Rick Falkvinge's 2013 List Of Stone Dead Industries

There is a number of industries today that are already obsolete, kept alive by sheer inertia or by political subsidies. Many politicians, in an attempt to “save jobs”, are foolishly taking resources from new, viable industries and giving to these obsolete ones. “Saving jobs” in this context means that politicians are rejecting ways of producing the same level of output with a much more competitive and cost-efficient method, and is not to be applauded at all.

The first and most obvious victim industry of the internet was the postal industry, the kind that delivered physical letters. When people want to communicate today, they don’t put ink to paper. Out of sheer inertia, bills and governmental correspondence are still being delivered using this method, but everybody else has moved on. Parcel couriers that ship physical objects live on for the time being, but are threatened by 3D printing.

A stone dead industry is the telecom industry, specifically including cellphone subscriptions, despite still employing hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t think I have to motivate why landline phones are dead, dead, dead as a doornail, but cellphones that operate on telecom industry standards are equally on the fast track to extinction. How can we know this? It’s trivial to observe: in Africa, cities are being blanketed with wi-fi (only wi-fi, not mobile cellphone coverage) today at the approximate cost of a bag of candy and two shoestrings, whereas rolling out 3G or 4G would cost an arm and a leg. New phones in that area of the planet don’t need the telecom industry chips any longer – they use wi-fi and Viber, Skype, WhatsApp, and similar free communications. The entire telecom industry has been sidelined and obsoleted as soon as there wasn’t legacy to consider. (This is not to say that residential broadband is dead – but the national telecom near-monopolies bought the early ISPs basically to prevent residential broadband from reaching its potential, seeing how it is this described threat to the legacy telecom industry; do not conflate residential broadband, which is the Internet, with the telecom industry technology, which is something different and obsolete.)

Another stone dead industry is cable and broadcast television. When my parents tell me they are going to watch the “nine o’clock news”, because they “want to know what happened today”, I am just dumbstruck. The entire idea of adapting to somebody else’s schedule to be force-fed passive entertainment is gone, gone, gone.

On a similar note, the entire copyright industry is not going to exist in a few decades. This industry has significant inertia and lobbying power, and have managed to essentially legislate their place in the market, but the idea that a distribution monopoly is required to get any culture and knowledge produced has been proven laughably incorrect with the advent of the Internet. The entire industry is ridiculously obsolete.

A different tune is the credit card industry, killed in one swoop by bitcoin. Ask a merchant, any merchant, if they’d like to get their money right the second of the transaction instead of having to wait for 30-90 days, and not pay any 3-5% in credit card fees, and they’ll respond with a “where the f*ck do I sign up!?”. These savings will initially be a competitive advantage for merchants who use bitcoin, able to pass some of the savings on to lower prices, and this will soon outcompete merchants who accept credit cards. The entire credit card concept is dead, dead, dead. It won’t exist in ten years – credit cards will be just as obsolete as landline phones.

Same thing with the banking industry, which has miraculously been able to charge us $50-$100 for the mere service of keeping an account balance in a database for us and managing a few transactions a day at most. Thanks, but we can do that ourselves now. Banks are obsolete. (Compare the complexity of this service with, say, Google: searching through all documents published anywhere in the world by all of humanity, in an instant, for free. That puts things in perspective.)

Last but not least, the newspaper industry is ridiculously obsolete. Authentic conversation a few years ago: “What is this?” – “It’s a printout of a news site. Apparently, they print the entire site once a day in several thousand copies.” – “Oh. Why do they do that?” – “I have no idea, really.”

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He works as Head of Privacy at the no-log VPN provider Private Internet Access; with his other 40 hours, he's developing an enterprise grade bitcoin wallet and HR system for activism.

Discussion

  1. Zirgs

    You still need middlemen if you use bitcons and don’t want to be scammed.

    1. Googla

      Ungfortunately a lot of bitcoin middlemen are the scammers.

      1. Evi1M4chine

        And it’s still a “established upper class” currency, since it associates something worthless (calculating some numbers) with actual money you can actually buy something.

        Sorry, calculating a prime or anything like that is not worth anything to me. I will not equate it to me actually making something that actually benefited people.

        And I will most certainly not use a currency that allows for such a group of “first” that get such an unfair advantage

    2. Sven Slootweg

      How exactly would you need middlemen “if you don’t want to be scammed”?

      1. Zirgs

        As I said previously – without middlemen – the merchant can simply choose not to ship the goods.
        Middleman ensures that if he does that – I can get my money back.
        And for this service he takes a cut.
        That’s what Paypaland other payment processors do.
        So bitcoin does not solve anything if you want to purchase legal stuff – you can do it using existing infrastructure.
        And it also is not particularly useful to criminals either, because any sum that is large enough can be traced without any problems.
        Just look at the recent 96000 BTC heist.

        1. Datavetaren

          Come on! The Bitcoin-protocol allows reversible transactions! There’s no problem using the protocol and setup a third party middle-man as an arbitrator (using M-N-signatures). In fact PayPal can take this role, but using Bitcoin as a currency instead of VISA/Mastercard which will increase PayPals profit.

          Can people who criticise Bitcoin at least check how the system really works?

        2. gurrfield

          “And it also is not particularly useful to criminals either, because any sum that is large enough can be traced without any problems.”

          What? How could you trace the sum any easier if it’s large?

          That just doesn’t make sense. An encrypted message is as difficult to crack if it says “I approve to give 10 dollars” as if it says “I approve to give 10000 dollars”.

