Ten years ago the biggest corporations in the world by market cap were names like Exxon, Walmart and China National Petroleum.
Ten years later, the top companies in the world by market cap are Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
I believe that in the next 10 years, there will be a similar turnover. And a number of them will be what I call “cryptocosmic” companies that are building a new internet.
What do I mean by cryptocosmic?
I’m referring to the coming revolution of blockchain technology that addresses the fundamental shortcoming of the existing internet: security.
The internet needs a new security architecture. Since the internet has become a commercial engine as much as a communications platform, the internet needs a security protocol to match it.
Anybody who goes on the internet knows it.
There’s the constant demand for new usernames, passwords, PINs, mother’s maiden names… all the apparatus of security we currently have to manage. You need a notebook just to keep track of it all.
A billion people may have been affected by breaches on the internet last year. A billion breaches of private data. As a result, security technology spending is growing faster than ever. We’ve seen a 20–30% rise every year in spending on internet security technologies.
But that only means more and more ways for hackers to find a way in. And we know that internet security is driving everybody crazy.
Part of the problem is that internet security is centralised. By centralising your security, you actually help hackers and spies. Because it tells them 1) what’s important and 2) where it can be found.
This is the fundamental vulnerability of all centralised security and the classification systems that are associated with it.
It all comes back to this fundamental reality: The internet wasn’t designed for transactions. It was designed for email and communication.
That’s where the blockchain comes in.
Blockchain offers a fundamentally new security architecture for the internet. “Security first” is the motto of the emerging cryptocosm.
Why is the blockchain far more secure than the existing internet?
Blockchain provides a fixed record of all transactions and information transmissions that have occurred — and distributes a compressed version of all the data to everyone in the network.
By using a model that’s distributed instead of centralised, we won’t have all information in one place — where it’s an easy target for hackers. Instead, you’d have to attack all the records across the whole internet before you can change or steal anything.
Any hacker who hacks into one computer can gain nothing except what’s in that particular computer. That’s because the information is distributed across the network. So a hacker would have to capture 51% of the entire network in order to defraud the network.
That is, unless you capture 51% of all the nodes on the internet, which is essentially impossible, you can’t successfully hack the blockchain.
What does that mean for you?
It will mean that you don’t have to learn dozens of different passwords to access every walled garden on the internet. No more sets of security questions and entering your mother’s maiden name. Your data are protected.
So blockchain has the ability to revolutionise the way business is handled over the internet, with its ability to provide secure transaction data.
Now, you probably think of bitcoin when you hear the word “blockchain.” And who can forget the massive bitcoin bubble that burst in late 2017? So the term might leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. It’s true, blockchain provides a secure framework for bitcoin transactions.
But the blockchain is much, much bigger than bitcoin. Bitcoin is the past. It’s really just a niche platform without potential for wide-scale use. But blockchain holds the key to an entirely new system of the world. Its expansion in the coming years will trigger major changes in our day-to-day lives.
The thing is this new cryptocosm is taking shape right now.
As someone who predicted the smartphone in 1990 and is credited with detecting the world’s most important financial and technological trends before others, I can say this might be the most exciting development in the world today.
But for now, just understand that blockchain technology is preparing to revolutionise the internet. Get ready for life after Google. The new internet will be dominated by an entirely new security architecture.
And I believe early investors in this new technology will get incredibly rich from it.
The Coming Internet 2.0
“The computer of the future will be as portable as your watch and as personal as your wallet. It will recognise speech and navigate streets, collect your mail and your news.”
I wrote that in 1990 in my book Life After Television.
Seventeen years later, the iPhone was announced in California to the amazement of the world.
How did I know that smartphones would exist almost two decades before the first device launched?
Simple. I followed the advice of Caltech’s Carver Mead: “Listen to the technology and find out what it is telling us.” Carver Mead was Gordon Moore’s researcher at Intel — who did the research and named Moore’s Law. Mead was the most brilliant figure in technology of the last half century or so.
But what now?
The iPhone has become so mainstream that I see 3-year-olds brandishing the devices like action figures or toy dolls. Well, based on what I’m hearing in the technology world today, the next phase of growth will involve a complete restructuring of the internet.
And it’s the basis for my newest book Life After Google, a title that happens to feature what I believe to be the first casualty of the new internet infrastructure.
