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A Retrospective on the Last 40 Years of Society
May 11, 2047 | Joseph Lubin
01. Introduction


When we look back across human history, we tend to impose patterns and markers on time periods to make different trends and events easier to understand and contextualize. These categories oversimplify the usually gradual and emergent process of change that would have seemed much subtler in real time to the people who engineered those changes and lived through them. As with so many other patterns, we just see before and after, this then that, cause and effect. Our brains have to make things easier to explain and summarize, often at the expense of richness and complexity.

Hundreds of years from now, I suspect that people will look back on the last 40 years or so--the years when decentralized technologies emerged and evolved--and group them all together, framing them as a decisive “paradigm shift.” It will look like a major transformation of the way we coordinate and organize human behavior and exchange of value across our planet happened nearly in the blink of an eye. The nuance, hardships, achievements, and collective action that we all exerted to move ourselves and our fellow humans forward will be overlooked. Sometimes I wish it had been that simple, but nothing important ever is. It might seem easy to forget that much of it happened by necessity, in the face of hardship and crisis, communication breakdown and eroded trust. But it was also amazing and inspiring, and it seems right at this moment not just to reflect on how we got here, but to pause and just be grateful.

The view from today looks better than ever. I hope this document helps those in the future remember all we achieved in these past decades. I hope it forces us to remember the mistakes we have made and keeps us from repeating them in the future. More than anything, I hope it serves as a celebration of all we have accomplished and our commitment to each other to continue improving.

02. How the rise of Web2 signaled the decay of society

The Evolution of Society

In the Hunter-Gatherer Age, the size of your tribe - which was also your lifelong social network - was less than Dunbar’s Number of 150. That meant that any individual was able to form and maintain a degree of familiarity with every person in their life. When it came to social, economic, and political activities, people were able to operate on a peer-to-peer basis, as everyone knew each other, and knew they could (or could not) trust them.

When human anthropological evolution gave way to the Agrarian Age, societies grew larger. The complexity of large-scale human settlement required a transformation in how we organized for collective action. Having soared past Dunbar’s Number, people were unable to trust one another directly. This gave rise to people and entities that became sources of truth. They mediated much of the interactions and operations - political, social, and economic - between individuals. This trust infrastructure of human society - the centralized, subjective, intermediated trust infrastructure - formed some 10,000 years ago, and until recently had not fundamentally changed.

In the Industrial Revolution, steam power and other forms of mechanical assist multiplied what we could do with our muscles alone. We were able to operate bigger, better, and faster and to create more value in less time. The Information Revolution saw computation machines enable us to process information better and faster than we could with our unaided brains, magnifying the size and complexity that we could contemplate and execute, enabling us to impact broader vistas and create even more value in even less time.

In 1984, John Gage, chief scientist at Sun Microsystems, coined the phrase, "The network is the computer." Years later, many Web1 and Web2 companies brought that network to billions around the globe, supercharging our gregarious nature to create the Social Network Revolution. For the first time, we could act collectively on a global scale in real-time, a capability that kicked off the overlapping “global villages” architecture that has become the increasingly dominant political organizing principle as we approach the halfway mark of the 21st century.

Every modern economic age has been driven by explosive technological innovation, resulting in increased efficiency, throughput, and coordination. Each economic revolution resulted in systems and technologies that raised the quality of life for so many. Despite the innovations and optimizations, however, every one of these developments has rested on the same single, weak organizing principle: the centralized, subjective, intermediated base trust layer that emerged 10,000 years ago.

People need to trust one another in order to do basic things together. Historically, all of the base trust layers in our societies have been founded on subjective trust, meaning:

  • trust in single individuals, or in interpersonal networks, or
  • trust in intermediary platforms like businesses and institutions, or
  • trust in large, intermediary centralized authorities, like governments.

This works well in many situations, but often breaks down when there is misunderstanding, information asymmetry, or an imbalance of power. History has shown that reliance on centralized trust enabled certain kinds of intermediaries to extract excessive value from transaction flows. Rents were extracted largely for imbuing relationships with necessary trust, standing between content creators, service or resource providers, and their customers.

