How will we earn money to live in 2050? Unlocking the value of the invisible economy through blockchain: Part I

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Blockchain is trust, and trust is the underlying currency underpinning business and employment.

I wonder what society in 2050 could look like concerning the future of work. Advances in technology, automation, and that we currently have severe worldwide problems to solve will mean that how we earn a living in the future needs to be redesigned from the ground up.

At the end of this article, I have outlined some questions to ask yourself while thinking about using blockchain as a solution.

This exciting new technology is not always the answer to your business problem. Emerging technology is a part of your digital toolkit to reimagine business outside current limitations.

A penny for your thoughts?

We have already started the transition from a tangible-based economy to an intangible one where knowledge and imagination are valued and sold.

The intangibles economy is estimated to grow to a staggering US$ 1,281 trillion by 2040. But, according to a recent European Commission’s survey on the digital skills gap across the EU, 43% of people in the EU don’t know how to perform basic tasks like searching for information online.

So how do we bring everyone on the journey? And ensure global prosperity for all.

2050 — A labor-less economy

In 2050, we could have a labor-less economy fuelled by automation; how will society adjust and pay for goods and services? Will we still have governments, centralized enterprises, and fiat currency?

I think the momentum for transformation and change began in 2008 with the innovation of bitcoin and the emergence of how we reimagine the exchange value in a digital world. Direct peer-to-peer transactions using blockchain technology without the need for several intermediaries pioneered the advancement of financial payments and e-commerce.

Blockchain is part of the growth in the intangibles-economy. Blockchain research projects are under development for how a new global payment system could function for both individuals and current global financial giants. An example of this evolution is the ability to enable a machine to machine payments powered by blockchain applications like Algorand’s stateless smart contracts.

Smart contracts are the ultimate advancement of our financial systems as they power trustless execution and final completion of financial transactions without human intervention.

Problems in society that need solved

Society has problems concerning abolishing modern slavery, reversing climate change, evenly distributing wealth, solving the exploitation of personal data usage, and sustainable cities and communities. These are just some of the problems that need solving today, and I believe emerging technologies can help. Some of the smartest and conscientious people I have met are working on blockchain, AI, robotics, and IoT projects. They want to do good in with the products they develop.

The United Nations, 2030 agenda for sustainable development outlines 17 goals, and in 2015 these were adopted by the 193 UN member states. These goals are necessary to transform our world into a viable future.

How will policy-makers respond to enable the technology revolution and keep up with the pace of change to ensure global prosperity for all? There are suggestions to set-up global technology principles, but will these work, as historically in other industries guiding principles, did not always lead to favorable outcomes for the societal greater good.

Reimaging money — laying the foundations of the future of e-commerce

2008 saw us embark on a journey on the redesign of how money comes into circulation with the invention of Bitcoin. Since then, entrepreneurs and traditional businesses have become captivated with the underlying technology of blockchain and what this foundational technology could do to help them thrive in a digital world.

The appetite shown by academics, computer scientists, economists, visionaries, and businesses for blockchain development is backed up by annual reported spending on research and development by the IDC. They reported worldwide spending on blockchain solutions is forecast to be nearly $2.9 billion in 2019, an increase of 88.7% from the $1.5 billion spent in 2018.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Governments, policy-makers, legislators, businesses, thought-leaders, and activists are thinking about the impact of how our world will adjust to these fundamental changes. This was a clear concern and topic on the World Economic Forum Agenda — Davos 2020.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a seemingly permanent one. One, we are all called to challenge as users of the technology we participate in; for example, considering our data privacy and usage — a recent hot topic. I would hazard a guess since the recent scandals that most of us have not removed ourselves from centralized platforms. The platforms offer seemingly free services that monetize data intelligence, and we accept that trade-off whether we realize it or not.

These user-friendly and accessible platforms still attract considerable growth in user numbers because they are convenient and full of benefits.

The ethical arguments for these large platforms we currently enjoy using. As well as the societal impact of the new technologies we are deploying is challenging regulators to keep up at a scale and rate of change never seen before in society.

Blockchain mass adoption

For blockchain to have the same mass adoption on par with current global platforms, the technology needs to mature to offer equal ease of use.

As humans, we generally take comfort and easy over complexity and, as mentioned above, still use the platforms we love to hate.

Convenience is part of our human DNA as an innate survival mechanism by which we conserve energy. Moving platforms, deleting accounts all require enormous effort. And it is unlikely ever to remove all your online personas regardless of the goodwill in EU GDPR regulations.

To encourage users to move away from centralized platforms and use blockchain applications as a first choice. The blockchain products developed need to solve real-world problems affecting daily life and have user-friendly and accessible experiences for everyone.

Blockchain benefits

Two of the exclusive benefits blockchain can provide is that unlike centralized platforms;

  • blockchain has unparalleled security built into the core, and
  • it can also enable a personal data stewardship model — you own your data-self

Blockchain in the real-world

What does this mean in the real-world? An example is when you pay for your coffee using your credit or debit card. That payment goes through about five-seven intermediaries. A financial system based on a thick middle layer of companies is not modern, efficient, cost-effective, or digitally safe.

Now imagine a world of exclusive peer-to-peer payments with zero or fewer intermediaries. Now our financial payments systems and your data are more secure. Due to fewer points of failure for potential malicious attacks and your details falling into the wrong hands.

I think blockchain and the decentralized applications will play a fundamental role in how society earns a living.

Blockchain is not just a refresh of the technology stack but a foundational step-change in how our global communities and businesses operate.

Blockchain and community

I think the original ethos of blockchain is community and user-centric. Third-generation blockchains, like Algorand, are laying the foundations for new financial transactions to happen by synergizing schools of economics, ethics, philosophy, business, and computer science. As well as an extensive global Ambassador community who input into their development and open-source technology rigorously. Robust and futuristic blockchain projects are holistic in nature and globally inclusive in their development. We are laying the foundational technology of our future after all.

A community-owned business model of the future using blockchain

An exciting concept in some blockchain solutions is utilizing pure proof of stake, and innovating consensus mechanisms for blockchain-based financial systems, thereby enabling a new type of business model and corporate thought-process. Though, and rightly so, some central banks have noted this type of emerging finance could destabilize markets because you are removing the intermediaries who police transactions. But what countries and jurisdictions look like in 2050 could be radically different than today.

The advancement of payment solutions that give the consumer value-back could allow the innovation and expansion of community stakeholder business models. Similar to co-operative businesses today but on a larger scale, more interactive scale. This model would make individuals stakeholders in companies they choose and share in those profits.

Blockchain is trust, and trust is the underlying currency underpinning business and employment and will become more so in the future. Companies of the future will have to place their societal purpose at the center of their long-term strategy to remain relevant.

Questions to ask for reviewing blockchain solutions

  • When reviewing business blockchain solutions ask yourself some of these questions;
  • What problem is it solving?
  • Does the market already exist? Or do you need to create a new one?
  • What advantage will it give you, and will it be profitable?
  • Are you removing a large middle-layer?
  • Consider how blockchain can enable access to unique capabilities outside your corporate walls?

If you are interested in more blockchain insights, check out my other articles and musings on blockchain, decentralized finance, and our planet.