For the past couple of months I've been listening to podcasts, listening to audiobooks, and reading numerous websites, blogs, and articles, and they all eventually come to the same conclusion: the economy of the world is increasingly being driven by data, the monitoring of data, and sales of data. And it's all being driven right past the people who deserve to benefit most from the accumulation and use of this data: the end user.
Companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Visa, and Amazon all began by offering a valuable product to their users. But as the ability to track user behavior became more sophisticated, so did the source of revenue for these giant companies. While on one end, they offer social media, networking, and payment processing to the users, seemingly free of charge, they take the data of their users, and sell it, without permission, to the seemingly highest bidder.
The collection and application of metadata seemed helpful at first. Google might have shown ads for things that I would like. My YouTube feed, having watched a Radiohead music video, would then have recommendations for similar artists I might be able to discover. But if the US Presidential Election of 2016 proved anything, its that our data is easy to use against us. Regardless of your political affiliation (because social media is agnostic to politics for the most part, and is almost entirely advertisement driven), your data is being used to place you into a bin, into a silo of information that is put forth solely to inflame you, enrage you, and force you to look at more advertisements.
Our social media presence, our search engine data, and even our transactions data can and will be mined, and that data will be used to push us into either an ethical black hole (see: http://jaronlanier.com/tenarguments.html) or into political insanity (see: https://samharris.org/podcasts/145-information-war/).
What all of these articles, books, and podcasts tip-toe around is that we need to re-evaluate how we use the internet, and how we value our data. What none of these articles, books, and podcasts mention is the one thing that is here, nearly ready, and can pull us out of this hole: peer-to-peer electronic cash.
Let's look at some very, very rough numbers:
Google processes approximately 160 billion searches per month.
Google makes approximately $8 billion per month in ad revenue.
Google earns about $0.05 cents per search.
YouTubers make approximately $100 per 1,000 views if running Ads.
Common sense would say that YouTube the company is making at least that much money as well.
YouTube then could be estimated to earn $0.10 per video view (that runs Ads). If we take into account that not all videos run ads, one could easily come to the conclusion that YouTube actually makes something closer to $0.01 or even $0.001 per video view.
Visa processes about 1500 transactions per second. And every transaction also gives Visa data. Visa knows the users name, birth date, social security number, address, and phone number, and that's just to use the card. If Visa has been used to purchase anything else requiring more information, one could be certain that Visa then also knows that information as well. And what does Visa offer in return for this collection if data, which they undoubtedly use and profit from? They offer a 3% fee to the merchant who is accepting the transaction.
Peer-to-Peer Cash is the only way to preserve the functionality of useful services like Google and YouTube and even Twitter or Facebook, while ensuring that we aren't being manipulated as individuals and as groups. Would you pay $0.01 to perform a Google search with not strings attached? Would you pay $0.01 to watch a video on YouTube, knowing full well that you won't suddenly have political commentators "SLAM" and "DESTROY" each other in your next recommended video? How much would you pay, per tweet, to ensure that you won't be silenced by Twitter simply because their advertisers might not like your message?
What we do with Peer-to-Peer Cash with our transactions--paying low fees for censorship resistance and trustless exchange--is what we could and should be doing with every interaction on the internet.
Do you know of any currency that has the capacity, security, and technical ability to handle that? I can think of one.