A New Paradigm is About to Emerge
Google has pulled off a fabulous accomplishment. It grew a company from nothing to a $700 billion market cap behemoth. It has dominated in the world of search and cloud computing.
We live in the Google era. There’s no doubt about that. But that era is coming to an end.
I chose Google to highlight the problems with the current internet infrastructure because the company is fundamentally flawed. Indeed, we already know that its advertising business is not sustainable.
Did you know that 30% of your payments for smartphone services go to download ads that you don’t want to see? And only 0.06% of these smartphone ads are clicked on?
According to surveys, 50% of these clicks are made in error. That means only 0.03% of ads are actually desired.
This is a catastrophe.
And its not a viable business. Google is coming to the end of the line in smartphone advertising.
Of course, advertising isn’t Google’s only business. It also offers search and solutions — where, through artificial intelligence and the company’s increasing accumulation of big data, it can answer all your questions. But that is where Google becomes downright delusional.
A Fundamentally Flawed Vision
In my book, I call Google out as “neo-Marxist.” What do I mean by that?
The key error of Marxism was Karl Marx’s belief that the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century was basically man’s final attainment. That the problem of productivity and wealth creation had been solved forever. And from then on, the only challenge would be how to distribute wealth, rather than how to create it.
What does this have to do with Google?
Well, Google is just repeating Karl Marx’s error with the new technology. Google believes that its artificial intelligence, its machine learning, its robotics, its algorithmic biology, its search, its solutions, constitute a new final achievement of human beings.
In fact, I’d take it one step further. Google’s Marxism is even more grandiose than Karl’s original vision.
Google imagines a singularity where the machines will eclipse the human minds and allow all of the rest of us to retire on beaches and collect a guaranteed annual income. In other words, robots will be running the world. While the leaders of the revolution — like Sergey Brin and Larry Page — fly off with Elon Musk to some remote planet in a winner-take-all universe.
But this is delusional. And not just because of the diminishing returns of big data. What I mean by that is the cost to store all of that data vs. the profits it generates. The flaw I’m talking about involves the human condition.
Machines Will Reach an Insurmountable Limit
You see, these big cloud data centers and artificial intelligence can only address a deterministic problem, meaning the outcome is always determined by the inputs that go into it. There can be no surprises, it’s a clockwork world.
A deterministic problem can be solved by a machine. But they are irrelevant to information.
Ultimately, information is defined by surprise. It’s unexpected bits. And surprise is the essence of human creativity. Surprises in a machine represent a breakdown. It’s bad news when your machine starts surprising you.
Of course, Google people try to simulate creativity in machines by introducing randomness to the machines. And they pretend that that is inherently creative. But they’re subtracting information rather than adding it.
Machines do not essentially think. They don’t know anything. There are systems of gates, of dumb components. They lack creativity, and aren’t capable of what only human minds and imaginations can generate.
Most neuroscientists believe that consciousness is just a byproduct of chemistry. Too many scientists imagine that if logical processing is accelerated to high enough rate that somehow consciousness will emerge.
I believe that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the mind. And that undermines much of the prevailing neuroscience and almost all of computer science that purports to be imitating minds (i.e., artificial intelligence).
The smartest people in the world believe in this materialistic superstition. They believe that the universe is explainable entirely in terms of chemistry and physics. That assumption, I believe, is manifestly false. But it is a religious conviction underlying almost all neuroscience and computer science.
The amazing thing is that it’s utterly disproven by the computer itself. You can know the position of every atom and molecule in a computer and not have the slightest idea what it is accomplishing.
A physicist who knows everything about the physical elements of all the chips in the computer knows nothing about what it’s actually doing.
Why would someone imagine that understanding all the molecules and atoms of the brain will define a human mind?
Silicon Valley companies imagine computers are going to take over from us, create massive unemployment, and necessitate guaranteed annual income to all the humans they displace. That’s not realistic, not for a very long time anyway.
Google embodies this mindset. And it believes that with big data, it can predict everything, that all the answers can be extracted from the company’s aggregations of big data.
But imagining that some technology that you’ve come up with is the final technology — one that will end the human adventure — is absurd. Indeed, Google’s era will come to an end. And sooner than many think.
But what comes after?
What will be the new backbone of the internet that allows for spontaneity and creativity to flourish once again?
The blockchain. Yes, the same technology you associate with bitcoin now.
Blockchain and related cryptographic technologies are about to lead a creative insurgency — one that will provide several profitable opportunities in the months ahead.