The Future of Blockchain

Blockchain is a very powerful group of technologies that facilitates distributed trust. As a decentralized system, it is incredibly robust and adaptable, advantages which are counterbalanced by its slow speed and inefficiency. It is an essential requirement for digital currencies, like Bitcoin, which are useful in places where central banks are ineffective or very expensive. Bitcoin also allows users to do things the government doesn’t approve of, which might be criminal or political or revolutionary or trans-national. But digital currencies are also incredibly volatile and it’s hard to predict their future. Blockchain, on the other hand, offers utility far beyond digital currencies. As we continue to evolve our relationship with technology and privacy, we can see a role for smart contacts, which could be used to negotiate trust and approval across large networks. In the Mirror World, where individuals are constantly contributing virtual objects and artifacts, there is a massive need to verify whether things are legitimate or not. In the physical world, blockchain can be embedded to track the provenance of objects and to confirm authenticity. In a world of 8 billion people, a distributed system like this makes a lot of sense, and many experiments are underway to reduce the need for computational cycles, reducing the environmental costs. We are still waiting to see how decentralized systems like blockchain scale up, and we are still exploring what it’s really good for, but I expect that this technology will become part of the ecosystem of invisible infrastructure in the next 10 years. This video on “The Future of Blockchain” was commissioned by China Mobile as part of an online course. It is one of 36 lecture videos.