By Daniel Jeffries
The battle for tomorrow is coming.
The world is a powder keg. From potential nuclear war with North Korea, to populist rage, to the Arab Winter, to the resurgence of authoritarian power in South Africa, Rwanda, Egypt, Syria, Venezuela and the Philippines, to a bubble in everything from housing to commodities to the stock market, we have all the makings of a perfect storm.
And not just any storm. A nuclear armed super storm that can smash the world like a tiny egg.
Not since the 1930’s have we had so many dark clouds swirling, waiting for just the right wind to sweep them all together into a terrifying squall.
But we do have one chance to save ourselves.
Digital cat stickers.
Everyone knows that cats already rule the interwebs, but most people don’t see them as the key to saving the planet from certain annihilation. And that’s exactly why they can.
To know why you just have to understand a little about economics, the unique human penchant for trivial pursuits and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
When the Price of Rice is High, Heaven Decrees New Rulers
Almost every problem in the world boils down to economics. If we can’t get economics right, it doesn’t matter what else we do. It’s a dependency tree. First comes economics then everything else.
That’s why the Chinese have an old saying “first people find food, then they get ethics.”
What does the proverb mean? Basically the Chinese figured out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs about 5,000 years before he did.
In the 1940s, after the last great war, psychologist Abraham Maslow showed us that the needs driving mankind exist in a giant pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid are our most basic desires for food, water, shelter. Just after that comes safety.
These aren’t all or nothing. We can have partial solutions to each piece of the pyramid before moving up the stack to more noble goals. Nothing is ever 100% assured in life. People don’t need to have a guarantee but they need to have a general sense of where their next meal is coming from before they can worry about enlightenment and whether they’re popular on Twitter.
But without the basics taken care of, there’s no chance that a complex society and social contract flourishes. The center cannot hold and mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
When people feel like their food, water and safety are under threat they lose their minds. Anyone who’s every been hungry knows you can’t think about anything else until you find food. When it happens at a large scale, a collective psychosis takes root and rips through society, giving rise to all kinds of aberrations. If it goes too far it can bring a civilization crashing down or start a war.
That’s what’s happening right now. People are worried. They don’t know if they’ll have a job next week or if they can feed their families. And it’s driving two very different phenomenon. On one hand it’s bringing dangerous people to power everywhere.
Authoritarianism is a response to fear by the weakest people in society. When the have-nots don’t see a clear path to clean water and a place to lay their head at night they get scared and in their fear and desperation they turn to men they don’t fully understand, who promise to lead them and set the world right by any means necessary.
On the other hand, the fear of global chaos is driving cryptos to incredible new heights. People see them as a safe haven in uncertain times, a hedge against a world gone mad.
As Vinay Gupta said in his recent tweetstorm and follow-up article, “A lot of people with a lot of money are performing a great hedge against a dollar price collapse brought on by political factors .”
Can you imagine what a war with North Korea would do to Bitcoin prices? Yeah, a lot of other people can too and that’s what’s going on right now, a fear-driven crypto boom unlike anything we’ve ever seen in history. And don’t say tulips, because that is just a stupid myth that never happened.
Maybe you think the rise of crypto wealth will be enough to offset a global tsunami? Just take your new crypto riches and find an island somewhere?
There won’t be an island.
A world war wouldn’t stay confined to a few continents like the last two. It would hit every single country on Earth.
Even worse, when the system needs to get rebuild the crypto platforms of tomorrow just aren’t there yet.
Cryptos are filled with potential but let’s face it, they don’t really do anything very useful today. They’re a brand new engine of wealth, but about all we can do with that wealth is buy other shitcoins and drugs on the dark net.
If the current system collapses the new system isn’t ready to take its place.
And that’s the real problem. The platforms of tomorrow aren’t ready to go. They’re still under construction. The roads aren’t paved. The cement trucks are just getting ready to pour the sidewalks. There’s no airport or tree lined park with swings. The houses are still just frames.
