ACCORDING to the Cambridge Dictionary, a ‘geek’ is someone who is often disliked as a social misfit, possibly with overly enthusiastic leanings toward certain intellectual or challenging academic subjects (for example, mathematics, sciences and especially technology).
The typical geek of our postmodern era will take on the form of a hybrid outré, awkward and intensely individualistic soul who is not easily manipulated by cultural pressures. The ones you knew at school (that goofy guy with the overbite who always carried a pocket calculator) are probably now hacking into Chinese mainframes, building the next blockchain currency in a windowless basement or designing architecture for a new super computer that can out-program the fastest known software code. Clark Kent, Bing Crosby, Alan Turing, Hedy Lamarr and Marie Curie are among some famous geeks in history.
Contemporary geeks include James Delingpole, Neo from the Matrix and of course the Geek ultimo, Tesla owner Elon Musk, who recently offered to buy Twitter for $44billion and reportedly is now bent on ironing out the kinks in its leadership.
The social media company’s quisling directors must be quaking in their Crocs at the prospect of this take-no-prisoners King of the Geeks becoming their employer.
Whatever your view of him, Musk will doubtless lift the platform’s censorship on conservative, gender normative and anti-woke, pro-family voices as soon as he gets his hands on their buried files (once recovered from the hard-drive recycle bins), in keeping with his claims to be a free speech supporter.
As the world’s richest man, described as an ‘outlier’ by Laura Dodsworth, Musk has the luxury of being able to speak his mind. But what about the rest of us mere mortals? Since cash is becoming displaced as an acceptable payment method, used in only 17 per cent of all transactions in 2020, anonymity in purchases is on the way out. Every transaction made digitally can be tracked and tagged to an individual or business. This means that any public or private stakeholder with a sufficiently compelling interest or the right amount of leverage can access all the information available about your buying habits. It’s no wonder the marketeers, policy makers and enforcement agencies want to get their hands on your precious purchasing data. When the day arrives (as it most certainly will) that cash becomes obsolete, what is the alternative for those who do not wish the State to have constant surveillance over everything they buy and sell?
In oppressive regimes such as Iran which experience draconian censorship and the banning of bitcoin mining due to the excuse of power shortages, it appears to be a veritable Wild West, with 85 per cent of mining happening without a licence.
And what about countries such as Sri Lanka, Lebanon and Venezuela whose folks 20 years ago would never have dreamt they would see their flourishing nations in the grip of economic meltdown. These hyper-inflationary traps are now hotbeds for the digital decentralised coin.
Should we be looking to those economies and the geeks who are working on the blockchain for answers? Perhaps the outlier who never quite fits in but can code his or her way into this sort of uncharted ethereal territory, the pioneer who sees that we must create a new way forward, is best placed to evade the censors, the trackers and any other fascist sporting a pair of Crocs from amongst the chattering classes.
A terrifying thought is that the less developed world may be but a portent for Britain and America – take off your rose-tinted glasses and gaze at a future composed of once similarly thriving industrial economies now doomed to ruin by corrupt leaders having plundered the valuable resources and negligently (if not intentionally) broken down well-ordered societies, including stable family units. If it all goes pear-shaped and nobody can buy essentials, much less a tank of petrol, the best insurance could well be a stash of bitcoin and we all know that arena is the preserve of mega-geeks.
When prosperity exits stage left and we are forced to subsist on government-issued digital currencies as handouts will you be ready to break out your pocket calculator and go in search of a geek? I am certain that if you look hard enough at the local watering hole you will find one happy to accept a pint.