ROSC 17: The Rise of the Elderly

rosc17Under the mindset of the factory era, old people were expected to move quietly to the side after they stopped working. From there they were to quietly dote on grandchildren, then get sick and die. That, however, has changed.

For one thing, people are living longer and retaining their health into advanced ages. Also, old people never really were fit to be pushed off the stage. Certainly old people tend to slow down, but “slower” is a long way from “no movement at all.” Old people are more than capable of many things, and they frequently have piles of massively valuable experience.

Anyway, what we learned as the sanitarium (and now Bitcoin House) opened back up last week, was that Esther and the sanitarium refugees have been busy. While they were away, they spread their new ideas to at least three different old folks’ homes. Contrary to the system’s assumptions, the people there – or at least a decent percentage of them – don’t want to disengage from the world, and they do want to continue making an impact in it. Three cars full of such people have visited the sanitarium/Bitcoin House this past week, and more are expected.

On top of that, the Swedes (wonderful people) are settling in, and the Bitcoin Bus family is slated to stay at the house for a month. As a bonus, the musicians (a few will remain in an extra room for a while) are going to put on weekly concerts in the factory parking lot next door once weather permits. The factory manager ended up being a pretty cool guy, and he thinks his workers will enjoy it after the last shift on Friday. The cops will probably find some permit violation to shut it down with (or rather, their bosses will… God forbid someone might have fun without paying them first), but the manager is game for it as long as the musicians are.

So, lots of good things are happening. But I’m straying from my main subject: the old folks.

Old and Smart Go Together Really Well

The status quo system we all grew up in made a major error by ignoring the abilities of old people. These are people who spent long decades developing important skills. To simply ignore that was ridiculous. Worse, the assumption that they should be moved to the side has been encoded in laws for Social Security, health care, professional regulation, business insurance policies, and more. The legacy system forcibly ejects old people from the pool of the productive.

In the crypto-world, however, they can do whatever they want, and no one need even know their age. There are many in the old-age homes who take comfort in filling the role assigned to them by the status quo, and we really have nothing to offer them. But we’re finding a pretty strong percentage of oldsters who don’t want to tread water for 10 or 20 years and then die. They may not want to work full days or weeks, but they do want to work… they don’t want to give up being productive until they need to.

I’ve talked with only five or 10 of these people so far, but here are the things I know they’re up to:

  • An elderly lawyer has taken up online arbitration work.
  • Three sets of old ladies are setting up to work as sales agents for anonymous buyers. They’ll wear cop-type body cameras and drive from one estate sale or garage sale to another, taking live bids from remote purchasers. They already have a dozen or more customers lined up.
  • Two retired engineers and a retired programmer have just acquired their first customer for anonymous drone delivery. Their drones (they have two at the moment) are being programmed with a set of maps, passive GPS, and a memory system using ephemeral key encryption. And so, a client enters his or her address, which goes directly to the drone, which verifies it to be within its flight radius. But it does not share those details with anyone else. The “Tech Elders” team (that’s what they’re calling themselves) then attaches whatever goods are to be delivered (within a specified weight limit) and sends the machine on its way. They are never told where it will go. Once the delivery is completed, the keys that encrypted the address are automatically dropped from the system. It is known that the drone delivered something somewhere, but only the purchaser knows where.
  • Two friends of friends who really are past their ability to do much have offered their postal addresses for deliveries. If something forbidden gets delivered, what are the enforcers going to do, put them on trial? They’d hardly be considered fit for trial, they’d have no information to give up, and by the time a trial could be arranged, they’d likely have checked out anyway.

All of this will be done behind walls of cryptography. A variety of cryptocurrencies will be used (Bitcoin will mainly be a settlement currency between the other currencies), all communications will be encrypted, and only pseudonyms will be used. But for customer comfort with pseudonyms, they’re using realistic names (Sean W. Thornton, for example) rather than the purposely quirky names we used in the old days of cryptoanarchy.

The Purpose of It All

The entry of the old folks really made me happy. The deep purpose here isn’t to make money or even to escape tyranny. Rather, it’s to help life function in the world. And these old folks still have life in them. They should be able to use it any way they wish to. Crypto gives that to them.

More next time.


Paul Rosenberg