Our Digital Future in 6 Steps

There is a lot of confusion around many of the concepts that make up a digitally driven economy. Even the word digital is met with puzzlement by some and derided as an empty buzzword by others. Digital is simply a mechanical property that allows information to flow at the speed of light. Most of the value humans create comes from the application of the knowledge and wisdom we gain from the above information.

This is how digital transforms our economy:

  1. The digital economy is here, but lives mostly off the books.

  2. Companies like Google and Facebook are a reflection of the digital economy, but it’s a one sided reflection of the value that’s generated. We give them our data, the raw material they use to build on, and we get little in return.

  3. They convert our off the books valuable data into on the books cash (ad sales) and other economic value (machine learning, AI, google translation, etc.).

  4. We should be compensated, financially for this data (beyond the token services that we get to use for free: email, google apps, social graph, etc.).

  5. A new economic model driven by micro payments for our normal internet activity should be created; Codifying the aggregate value we create through our ambient interactions on the web.

  6. This new model could replace the existing (outdated) model of an economy driven by manual labor (obsoleted by continuing automation of output driven by machine learning, AI, etc. from above).

All the building blocks are already in place to make this a reality. Bitcoin and other digital currencies allow for relatively seamless micro transactions. Klout was hilariously imprecise in its measure and scoring of social influence, but it was a sketch for a system in which different forms of currency and value can take shape. Pay With a Tweet is a more concrete example.

Going forward, think about how much your data is worth to the companies you give it to, and how much value you get in return.

Posted on July 5, 2014 .