September 25, 2018
Despite having all the ingredients of just another tech-bubble, Blockchain is gradually becoming a more optimistic investment in the industry with a huge range of use cases emerging almost daily. In fact, in a recently released report by the World Economic Forum named ‘Building Block(chain)s for a Better Planet’, it was clarified that this has this has the potential to be the “foundational emerging technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, much like the internet was for the previous (or third) industrial revolution”!
The report was published by WEF under the series ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth’ that evaluates how the digital, physical, and biological industries can converge to create and manage a ‘shared global environment’. The series covers other high-end technologies as well including VR, AI, and IoT and details how all of these can be utilised to address present-day environmental and societal problems.
This aforementioned paper also discusses the deeper points regarding Blockchain, and how the technology has the potential to impact the financial and technological industries as well as the current problems of the planet including biodiversity loss, natural disasters, ocean-health deterioration, air pollution, water scarcity, and climate change.
The paper also introduces 65 use cases of Blockchain that can have a greater positive impact on the environment. The effectiveness of the technology in all these use cases is mainly founded on its effectiveness in creating a cleaner decentralised system for better peer-to-peer transaction applications. This feature, which is basically the foundation of the technology itself, makes it ideal for creating new financial models and more transparent supply-chain management systems, which are gradually becoming more crucial in society.
Such applications, along with the applications for the planet’s health issues, make it clear that the technology actually has huge untapped potential that can provide monetary value, it can help save money, this can happen by eliminating the bureaucracy from the supply chains, as well as being used to provide opportunities for establishing the ‘tech for good’ considerations.
Having said that, such revolutionary changes do not happen overnight. As the report puts it, “…transformative changes will not happen automatically. They will require deliberate collaboration between diverse stakeholders ranging from technology industries through to environmental policy-makers, underpinned by new platforms that can support these stakeholders to advance not just a technology application, but the systems shift that will enable it to truly take hold.”
To achieve that ‘system shift’, there are a lot of challenges that the tech has to overcome. One such challenge is Blockchain’s current energy consumption. Other challenges, as named in the report, such as user trust, interoperability and scalability of the system, security risks, and legal & regulatory issues appear more solvable by comparison.
In any case, all these problems can be solved as the tech matures. We have seen similar problems arising during the emergence of supercomputers, and then during the introduction of the Internet. Overtime, these inventions grew into what we now see as the third industrial revolution. Communities around these technologies, which further branched out to introduce more efficiency, have all been the result of the tech maturation, which ultimately led to the new ecosystem without which we cannot imagine modern life.
The report states there are similar conditions around the new technologies that have emerged. As for these technologies, including Blockchain, these will grow the community around it and will not only solve the adjacent issues but will also create better applications across the different sectors and systems that will allow the growth of these technologies and reach new heights.
Signs of this unprecedented growth have started to surface in the market, wherein only around 400 blockchain projects have raised more than $3.3 billion only through initial coin offerings (ICOs). Indeed, as an emerging technology, Blockchain is steadily gaining more ground both in the industry and the market, and now with this optimistic report by WEF, a revolution around how we currently think about this technology seems to be just around the corner.
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