In the early 2000s, a movement emerged to redefine this foundation of trust. In 2001, a technology-driven political movement based on peer-to-peer computer networks was triggered by BitTorrent and the Kademlia technology, which enabled file sharing networks to be decentralized. In 2009, with Bitcoin 1.0, we married the new field of crypto-economics with blockchain database technology on peer-to-peer networks. We discovered that maximally decentralized replicated state machines were the key to building a new trust foundation for the planet. If everyone had their own guaranteed accurate copy of what happened and when, nobody could cheat the system.

Things kicked into gear in 2014 with Ethereum 1.0, and what began as a purely technological movement blossomed and bore more fruit more quickly than we possibly could have imagined. All of this was pioneered by tech nerds, and then served as fodder for next-generation financial tooling and network platform business models as the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Future of Work viruses infected the world. Or rather, inoculated it.

Decentralized protocols like Ethereum and decentralized cryptoeconomics, in synergy with the open source movement, have enabled us to usher in a new trust infrastructure for the planet. One that anchors the Web3 protocols that secure the peer-to-peer economy and the peer-to-machine systems, as well as the Web4 machine-to-machine protocols in what has become the ‘machine economy.’ All of which has enabled perhaps the most profound, positive, and rapid transformation in human history: The Decentralized Trust Revolution.

The Emergence of Subjective Trust

Up to the 2030s, intermediaries ran nearly every segment of our society: monarchs, governments, banks, central counterparties, central points of collection and distribution, etc. These were the entities that controlled the chokepoints. Controlling those points where materials, skills, and information were gathered and meted out created the bulk of wealth and power in the world. It was usually not the creators and creatives that were able to retain and monetize most of the value created.

The fabric of society was a tapestry of top-down command-and-control systems, with gatekeeper intermediaries dictating the interfaces between those hierarchies. Knowing exactly which throat to choke enabled the justice system to function. The age-old subjective trust foundation enabled or necessitated business models that were nearly always exploitative, as only a handful of people possessed the integrity to operate them honorably.

Today, in the network platform economy of 2047, we no longer need to rely on such intermediaries to imbue transactions with trust. Rather, this is handled by the trust platforms themselves. Intermediaries are no longer in a position to extract an outsized portion of the value created. We still have layers of intermediaries populating our open platforms, our value chains, and our transaction flows - but these new players are creative, add new information, eliminate friction, and reduce costs. In the Age of Decentralized Trust platforms, the content creators and the resource and service providers are directly connected to their consumers. They are compensated appropriately. They have control and ownership over their creations. They are not trapped into exploitative relationships. Their creative evolution is not dictated and monetized by someone else. Success is less about transactional business skills. Creativity and novel problem solving are rewarded.

Legacy of the Web2 Monopolies

In the 20-teens and early 2020s, the Web2 internet monoliths grew too powerful. Leaders of those companies were called to testify before governments, but to little avail. In a sense, these companies were in their teens themselves - their adolescences - with the hormonal power of unbridled and largely unregulated technology coursing through their veins, but without the wisdom to temper the use of it. The technologies they wielded caused them to be nearly ungovernable. They were too strong, too, brash, and moved too fast, with under-developed ethics. These companies were able to monetize bigger and faster than ever before, and they changed the rules through lobbying and the manipulation of public opinion. This power derived from their control of vast swaths of cultural, social, political, and economic data that we had all sometimes willingly and often unknowingly given them. Social media and early sharing economy companies were especially effective in this endeavor to capture, control, and monetize our data. In particular, Facebook, Google, and Amazon extracted a large portion of the online value in the world.

One modus operandi of Web 2.0 companies, of which Facebook was the poster child, was to offer a service in exchange for our personal information and attention, or just capture that info in the course of normal business operations. They would then extract our personal information, linking the data they got directly from us and our devices with information that was acquired elsewhere. This info served to plumpen us up, to learn more about us in order to better tailor their “products” to us. At the end of the day, of course, we were their real product. And it kept getting worse.

