We are all born gamblers — wired to win at the game of life. As such, gambling is the oldest human profession. If we take a step back and think about it, our daily routine can be thought of as a winning strategy — one that adapts over time to natural and subsequent economic forces.
If we study every major shift in society we’ll readily see the evidence. Moving from hunter-gatherer, to agrarian, to industrial, to what is now the technology revolution which we call the “service economy”.
Maybe a better way to look at all this is to see technology for what it really is, by how we use it — augmented communication or “super chat” (gossip on steroids). Money — as Andreas Antonopoulos reminds us — is “speech”. I interpret that this way: there’s an agreement made / even if non-verbal between two or more parties that some recognition for an act or deed should be rewarded with a form of compensation that can be flexibly applied to any endeavor the recipient desires so long as they operate within the context or confines of the community of folks who understand and participate in that common value system. Better put — “Hey man, I owe you one”. “Hey everybody, I owe this person for helping me out”. Everyone nods in agreement and holds each other accountable.
When we put verbal and non-verbal (numeric) communications onto our “super chat” systems, we extend our reach beyond local communities to universal ones. This freedom of expression unlocks capabilities and resource access beyond what can even be imagined at smaller scale. The result of humanity’s investment in tools, infrastructure, and communication means that our economies are no longer driven by necessities that ensure natural/physical survival, but elevate our appreciation and understanding of that word to one that has started to inherently be linked to that of “luxurious living”. I no longer want to simply live and survive. I want to live ‘abundantly’. I want my children and grandchildren to live my version of ‘abundance and luxury’.
The great thing about subjective / circumstantial words like ‘luxury’ and ‘abundance’ is that their meanings change over the years. What was valued in the past doesn’t always hold up for future generations. But, in any era, so far we can all agree that the process of interacting with your environment to tip the odds in your favor are — for better or worse — exhilarating!
Through blockchain, humanity has found a new way to chase ‘more’ by playing the odds. The only difference is that now the rules are very clear and transparent. And, the bookie does business online 24/7 so you never have to leave your couch to place a bet. Imagine what happens when someone in an impoverished nation wins the first “World-wide Lottery”. Because the world now shares a common value vocabulary, the GDP of an entire nation can shift drastically overnight. For reference, just take the last Powerball and Mega Millions lottery franchise purses for 2016. One pot got as high as $1.6 Billion dollars. That’s enough to double the net worth of everyone in a small nation. Such a windfall could abruptly adjust political dynamics for better or worse.
While a lot of focus has been placed on how the use of blockchain and smart contracts will make it more accessible and fair for casual gamers to place a wager, the real innovation and work ahead may lie in how we are able to tackle world-wide epidemics by using the proceeds of a global lottery ticket sale to provide emergency grants that can be used in case of manmade or natural disasters — all without impacting the fiscal budgets of neighboring nations or creating uncomfortable social debt. When the first human wins the $1Trillion dollar lottery prize, we’ll have to ask ourselves:
How does this affect our value system now?
How do our standards of living get impacted?
How does our concept of abundance, luxury, and survival change with all this?
Indeed, the first world-wide lottery we build on the blockchain should create the traditional cult following we are all used to, but it may simultaneously introduce a brand new kind of politics as nations and jackpot winners debate the proper distribution of gaming profits in an age of ‘luxurious survival’. How will the world deal with it’s first “wealth bomb”? Someone should start thinking about this. Sounds like a job for the UN!