The following post comes from a new eBook, Blockchains in the Mainstream, which features 33 of the top thinkers, entrepreneurs, and investors in the world of decentralized systems.
You can read all of the entries from the “Blockchain Dream Team” in the FREE PDF here.
Blockchain has in nite possibilities. Every day industry is experimenting and uncovering new ways the technology can be applied. We hear about the potential to better protect our identities, process payments faster, track the provenance of goods or simply ensure the goods we trade are ethically sourced.
Whilst blockchain promotes the promise of a better future, it is however, a nascent technology. If we were comparing it to a human lifespan the technology would just now be taking its first steps. There is massive progress, but there is still a long way to go.
The biggest challenge any industry faces when adopting an emerging technology comes down to two things.
- First, is there enough education on how the technology works and a shared understanding among all the stakeholders involved?
- Second, are we able to identify genuine use cases, or more importantly problems, where the technology would offer a better solution than what is presently available.
Currently we have the potential to upload any information on the blockchain — but to what end? When you look at the fabric of the technology you have to think about where it can best be applied; what information or objects require the immutability, security and scalability that blockchain provides. We’ve seen projects pursued where blockchain isn’t required, where other methods actually work better.
Startups and entrepreneurs have to play a bigger role in helping industry identify where we should be investing in blockchain.
Moving from a centralized system, where authority is defined, to a decentralized environment where consensus is shared equally among participating parties also poses its own set of challenges for industry. The largest hurdle will be adapting traditional legal frameworks to determine how smart contract agreements processed on the blockchain are recognized in the court of law. This will require considerate cooperation among stakeholders (startups, industry, government) to share knowledge and determine the best way forward.
We’re at a critical moment with blockchain technology. Industry has woken up to all the possibilities, but careful thought and planning is required to move forward with all the proof of concepts and pilots introduced in 2016. As with any digital transformation the paradigm is not displacement and replacement but connectivity and recombination. Right now, this responsibility is held by both startups, who are custodians of the technology, and with industry players who are investing and creating the environments for where experimentation is taking place. As entrepreneurs our role is to bring imagining into existence and with a technology like blockchain it requires careful thought and collaboration to set the foundation and guidelines for how the technology can and should be applied, and more importantly, under what protocols.
Working at the forefront of a technology like blockchain is exhilarating and comes with its share of responsibility. If we, as an industry, move on implementing projects where blockchain isn’t required, we fail collectively.
But if we build out commercial systems where blockchain has the potential to solve critical path and last mile problems, then there is no telling what we’ll be able to achieve.