Data mining, deep learning, deep ad tech, and other techniques enabled these organizations to understand our needs, motivations, weaknesses, and proclivities far better than we knew them ourselves. The most problematic aspect was how app and web interfaces were designed to addict us to that little rush of dopamine to our pleasure centers to keep us scrolling and clicking, so we could be sold over and over again for hours. Globally, we continued to suffer at the hands of these companies. Disorders were created, identified, named, and treated. As individuals, the population was suffering. And as a population, the body politic in various western nations was sick and under attack.

We knew how bad it was. We knew it would get worse. But we didn't care. Or more accurately, we weren't really able to care. Our lives (our jobs, our relationships, our health, our stability) depended on being connected and staying connected. That was the new normal, the new social fabric. We had to give up our data, or give up our lives and livelihoods instead.

03. The collapse of society was due to the erosion of trust

2025 | The American Contagion: Economic Collapse

Nation State currencies have taken a big hit since 2017, with the US Federal Reserve Note one of the largest losers, even while the American economy has surged. In 2025, what became known as “The American Contagion” saw decades of American paper - dollars and treasuries that had been traded for foreign goods and services - boomerang back onshore, creating a global domino effect that drove a short-lived hyperinflation in the US and other countries.

Four factors caused the Contagion: 1) a lack of confidence in the United States as a well-behaved and predictable nation-state actor, 2) the loss of confidence in the US Dollar, 3) a flattening of the global economy with the emergence of many bilateral trade relations, and 4) the advent of many protocol tokens that could be used locally for day-to-day transactions, but also globally on various industry networks that had a wider scope. This latter element drove loss of confidence in the petrodollar and most commodities began to be priced and traded using various tokens on open platforms.

Countries did not need the US Dollar anymore in its role as a reserve currency. Dollar weakening and lack of demand for Treasuries drove a breathtaking downward spiral. Things were touch and go in the American and global economies for over two years. However, the open platform networks and peer-to-peer economies that had been built over the previous few years were decently enough established to enable us to weather the storm and evolve old economic structures into more sustainable ones.

But it was not without hardship. By 2026, western democracies were on the brink of collapse. This was a crisis that made the Great Recession 2008 seem like a head cold.

By the end of that year, the Fed had stabilized the US Dollar. Forward thinkers at the St. Louis Fed, having predicted the Contagion, had convinced the US Treasury to stockpile different open platform tokens in the preceding years. They constructed a strong, diverse portfolio which grew tremendously in value once the USD began to falter, taking most of the Western currencies with it. The St. Louis Fed put the playbook together and they were the ones who ran the CCT -- the Contagion Crisis Team.

The CCT had the US Treasury department also purchase tokenized real assets and actively tokenize many real assets in their portfolio, from real estate to agricultural and metals commodities, to crude oil and kWH tokens, on spot, futures, and options markets.

Robofolios continually and automatically tranched, securitized and traded Treasuries and other government bonds that flooded the market over the year of the Contagion. Those assets were massively discounted in the largest dynamic writedown in global history. Historically such a profound economic shift and necessary dislocation in broad asset prices, due to paradigm shift, could only have resulted in a war.

Two years before the Contagion, the St. Louis Fed had driven the launch of FedCoin. FedCoin was in use at the time for payments among government organizations, and by some businesses that worked with the government. During the Contagion, the CCT activated bridges from FedCoinNet to Ethereum and other platforms. The CCT strengthened the currency by sponging up the sea of hyperinflated USDs from the legacy banking system, trading FedCoins for USDs and then retiring the USDs. The FedCoin was then renamed the US Dollar, and it could roam beyond FedCoinNet. The US Treasury declared that the new, natively digital US Dollar would be backed by a basket of tokenized digital and physical commodities and that one USD could always be atomically exchanged for one unit of the commodity token basket.

