Crypto Market Commentary
29 April 2020
Doc's Daily Commentary
The 29 April ReadySetLive session with Doc and Mav is listed below.
Mind Of Mav
Predicting The New World Society
There’s an inside joke in open source software development that the challenge with any open standard is there are so many to choose from. Take USB — the Universal Serial Bus. Why do we have so many types of universal solutions? USB micro, mini, A, B, and C?
Now, imagine trying to get every country’s head of state and healthcare leadership to all align on a universal standard for proving one’s immunity.
Now try to imagine ensuring every country will implement according to this agreed-upon standard.
Piece of cake.
Now try to imagine every country trusting every other country.
If the proof of a citizen’s healthcare data is stored within a nation-state’s data center or even a for-profit cloud provider like Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft’s Azure, how can the border patrol agent know for certain that the scan of a person’s proof of health certificate is valid? They can’t.
Instead of relying on a centralized authority to ensure that someone’s health data has not been modified, tampered with or even reliably available, the proof of one’s health must remain on a decentralized, peer-to-peer distributed ledger — also known as a public blockchain.
Your proof of immunity is hashed and stored as a valid transaction on a public chain. These chains are fault-tolerant, globally redundant, tamper-proof and peer-to-peer, meaning, no centralized authority or regime can coerce or destroy them. Proof of health may be the first real-world use case backed by proof of stake.
This is a taste of the societal changes that are happening, and the technology that is moving with them.
Even in finance, typically one of the most conservative industries as it relates to change, has dramatically improved its technological prowess as evidenced by its ability to adapt to a remote and isolated work environment nearly overnight since coronavirus struck the U.S. Goldman Sachs noted that 98% of their entire workforce is now working remotely. The CEO of Morgan Stanley is even reconsidering their office real estate portfolio as he states “We’ve proven we can operate with effectively no footprint.”
The effects of the nearly national shutdown of the U.S. economy has exposed the fragility of the labor market as over 20 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits within the first four weeks of the shelter-in-place or stay-at-home ordinances, a breathtaking number. Estimates place the unemployment rate between 18 and 20%, a rate unfathomable just a couple months ago.
What’s more telling though is the folks that have remained employed and namely, the types of jobs they have.
The majority of “white-collar” jobs have largely moved from an office to a work-from-home environment as normally in-person meetings can actually be conducted over video conference using products like Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsoft Teams. Email and messaging has always been asynchronous. A phone call is a last resort. The majority of these workers’ day-to-day tasks are facilitated and managed in the cloud.
On the other hand, “essential businesses” that have remained open are largely “blue-collar” jobs, particularly delivery people. Instacart, Walmart, and Amazon are all hiring in the hundreds of thousands to support overwhelming demand for delivery of goods ranging from kids’ puzzles to groceries. The majority of these workers’ day-to-day tasks happen on land.
And there you have it. The latest iteration of the workforce dividing line; what was once the color of your collar is now whether or not you work on land.
Now, this isn’t exactly something new.
Over the past 12+ years, we’ve seen a desire by consumers and eventually businesses to reduce the need for idle, or excess capacity of goods or services and move more towards greater efficiency through on-demand usage.
Take Uber. Or Airbnb. Or even cloud computing. Or even one step further, ephemeral or serverless computing. This major shift has completely disrupted entire industries (e.g. taxis) while also training consumers to expect an on-demand, “lease-able” lifestyle.
Many of these businesses’ employees work “in the cloud” the leadership teams are starting to take a hard look at the need for idle capacity — dedicated desks and offices are not only wasteful but a liability.
Imagine a company’s current work-from-home requirement is rescinded and everyone is requested to come back to work only to have someone infect one or dozens of other employees with a deadly virus. The legal risks here are enormous and likely precedent-setting.
I suspect we see many businesses that have cloud workers meet only on an as-needed basis, which will still without a doubt occur, but the days of white-collar workers being required to go to the office from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday are long gone.
Forcing workers to come back to the office is not just a legal liability for businesses, but it’s a huge risk for colleges and universities as well. Imagine requiring students to sit in a lecture hall surrounded by potential hosts of a lethal pathogen: fellow students. But the virus is only the first of many issues facing traditional higher education.
Massive open online courses or MOOCs (pronounced MOOKS) have been growing exponentially over the past decade in terms of attendees and areas of study. You can now get a master’s degree or a professional certificate in myriad subjects.
MOOC attendance will only accelerate post-coronavirus as more and more remote learning takes place at the primary education level but more importantly, these MOOCs can reach a much wider audience for a fraction of the cost and entirely eliminate the healthcare risks associated with students corralling in a lecture hall. As a bonus, MOOCs can leverage the benefits of modern technology including artificial intelligence services like automatic language translation and improved accessibility features for visually and/or dexterity impaired individuals.
Many more changes, seen and unforeseen, are coming, if not already here.
When we observe major behavioral changes as a global society it creates enormous opportunity and potential as well as the end of excess and fragile ideologies, customs, and businesses.
Take influencer culture, a wildly popular industry that evolved out of the smartphone platform. Is that entire industry now dead? A very popular and affluent blogger was recently eviscerated by her followers and the media for documenting her COVID-19 testing experience and retreating to her home in the Hamptons, leaving her Manhattan residence. Another influencer simply “ran out of things to say.”
What about fashion? Given the potential for severe supply chain disruption, do “fast-fashion” outlets such as Zara and H&M survive? Do humans become more industrious or do the masses continue to follow wildly overpriced fashion houses? Do athleisure lines evolve to a “WFH-leisure” line? What does your mask say about you? Are you representing your favorite sports team or Louis Vuitton? What tribe do you belong to anyway?
And speaking of tribes, another outcome of the coronavirus is that the United States’ aircraft carriers are currently immobilized. Will we experience our first mechanized war? Why put your troops in a submarine or tank when a drone can do the work for you. Besides, we have been training our youth for years with our esports competitions after all.
Last but not least, we’ve reached “peak city”. San Francisco is likely the poster child for why we will begin to see the pendulum swing away from humans migrating to densely packed cities towards migrating just outside of them, close enough to still gain some of the benefits from the city but without the extreme cost and health risks densely populated areas provide.
San Francisco is by far the most expensive city to live in the United States and yet, it is covered in feces (which is known to enable coronavirus transmission) and littered with used syringes. With the majority of jobs in SF being those “in the cloud”, why would one choose to live in a place like this?
This is why we are looking to the future of work, living, technology, economics, healthcare, data, and so much more — it’s all ripe for disruption.
Even in the midst of hard times, it still is a sound proposition to be bullish on the future.
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