          If the user of a service provided by middle men and identity of said user is exposed, well duh, then of course it is tracable. But then again, that is because of the middle man storing private data about the user leaked the identity information…

        3. Finn

          you are thinking inside the box:

          There was a burger place which accepted bitcoin as payment (until the place got new owners). one goes there, makes purchase, gets presented with QR-code corresponding the price, uses smart phone for the QR picture and stuff is paid.
          Where do we need the middle man?

        4. Zirgs

          Falkvinge said that after 5 years you will be able to buy a house with 1 btc.
          So why the hell do I need to buy burgers with them?
          I can do that perfectly well with euros.

        5. BAReFOOt

          Except that PayPal just keeps your money if they decide the weather is particularly unpleasant today or … anything really.

          Look at how they fucked over Notch, stealing 300,000€ from them with the excuse (read: lie) that “You didn’t get any money previously. Now you’re suddenly making so much money? It must be a criminal business!”.

          They just fucking kept it!

          Because they’re not a bank and so don’t even have to adhere to the few rules that banks “have” to adhere to.

          It’s the same thing with such middlemen: Adding a untrustworthy person to protect you from an untrustworthy person does only result in even more untrustworthiness.

          The problem is lack of trust relationships due to anonymity. Just as in government, big companies, the Internet and bascially any group too big for everyone to know each other.

    3. Rick Falkvinge

      Avoiding scams is a trivial problem that Ebay solved fifteen years ago with prototype reputation systems that are already norm.

      1. Zirgs

        Reputation system was not enough. They also relied on payment processors that were able to do chargebacks.

      2. Evi1M4chine

        LOL!! „Solved“.

        Except since there is no check for the reputation of the one *giving* the reputation, everyone can still completely fake his reputation.

        It’s like when religious people say they “solved” the question where everything came from with “god”. ^^

        Call me when anybody actually got a web-of-trust system going… one that comes full circle… let alone one that can’t be turned on its head with social engineering.
        (Government was once a web of trust. And in some place we call “primitive”, it still is. But we want to bring them “democracy”, not even realizing the fallacy of that.)

        (I developed such a system where any attempt at abuse will result in a exactly equally strong counter-balancing. [Like that counter-weight system against earthquakes in buildings.] But it still has issues, mainly with it failing when everyone is too freaking stupid… like currently in the real world. But I already have had some surprising ideas… I’m not willing to publish anything unless it’s *actually* really really *really* finished though.)

    4. nunya

      No you don’t. All you need is a rudimentary understanding of how bitcoin works. I never dealt with a middle man until recently when I moved to purchase in bulk online. Its all open source and peer to peer. If you want the added convenience of a broker you can use a third party. The fees are nanoscopic for those services compared to banks or credit card companies.

  2. Andy

    Not so sure about the Telecom industry dying. Most of the developing countries in Africa gets GSM->EDGE->3G when they have the money to build it. Its just a better way to communicate mobile then using fixed WLANs. Roaming between base station is the key. Otherwise a good list.

    1. BAReFOOt

      Uum, Africa is the ideal place for the telecom industry dying.
      There’s towns building their own little tower out of whatever’s available, and sticking a single base station of whatever they want up there.
      Usually the land is not that hilly so they go far enought for the whole town and the surrounding areas where people normally go to.

      And the vast spaces in-between… No telecom industry would ever build a tower there anyway.

      Finally, with a rather tiny focused ray system one can create a grid between the different towns’ towers, even allowing roaming. But nobody is forced to do it all at once. It can grow to the demands and to what people can afford.

      You don’t need a telecom industry for that…

      You just need people that aren’t basically just meat with eyes… Actual individuals, not NPCs / drones. (You can tell sombody the latter when they yell for “jobs”, instead of making a business *themselves*.)

  3. Zirgs

    Parcel couriers that ship physical objects live on for the time being, but are threatened by 3D printing.
    ——————-
    3D printers will not put them out of business – you still need “ink” to print something.

    1. Googla

      People will first of all need 3d printers and they will need spatreparts and new models of 3d printers and they eill need to buy proper products after trying to make crap ones with thir lousy expensive 3d printers so the postal services will survive for a long long time.

      1. Zirgs

        Saying that 3D printers will put couriers and manufacturers out of business is the same as saying that flying cars will put out car manufacturers out of business.

        1. gurrfield

          Nope.

          It’s like saying if you could copy a car at home much cheaper than buying one, then car factories would become obsolete. Which is probably true.

        2. Zirgs

          We are not even close to both of those technologies.

        3. gurrfield

          Zirgs:

          That does not matter, what matters is that something has become possible to do for people using their own equipment, their own time and their own efforts what earlier required large scale and long term investments.

          Just because someone in the Dark Ages said that the internet was far away technologically does not justify the Organized Religions’ information monopolies, had the technology for printing press and/or computers and internet existed.

        4. Zirgs

          Maybe we should change traffic laws to be compatible with flying cars too?

        5. gurrfield

          Flying cars are not a reality, file sharing on the internet is.

    2. David Collier-Brown

      I suspect this is just a little tongue-in-cheek, but the sense is real: when a new technology comes along, the businesses that benefit most from it “die”.

      In fact, they suffer a sea-change, rich and strange.

      What comes out the other side is usually not recognizable to it’s former practitioners. What once were “underseas telegraph cables” are now just international links in the internet, and we only hear about them when someone anchors in a prohibited zone and we lose the link to Egypt.