The American Contagion ended up being a blessing. Even under stress and scrutiny, the networked economy proved sufficiently developed, scalable, and resilient to rapidly absorb many of the agreements and commercial flows that still resided in the legacy economy. The OpenLaw technology and platform enabled people to rapidly convert existing agreements into natively digital forms, and to form new commercial agreements on network platforms, with virtually none of the friction and expense formerly due to the lawerly class.

Those organizations that could not adapt fast enough were swept away by the hyperinflation. This was the moment when network platforms and topical global villages began to emerge as a powerful economic and political force. Broad network platforms like those for commodities trading, shipping, education, entertainment, gaming, and travel are where we spend the bulk our professional and leisurely hours -- though for many these are nearly one and the same. Topical global villages are the places we pursue more focussed interests. People could now organize effectively and trustfully not according to physical proximity, but by opting in to common pursuits and interests. Over the years, the many network platforms and topical global villages of which each of us are members -- from CancerNet which has nearly eradicated that scourge, to The Cellarius Platform, which has produced more prose, art, music, games, and long and short-form video than any entertainment franchise in history -- have rapidly reshaped society and have decisively addressed long running problems such as disease, poverty, and slavery, problems governments were not properly configured to address. Decentralized systems’ broad governance based on trust infrastructures, and human swarm intelligence have proven to be the most powerful social force this planet has yet seen. They have enabled near-instant analysis of situations with crowd wisdom, sourcing of solutions with group intelligence and creativity, and system-building in real-time to solve problems quickly. This is the foundation of the global Collective Capitalist economy that has resurrected the Western liberal democracies and is making unifying inroads in the East.

The Breakdown of the Body Politic: Emergence of Radical Regimes

As far back as the first Brexit vote in 2016, many countries experienced nearly a decade of the installation of radical political parties, leaders, and regimes. We fell prey to fake news, information silos, and a bifurcation mindset. This became clear during the Cambridge Analytica attacks and related abuses, during which Facebook and other social media platforms were proven to have been co-opted as weapons of mass manipulation. These companies enabled the transmutation of freedom of expression, long protected under Western regimes, into our most exposed vulnerability. Constructed by social media and reinforced in echo chambers, opinions were rendered as objective fact in black and white, and polarization grew entrenched.

Polarizing narratives were architected to sow bitter animosities, all in the name of driving more traffic and ad revenue. The journalism industry had been consumed - eaten alive, in fact - by the advertising technology sharks. Social media deployed an age old business model: they addicted a population so they could profit off their backs. Presenting balanced viewpoints and fostering critical thinking was anathema to that business model.

The result was devastating. Polarization and radicalism grew darkest towards the end of the second Trump administration. Hate crimes skyrocketed globally. Long-standing international relationships faltered. Worldwide, radical groups arose on either side of issues to defend “morals” that had been packaged and served to them by media and advertising companies. In 2026, Senator Jon Stewart famously declared, “Journalism is dead.” We had almost arrived at the future Tim Berners-Lee so presciently feared - one in which people dug themselves into “into a cultural pothole so deep…that when eventually they physically meet a real person on the street, the lack of common understanding will be total, and the only form of communication left will be to shoot them.”

The Turning Tide: Nourishing the Body Politic

In early 2027, a path towards recovery emerged. Facebook, finally admitting its role in the wave of global radicalism fomented by fake news and information echo chambers, turned on a dime and deployed radical news verification methods. It would soon follow on with even more radical departures from its adolescent past.

Before that, platforms like Civil triggered the recovery of the journalism industry -- especially local journalism, which had suffered the most. Civil Media brought sustainable business models back to local and topical journalism, all in a context of renewed ethics: ethics with respect to the truth, and ethics with respect to the nature of facts. In contrast to the era of “truthiness” and fake news, on the Civil Platform, facts are facts -- and where there is room for interpretation, anyone can drill down to understand probabilities and origins with respect to data, and provenance with respect to opinion. An explicit network of interests and potential conflicts of interest accompanies the provenance of every opinion.

