I only recently began my exploration of cryptocurrencies and the impact of blockchain technology on the economy and the fabric of society and I can tell you that I am a huge believer in the future potential of blockchain and similar technologies to completely disrupt the current paradigm. Blockchain technologies will be at least as disruptive as the internet has been, and perhaps more-so.
That said, just as it was with the growth of the internet and its influence on global economies and societies, it will take time for blockchain to grow into what it will eventually become. We are still in the infant days for this technology, which has found numerous use cases, but very few developed platforms thus far.
That will change, and I expect the pace of development to be faster than it was for the internet, but we do still have some ways to go.
Aside from the obvious and heavily hyped financial implications of blockchain platforms, these areas below are others where I believe blockchain can provide solutions that will be world-changing.
Wearable Blockchain Technology
I believe that in the not-so-distant future we will begin to see wearable technology that will hold cryptocurrencies that can be easily used for everyday expenses. There are some security concerns that will need to be overcome first (more detail on this below), but to become mainstream cryptocurrencies will need to be easily accessible, and personal storage devices make sense in this regard. These devices will likely serve multiple roles, including monitoring your vital statistics for health care purposes, as well as possibly adding bio-security that will prevent the theft of your cryptocurrencies, and perhaps make it possible to include some ways to recall funds that were sent to an incorrect address.
We’re already seeing the beginnings of this shift, but as currency becomes increasingly decentralized governments will begin to seek ways to maintain control over their citizens and their tax base. They may do this through regulations, through the creation of nationalized cryptocurrencies, or through the outright banning of cryptocurrency (which has nearly 0% chance of success). We will almost certainly see the power dynamics between nations changing dramatically based on their response to the increasing use of cryptocurrencies.
Voter fraud has become an increasingly contentious issue in the modern world, but blockchain technology can make the voting system transparent, virtually eliminating voter fraud and restoring democracy into the voting system. Adding bio-metric identifiers to the mix will make the system nearly fool-proof, and certainly world’s above the current flawed voting systems. Several companies are already exploring blockchain technologies in the voting arena including Cleveland, OH based Votem and the non-profit Democracy Earth.
One of the biggest perks of being a freelance worker for me has been the geographical freedom it affords. As money becomes decentralized and increasingly free it will also enable geographical freedom for the world’s citizens. The lack of ties to a government sponsored currency, and the ability to effectively monetize your own ideas and data, will allow people to pick up and leave more easily. This should not only benefit those of us who appreciate travel, but more importantly will allow people to escape areas of conflict, strife and war. It will allow for the escape from violence and from totalitarian governments. Ultimately national borders will become increasingly blurred.
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Record Keeping on the Blockchain
Blockchain technology is well-suited to record keeping, and this aspect alone could severely reduce the need for large numbers of government workers, whose only purpose is the creation and maintenance of paperwork. I haven’t seen any discussion of the implications of this, but the implementation of blockchain technology in government could free-up literally tens of thousands of lifetime’s worth of time spent on paperwork. Of course the question then is what do you do with hundreds of thousands of redundant government workers?
Contracts and software code are quite complex, and almost always come with some loopholes – intentional or not. I know smart contracts are being hailed as the end of paperwork, but I don’t forsee that happening. Certainly smart contracts will be useful and highly utilized in simple deals and for basic needs in the short term, but for more complex needs it will take longer than we expect to correctly implement smart contracts. In fact, we may need advanced AI systems to really tackle to complexities of smart contracts.
This could be one of the faster developments. Who needs stock certificates when the markets can be tokenized? All that would be required is to legalize tokens as securities, at which point stocks can be tokenized and added to exchanges. This could also lead to the rise of both ownership and utility tokens for many companies, as well as trading 24/7 in any stocks that become tokenized. It should also dramatically reduce paperwork costs for corporations, leading to increased profitability.
Real Estate Enters a Bull Market
By putting titles and deeds on the blockchain companies and governments will see a huge decrease in paperwork (are you beginning to see a trend here), as well as a significant reduction in the time required to complete real estate transactions. This alone will make the real estate more liquid, and increased liquidity almost always leads to increased prices. Increased liquidity also increases volatility, so increased regulation may be needed to limit this volatility somewhat.
Healthcare Begins to Heal
Once again going back to the theme of reducing paperwork, healthcare could see a significant savings, both in time required and overall costs, simply through the reduction in paperwork that comes with putting health records on the blockchain. With healthcare costs predicted to reach 20% of U.S. GDP by 2025 a move to the blockchain will help rein in ballooning costs.
Physicians, hospitals and clinics will also be able to store entire health records to better analyze and treat patients. If this is combined with AI technology and wearable health tracking devices the healthcare system can focus more heavily on prevention rather than treating symptoms, potentially saving tens to hundreds of billions of dollars and reversing the slide in the broken U.S. healthcare system.