Bitcoin 1.0 is currency - the deployment of cryptocurrencies in applications related to cash such as currency transfer, remittance, and digital payment systems. Bitcoin 2.0 is contracts - the whole slate of economic, market, and financial applications using the blockchain that are more extensive than simple cash transactions like stocks, bonds, futures, loans, mortgages, titles, smart property, and smart contracts
Bitcoin 3.0 is blockchain applications beyond currency, finance, and markets, particularly in the areas of government, health, science, literacy, culture, and art.
Bitcoin and blockchain technology is much more than a digital currency, the blockchain is an information technology, potentially on the order of the Internet (‘the next Internet’), but even more pervasive and quickly-configuring.
Prevalence of Decentralized Models
Even if the currently developing models of Bitcoin and blockchain technology are not the final paradigm (there are many problematic flaws), the bigger trend, decentralized models as a class, could have a pronounced impact. If not the blockchain industry, there would probably be something else, and in fact there probably will be other complements to the blockchain industry anyway. It is just that the blockchain industry is one of the first identifiable large-scale implementations of decentralization models, conceived and executed at a new and more complex level of human activity.
Decentralized models have the potential to reorganize all manner of human activity, and quickly, because they are trustless, the friction of the search and trust-establishment process in previous models of human interaction is eliminated. This could mean greatly accelerated rates and levels of activity, on a much greater humanity-level scale. The blockchain (decentralized network coordination technology) could emerge as a fundamental infrastructure element in the model to scale humanity to its next levels of orders-of-magnitude-larger progress.
Next Disruptive Computing Paradigm: Connected World of Bitcoin
One model of understanding the modern world is through computing paradigms, with a new paradigm arising on the order of one per decade (Figure1). First, there were the mainframe and PC (personal computer) paradigms, and then the Internet revolutionized everything. Mobile and social networking has been the most recent paradigm.
The current paradigm is that of the Connected World which includes Bitcoin/blockchain technology as the economic overlay to what is increasingly becoming a seamlessly connected world of multi-device computing that comprises wearable computing, Internet-of-Things (IOT) sensors, smartphones, tablets, laptops, Quantified Self-Tracking devices (i.e.; Fitbit), smarthome, smartcar, and smartcity.
Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology could be the next major disruptive technology and worldwide computing paradigm, on the order of the Internet in terms of the potential for pervasively reconfiguring of all human activity as the Internet did. Blockchain technology could be deployed and adopted much more quickly too, given the network effect that so many humans worldwide are already linked through the Internet and cellular network technologies.
Just as Paradigm 4 functionality (social-mobile (i.e.; mobile apps for everything and sociality as a website property (liking, commenting, friending, forum participation)) has become an expected feature of technology properties, so too could Paradigm 5 functionality. Paradigm 5 functionality could be the experience of a continuously-connected seamless physical-world multi-device computing layer, with a blockchain technology overlay for payments, and not just payments, but micropayments, decentralized exchange, token earning and spending, digital asset invocation and transfer, and smart contract issuance and execution; all as the economic layer the web never had.
Apple Pay (Apple’s token-based app-based eWallet) could be the critical intermediary step in moving to a full-fledged cryptocurrency world where the blockchain becomes the seamless economic layer of the web.
Melanie Swan, MBA, is an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET. Ms. Swan, principal of the MS Futures Group, is a philosopher, science and technology futurist, and options trader.
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