The Civil Foundation galvanized academics, journalists and experts in governance, into building a global community that maintained standards on how the news is reported. Divorcing news delivery from the influence of advertising dollars was the breakthrough that enabled the sustained turnaround of western liberal democracies. It started by establishing best practices, evolved into defining classes of journalistic reporting that should be protected from Deep Advertising Technology, and eventually won the support of law makers.

It would be fair to say that the Civil platform helped journalism evolve beyond the spoon-feeding of the naive population of the 20th century and beyond its barbaric adolescence in the first couple of decades of the 21st. We emerged from the polarity and unrest of the 20s with what can now be considered a mature, regularized, and systematized social function that helps us understand the social, moral, and political context in which we are all embedded. We are now able, as a society, to engage in direct democratic decision making because of it. Political truth or action is no longer a singular, top-down expression of the majority, poorly fitting many groups with different needs and opinions, but a bottom-up and emergent phenomenon that serves each smaller groups’ needs and that is as subtle as it is strong. The Topical Global Village is the most coherent political construct since the hunter-gatherer tribe.

04. How Web3 enabled trust to catch up to technology

Absolving for the Past: The Emergence of DeFAANG

After the Brexits, Trump 1, and especially Trump 2, evidence was overwhelming that social media had been weaponized by nation states and globalist actors to weaken otherwise-healthy communities and strong trading relationships. Liberal democracy was on its deathbed.

Seeing the writing on the wall - and bowing to international pressure - Mark Zuckerberg pivoted his company nearly 180 degrees in 2027, splitting Facebook Inc. into Facebook Media, an entertainment and advertising technology company, and into OpenBook, or Book, a protocol-based open platform on which Facebook Media and other media companies could deliver content. This was the evolution of their Libra coin, launched in 2020, whose centralized architecture carried all the attendant risks of data breaches, privacy, and security issues of a legacy siloed database. As their network participants began to interact more regularly with blockchain technologies and understand the promise of decentralization, and in particular decentralized identity, over the course of the 2020s, Facebook gave in to pressure to open the Libra platform and network as Book.

Book allowed users to claim their Decentralized ID (DID) to serve as the root of their digital identity tree. This first DID protocol was specified by the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), and to this day continues to be iterated and improved upon. ConsenSys was a founding member of the DIF in 2017, and Facebook joined in 2025. Book’s DID was the first time, at large scale, that we had the ability to fully control our identities and personal information online. People and organizations around the world established their persistent root IDs, often with ConsenSys’s uPort, and personal data lockers like 3box enabled people not only to protect their personal information, but also publish, share, and monetize it if they wished.

Facebook’s split into a media company and an open network platform - and the goodwill it attracted for its open source work - piqued the interests of other global tech giants. In 2033, Zuckerberg announced the creation of DeFAANG, the Decentralized FAANG Consortium, an homage to the acronym that defined the “exploitative monoliths” of the social network revolution. Consisting of hundreds of governments, platforms, and companies - including Web2 mainstays like Facebook Media, Book, Google, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and many ConsenSys Mesh companies - the DeFAANG Consortium today sets standards and coordinates interoperation of decentralized open network platforms.

With everything moving to programmable open platforms, DeFAANG enabled CEOs to shift their business models to incorporate open protocols to grow developer mindshare and promote interoperability. Transportation, appliance, travel, festival, entertainment, and gaming companies all banded together into industry platforms and cross-industry platforms to promote fluid interoperation. Treating vast swaths of public data as a public good rather than competitive advantage followed, and data from state-controlled sensor devices - formerly the all-seeing eye, big brother networks - is now free to access.

The DeFAANG Consortium promoted three principles, which together enable all network platforms and topical global villages to interoperate: standardization, digitization, and tokenization.

