Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

Who is John Galt?

We just watched the first two parts of Atlas Shrugged. I was unfamiliar with Ayn Rand and her works until today. I found the films exhilarating and eagerly await the third installment.

They depict a near-future world where economic collapse and enduring recession has enabled politicians to seize increasing power over private individuals and corporations. In the name of “the greater good”, they effectively outlaw competition and and ultimately appropriate intellectual property. Against this backdrop, increasing numbers of value-creating entrepreneurs as well as other talented individuals (eg. composers) are going missing.

A few years ago I would have thought Rand’s dystopia future unrealistic, but with the recent turbulence I now doubt that our economic system is sustainable. I see two main reasons for this:

1) We are at the dawn of the post-labor economy. Machines now do most menial jobs better than people can, and as a result there are simply not enough jobs to go around. The welfare state bloats while the increasing-few whose talents cannot yet be automated bear the burden.

2) There is now an alternative financial and information system which is outside the reach of our inept governments: cryptocurrencies (eg. Bitcoin, Litecoin and their brethren) and cipherspace.

As the governments of the world tighten their grip around those of us who drive progress and create value, we will increasingly turn to the crypto-economy. My friend Simon Wardley, an economics advisor to the Cabinet Office, agrees.

Of course, governments can ultimately exert physical force over their citizens. That is where the Atlas Shrugged concept becomes really interesting, since what will the intelligent and capable do before the feds come knocking with warrants to force us to relinquish our wealth or be imprisoned?

We will leave.

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