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Any given rogue in a tee shirt…but Emerging Technologies are still a force for good


Guess who I’m talking about: he loved wearing shorts and a tee shirt but is happier these days (sort of) in a suit and tie…he used to be worth $26 billion but now can’t spend more than $1,000 in one go… and although he’s currently living with mum and dad (waiting for the phone to ring), our man of mystery managed to take time out in his late twenties to perpetrate “one of the biggest frauds in American history”. Of course, that last one’s the big giveaway because, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last six months, you’ve already twigged we’re talking about the boy genius: Sam Bankman-Fried. And last week, Sam climbed back into his suit to enter a plea of not guilty to charges of looting billions of dollars from his (now bankrupt) FTX cryptocurrency exchange… the Judge in Manhattan set a trial date for October. 


Don’t hold your breath, though: it’s virtually certain the boy wonder’s current plea will evolve into a far less complicated “guilty” well before October rolls around: as sure as eggs are eggs, there won’t be any trial, and SBS (as he almost certainly styles himself in our social media age) will finally get the chance to permanently change his tee shirt for an orange jumpsuit. His mum and dad will probably be glad to get the room back… and life will go on as normal, as it almost always does.


So why does all this, bruhaha over FTX matter? Bankman-Fried isn’t the first wunderkind financier to end up on the wrong side of the tracks, and he certainly won’t be the last. And if I asked that same question again in two years (the one I did up there, in the first paragraph), chances are you wouldn’t have a clue who I was talking about. It could be any given rogue in a tee shirt, grifting his (or her) way through our fast-changing, all too troubled times.


Changing our lives for the better

But hold on a moment…there was another clue in that last sentence (take another look back)…


In the seven million years or so since Sahelanthropus first started to walk upright, we’ve never before lived through such fast-changing, disorientating times as we do now: and the biggest driver for all that bewildering change has been emerging technologies: everything from the evolution of the personal computer (less than half a lifetime ago), to Blockchain today, with all its vast potential to change our lives for the better. Just think about it for a moment…in a world where international supply chains are increasingly strained and ever more expensive, decentralised ledger systems (the beating heart of Blockchain) offer a virtually untapped potential for more localised markets than ever before, sitting at the centre communities that are better connected than ever.


And that’s precisely why the events played out last week in a Manhattan Courtroom are so important: cryptocurrencies, and Bitcoin in particular, have become the ugly sisters of Blockchain due to the antics of grifters like Bankman-Fried. But we can’t allow his essentially short-term pantomime to disguise their true potential. Sure, cryptocurrencies are crying out for proper, informed regulation (an area in which India is conspicuously taking the lead); and of course, we don’t need any more tee-shirted rogues to cloud our focus on the future: but let’s not forget either that emerging technologies can be a powerful force for good.


Executive Overview

It’s easy to get tangled up in the dramatic headlines that have emerged almost daily since FTX collapsed last November, but emerging technologies still represent our best hope for a brighter future.


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Suchit Punnose

Suchit Punnose / About Author

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