Standardization and digitization were the first steps of DeFAANG. DeFAANG standardized the open-source framework the world currently uses to represent and process nearly all financial instruments and financial flows. Many of us know it as ACTUS, the open source Algorithmic Contract Types Unified Standards framework. Through the ACTUS standard and the AFP (ACTUS Financial Protocol) - the HTML and HTTP of the financial web - enterprises began overcoming the ‘walled garden’ inefficiencies of the previous decades, which confined companies and markets to proprietary, siloed systems.

ACTUS introduced a taxonomy for types of financial contracts. Every financial contract on the planet can be represented as one of the 37 categories of contracts with well defined inputs, outputs, and algorithms to codify the flows of value - each of which is rendered and encased in a legally-binding Open Law Smart Agreement.

Financial analysis and planning became far more regularized after the release of ACTUS. Today we can not only compare a mortgage to any other mortgage, but we can compare it to any annuity or bond or futures, option, or swap contract using the unified framework. The American Contagion will probably be the last downturn of human economic history. The ‘boom and bust’ pattern that has long defined human society no longer applies when financial information is not hidden away by people who have control over it. Since ACTUS, we have been on a constant, steady upward trend of global prosperity and quality of life.

Tokenization, the third core element of DeFAANG, supercharged digitization and standardization. It enabled us to render all assets in natively digital form without compromising security or scarcity. And it created economic incentives to standardize all forms of asset representation and processing.

Tokenization brought the invention of natively digital assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum, and the many storage, bandwidth, and compute assets of Web3. It also brought native digital representation of real world assets like real estate, equities, commodities, and identity. Tokenization enables us to clear and settle any transaction in the instant of the transaction, regardless of what the underlying elements are. Thus, tokenization has enabled us to squeeze the frictions and delays out of all of our transactions and has removed most opportunities for fraud.

Tokenization has grown to represent assets like identifiers (like the blockchain-based root of my decentralized identity tree) and rights, privileges and capabilities, like the ability to access a service or a piece of information. This has enabled the capabilities-based framework of Web4 pioneered by Agoric and MetaMask. These teams created the first coherent security model for the Web, taking us from a web architecture that was formed in naive times to trade academic papers, to the rock-solid data and IoT security model that undergirds nearly all information processing on the planet. I call it the Star Trek computer model, since anyone anywhere can access their resources and fluidly share resources via a variety of interfaces.

Zuckerberg - who has remained at the helm of the DeFAANG Consortium since its inception - has been one of the staunchest and most articulate advocates for consumer data protection and privacy. His United Nations address in the second year of the Consortium’s existence laid out not only the tenets of decentralized identity and personal data protection, but also the framework for how any kind of public data could and should be captured, attributed, described via meta-information and made available to anyone on free market platforms for open data.

The Decentralization Revolution

In the early days of blockchain development, growth, and investment, the ecosystem - still primarily in a competitive mindset at that time - debated the value and components of what we named the Decentralization Quotient, a quantitative measurement of blockchain protocol decentralization. Committed to the ethos and promise of radical decentralization, each protocol strived towards a DQ of 1.0. For decades, 1.0 was the idealized DQ. In 2038, Ethereum reached a DQ of 0.999 and set the baseline for decentralization across all veteran and emerging protocols.

That changed in 2044, when Google - funded by the DeFAANG Consortium Fund - released their Google Node, the first personal and portable node hardware built off its decentralized protocol. Globally, DAOs and Consortiums emerged as groups of people self-organized and autonomous node clusters became more independent. In 2045, AI-powered DQ measurements around the world began registering microscopic moments when protocol DQs reached 1.0, and then suddenly 1.001. At that moment, the entire ecosystem’s mindset changed. After nearly half a century of striving for a DQ of 1.0, the proliferation of Google Nodes kicked off another race to a DQ of 10, the new bar of ultimate decentralization. For most global protocol companies, the next half of the 21st century will be defined by the journey to a DQ of 10. For us here in today’s world of DQ 1.0, the opportunities for us at that destination of DQ 10 are almost unfathomable.

