More than Money: Get the Gist on bitcoins, blockchains, & smart contracts
The techno-optimists’ scenario for the blockchain and smart contracts spells out a future where money becomes a latent feature of human interaction as opposed to a dominant feature as it is today. As other issues (such as guaranteed basic income, Internet of Things, etc.) mature and converge, applications for blockchain and smart contracts will expand to underlay almost every aspects of digital life.
Guaranteed basic income has been gaining traction in several countries around the world especially as automation continues to develop. If value can be guaranteed and automated as Figure 1 suggests, then money will become obsolete and the digital world may rely more on a type of digital bartering system determined more by a reputation economy than money. And as the Internet of Things advances, a similar reputation system may influence even real world transactions.
- If a person’s milk supply runs dry, their fridge can order a new litre of milk to be delivered once they finish an online survey.
- When a wealthy person’s fingerprints are recognized by a store’s door, the price for everything increases.
- If public surveillance ramps up, a kind act could be registered by someone’s wearable camera, and a reward (tickets to a concert that the individual expressed interest for on Facebook) could be automatically allocated to the individual out of a philanthropic fund that is no longer monitored by humans.
- If someone’s death is recorded at a hospital, emails are sent to pre-set loved ones with messages of love, videos, photos, etc.
All of these scenarios are entirely plausible now, but with the blockchain, the process could become automated, standardized, and nearly universal. Money and other values could become hidden in the digital architecture as soon as 20 years from now. While a virtual currency would continue to exist, value exchange at every level would become more latent than is possible today.
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