      Home delivery of materials and supplies will continue, but it will oook a lot more like the old “bread man” than a postal service. It may still be called “postal”, though, even though one doesn’t go from one post to the next and then change horses (;-))

      –dave

    3. Evi1M4chine

      Also you cannot just print things that are only possible due to advanced material sciences.
      You cannot do chemistry with 3D printers. Let alone things like real actual damascus steel blades. Or a puppy. Etc.

      It doesn’t suffice to put some stuff that sticks next to some stuff that sticks.

      And then there’s all those people bragging about having 3D-printed a machine, when they did massive amounts of assembling and sanding and heating and compressing and painting and whatnot, to create the end product

      I’m really disappointed that nobody seems to get this.

  4. Zirgs

    Landline phones are dead, but landlines are not -and will not be, because wire is a lot better carrier than air – that’s just physics..

    1. Fearlessanalyst

      And the sound quality on older landline phones is usually clearer. The mechanical quality on countless cordless/+cell phones is very poor, frequently static-sounding, etc.

      1. Rick Falkvinge

        Did you actually make an international phone call on those “older landline phones”, before the switch to digital? I did, I’m old enough to have done that when I was a kid.

        There was often a delay of several seconds of what you were saying, and you had to almost shout to be heard clearly enough in the other end.

        I don’t understand this sentiment at all. Unless you mean landline phones post-digital but pre-cellphones, in which case I have no idea of what difference you are pointing at, as they have pretty much the same encoding.

        Cheers,
        Rick

  5. Ted

    Threatened by disruptive technology and cultural shifts does not mean dead necessarily, particularly when big-business friendly governments codify cartels and oligopolies in legislation. Will they die eventually? Yes. Will they die in the next five years? That’s not my bet.

    1. gurrfield

      Yes, these things always take some time. Probably the current people in power need to become senior citizens before any real change can happen…

  6. Datavetaren

    Hi Falkvinge,
    Banks make little money on transactions and much more on loans. Loans will still exist even if Bitcoin takes over the entire planet; the only difference is that banks will give loans in Bitcoin. The banks that go extinct however are those that fail to realize that Bitcoin is taking over the planet. I have some insider information that some banks are closely watching Bitcoin, and may make the move to start purchasing Bitcoin if they think it becomes important enough.

    The companies that are dead in the near future (dead, like in “Kodak dead”) will be VISA, Mastercard, American Express, SWIFT, Western Union, … but they are not traditional banks and they solely make money on transactions.

    1. Zirgs

      Then explain me how can I pay you for something and avoid being scammed by you?
      Bitcoin transactions are irreversible – when you receive my payment you can just say – “fuck you” and simply not ship me the goods that I paid for.

      That’s why we’ll still need bitcoin paypal or whatever that acts as a middleman to protect both sides from fraud.

      1. Zirgs

        And then I’ll need to pay both transaction (which will go up) and middlemen fees.
        And of course to prevent fraud – all middlemen will have to be regulated by the government.

        And I’m also not planning to buy drugs or crap like that so I don’t see any advantages that bitcoin can give me.

        1. gurrfield

          Maybe you want to buy a horror film or sex toy over the internet. Then you should consider bitcoin, because credit card companies have denied horror and sex shops usage of credit cards.

          But sure… if you want to be the victim of someone elses morals and power mongering, keep using centralized paying alternatives.

      2. Rick Falkvinge

        Then explain me how can I pay you for something and avoid being scammed by you?

        This is a trivial problem that Ebay solved fifteen years ago with prototype reputation systems that are already norm.

        Also, it worked very well on Silk Road, which used bitcoin. So this is a complete non-problem that bitcoin has already proved to bypass.

        1. Zirgs

          Of course it worked, because Silk Road itself was the middleman – and it did not do that for free, but made a huge profit until authorities shut it down and seized the money.
          You can’t shop safely online without middlemen – no matter what currency you use.

        2. gurrfield

          Well you can’t shop safely with middle-men either. They could leak your identity to the government or sell it to other companies or steal your money.

          In the end you still need to trust someone – be it the end customer, the seller or the middle man…

      3. Datavetaren

        You’re wrong. The Bitcoin protcol supports reversible transactions (it is currently not widely used, but it is there among many other cool things you can encode in the Bitcoin scripting language.) Before you attempt to criticise something you may want to study it first?

        1. gurrfield

          That is very common about people voicing critical opinions on bitcoin – they have no clue about how it works… No facts, just FUD…

        2. Zirgs

          Bitcoin scripting language – wat?

      4. beltorak

        I’m responding to your “Bitcoin scripting language – wat?” comment below. Bitcoin has a “scripting” language built into the protocol. It’s not turing complete, and doesn’t support loops, but here’s a description of the language: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Script

        Again, learn about the protocol before criticizing it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mD4L7xDNCmA

  7. Googla

    Stone Dead? Not a chance.
    Why does Rick have to overstate everything? just makes people listen even less to him. I imagine that Rick consider himself being among the new elite. But he’s also wrong about that the new elite doesn¨t sprout out their wishes as thruths. Sorry but the Internet Bitcoin and piracy isn’t the answer to everything which I feel is your standpoint most of the time.

    If bitcoin suceeds it will be taken over by the bankers and big time investors.

    As for your points on cards its really funny that you don’t even know that most merchands get theitr money much faster than you state and they don’t pay 3-5% in fees. You are showing that you are living in the past or simply lying when you state false facts to try to prove your points.