05. Conclusion: Our World Today

The Rise of Intelligent Agents

We have entered an era of established trust between organic and machine intelligences. The architecture of our shared infrastructure has empowered all to act and transact with confidence. M2M, the Machine Economy, is growing fast, with an effective global swarm intelligence whose deep underlying complexity we experience as increasingly intuitive.

Information flows are open and transparent: 100% so for autonomous machines and consistently moving higher on the human side. Supply chains are managing resources optimally, feeding the Just-in-time and 3D printing networks. Deep learning, blockchain, and tokenization have reached a symbiotic harmony to make our lives more instant and enriched than ever -- and fully under our personal control, even as levels of collaboration and interdependence have reached new heights.

We find it effortless to acquire what we need these days, nearly anywhere in the world. I concentrate on what I want or need and my Siri - yes I still call her Siri - detects event-related potentials that my cranium puts out, patterns that she and I negotiated about 15 years ago and continue to evolve and refine. Then she goes into the market and completes a transaction on my behalf. It can be a banana that I grab on the spot or it can be a pair of shoes droned to me in minutes. It is so smooth these days that we don't think about the underlying complexity.

Just as peer-to-peer transactional capabilities revolutionized the way we do business, reducing middleware and its frictional costs, the machine-to-machine or M2M economy has made everything even more efficient. It is easy to forget the days before autonomous, networked, and micropayment enabled machines were able to transact between, update and repair themselves without intervention from us. Better data from more machines and machine intelligences has made the entire IoT infrastructure more resource-efficient, as well, so the massive increase in the number of machines has actually decreased the resource cost of running and maintaining them. And since their data is worth something, their financial autonomy has sprouted an unprecedentedly valuable economy from almost nothing in just a few short decades.

Money has taken so many forms over the millennia, from huge rocks to small gems to beads and notches on sticks. The more modern ages saw us use discs of metal, printed paper, and entries in centralized databases. This all seems laughable at this point, given how flimsy and counterfeitable all of these implementations were. It is hard to remember the time before programmable money. Rich new economies have emerged around digitally native representations of value and, as our basic needs are getting to be largely met around the world, radically new asset classes like attention, education, environment, personal health, and social health, now trade within their own interlinked network economies. We are more interested in accumulating attentional and educational wealth than in stockpiling wheat or kWh tokens. More interested in trading and growing the value of social health assets in our global villages than making killings in equities markets.

Money, per se, has taken a back seat, in the network platform economy, as a “tokenized-everything” world no longer requires explicit means of exchange to facilitate commerce. Before, all the different kinds of assets had to be traded using different interfaces, on different markets, under different rules. Now, because all smart token forms are standardized, I can trade, clear and settle that banana Siri bought for me for any of the tokens in my wallet, be they commodity, protocol, equity, or event admission tokens.

Evolving the Nature of Work

We have seen an amazing shift in the nature of work since assembly lines and working for “The Man” in our cubicles. In a remarkably short period of time, the nature of work, the structure of markets, the prosecution of governance, the self sovereignty of individuals, the architecture of economies, and the freedom and agency of the vast majority of people on this planet have evolved and matured profoundly.

In the early twenty-first century, the structure and nature of the firm had not yet caught up to the Information Age. Health benefits, insurance, retirement savings, and education benefits were all secured through the employment relationship, in exchange for spending most of our waking hours in service of our employer. Automation, the Gig Economy, and data asymmetry threatened the security of workers across industries, eroding the social contract between employer and employee that had reigned through most of the industrial age.

With the advent of blockchain technology and platforms like Sobol, Open Law, Coven, Opolis, Bounties Network and Gitcoin, we initiated the era of the Self-Sovereign Worker, where peer-to-peer economies and tokenization of everything have empowered the individual to be self sufficient and selective in finding work on open, global platforms rather than in limited geographies and under constraining relationships. With Opolis we saw the advent of the guild-like DEO, or Decentralized Employment Organization, in which networks of Self-Sovereign Workers organize collectively via a trusted protocol to manage self-determined employment, and portable benefits. Realized as second generation DAOs, these DEOs were among the earliest topical global villages, as groups of workers saw the clear benefit of aligning capital and labor incentives among their like-minded peers in an era of increasingly uncertain traditional prospects. DEOs served as one of the strongest catalysts that ushered in the era of Collective Capitalism.

