In the New Cold War, Technology Is the Enemy of the State

El dinero electrónico y aplicaciones que facilitan la vida son los nuevos desafíos para los Estados. (Ebankingnews.com)

Technological innovation has put the world in a position to face a “cold war” once again. In the future, there will still be studies that examine the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, but as a footnote, compared to what is headed our way.+

The key players will no longer be governments alone, obsessed with space, weapons, and scientific races. There’s no time for that: technology, the new enemy, has revealed that governments are becoming increasingly obsolete appendages whose vital functions are in decline. The signs are clear.+

In the United States, the level of correspondence sent through the US Postal Service each year continues to decline. Between 2006 and 2012, the volume of stamped mail (bill payments, personal correspondence, cards) plummeted by 47 percent. The US constitution may grant authority for the creation of a postal system, but the nation has begun to lose one of its government emblems.+

In April, the US Federal Aviation Administration authorized Amazon to test-fly drones for the delivery of packages through its Prime Air program. Even a pair of Australians have unveiled a design for drone delivery nets, guided by LEDs, that would allow drones to deliver cargo from the sky.+

Rebellion is underway in diverse areas. In the case of Uber, the ride-sharing mobile app has faced heavy opposition from unions and some governments. Earlier this year in Buenos Aires, the taxi-owner and driver unions began to protest against the service when news leaked about the San Francisco-based company hiring on LinkedIn.+

Since the smartphone-based service arrived in Mexican cities in 2014, protests have become routine. Meanwhile in Colombia, taxi drivers aggressively reacted to a special that encouraged people to choose Uber over the regulated taxis. “An app does not replace a taxi, but in the end it’s a taxi monopoly, and they don’t like the disruption. It’s healthy competition,” said Rodrigo Arévalo, Uber’s director in Mexico.+

Other websites, such as Airbnb, allow people to easily rent a bed, a room, or a house in various cities across the globe. By using a reputation-based ranking system that guarantees high satisfaction, consumers can avoid the middlemen.+

Government officials are aware that to continue collecting taxes from the hotel sector it must survive, so they have launched measures to regulate temporary rentals offered by individuals. “We don’t have enough properties to house Parisians,” the deputy mayor of Paris, Ian Brossat,complained. The city of (few) lights has joined a number of other European nations taking the same path.+

Bitcoin is a revolution by itself. A non-governmental, decentralized, currency will make central banking obsolete, removing an institution responsible for looting on a mass scale. Traditional banks will radically change from their current form, but the most remarkable innovation is theblockchain technology that processes the digital currency transactions. The technology underlying bitcoin could be compared to other technological innovations such as the steam engine “that have transformed the way business works,” as noted in BNP Paribas’sQuintessence finance magazine.+

National rulers are still tepidly observing the progress of bitcoin. However, Ecuador took the lead when President Rafael Correa banned bitcoin last year and the country launched its own state-controlled digital currency. Unlike bitcoin, a state-run digital currency would guarantee the government — in the long-term — a monopoly on the means of payment, and no privacyfor the public. Totalitarian surveillance on every economic transaction is everything that bitcoin attempts to avoid.

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