The crypto superhighway is still under construction.
To build that superhighway, crypto still needs to solve some massive and as yet intractable problems, like mega=scalability.
Decentralized consensus systems simply don’t scale as well as centralized systems yet. An automated, DevOps-driven Docker solution running on the Amazon cloud will blow out even the fastest blockchain on almost every level, from energy consumption to reliability to uptime. To truly go mainstream, decentralized solutions need to rip past cloud service capabilities, beating out distributed databases like Cassandra or on-demand storage like EC2.
When cryptos do manage to solve those challenges, and they will, the list of real world problems they can fix are nearly endless.
Decentralized consensus holds the potential to solve everything from voting integrity, to supply chain integrity, to digital identities. Billions of people have no bank account and don’t know where their next meal is coming from tonight. We see massive data breaches almost every day. The entire world is under surveillance. You name it, crypto can fix it.
But we don’t have a lot of time before things go crazy.
Let’s say you want to get smart contracts accepted as real legal contracts. That’s what Vinay Gupta’s team is working on. I have little doubt that he’ll get there, but it will take years of lobbying, dialogue, political donations and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
We don’t have that kind of time. So we need to buy that time to give the true geniuses the runway they need to get the superhighways of tomorrow up and running.
And that’s where digital cats come in.
Paradoxically the answer is not to solve all of the big problems right now. Instead it is to solve one little problem:
How do we make cryptos go viral?
Because when cryptos go viral and everyone from grandma to the waiter at the local bar is using them for everyday things like buying Snickers and cars, then the value of the ecosystem will balloon from banana republic to first world nation. That will make the economy roar and stave off disaster.
Remember, first people find food, then they find ethics. When they stop worrying that they’ll never get their piece of the pie, balance returns to the force. And when that happens, it means we bought more time.
It will also pump so much wealth into the crypto coffers that it will make today’s crypto boom look like a little blip. That will give the geniuses the money they need to finish the highways and byways of the future and solve the biggest problems like supply chain management and decentralized identity.
So how do we do it?
A trivial pursuit.
And when it comes to trivial pursuits, few things hold sway over the human mind like kitty cats.
When Google built a gigantic brain simulator the first thing it recognized were our pointy eared buddies because digital cats dominate the net. But it doesn’t stop there. Cat stickers power more conversations on Viber and WeChat in a day than Signal processes in an entire year. Hello Kitty is worth more than $7 billion a year.
How does it work?
Imagine you have a little messenger app, think WeChat or Signal. You’re chatting with your friends and family. You have a whole bunch of stickers and digital collectibles in the app that you get for free. You’ve got smiley faces and all kinds of cat stickers. You send the waving cat sticker to your wife who loves it. She sends the kissy faced cat sticker back with the giant heart on it.
Then all of a sudden you get a new kind of cat sticker. It arrives in the app with great fanfare! You’ve unlocked level 2 stickers!
You click on it and realize you have a dozen new collectibles to send to your wife to make her happy. Happy wife, happy life. You start wondering how you can get more of those stickers?
That’s when you notice a blinky light in the upper right hand corner of the app. You click it and it takes you to a new screen.
You’ve got 1000 reward coins.
Then you notice there’s a marketplace built into the app and it doesn’t take fiat currency like USD or Euros, it only takes crypto coins. Some take Ethereum, some Bitcoin, some Zcash, some Dash and some take the reward coin! There’s even a little Shapeshift built right in, so you can change your coins on the fly. You look and see that your reward coin is worth $5.00 on the decentralized exchanges and you’ve got $5,000 of it now just for using the app!
What does that little app get us?
Well, if you were paying close attention you’d see that the money is flowing out into the system in a brand new way.
To understand why, you need to know that money has always worked the same way. The king or the nation state prints the money and gives it to feudal lords or giant banks or companies and eventually maybe a tiny little bit dribbles down to the rest of us. That creates a giant pyramid that keeps most of the money at the top because the people at the bottom can’t get their hands on enough of it. They never get to join the great economic game of life.