    Saying that the concept of cards won’t be around in a short amonunt of time is reallý silly and will bite you in the ass when somebody lauches a bitcoinv´cá´rd with bonuspoints and 90 days interest free credit on their purchases.

    1. UltraviolentGooglist

      I think he may be referring to merchants that use Ebay/Paypal–who often have a measurable delay before receiving payment for goods they’ve sold.

  8. Fearlessanalyst

    Society + governments would be able to “let go” of their conventional fearful reactions of “What would happen if…!!?” if they were able to embrace concepts like ‘guaranteed annual income’ — i.e. stop coltishly believing that “the market” is the best way to handle industry. They are so afraid of adopting a more “socialistic” economy, that they actually indulge in a screwed-up version of it in the more invisible way you mention. But it’s too scary to take that plunge.
    I am old enough to remember when we all anticipated that computers would mean steadily increased leisure time for workers; byproducts of increased productivity were supposed to include healthier people due to increased opportunity for fitness activities, which we could then afford to provide, etc.
    Instead, the establishment bought the alternative of steadily increasing profit through reduced need for labour. The reduced number of workers would continue working the same old hours or more, as they watched unemployment increase, and benefits diminish or disappear. Hostility and resistance to computerization increased — understandably. And now, pretty much everyone thinks taxes harm the economy or are a conspiracy….. Will we continue dumbing down to the point of extinction?

    1. next_ghost

      > Society + governments would be able to “let go” of their conventional fearful reactions of “What would happen if…!!?” if they were able to embrace concepts like ‘guaranteed annual income’ — i.e. stop coltishly believing that “the market” is the best way to handle industry.

      The way I see it, guaranteed annual income is just a placebo that will give the warm fuzzy feeling of doing something about that broken market thing without actually doing anything at all (for a while). You’ll still be playing the economic game by the exact same shitty broken rules as before. We need to find a way to change the rules instead.

      > Instead, the establishment bought the alternative of steadily increasing profit through reduced need for labour. The reduced number of workers would continue working the same old hours or more, as they watched unemployment increase, and benefits diminish or disappear.

      The only robot that will bring you abundance is the robot that you own.

      1. gurrfield

        The problem is, the monopolists can have people “out of work” running their errands by the conditioning of social support. If they don’t do as being told ( i.e. harrassing the people trying to bash the monopoly ), then they won’t get any money…

        1. next_ghost

          Actually, the problem is the monopolists’ position itself. Guaranteed income doesn’t address this problem in any way, it merely defers the negative effects by a few years (I’d say about 5 years tops) and makes them proportionally worse when the time’s up.

          I’ll try to sum up guaranteed income as simply as I can: You’ll get free money that will never, EVER, come out of the monopolists pocket (you know how good those bastards are at not paying taxes) so you can buy stuff sold by the monopolists. Do you really think that something like that could possibly work?

          End result: it’ll bleed the middle class dry and make the monopolists even stronger.

        2. gurrfield

          Yes it does indeed help:

          Because having conditioned social support can be used by the monopolists to have the out-of-work people do the dirty job of throwing shit at people who are trying to remove the monopoly.

          By keeping a certain percent of people “out-of-work”, the monopolists have people they can pay as pawns to do their dirty work. With guaranteed basic income, their monopoly money would not be as badly needed among the unemployed.

          Well.. quite some jobs in all “classes” have already been made obsolete but forced by IP laws to stay in place…

        3. next_ghost

          @gurrfield: I already said I agree that it does temporarily alleviate symptoms of the problem but it does absolutely nothing about its cause.

        4. gurrfield

          No it does not just remove symptoms. That people are afraid of being unemployed is paramount to protecting the monopolies. People speniding most of their time bothering with finding ways to pay their rent or working is perfect for those in power. Because then neither the people working nor the people out of work will have the time necessary to do politics ( which is required to get rid of the monopoly ).

        5. next_ghost

          @gurrfield:
          > That people are afraid of being unemployed is paramount to protecting the monopolies.

          It’s also a very powerful motivation to search for alternative ways of making a living. When your livelihood is taken care of, you’ll miss a lot of important possibilities simply because you’re not looking for them.

          > Because then neither the people working nor the people out of work will have the time necessary to do politics ( which is required to get rid of the monopoly ).

          You’d be surprised how much time for politics people can find when they figure out a way to make ends meet but then the government cracks down on them for no good reason just to protect the monopolists. Pirate Parties around the world are the perfect example of this. Their lack of success is mainly due to the fact that very few people have tasted the injustice of intellectual monopolies firsthand.

          When those people realize that it was never just about movies, games and music, that it was about the entire economy of the century ahead all along, support for Pirate Parties will skyrocket. But most people will realize that only when external circumstances force them to experiment with successful alternatives and the monopolists try to stop them.

      2. eurus

        “The only robot that will bring you abundance is the robot that you own.”

        That’s a capitalist carrot if there ever was one. What if I share my robot around the village?

    2. Zirgs

      ‘guaranteed annual income’
      ——————-
      Where will that money come from?

      1. next_ghost

        One thing’s for certain: Not from the place where it needs to come from in order to fix anything.

        1. Zirgs

          No seriously – what do you suggest ?
          Crippling taxes?
          Unlimited money printing?

        2. next_ghost

          I suggest looking for a better idea than guaranteed annual income. One that takes advantage of available technologies and actually changes the broken rules of the economic game. Guaranteed annual income does neither, it’s just a futile attempt to stop the broken system from falling apart using duct tape.

