This is the third of a three-part, interview series with George Gilder on his new bestseller “Life After Google.” In part 1, he explains Silicon Valley’s “fundamental flaw.” In part 2, he shows why Google’s “free stuff” isn’t free. In part 3, below, Gilder describes a new internet, “after Google,” of limitless entrepreneurship and prosperity rooted in human creativity.
In “Life After Google,” George Gilder contends the age of the “Big Data” tech giants and their centralized, top-down hierarchical world is about to end, largely because their “neo-Marxist, deterministic” worldview is “fundamentally flawed.”
But what will the digital world look like “after Google”?
In an interview with WND, Gilder – whose 1981 book “Wealth and Poverty” was Ronald Reagan’s guidebook for his economic revolution and whose 1994 book “Life After Television” predicted the current digital world with astounding specificity – spoke of a frontier of free enterprise that will look more like the original internet of limitless possibilities but be bolstered by a new architecture called the “cryptocosm.”
He describes the cryptocosm, currently represented by emerging “blockchain” technologies such as bitcoin, as “a new network whose most powerful architectural imperative will be security of transactions as a property of the system rather than an afterthought.”
Blockchains are a kind of ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently, in a verifiable and permanent way.
The technology, Gilder believes, allows the unleashing of entrepreneurship on the internet.
“The Google dream is a supermind in the sky that knows everything,” Gilder told WND. “My dream is to distribute information as human minds are distributed.”
Gilder explained that the capabilities of the human mind, as “the ultimate thinking organism,” are distributed among people all over the world.
“So an economy works best if power is distributed in accord with the distribution of human minds,” said Gilder.
“It allows an efflorescence of human creativity in the image of their creator.”
That, he insisted, is “the real dream of a successful capitalist order.”
“It’s not the development of the supermind, a machine in the sky that knows everything,” said Gilder.
“I think what we’re going to have is the capability of a real global capitalism that can be conducted across networks in a distributed peer-to-peer fashion.”
His 2013 book “Knowledge and Power” argued that the knowledge of entrepreneurs, and their freedom to share and use that knowledge, are the sparks that light up the economy and set its gears in motion.
Gilder said the big issue of privacy, which dominates headlines today, will be addressed in the new digital world.
He’s not as concerned as many are, however, about privacy in terms of personal secrets, contending the belief that “there was a great halcyon period of the past where people had privacy and now technology has destroyed” is a “destructive myth” that enables governments to intervene.
“But privacy in terms of ownership of your own data and ownership of your identity and the ability to conduct transactions without exposing all your personal information to be used and abused – that’s another issue,” he said.
“That’s what the new cryptocosm affords.”
The technology is not easy to explain without using unfamiliar terms.
Gilder describes it as essentially “a new security architecture that allows you to keep your own personal details to yourself and transact anonymously across the network.”
“You know who you are, and you shouldn’t be dependent on some database at Google to conduct transactions,” he said.
Through complex mathematical formulas, behavior, including transactions, can be documented while personal details are concealed.
“What makes my book different,” he told WND, “is I put the rise of the cryptocosm, with bitcoin and ethereum and the blockchain, in the context of the breakdown in the existing security model in the internet and the breakup of the internet into a series of walled gardens dominated by particular internet companies, Google, Facebook, et al.”
The “walled gardens” have prompted nations such as communist China and the Iranian mullahs to create their own internets, Gilder noted.
“So you have a kind of segmentation of the internet and a breakdown in the ideal of a global communication system,” he said.
“This happened because the internet was designed by communication through copying. That’s how it works. It copies things at a tremendous pace all across the world in creating a global communicator,” Gilder explained.
“It’s succeeded tremendously as a communicator, but as soon as transactions and business began to move onto the internet … security became absolutely indispensable.”
He explained that a “porous internet with a porous perforated internet stack allows all the money and power to be sucked up to the top, to Apple, Google, Facebook and these other companies.”
“To prevent that, you need to allow people to control their own identities and control their own security, to not depend on Google dispatching a SWAT team of superhackers to remedy any breakdown,” he said.
“Rather you need to have a blockchain security style of architecture in which security is achieved through distributing information rather than by centralizing,” he said.
“As a result of the amazing feat of microchips, once again, a new global architecture is made possible.”
Prospering after Google
Gilder said the new system would allow news outlets, for example, to control their own content, selling it directly to customers through arrangements such as “micropayments,” which he described as a “hassle-free way of collecting tiny amounts of money for tiny goods and services.”
“That makes it possible for you to escape the centralization of a walled garden that collects all the money,” he said.
Gilder said it would “bring pricing to bear on many transactions that currently are avoided” while providing security.
It might look like a small, automatic payment every time someone clicks on an article.
“The blockchain allows you to assign property rights to various facets of any content, including works of art,” he explained.
To those who might be inclined to object to such an arrangement, Gilder offers perspective.
“The existing internet where everything is free or subscription-based is costly beyond expectation,” he argued, “and that polarization of payments is quite stultifying and allows all the money to be sucked up into advertising.”
Gilder, who explains why Google’s “free stuff” isn’t really free, calls ads “minuses, or even mines, across the internet,” emphasizing their obvious unpopularity.
“But micropayments allow payments that people actually consider right and appropriate for each consumption of content,” he said.
Gilder noted that even now, many proposed formulas for such payments are being “pursued by the capitalist genius of experimental creativity.”