The term blockchain has become an umbrella term for distributed ledger technologies, the impact of which has yet to be fully conceptualized. This is done to remove the technological nuances in order to more easily envision the outcome or ‘’see the horizon’’.
I watched my hearing impaired toddler who has not yet spoken but had an inherent understanding of the use and subjective impact of smartphone technology. However, if we had to question an emeritus professor in the 90s and pose the question, ‘’how will smartphones impact society in 2019’’ his vision would be a far cry from what we see today. The reason is simple, he cannot accurately determine the impact of smartphones as he does not know all the technology that will support smartphones or the pace of development of those supporting technologies. This the reason for calling this a revolution, a sudden change that will forever contribute to an increased pace in industry or GDP, in essence producing more for less.
We started as an industrial society in the 18th century. The first industrial revolution was powered largely by steam and the second industrial revolution powered largely by steel, oil, electricity and the internal combustion engine. The third industrial revolution was powered by digitization, the internet, and personal computers. It might seem strange to say that those items were in the third revolution and now say that we are in the 4th industrial revolution whilst reading this article via the internet through your personal computer. The reason is that we know these periods are not exact and that the time of invention differs from the time of proliferation. As an example, Bill Gates invented dos (precursor to Windows) in his garage but it took years before it was the dominant operating system. We do know that the pace of change is increasing. We can also see that the period of each industrial revolution has continued to shorten from over 100 years to 70 years down to 50 years and perhaps the fourth industrial revolution might last 30 years. We also note that technologies don’t disappear altogether as steam is still widely used in the textile sector, you arrived at work in your internal combustion powered vehicle and will repost this article via the internet to your social media account.
The 4th industrial revolution is expected to be powered by the Blockchain robotics, AI, 3D printing, IOT, biotech, and nanotech. Intuitively, experts in each of the above-listed sectors will have a basic understanding of how these technologies will interact mechanically but it will mostly take a think tank to comprehend, even at a base level, the true impact of Blockchain on society. It will be difficult to ascertain the exact impact of the 4th industrial revolution but if the past is anything to go by, we know the impact will occur quicker than the previous revolutions and its impact retrospectively will be unmistakably prolific.