We can think of the trust revolution as a paradigm shift in our species’ management of our shared resources. Open, shared platforms are natural. We live with them daily. The ground is a transportation layer that we can all walk on, the air we can all freely breathe, public parks enable us to gather and play together, and in oceans, lakes, and rivers we can swim and fish for food. Our digital infrastructures too are common goods that, at their best, enable us to better manage our resources in a state of abundance and take good care of the pale blue dot where the human story began.

Just as steam power and mechanical assist force-multiplied what we could do with muscle alone, enabling us to do more, better, faster,…Just as computation machines expanded what we could contemplate and execute,….Just as the internet and social networks of yesteryear magnified our gregarious nature, enabling us to coordinate globally in real time, the revolution in the global trust infrastructure - enabled by maximally decentralized blockchain and related protocols - force-multiplies everything we do in the age of automated trust. This economic evolution has not only enabled us to create orders of magnitude more value in less time, but has transformed the very concept of value itself.

Managing Common Resources: Collective Capitalism

In 2019, I spoke of the germinating roots of Collective Capitalism. I proposed that with the coordination and incentive-aligning features of decentralizing technologies, we could for the first time in history empower both individual and collective interests in parallel. Free markets and shared ownership were no longer in tension. Our daily mindset towards nearly all societal functions shifted decisively from byzantine and hierarchical to collaborative and fractal; from classical models to complex systems. Whereas scaling any industry used to require high coordination costs to produce energy - and therefore high socio-economic entropy - decentralized coordination has enabled complex social systems to manage resources and processes more effectively and seamlessly, while affording individuals greater autonomy to determine the nature of their participation.

This embracing of complex models - the holistic organism rather than the command-and-control organization - was a key aspect of evolving the rather simplistic technological optimism of the early blockchain era. As in any emergent process, technological change and social change are part of the same feedback loops - some negative, some positive. Removing silos, barriers, and trust asymmetry from digital information flows has enabled lower-friction interactions across global networks. When we began to spread not just information across these global networks, but also all the other interactions that have advanced our species during each era of our history - labor and wages, ownership, financing, production, markets, data -- we became a holistic global organism. And having graduated from adolescence, and reached a state of still youthful maturity, we are taking steps to project our species and our civilization beyond this pale blue dot to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Back in 2017, I said: “I’ve heard so many times, almost daily, over the past few years that people are working to change the world.” These days we don’t hear people talking about changing the world, just like we don’t hear people talking about breathing or walking. It is just what we do, all day, every day.

There is a new energy that continually sweeps over the planet. It is like a continuous rolling wave of creativity unleashed by better, fairer, more equitable systems -- systems that enable and empower us to access the information we need in real time to pretty much always make our own best decisions.

The planet is now largely focussed on novelty and excellence, rather than competition and survival. We are firmly ensconced in an abundance mindset, having shed the fear and scarcity ethos, the survival mindset that nearly killed us. Liberated from scarcity economics, endless creativity and virtual digital property and value enables the creation of literally infinite wealth.


It has been nearly forty years since we first began to recognize there was a new and better way to architect our global systems. That vision emerged in a time of monumental challenges in our long-held institutions and our symbiotic relationship with our home planet. The view from 2047 is nothing like the old world order from which we have collectively evolved. We now recognize all humans and many machines as sharing the fundamental right to shape their own lives with greater agency, autonomy, and liberty than ever before. With a transformation in trust came a productive and amazing reorganization of information, value, access, and cooperation. Now, as I write to you all from 2047, I can say with confidence that the dream has been made real. And we are all in it.

Welcome to 2047.