Cryptos haven’t changed that at all. Sure, we can mint money without a central bank, but it just goes to the top of the pyramid again. Instead of unelected central banks we have unelected miners. Cryptos created the same system we already have right now. People with disposable income can hedge against a dollar collapse. But the people driving a bus or digging coal or sweeping the streets will never get any of that crypto.
Now some folks think that’s just the way it is and some things will never change. Ah, but don’t you believe them.
They don’t understand that if more people could participate in the game, the system could go truly parabolic and unleash a wave of unprecedented economic growth, which solves 90% of the other problems in the world. When everyone knows where their next meal is coming from they stop thinking about using nukes and electing the insane.
You could change the flow of money with a UBI (universal basic income), but in the end it probably won’t work because you have to tax people after you’ve already handed out the cash. That means you have to take it from people who already have it, which means you face resistance.
But cryptos can distribute money at the point of creation.
You don’t have to take it from anyone.
This is the true game changer. This is real power of cryptos, the one that everyone missed and continues to miss.
That’s what our little app does.
It solves the biggest, baddest, granddaddiest of all problems in the world today:
The distribution of money.
What you’ve done is create a universal reward coin with an invisible game. The app itself is a game, it’s just people don’t know they’re playing. This is stealth gamification and it can change the system forever, if we’re bright enough to see it.
Nothing captures the human imagination like a trivial pursuit. People love games. Some people think games are a waste of time. They’re not. They’re essential. In fact, almost everything in life is a game. Everything is a system, everything is a game.
Far from being a waste of time, a good game keeps us occupied and stops us from playing war games, the kind that can get us all killed.
Cat stickers can stop the bombs from dropping. An app powered by a universal reward coin is the killer app of the future. And we can build it right now.
It won’t take years of political pats on the back and a $100 billion in political donations to get through the old crusty elites in congress.
We’ll waltz right in the back door and avoid a fight at the front.
It’s hard to fix supply chain management. If you want to spin up a decentralized digital identity platform you will face resistance at every step.
But this? This is a trojan horse to fix the world.
A messenger; universal reward coin; build-in marketplace; built-in exchange.
And the best part?
There is no barrier to entry. There is no lobbying or political pats on the back necessary. You just build it. You built a beautiful interface and you load it up with the coolest cat stickers your designers can create, as fast as they can create them.
I’ve used this example for a year and people though I was nuts. I had a team working on the ultimate platform when I came up with this and they didn’t get it. They wanted to solve the big problems. They didn’t realized I’d already solved those but this one comes first because it changes everything.
They didn’t realize the power of tiny things to change big things.
And then crypto kitties happened.
Idea validated. They’ve already moved $17 million dollars in transactions and it’s growing by the second. There is a reason that Pokemon is a billion dollar annual industry, with a capital B.
CryptoKitties is only the beginning. It’s the Model-T of the blockchain digital collectibles game.
Trivial pursuits can change the world because they fly under the radar. That’s why the Simpsons delivers devastatingly sophisticated humor without drawing too much fire. It’s dismissed as a simple cartoon by the people not smart enough to understand it in the first place.
But if you’re only trying to solve the most entrenched and intractable problems in the world, you may have missed a much easier way, one with no barrier to entry that let’s you sneak past the nuclear armed velvet rope.
Everyone sees supply chain disruption coming.
And voting disruption.
But nobody sees cat stickers coming.
About Daniel Jeffries: I’m an author, futurist, and thinker. You can follow me right here on Strategic Coin, the premier spot for utility token research and ICOs, and on Medium. If you love crypto as much as I do, come on over to DecStack, the virtual co-working space for cryptocurrency and decentralized app projects because it’s free forever and you can rub elbows with the best of the best. You can also find me on my private Facebook group, the Nanopunk Posthuman Assassins, where we discuss all things tech, sci-fi, fantasy and more. If you love my work you may want to support me on Patreon because it lets me keep cranking out amazing content for you.