        3. gurrfield

          next_ghost:

          I partly disagree on the guaranteed income part being “duct tape”, because with the current system, people can be pressured into running the monopolist’s errands – or they won’t get any social help. Social help is conditioned and the people having the power to say who gets and who doesn’t.. they sure have a lot of power. And they sure are not unbribable…

        4. next_ghost

          Before guaranteed income: most of us work for the monopolists and we all buy stuff from them making them richer all the time.

          After guaranteed income: we all buy stuff from the monopolists with money that didn’t come from the monopolists’ pockets, making them richer all the time.

          That’s why it’s duct tape. It doesn’t break our dependency on the monopolists.

        5. gurrfield

          I agree with you that it does not instantly solve the problem – but – it is a prerequisite to take down the monopoly.

          Before basic income:

          Some of us are unemployed and very desperate to get a job. Most of us have a job but are scared dead losing it because of uncertain economical situation of being unempled.

          With basic income:

          People with a job get money so they can afford to buy the luxuries offered by the monopolies. People without job can at least survive (food and place to sleep) without spending every waking moment worrying about money. I.e. they can start thinking about the bigger picture…

          Without basic income people have to think about their bills and keeping / getting a job and all time left over they have no energy to do politics, but to be entertained.

        6. next_ghost

          @gurrfield:
          > With basic income:
          > People without job can at least survive (food and place to sleep) without spending every waking moment worrying about money. I.e. they can start thinking about the bigger picture…

          I know how heartless this will sound but people don’t try to solve problems they don’t have. You can’t make people look for ways to leave the old broken system by making it more comfortable to stay in it. Change happens only when one person has three things: a problem to solve, access to the right tools to solve it and the ingenuity to find the right way to apply the tools to the problem.

          I believe that the pressure at the moment is just right to produce a viable alternative system. But after guaranteed income inevitably collapses, the pressure will be too big.

        7. gurrfield

          “You can’t make people look for ways to leave the old broken system by making it more comfortable to stay in it.”

          Do you realize basic income isn’t implemented yet? If it was, it would not be the “same system” any longer. There is no pride in barely having just enough money to survive, and people in general are susceptible to advertising, social status and many other mechanisms which will probably make only the weak and sick stick with just what the basic income offers.

          Why would guaranteed income inevitably collapse?

        8. next_ghost

          @gurrfield:
          > Do you realize basic income isn’t implemented yet? If it was, it would not be the “same system” any longer.

          Redistribution of money doesn’t change the rules by which the redistributed money flow afterwards. Unless specifically THOSE rules change, it’s still the same old system. The change is purely cosmetic and in this case won’t even last long.

          > Why would guaranteed income inevitably collapse?

          The whole point of guaranteed income is to remove the necessity of doing shitty jobs for the monopolists and allow everybody to buy more (mainly also from the monopolists). Think about it: sell less to the monopolist, buy more from him. Sell less, buy more. Again: sell less, buy more.

          When you factor in the fact that monopolists excel at avoiding taxes, there’s just one possible conclusion: all your money is going to end up in the monopolist’s pocket with no way to get it back. Mostly because the monopolists will find somebody or something else to do the shitty jobs for them and they’ll stop offering them to you.

          If you want to actually solve the problem, you need to do the exact opposite: keep selling to the monopolists but stop buying from them. If enough people can do that, the monopolists will run out of money and their position will crumble (unless they get bailed out by the government…).

  9. Anonymous

    you dont need to convince us, Rik, the issue is convincing the heads of individual governments and the EU. you have, however, a hell of a job when you have people like de Gucht pumping all he can to give the USA what they want by upgrading any and all laws that protect Hollywood and the entertainment industries and the likes of David Cameron right behind him. just yesterday i read where the special UK internet police are doing whatever they can, without any sort of due process or whatever it’s called in the UK to shut web sites down and remove advertising from them as well, all on the say so of FACT, with no proof whatsoever or recourse! this unrelenting desire to do whatever can be done to please Obama and those who are sponsoring him from those industries, without thinking at all about the effects on other countries and industries, is unbelievable! we now know a good deal about the TPP which the USTR is trying to ram home and will threaten countries that do not comply. those countries are trying to take care of their own people but all the USA wants to do is take control, just like the entertainment industries, and then prevent any changes unless the USA agrees. we all know that will never happen because TPP and other deals will benefit the USDA immensely, be terribly detrimental to all others, who wont be able to change anything for their own good. if these countries cave to US pressure, they deserve all they get!

    1. next_ghost

      > you dont need to convince us, Rik, the issue is convincing the heads of individual governments and the EU.

      Actually, that’s our job. We are the voters.

      1. Anonymous

        you know as well as i that once voted in, politicians do what they want, not what the people want or what they said they would do to get voted in in the first place. once elected, the people are the least thought about, the least respected and the least taken notice of. money takes the place of all the things said whilst trying to get elected.
        the main fault lies with the ability of industries being allowed to ‘grease palms’ to get what is beneficial to them, regardless of the cost to others. any form of lobbying and financial backing should be banned and anyone found to be offering or receiving ‘encouragement’ should be imprisoned. it’s bribery, plan and simple, but disguised under a different name. if an ordinary member of the public were to try to do something similar, he/she would be banged up in a heart beat!

        1. next_ghost

          It’s our fault that we let them. We have to keep reminding them all the time that they’re supposed to represent us, not rule over us.

