increasingly centralized control of access, and the spirit of open interchange have all been threatened as the internet takes an increasingly prime space in the fabric of our society. Early pioneers feared this. Sir Tim Berners Lee always wanted the internet to be open. Richard Stallman championed the free software movement before ‘open-source’ was even a twinkle in the eyes of marketing departments everywhere. 

Imagine if crypto was invented right when the internet began, and integrated tightly into those first computer groundbreaking systems, the legacy of which we still use today (The average bank hasn’t upgraded its Fortran code for the best part of the 30 years, because it works). What different world would we see?

Well firstly, crypto was invented then. Bitcoin, you may be surprised to learn, is only the first cryptocurrency to achieve widespread uptake - not the first one ever created. And cryptographic ciphers in general have been around since Ancient Egypt, and were present at the very start of the technological revolution. Yet early efforts were, primarily, academic - and used purely to help establish credentials of users trying to access any given electronic system. Proof of Work, Bitcoin’s consensus system, has been an idea since 1990, and cryptography used as a form of currency was proposed as early as 1983 by David Chaum. 

How Crypto Would Have Changed Society’s Progress

If the idea caught hold at the start of the digital revolution, the internet we have would be very different today. Fears over privacy, control, and access would have been banished forever already. As it is, ‘Web3’ is really just an attempt to use cryptographic principles of exchange to reapply the utopia of the early internet and restore it to its prelapsarian state, before companies and nation states began sectioning off large portions of it for their own ends. 

We’d already have a fully fledged internet financial system that upheld the rights of the individual and the collective trustlessly, without having our mediums of exchange completely governed by financial institutions and national treasuries. If Windows, for example, launched with its own cryptocurrency, with the OS helping maintain the security of the ledger the insufferable and endless problem of safe, secure payment online would be completely obsolete. Any online merchant could just use the ledger. Stocks, gold, bonds, and other real-world assets would already have become completely tokenized, as the very substrate on which they are traded (the digital books of various stock exchanges) would have been built from the ground up with trustless, cryptographic exchange in mind. 

Find out more about: History of Exchanges

How Crypto Will Underpin Our Future Systems

Cryptography confers privacy, security and - crucially - an ability to exchange without a ‘trusted’ third party. These ‘trusted’ third parties - think the payment processors, banks, hedge funds - are what creates the vastly inefficient and cumbersome lag whenever you want to trade - be it money, information, or financial products. That inefficiency is expensive. That expense is what has hampered creative, financial and technological growth for decades - and has granted control to an elite few. 

Crypto is so much more than the graph goes up. It’s a new foundation on which our digital society can operate. A foundation which pushes power out from the center and towards the edges. An original internet built on freedom, exchange, security, and privacy. Crypto in its current form may be twenty years too late, but the future is a long time - and we’re just getting started.

Learn more about ideals behind HollaEx white label exchange in our white paper.

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