"Are we changing the paradigm? Or are we Upgrading it?"
Apparently, Ripple Labs wants to simply do the latter. Many people will "get rich" investing in Ripple Labs. In fact, it is pretty much guaranteed that Ripple is going to become a multi-billion dollar technology. The question is, are they truly Changing the Paradigm? Or are they simply Upgrading the Old, oppressive system?
Your question is biaised as you assume that change has to be something disruptive in essence and that progressive incremental change isn't "change". If you look around you, most of the change that occurs in every process be it natural or artificial is progressive. If it was not you would probably not be around to witness it. Disruption may be a shorter and expedite path to change but it also comes with a higher risk and higher cost and is likely to kill the patient as it cures the disease. History is sprinkled with disruptive change: revolutions, wars, mass extinction. Each time, the disruption shed unbelievable amounts of blood, pretty much totally resetted the system it was supposed to improve. Is that really what we want?
The change we are talking about here is about taking the power away from the state and giving it back to the people, globally. This is a death sentence for the state wordwide. It is a given that the current power structure won't just let itself killed: it will fight to death to defend its ground with all the power it has, and it does have a tremendous power There won't be a revolution without a massive fight between pro-state and anti-state forces, and when I say forces I really mean people. People with families just like you and me. People who are going every day to work genuinely thinking that they are doing their fair part of making the world a better place. Statists and anarchists all the same. Do we really want these people to suffer through a massive disruption that will destroy the economy worldwide and throw our species in generations of suffering to build back from the ashes a better society? Many of us in the cryptoscene are financial industry folks and have indirectly participated to and profited from the corruption of the system. Does that mean that we are bad people individually who are not hoping for a better society?
And it's not only a question of what we want. There is also the question of whether a big-bang paradigm shift is realistically achieveable at all. As I said, the power structure won't let itself killed. It would rather revoke all freedoms, censor or even plain disconnect the Internet rather than letting disruption propagate to a point where it would lose control.
On ther other hand, the change can occur progressively. The same change, with the same results, but executed step by step in a progressive fashion over decades so that by the time the change is complete the power structure will have progressively and painlessly dissolved into the new paradigm without any blood shed. If we can force the state to loosen its grip on the world by slowly boiling it like the proverbial boiling frog
, we are sure to win and make the world a better place. Instead of laying waste in the world wide economy, block chain technology if introduced progressively and diplomatically, can trigger a new era of growth as pretty much everything will need to be replaced to fit in the new paradigm which will create massive employment and would make blockchain technology somewhat of a godsend.
From my point of view, Ripple is doing the wisest thing by pursuing progressive change instead of disruption. Instead of going frontal against the establishment like the Bitcoin community is doing and trying to shove through the state and financial industry's throat a win-lose vision of the world where they would go the way of the dodo within a couple of year and be replaced by a bunch of fanatical libertarians, Ripple Labs is projecting an inclusive win-win vision of the world where the state, the financial industry, the software industry and the people at large can work together to build a better and fairer system. Of course, as a result of this vision, the state and the financial industry would survive but they will have lost some of their power and opacity and will have taken the right turn to transform into something better. Ripple is like a trojan horse in the establishment. It spares them the embarassment of having to stick with their ridiculously anticated infrastructure and struggle to catch up on decades of technological progress. But at the same time, it forces them to open up, endorse blockchain technology, and integrate it at every level of society. The stakeholders of the state and financial industry are no idiots and they know that their boat is doomed, and that blockchain technology is what will sink their boat, but they also understand that Ripple is a lesser evil that will allow the boat to reach the shore as compared to the Bitcoin torpedo, and by the time they reach the shore, they'll have assimilated the idea that their boat sucked anyway.
It's much better to work hand in hand with the state than fight the state, if for any reason because the state is a part of mankind's current paradigm, and we don't want to kill ourselves in the process.
Now, as far as Bitshares is concerned, I believe that it should seek to work hand in hand with Ripple and Ethereum. Ripple Labs is very professional and reasonnable, they are focusing on upgrading money markets, forex, payment and settlements and becoming the interface between the crypto-space and the financial industry. They don't have strong views on other niches that blockchain technology is bound to take over. Although their initial stance was to cover a wide spectrum, they have become reasonable as experience has shown them that 80+ employees is barely enough to chew the payment and forex space alone. The initial plan to integrate contracts in Ripple has turned into a non-profit generic approach to handling contracts: Codius. As the recent news show, they are more than happy to help Ethereum leverage on Codius to handle their Oracles, and it is very likely that this collaboration will pave the way to an ecosystem where Ethereum will be the default trustless contact engine, Ripple the default trustless foreign exchange, money market and payment rails, and the Codius the default external interface to interact with the (non-trustless) outside world.
In that picture, there is a big niche that isn't occupied: equity, commodity and derivatives markets. Indeed, neither Ripple nor Ethereum has any views at the moment to become a decentralized equity / commodity / derivatives exchanges. On the other hand, Bitshares is very ahead of the curve on that side as it already has all the mechanisms in place such as colateral compensation, escrow, margin calls and extrinsic market data acquisition to handle financial mechanisms such as stop orders, short selling and derivative contracts. It's also Bitshares motto to be an equity market where companies could list their stocks. Bitshares even provides the tools for building the companies themselves around a DAC model.
Bitshares really is the right fit for that niche that is left alongside Ripple and Ethereum in tomorrow's real economy. Bitshares already has good relations with Ethereum which itself has good relations with Ripple Labs. It's only up to Bitshares to make a move and see with Ripple Labs people if a collaboration would be possible. Such a collaboration would be immensely beneficial to Bitshares. Instead of wasting time trying to figure how to get gateways and dealing with the massive regulatory headaches that comes with it, Bitshares only needs to interface with Ripple and it will instantly benefit from a sizeable and fast growing network of gateways in many countries and covering many currencies and commodities. It will also gain a lot of liquidity as Ripple liquidity starts to flow in the Bitshares network and into the counterparty-risk free assets that Ripplers can only dream of. Last but not list, being connected to Ripple means being accessible to institutional market makers: not a bad thing to keep bitAssets spreads tight. For end users, being integrated to Ripple means that people will be able to move money between their bank accounts and bitshares in a blink.
The possibility of such a collaboration are limitless: Bitshares can use Ethereum for contracts, Codius for oracles, Ripple to handle cash flows, so that it can concentrate on becoming a kick-ass decentralized securities trading plateform, a voting system, and naming system and a launchpad for all the other DACs.
It's a huge opportunity provided that Bitshares holder are able to step back and look at the big picture objectively and realistically and understand that the state and financial industry aren't going away anyway.