When we look back at Blockchain

When we look back at Blockchain in the years to come, we won’t be comparing it to a disruptive technology that saved industries time and money until it too was disrupted upon. The blockchain is not a piece of technology – it is a foundational technology that has unlimited potential to create new foundations for our economic, education, and social institutions.  When we look back on the birth of blockchain, we will be looking back on an entirely new shift in society.

Yes, there is hesitation and this concept of smoke-and-mirrors everywhere you turn when it comes to peer-to-peer protocols.  Mostly stemming from misunderstandings and a fear of the unknown.  Blockchain will be what we want it to be, what we allow it to be.  It has the ability to craft a much more egalitarian society where every participant has the opportunity to share in the wealth that they create through their own output.

The entirely new phenomenon, like many new societal institutions throughout history, have experienced, suffers from the innovation paradox.  The need to find answers we didn’t know we needed, from places we didn’t know to look–the very antithesis of human habit.

Discomfort is a proxy for progress.  There are shifts happening all around us – each one facing its own form of backlash.  

Since the invention of the Dewey Decimal system in the 1870s, we have been ingrained to cluster like things together.  As a civil society, we embraced the administrative system – it was linear – it made sense.  As humans, we love working linearly.  We say tick-tock, even though in reality, a clock actually makes a tick, tick, tick sound.  We encourage and enable this idea of the apocalypse, which is a theory that has only ever been proved wrong because we like the idea of an (albeit controversial) beginning, middle, and end.  

Video games are a new medium that is challenging this behavior.  Historically they have consisted of levels, and chronologic worlds, etc. But in recent years have shifted in a much more non-linear narrative.  Players can choose where they go, what they build or collect, who they fight, who they team up with, or don’t.  Goals can be achieved non-sequentially and in almost infinite ways.  Games are far less structured now than they used to be.  Younger generations embrace these ‘games,’ similar to how it is the younger generations who are embracing Blockchain technology.

Whether you are a radical futurist or not – it can be agreed that the future is not something to be predicted but rather something to be achieved.  Blockchain technology has revolutionary characteristics and holds vast potential to change society if we so let it.

An inherent problem with any new cutting-edge sector, particularly one that arises from the grassroots such as this, is that regulation tends to drastically lag behind.  It doesn’t follow traditional jurisdictions, industries, or even language. Terms are created and evolve as they are needed, and there is not always clear agreement about what they mean.  The blockchain is especially difficult for regulators and hesitant stakeholders as it has the potential to touch all industries, all regions, and all markets.  No one governing body can easily be identified.

Complicating it more, blockchain’s rise to fame is of course directly linked to Bitcoin – a somewhat controversial decentralized currency that is causing all sorts of headaches for central bankers and traditional big-banking institutions.  Overshadowing the potential Blockchain has for fundamental change. 

Bitcoin, of course, uses state-of-the-art cryptography, providing a global, distributed database recording transactional facts.   Thinking past cryptocurrency, what else could it record?  The answer is infinite.  Structured information of any kind can be stored and secured with Blockchain technology.  Far beyond just who paid whom. 

And the timing couldn’t be better – the Internet is becoming more ubiquitous, the cost of connecting is decreasing, more devices are being created with Wi-Fi capabilities every day with technology costs decreasing, and smartphone penetration and access is skyrocketing.

All of these factors open the doors for Blockchain to be a decentralized database far beyond just payment transaction records, but land ownership, marriage and census information, equity, electrical, education, and healthcare records are all just the very beginning.  Contracts and transactions are among the defining structures in our economic, legal, and political systems.  Blockchain can offer a real-time database of these transactions and records between infinite sources, 24/7, transparently.  All industries, not just financial-services, could benefit from an unhackable and immutable database.

They say people overestimate what will happen in 20 years and underestimate what will happen in 3 years.  We likely won’t have flying cars and utopian societies on the Mars in twenty years, but we will be much more open to the potential of Blockchain technology as it continues to outperform all respective alternatives in respect to security, cost, timing, and transparency.  We will look back on the advent of Blockchain as we do the steam engine – a faster, more powerful, safer way to store and move things.