(I know it’s already 17 days into your Gregorian new year, but I operate according to the Lunar calendar. Also I am lazy and slow.)
Over the holidays, my neighbor spent $5000 on emergency surgery after her dog swallowed a TV remote. I don’t have a dog, but I get the impression it’s kinda like caring for a small child and a geriatric parent, compressed into a lifespan of ten years.
You know how people are delaying family formation because they can’t afford to have kids? They’ll get priced out of pets too. Capitalism tends to create a hedonic treadmill where society spends an increasing amount on discretionary items until everything reaches a level of unaffordability.
So, houseplants are taking off. You know, for those who can’t handle the responsibility of having a cat. There are lots of tech startups specializing in potted plants for childless urban professionals. Prediction: Pet ownership will decline, houseplants will rise to take their place. We’ll see a growing cottage industry of botanists acting as veterinarians for plants.
2. Distributed Corporate Despotism
Our Anti-Sinitic Pravda loves to tell scary stories about China’s surveillance state, but did you know that the US leads the world in surveillance cameras per capita?
Many police departments use facial recognition to identify suspects, but there’s been some pushback on that. The real mass surveillance will be that which we welcome into our homes. Even though San Francisco banned facial recognition for cops, millions of homeowners have installed Ring security cameras to catch porch pirates. By the way, Ring has a video-sharing agreement with 770 police departments across the country.
ATMs and grocery store self-checkout lanes also have AI-powered cameras. My brother works at a hospital that frequently admits patients with no insurance and no ID. Why not replace hospital check-in staff with a facial recognition camera?
Prediction: China’s autocracy has nothing on capitalism’s distributed despotism. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.
3. Wildcat banking, but on the blockchain
I can’t read the phrase “sound money” without rolling my eyes and making mental fart noises. (…aand I probably just got blacklisted from Bitcoin conferences for the rest of eternity.)
We’re moving toward fractional reserve bitcoin banking whether we like it or not. The blockchain is supposed to be auditable and unforgeable, yet 95% of bitcoin transactions happen on or between exchanges. (That’s a made up stat, but probably close.)
Now we have a sidechain called Liquid, basically a federated bank where you can see how much Liquid Bitcoin is in circulation, but no longer verify that any given exchange has what it claims to have.
Prediction: People will continue to create peer-to-peer transactions on the blockchain, but that will eventually be as quaint as using cash. Way trendier to make a Liquid transaction through a Blockstream Green Wallet.
Anyway, fractional reserve banking is fine; it’s the bailouts that are bad.