  10. Sven Slootweg

    Possibly interesting and somewhat relevant, I wrote an article a while ago about unemployment actually being a good thing that’s approached the wrong way; http://joepie91.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/unemployment-is-inevitable-and-thats-not-a-bad-thing/

    It also approaches the topic of “saving”/”creating” jobs.

    1. gurrfield

      Well to some extent people have a need to feel that they are doing something useful in their life and to be able to take pride in that.

      But other than that, yes it is better that more can be done with less work required. Probably we should consider stepping away from the 8h workers mentality and start finding ways to distribute the workload somewhat evenly instead of having 80% working 8h+ and 20% working 0% and everyone being constantly chased by the ghost of unemployment…

  11. Rick Falkvinge

    I find it amusing to see that three to four people are coming out in fervent defense of middlemen in the value chain in this discussion thread, using pretty much no better argument than “because they’ve always been there”.

    A middleman that doesn’t add value is going to disappear on a functioning market. Legislating the middleman in place is a sign that it’s not really needed, because if it were, the market would keep it there. Losing the middlemen means producing more output at less effort.

    Cheers,
    Rick

    1. Per "wertigon" Ekström

      Rick, they are correct, in part.

      There is one thing very bad with BTC, and that is a transaction is permanent. Once transferred, the BTC is gone. This is a neccessary part of the protocol, but, thanks to this a customer is extremely susceptible to fraud – even more so than usual.

      Therefore one will need a middleman to ensure a proper sale. Now, this middleman does NOT have to be a major centralised credit card company, it can be the store itself. But for many minor transactions and stores some form of credit company will be around, since there is value in the credit company taking on the (perceived) risk of reimbursements.

      BTC will hopefully end the oligopoly reign of VISA and Master Card though. :)

      1. Datavetaren

        This is untrue. The Bitcoin protocol supports reversible transactions through M-N-signatures.

        1. Serrat

          No. Who acts as the third party in a “two of THREE” M of N transaction????

          A middleman. DUH. You can pick your own middleman, but ultimately you have to have a middleman. The middleman can be a friend, or not. The middleman can screw you over by conspiring with your trading partner. So that creates a scenario where you have big dominant central middleman companies, and whoops, now we’re back at the VISA model.

          Look, I’ve been into Bitcoin for a while, probably for a bit longer than you have. If you’re like most Bitcoiners, you just hoard your BTC and never spend it on anything. I’ve probably spent more Bitcoin of mine than you’ve ever owned. Let me tell you something, deflation hurts like SHIT. If I had done nothing, I would be a multi-millionaire, and that fucking hurts like you wouldn’t believe. Also, scams are extremely prevalent. You NEED a trusted middleman of some kind if you’re going to do any high-value BTC transaction – doesn’t matter what it is. The Silk Road offered an escrow service FOR A REASON. “Gold” makes men act in ways you wouldn’t expect, and I’ve noticed there’s a general lack of professionalism in the BTC community irrespective of the currency you choose to settle contracts with.

          Maybe you guys should use your Bitcoin to pay for things. You’ll wise up real quick.

      2. Anyone

        you need to see BTC in terms of cash, and not credit cards.

        If you hand your cash to a stranger, it is also permanent, just as with BTC. But you don’t have any problem paying with cash in physical shops, even if the cashier could simply take the cash and refuse to hand you any merchandise in return.

        The solution is not to build something into BTC, but to simply have an external reputation system, such as on eBay or on Silk Road, which works fine to weed out 99% of all scammers (there is no 100%)

      3. Anyone

        you are thinking of BTC in terms of credit cards
        think of it instead as “online cash”, and it becomes much clearer

        with cash you also have the problem that a transaction is permanent. if you give your cash to a cashier he could potentially also run off without handing over any merchandise

        on a site with a reputation system this becomes mostly a non-issue, such a system is proven to work, be it on eBay or Silk Road

    2. David Collier-Brown

      A smarter colleague once said

      “The shortest distance between two points in business is is through one middle-man. Exactly one middle-man”

      –dave

  12. steelneck

    I need 7 feet of steel to build, whatever.. Try to 3D print that.
    I need 3 meter copper pipe, try to 3D print that.
    I need a new graphics card, try to 3D print that.
    I need a new lightbulb, try to 3D print that.
    I need a new hammer, try to 3D print that.
    I need a 2Kw electic motor, try to 3D print that.
    I need a saw blade for my table saw, try to 3D print that.

    Get my drift?

    Rick, couriers that ship physical objects are not threatened by 3D printing. But, and this is _very_ important and has every connection you want to the “IP-industry” and “IP-maximalists” running scared. You can view any factory as a 3D printer. Imagine a factory that can do any CNC in any material, producing any circuit board and so on, fully protocol standardised so anyone just can send their “print job (blueprint)” to the factory “printer queue” to be “3D printed” and then sent to you. This “sent to you” is what makes the courires that ship physical objects to live on. But the IP-laws that we have today is _the_ main obstacle for this to come true.

    Does it sound far out imaginary? It could be true today, the only thing missing is the standardised protocol. Imagine you download the open source “Coffe Brewer Super Plus V.2.3”. You want some customization to your taste, like another color and another shape of the coffe-pot handle, and a bit more speed getting the water hot. Open the tarball and make you modifications, color it the you want, design your handle, spec up the heating element, compile the new print job and send it to whatever “print factory” you want and get your new shiny coffe brewer two day later. This could have been true like yesterday, there is no new technology that has to be invented, but there is a whole mountain of legal minefields.

