We now live in a blockchain world. A world where just uttering that word raises a few heads. Where complete events and conferences have risen out of nowhere in almost every corner of the world to celebrate the technology. A world where the general population is starting to be vaguely aware about it. The future of blockchain is now. We know the biggest impact it’s had, since its conception during the last decade, is by far cryptocurrency.
It’s an understatement to say Bitcoin and the rest of the usual suspects in virtual money have taken the world by storm—even if it has been a slow burn for those of us inside the industry, and even if expectations have plummeted in recent times. Or, as other would say, have realistically settled.
In any case, no one’s denying cryptocurrency is the first gateway to blockchain. But as we’ve talked about before, there’s so much more to this technology than just virtual wallets, and we’ve just barely started to scratch the surface. Public utilities. Security. Records. Tokenomics. Even climate change, and much more.
A recent book published by two of the most important people in blockchain sector, Blockchain: Transforming Your Business and Our World, precisely talks about all of this. They are Mark van Rijmenam and Dr Philippa Ryan.
Mark van Rijmenam is the founder of Datafloq, a Netherlands-based company specialized in Big Data. Van Rijmenam himself is an expert in Big Data, AI and Blockchain and is an important figure in the latter’s community (he is a faculty member of the Blockchain Research Institute).
Dr Philippa Ryan teachs about several subjects regarding technology and data. She is currently researching the regulation and status of cryptocurrencies and trust protocols enabled by blockchain technology. She’s also the Chair of the Standards Australia Blockchain Technical Committee and lead author of the International Standards Organization Blockchain Technical Committee’s Smart Contracts Technical Specification. Lastly, Dr Ryan is also the Deputy Chair of the Australian Computer Society’s Blockchain Technical Committee.
Several subjects relating to blockchain and its potential in the world are covered. Both authors talk about “blokchain for social good,” specifically for organizations and societies going from business to solving some of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, for example. They mention things from explaining blockchain, to how it can help in issues like voting fraud, poverty, identity, corruption, fair trade, climate change, identity and even censorship.
The premise of the book is simple: while the internet gave us a peak of a future, decentralized global network, it ended up being in control of just a handful of powerful companies. Blockchain might be the “technological paradigm shift” that can change that, mainly because of its secure, reliable and direct transfer of information. But also because it consists on a peer-to-peer process, which can lead to empower individuals and smaller communities.
Both experts put it better in an excerpt from the book:
“That is, the distributed and decentralized nature of the blockchain ledgers prevents any single party from controlling, and therefore manipulating, the ledgers. The cryptography underlying blockchain ensures a ‘trustless’ system, thereby removing the need for intermediaries to manage risk. This is a true paradigm shift and it is why so many organizations are exploring blockchain’s potential use to improve their tracking and audit systems. Although blockchain technology has only been around for less than a decade, businesses, government organizations, and consortia alike have significantly invested in this modern phenomenon.”
With those explanations, it’s easy to see why van Rijmenam and Dr. Ryan are blockchain optimists. And as things stand, we will continue to live in that blockchain world for sure. But we still have yet to see if the technology can deliver in many of the other promises it has on its name. We still have yet to see if it can really “take over where the internet has fallen short.”