3 February, 2022

Fourth Turning and DigiMetaverse

In 1997, Howe and Strauss stated in their book 'The Fourth Turning' that history sees a new “turning” every 20 years, as one generation “displaces” another. A cycle of 4...

In 1997, Howe and Strauss stated in their book 'The Fourth Turning' that history sees a new “turning” every 20 years, as one generation “displaces” another. A cycle of 4 of these periods is the average length of a human life, also called a saeculum. This is similar to the four seasons of a year. The first period is a 'merry' spring era of togetherness and the strengthening of institutions. The second season is a rich period and an awakening – a passionate age of spiritual turmoil. The 'third barrier' is an unraveling – a time when individualism grows and institutions weaken. Finally, winter is a crisis, a decisive era of secular unrest – the old order is overthrown and a new one takes its place. This fourth turn is the start of a new social and economic period.

You can only see it . . .

The authors wrote in 1997 that “ . . . around the year 2005 a sudden spark will catalyze a crisis era. Remnants of the old social order will disintegrate. Political and economic trust will implode. Real hardships will beset the land, with severe distress that could involve questions of class, race, nation and empire. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake . . . “ .

The financial crisis of 2008 can be retrospectively seen as the catalyst they mentioned. That event was the start of the final period that would herald two decades of instability. According to the authors, described in 1997, by 2025 America will have an experience similar to the American Revolution, Civil War and the Great Depression & World War II.

Not fun predictions. Historically, in every fourth twist, much more destructive technology is available, as well as the willingness to use and deploy it. In the period before that eruption, choices are postponed. Interests become zero, violations are tolerated, settlements are postponed. But eventually it will all explode. Ominously, Sir John Glubb also predicts, in his analysis of the life cycle of empires, that empires last up to 10 generations. About 250 years ago in 1776 America came into being, so that's quite promising. The idea that our society moves in waves is alien to Western linear thinking. That is why Western leaders and administrators are never prepared for a 'logical' crisis, such as what we have experienced in past centuries. History often repeats, but always in a different way. . .

. . . When you get it.

For linear thinkers, history never repeats itself. For many, the world has come to a standstill in recent decades, even though it structurally changed, unnoticed. The late historian William McNeill wrote in ‘Plagues and Peoples' that often pandemics come after an era of overwhelming openness, which they mark the end of. The bubonic plague, the Spanish flu and now the COVID pandemic bear witness to this. As always, the logical consequence is: globalization stagnates, immigration restrictions increase, isolationism returns and a stronger focus on one's own industry. Furthermore, Neil Howe argues that – without exception – it is an absolute rule of history that these fourth periods of crisis are always characterized by the presence of dictatorial regimes, authoritarian rulers and intrusive governments.

Yet every twist ultimately ends well for the bourgeoisie. Only they have to go through that crisis winter for that. The end of every war heralded new economic development. What applies to America, also applies broadly to Europe and Asia. Certainly now we as a world are going through the same economic and social developments as a result of globalization. The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, but its Communist Party will now celebrate its centenary next year and also enter a turning point. Mobilization can be organized and political mobilization of an entire community, but also of opposing communities, as in a civil war. Last but not least, the 'monetary theory,’' that at zero interest it would be stupid not to print more money. Basis for hyperinflation exists in that last phase, which in a crisis eventually solves the problem of those who bear the burden of all the accumulated deficits: the citizens.

Every fourth twist replaces the old order, destroying political and economic confidence, and laying the groundwork for a new spring. A spring where the megatrends – which were already visible before – become the new groundbreaking techniques, or approaches. Today, we see three dominant techniques: blockchain/crypto, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence – that reinforce each other as an ecosystem and will go together. And thereby they not only will cause a huge disruption, but will also destroy existing business models and the equity of companies. Blockchain means that central entities for record keeping – which in the past were the only solution – are no longer necessary. Central registrars are 'single points of failure’ where government control, corruption and hacking are possible. Blockchain's decentralized technology eliminates this central, weak gatekeeper function.

The decentralized Internet of Things already links more than 50 billion sensors together. This enormous amount of data can provide many new insights through analysis, especially in combination with AI. Artificial Intelligence is defined as machine learning and subdivided into weak (chess, facial recognition), strong (learning machines, developing knowledge) and super (perhaps smarter than humans). AI enables machines to automatically process the data from IoT devices and increasingly make decisions. This improves the efficiency of automation, so that fewer and fewer people are needed on location and for interaction, and we become even more of a service society.

Missing transaction layer

But technically a new digital transaction layer is needed, where these data and service contracts are processed and value transfer takes place. Where digital currencies (crypto) and smart contracts (tokens) enable decentralized machine-to-machine transactions and peer-to-peer communication between people. A lot of money is already flowing from the current economy to this new digital crypto world, simply because there are more and more stable crypto coins. Crypto currencies are 'native assets' of a blockchain; tokens are built on that blockchain. A new virtual world with stable currencies, smart digital contracts combined with digital property deeds (NFTs) traded on digital exchanges. These digital exchanges are booming because they enable peer-to-peer transactions without costly central agencies. As I described in a previous blog: the end of capitalism arose about five hundred years ago.

In this new decentralized infrastructure, you as a citizen and organization regain ownership of your data and services. The term Metaverse is the name currently given to this decentralized and virtual development. The digital metaverse, or DigiMetaverse as we are creating at DigiCorp Labs, is now technically, economically and legally feasible – based on blockchain, crypto coins and tokens, decentralized nodes, servers and data storage based on open-source and open communities. Self-organization, and without the man-in-the-middle. As a citizen or company (again) being the owner of your own data and services. Communicating peer-to-peer with everyone on that grid. Safely browsing via those decentralized servers. Quantum-safely store your data spread over decentralized nodes in that grid, which cannot be cracked with the latest quantum computers. The future is ultimately pretty fun and beautiful. . .

Article by Hans Timmerman

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