    1. Per "wertigon" Ekström

      One more thing which is important; what to do with raw materials?

      A 3D printer still needs “ink” y’know!

    2. Zirgs

      You can do it right now – it’s just expensive as hell…

    3. next_ghost

      > I need 7 feet of steel to build, whatever.. Try to 3D print that.
      > I need 3 meter copper pipe, try to 3D print that.

      Easy with enough steel/copper powder and rail-mouted printer.

      > I need a new graphics card, try to 3D print that.

      Easy, if you’ll take a CGA-only card.

      > I need a new lightbulb, try to 3D print that.

      How about a LED bulb instead?

      > I need a new hammer, try to 3D print that.

      Easy. About 0,5kg of iron powder for the head and 100g of plastic for the handle.

      > I need a 2Kw electic motor, try to 3D print that.

      OK, that would be a tough one (printing the magnets to be specific).

      > I need a saw blade for my table saw, try to 3D print that.

      Easy.

      1. Zirgs

        Maybe take some crash course in materials science before posting this nonsense?

        1. next_ghost

          Maybe follow the news before you accuse somebody of posting nonsense when most of the list has been done already? Slashdot recently reported about certain company which printed a fully functional steel Colt M1911 pistol as a PR stunt for their 3D printer. Semiconductors can be printed with sub-micrometer precision using inkjet printer and special ink. So where exactly do you see any nonsense?

        2. Zirgs

          That’s not printing but extremely inefficient and expensive manufacturing.

      2. Zirgs

        Semiconductors can be printed with sub-micrometer precision using inkjet printer and special ink.
        ——————-
        And your printer will assemble them too?

        1. next_ghost

          Assemble what? The semiconductor printer can print the entire circuit board in one go with connectors and everything. Though you’ll have to combine it with a 3D printer if you want more complicated connectors than just a conductive spot on the edge of the circuit board.

        2. Zirgs

          Can your magical printer print a CPU?

        3. next_ghost

          @Zirgs: Depends on what generation of CPUs you have in mind. Zilog Z80 is not a problem. Current generation of CPUs which uses ~20nm technology could technically be printed but their performance would be severely degraded because you’d have to make everything almost 100 times larger.

  13. raskelfe

    I would add Universities to the list. Whilst they are useful for some purposes, for example confirming practical competence in Medicine. For most part, open-source development and entrapreneurial flair is far more effective on tech side. As well as being inclusive to people from different backgrounds.

    Of course Universities vary in their modu-operendi across different countries. However, here in the North-East of England, they receive huge subsidies. To engage in supporting proprietary software (Microsoft), whilst competing with and keeping upstart companies out of the business market. Favouring their own students to make their stats look good for further subsidies.

    1. gurrfield

      And paying outrageous amounts to libraries for copyrights to read articles, when it in practice has become free to create and send a pdf wherever in the world instantly…

  14. Dude at the dude ranch

    The discussion around Bitcoin sems to focus on whether the protocoll work or if processes are reversible. Nobody seems to initiate a discussion on the integration with monetary systems, the impact on economical scenarios, legal difficulties et c. Seems that bitcoin hasn’t left the geek community and confronted the real world

    So, interesting, but …

  15. Dude at the dude ranch

    The discussion around Bitcoin sems to focus on whether the protocoll work or if processes are reversible. Nobody seems to initiate a discussion on the integration with monetary systems, the impact on economical scenarios, legal difficulties et c. Seems that bitcoin hasn’t left the geek community and confronted the real world

    So, interesting, but …

  16. Antimon555
  17. Thomas

    Once again we see the old school, old fashioned statements from the pirates.
    When mr Falkvinge speaks of “telecom companies” the rest of the world talks about the internet of things and an explosion of mobile communications, where every device is connected. When mr Falkvinge writes about “phones” he puts himself 10 years back in time, once again.
    The technology used for the connections will differ, 3-G, LTE or Wifi which is most appropriate. But there will be an industry to drive this ballistic growth in mobile communication – and to me it makes sense to call this telecom industry.

    “Copyright industry” is an interesting term, like Orwellian new language. But what is it? I assume that mr Falkvinge refers to music and movies, but who knows? It could be any industry that is depending on some kind of protection for innovation and development. Automotive industry, gaming, software, clothing, furniture, consumer electronics, paper&pulp and so on. They are all depending on a legal framework to protect their investments in innovation and development – they could all be what mr Falkvinge calls “Copyright industry”.

    Finally – newsflash – mr Falkvinge, but “newspapers” are not about paper and ink, but to present news to the readers. Regardless if the distribution is on paper, a website or an app. It is kind of basic to point out, but there are countless newspapers that does not print, that only distribute on the web or by an app. Once again you pirates seems to be stuck in a time capsule, ten or fifteen years back in time.

    1. Per "wertigon" Ekström

      Once again Mr Thomas comes with half-truths and FUD.

      The Telecom industry as we know it is dead, to be replaced very soon with the ISP industry. That was Mr. Falkvinges point.

      Similarly, you know what we refer to when we say “Copyright Industry” – the middlemen that make their living on investing in and distributing copyrighted works. Not going to last very much longer, thank god.

      Finally, newspapers are very much about papers and ink. They’re slowly being replaced by digital counterparts, but today more and more get their newsfeed from their RSS readers. News, therefore, are a commodity.

