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The future of giving


Clicker…excellent. So, my name is Jackson Gariety and Aral, he asked me to speak and he sent me an email saying, you're going to be at the very end of this Summit and can you give an uplifting look at the future of the world, and I can do the future of the world part, but optimism, you know, that's not really…that's going to be kinda tough. But what I can do for you is tell you a love story and it's all drawn with cute letters and stuff by myself. So it should be somewhat entertaining.

And my story begins with a man named Dan, and Dan is a college student and he comes from an upper class wealthy family, and Dan studies ethical philosophy, but this isn't very easy for Dan because Dan lives in the year 2096, and in the year 2096, morals are a little bit more complicated than they are today. But Dan has high hopes for himself and his future, and he hopes to one day become a very wealthy academic when people cite his papers, because that's how academics make money in the year 2096.

And Dan is studying ethical philosophy and he meets a friend named Lisa, and Lisa and Dan become great friends and they study together, but Lisa comes from a very different world. Lisa comes from a lower class family and while Dan can barely afford to pay for his book fees for school, Lisa can't afford to pay for them at all and so it's very likely that Lisa is going to fail her classes.

And one day a problem arises between them when Lisa asks to borrow Dan's computer and Dan's not really sure what to do in this situation, because when Dan was growing up, he was always told in kindergarten and elementary school that sharing was something that nasty and bad people did; that those kinds of people went to jail and so Dan's in kind of an ethical dilemma; he's an ethical philosopher and he doesn't really know what to do, but in the end Dan decides to share his computer with Lisa so that she can finish her schooling, and he does this because he realises that he loves her and every time he sees her he gets this warm feeling in his body as if it's never going to go away and so he was forced to make this decision. This decision ultimately led to their getting married and their fleeing from the United States of America.

Now, that story was written by Richard Stallman in 1997 but I think it's important that we look at it again today in light of recent technological advances. This story was written pre-iPad; it was written pre-iTunes; it was written pre-iTunes gift cards, Amazon, written pre-Kindle, and now when you walk around in airports you don't see people carrying books any more, you see them carrying Kindles.

And if we go a year beyond, back further one year, past 1997 to the year I was born in Portland Oregon, I grew up in this city and my next door neighbour's name was Charlie and Charlie, all my life has been giving me books, giving me writing and he did this not because he was sharing it, but because he was willing to give up something that he owned so that I could enjoy it as well, and in the end we both live with the knowledge. But it's perceivable that in the future, all books are going to be read on iPads and Kindles, and while it seems incredibly convenient at the moment, it's scary to think what could happen, because when you keep your books on iPads and Kindles in centralised systems, much like we've been talking about today, you're giving Amazon and Apple the ability for you to lend these books at only their convenience and unfortunately it's never really in capitalist interests for you to be able to give things. In other words, Amazon giveth and Amazon taketh away.

So our little look at the future, I guess, is what I've been dreaming about lately and I think it's a good summary of what a lot of people have been talking about at this conference today. Lately I've been dreaming about a platform that allows people to buy, sell and give digital media; not just books, but movies as well and other forms of content, and on this platform, when you gave something up and you gave it to somebody else, it would disappear from your ownership, because right now, we have at odds companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft at odds with organisations like the Pirate Bay which encourage you to share everything ubiquitously.

But neither of these solutions are good, and both are very extreme, and what we can do is create a compromise with new technologies like Bitcoin and Blockchain, so that we have a public ledger of who has what, and when you give up something that you have, it disappears from you. And I really think that this is an important part of our future, because giving is sacred to what makes us human. People who only share and who keep the things that they own after they share them with somebody, that's not really giving, and currently on the internet, there's no way to give in the traditional sense that humans have been doing for thousands of years, and a platform like this would allow us to continue doing that, and I really hope that this is the future of giving in the world, and not one of frivolous iTunes coupons.

Thank you.