Where Will Innovation Be In Blockchain Technology?

August 22, 2017

“In the 1940’s, the [4-minute mile] record was pushed to 4:01, where it stood for nine years. Experts said that the human body was simply not capable of a 4-minute mile. It wasn’t just dangerous; it was impossible.”

Breaking The Barrier

In 1954 Sir Roger Bannister shattered the four minute mile impossibility in the minds of many athletes by completing his mile in 3min. 59.4sec. This forced everyone to rethink their prior beliefs of what is and what isn’t impossible.

In a similar way, when a piece of technology takes us to a novel dimension, think Peter Thiel’s “zero to one”, there’s rarely any back peddling.

Technology brings humanity a step forward, and once given mechanisms like Google search or antibiotics the human social organism grows and cannot go backwards.

By this analogy, consider what Blockchain technology has done. In reality, it shattered the mental barrier to “trustless” value transfer.

Prior to Nakamoto’s invention the Byzantine Generals’ Problem was wide open and unsolved giving a false perception of “impossibility”.

My hypothesis is, mental barriers like these represent a fog of war over a specific area in plane of imagination and invention. Such a fog makes it very difficult to predict and think about opportunities in this space. The breaking of such barriers, by means of solution to a long standing problem, lifts the fog, grows the scope of understanding, and opens gates to new exploration of other industries. Fog of War

Nakamoto’s implementation of proof of work into a blockchain data structure broke the fog and is continuing to give us new thoughts and ideas about how to solve other exisiting problems.

Zooming Out: Decentralization In Perspective

But let’s be frank: There are many problems with blockchain technology and it’s current applications.

  • Scaling
  • Transaction speeds
  • Complexity
  • The Wild wild west of raising capital and crowd funding.

So many issues you almost don’t want to touch the stuff.

But, when we zoom out to the larger picture, we realize that focusing on only blockchains and only the narrow industry of financial applications, is like picking the shrimp from the lobster buffet.

As Naval Ravikant, brilliantly put it,

Blockchains a mechanism for organizing human networks.

This is it. (and is Naval’s idea NOT mine.)

But whether it’s a blockchain, a tangle or new data structure created in the future, the key to finding new opportunities is to:

Observe pre-exisiting infrastructure and/or systems that poorly manages the organization of human networks and their associated value transfer.

Give it to me in one line?

Any place where a figure, entity or person moderates and makes human groups behave in a specific way is a potential opportunity for decentralized and blockchain based innovation.

Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? I couldn’t tell you and you don’t need to believe my opinion — in fact, tell me what you think in the comments!

But one thing is certain every person, institution, enterprise looking at this space can agree in their thinking that:

There’s something here that can do a lot of good, we just need to figure out how to use it.