      There will still be a market for journalistic scoops however… :)

      1. Jungle Dave

        Copyright Industry was killed by the Cottage Creative Industry. No more big middlemen. Just smaller storefronts, now. You could say that iTunes, Kickstarter, and Amazon have put the nail in the coffin of the old distributers/publishers.

        Which means, more money for creators, and less middlemen.

        Thomas has not only missed the point, he’s not even wrong.

        1. Googla

          Jungle Dave fact is that the copyright industry is thriving along with the Cottage Creative Industry. As soon as the cottage creators reaches a certain level they are in need of their larger counterparts services.

        2. next_ghost

          @Googla: The copyright industry is still doing so well only because they run a very successful protection racket holding culture of pretty much the entire past century hostage. Creators don’t need their services but the copyright industry throws its weight around to make sure that there are no other viable mainstream options available. So if you’re a creator and you want to reach a bigger audience, you either bend over to them, or you can try fighting an endless uphill battle you can’t win.

  18. Anonymous

    ‘the entire copyright industry is not going to exist in a few decades. This industry has managed to essentially legislate it’s place in the market. The entire industry is ridiculously obsolete.’

    what a shame that neither the industries themselves nor the politicians who are receiving ‘encouragements’ to keep these obsolete industries going, realise that fact and definitely wont accept that fact! in order to keep going, governments are actively preventing progress of the planet, not just the entertainment industries, because when a new idea comes out, it is usually adapted and adopted for many other purposes. a lot of those purposes have much greater benefits than just sitting watching a bloody movie!

  19. Zirgs

    Can anyone answer this:
    If after 5 years 1 bitcoin will buy you a house – then why sell it now?

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      If after five years the price of an iPhone 5s will be $5.99, then why buy one now at $579 (or whatever it is)?

      1. Zirgs

        Bitcoin is not the only currency in existence.
        I don’t see a reason why should I need to sell an asset that will increase in value – unless of course I’m in serious financial difficulties.

        1. next_ghost

          Plain and simple: if everybody keeps all of their bitcoins, the increase in value won’t happen.

        2. Zirgs

          Maybe, but why should I be the one selling them?
          I can just spend 1000 $, wait 5 years and then buy a house – a lot better deal that any mortgage.

  20. Anonimouse

    This article is complete horseshit. Typical politician speak with almost baseless claims.

    Show me evidence of free WI Fi in Africa – i.e.’blanket coverage’?
    3D printing threatening parcel companies? Utter nonsense.
    Google free? Er, not really when it’s propped up by corporate advertsing.
    Bitcoin is a security, no less volatile and built on fresh air than the FIAT system.
    People will still be paying off credit card debt way past your timescale – guess what? This will keep them afloat! It’s called business.
    Unless you’re going to change Europe wide attitudes, people will still be swallowing mainstream media fed into their living rooms. This will take several generations to change. Particularly when a near majority still watch terrestrial or state TV stations.

    Finally, banks own your life. Just stop paying your mortgage and see what happens and see how the entire legislative procedure is in their favour every step of the way. They are the least likely thing to go in your appallingly bad list. Ask Iceland, they thought they’d cracked them but they are back in business and the people’s constitution has been binned.

  21. Anonymous

    and now AT&T in the USA has developed a way of tracking who they determine, not the courts, are ‘pirates’. from what i read, regardless of the ‘plan’ you are on, say 50gig/month, if they think you are doing too much ‘file sharing’ they will suspend your account. not only is it therefore a waste of time paying for an unlimited connection, as soon as it looks to the Internet Provider that there is a lot of usage, you are in the crap! you can bet your ass that this will soon be spread to every other country! once the USTR get in on the act, they will be threatening EU countries to sign up for this, just as they are threatening atm over those countries that are averse to the TPP, which is going to be beneficial to the USA more than anywhere else. and when you have arse holes like de Gucht working against EU citizens and pro USA citizens, we are already on a loser!
    the Internet is fast heading to be controlled totally by the USA! and even worse, the USA entertainments industry! i cant think of any country really that could be worse, when you consider how it spouts off about being ‘pro freedom, privacy and democracy’! what a two-faced bunch of lying pricks they are!! and then they are ably backed up by Cameron in the UK! he’s so scared of Obama, he daren’t open his mouth other than to say ‘what have i got to next, sir?’

  22. Alfredo

    Bitcoin will take off until the mayor finance internet companies (read Google with Wallet, or Paypal) start including bitcoin as a form of currency fee free. If not, it’ll stay in the obscure world of pure open source and GPL, like Ubuntu.

  23. […] of many people who often write about Bitcoin being the future, is Rick Falkvinge. For example today [the "today" when I wrote the original post]. The speed and the voluntary, low transaction fee are […]

  24. Andrew

    A few of these ‘dead’ industries ain’t dead – either YET, or they will re-invent themselves. That’s because the promise of technology isn’t up to par yet. My cell doesn’t work in my house or lots of places. Same with wi-fi. My landline works, so I keep it. As far as news-entertainment goes; for all that is wrong with it, it is still usually better than the crap amateurs put on youtube. I think we will soon be (already are?) looking at a resurgence of respect for professionalism. If done properly II know that they aren’t much anymore), a professional new organization has standards and fucking grammar checkers. Bloggers usually don’t. A decently made sitcom is better than lawlcats. A professionally mixed album is better than the crap people make with 5 dollar microphones. The author is looking for a total revolution, but I think it will be slower and less complete than that. People are slothful and dislike disruptive change without solid, tangible benefit.

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