The blockchain system created for Bitcoin was revolutionary, but it is just the first successful implementation of a decentralized consensus ledger. Much as Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine was the first automatic computing machine in 1822, with almost no resemblance to today’s computers, blockchain will almost certainly have no resemblance to future decentralized consensus mechanisms.
In this case, it won’t take hundreds of years or even decades to make such great strides. In fact, people have already invented new ones. Consider IOTA’s Tangle or Swirlds HashGraph. Both are considered by many to be great improvements over blockchain in terms of scalability and real-world application.
Even so, both projects have their detractors, and honestly it doesn’t matter if they both eventually turn out to be failures. The knowledge gained in decentralized consensus mechanisms will ensure that other projects will emerge and create other, new methods. These newer methods are likely to offer even further improvements on decentralized consensus. You can be nearly 100% confident this will happen.
Over the coming one or two decades we will most likely see dozens, and perhaps hundreds of new decentralized consensus protocols. Many will be experimental and end up withering away, but some will certainly solve problems and flourish. Transaction speed, costs, security issues – all of these will find new solutions. And these new protocols will almost certainly be augmented by artificial intelligence.
In fact, there is a strong possibility that none of these new protocols will even be designed and created by humans.
Once artificial intelligence becomes integrated into decentralized consensus systems it will be able to create systems that humans wouldn’t be able to develop even if they had hundreds of years and teams of developers. The AI systems will be able to iterate incredibly rapidly on ideas and will likely draw its inspiration from complex natural systems. We could see new decentralized consensus systems modeled on bees and ants, on the DNA structures of life, and even on the vast, infinite structures in the universe itself.
Eventually, one or perhaps a handful of these systems will come to dominate the decentralized consensus space, and will create meta-systems that will unite all the different decentralized networks and coin types, giving each its own space and utility within the ever more complex network that spawns new daughter networks within itself, and does away with outdated systems as the need arises.