Law firm Gowling WLG have introduced a scheme to educate their employees about blockchain, while offering rewards for participation The law firm is educating its employees about blockchain while offering rewards for participation.The ‘Gowling WLG Reward Token (GRT)’ scheme will attempt to fill an apparent blockchain information vacuum within the company, while providing the incentive of rewards to employees who participate.The project involves employee participants beginning by following a guide to create a digital wallet for depositing tokens, which can be earned or given to fellow employees via a GRT app after registration.Tokens can be exchanged for a free hot drink at either of the company’s restaurants in London or Birmingham. Open to all employees of Gowling, the launch of the education programme comes following a successful pilot, and co-chair of the firm David Brennan has expressed the importance of employees becoming sufficiently knowledgeable about the topic.“The volume around blockchain could not be louder,” said Brennan. “But it is important that anyone contributing to this adds value.”“As home to a market-leading blockchain team, we’re using this opportunity to marry education with rewards, provide grassroots awareness of the blockchain application and ensure its understanding throughout a large number of our employees.”“They are not only ambassadors for Gowling WLG’s blockchain-focused efforts, but also future consumers of the technology in their personal lives.”Furthermore, head of architecture and innovation at Gowling, Jody Jansen, described the feedback from employees following the trial as “fantastic”.“Our primary aim has always been to educate people about what blockchain is, and what it can do, but we also recognised the opportunity to use it as a way of saying thanks to individuals who are helping make a difference across the firm.”A Spring 2018 report by the firm featuring expertise from NEX Exchange, Blockchain Hub and BTL Group addressed the power that blockchain is gaining within the financial sector. Source: Aaron Hurst (information-age)
Ryan Kottenstette Contributor Ryan Kottenstette is CEO and co-founder at Cape Analytics.Leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to glean information from large data sets is the greatest technology opportunity of a generation. After a decade of acquiring talent from startups and research universities, tech companies like Facebook, Google and Uber have amassed some of the best AI teams in the world.However, we are not seeing the impact we deserve beyond the tech sector. Unfortunately, progress in other industries has become collateral damage to the tech sector’s race for AI talent, and this issue has received little attention.Over the last five years, 90 percent of AI startups in Silicon Valley have been acquired by leading tech companies. These acquisitions have been largely unrelated to a successful product: Often, companies are in nascent stages and their products are either shelved by the acquiring company altogether, or the technology is embedded as a feature in another core offering. Outside of a few highly targeted cases, it’s a strategy aimed first at getting the talent in-house, then figuring out what to do with them.Source: CB InsightsOn a micro-level, this is a highly rational strategy across the tech innovation ecosystem. Leading technology companies have the capabilities, cash and scale to leverage this talent and technical expertise into profitable products down the road. For their part, venture capitalists feel safer investing at higher prices in early-stage AI companies because a lucrative technology or team acquisition provides downside protection if they are unable to build a big business. Lastly, management teams may be tempted by early acquisition offers that are priced much higher than non AI-centric companies with equivalent product maturity or market traction.In the AI arms race, though, the name of the game is not just getting ahead, but depriving competitors of the AI talent that could make them competitive. While tech companies compete for the promise of future AI-based offerings, they are not just depriving their competition of talent, but the rest of the economy, as well.On a macro-level, this hoarding strategy is undercutting 95 percent of the impact AI could have on the global economy and society at large. Aggregate revenue of the five leading U.S. tech companies (Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook) represent less than 5 percent of total U.S. GDP. Yet tech giants are buying up companies and directing them to focus on R&D, rather than building AI applications for specific, non-tech industry problems that can have an impact today.Some argue that tech incumbents are best suited to bring industry-specific solutions to bear. Just look at cloud computing and how many industries have used it to increase their productivity — maybe the same will be done for AI and data services. I don’t believe this is likely to happen quickly, for two reasons: (1) tech companies have plenty of their own purposes in mind, and (2) the best AI solutions are designed around a specific problem and workflow.You can see this already playing out in a few ways:Today, your Facebook photos are automatically tagged. This is a core feature enhancement designed to increase customer engagement. Recommendations on everything from Google to Netflix to Amazon are increasingly likely to result in increased customer purchases as a result of leveraging machine learning to scan a broader array of profile information. Both of these represent core needs for major tech companies and are not likely to translate into relevant offerings for other industries. Personally, I think it’s a shame that so many great AI minds are working on comparatively incremental feature enhancements.There is a huge opportunity for AI-based products and companies targeting applications in industries outside the tech sector.Second, tech companies are building up AI workforces as part of their moonshots and experimental labs that are focused on reimagining incumbent industries on tech terms and building the core IP and research that could make this possible. History indicates that when tech companies set out to reinvent entire categories, many commonly fail at first (recall Webvan, or Marc Andreesen’s LoudCloud). Incumbents don’t react quickly enough (consider Safeway’s response to Webvan, and IBM or HP’s reaction to LoudCloud).Finally a new disruptive effort eventually succeeds a decade or two later (to complete this example, consider Amazon regarding groceries, and AWS or Opsware regarding cloud computing). In this arena, consumers and tech companies ultimately win, while major incumbents that should have had the inside track are leapfrogged because of the talent and technology gap accumulated during the initial efforts.Even when specific projects fail, tech incumbents’ research labs reap a side benefit in recruiting power: they get AI talent in through the door and allow them to continue their research, publicizing it and adding to the narrative that tech companies are the best place to conduct research (you get free lunch and dinner!).The net result of this situation is that, today, AI talent and technology are largely denied from companies outside of tech. Incumbent industries, like insurance, won’t see improvements to their bottom line because a computer can win at Go. This is unfortunate, because although industry applications may seem less “disruptive,” they could have a far more significant impact on a shorter timescale.So what can other industry leaders do? Incumbent industries must respond aggressively or risk being cut out of the next decade of innovation, which will be largely driven by AI and data analytics. This means (1) acknowledging what is at stake, (2) creating an environment to attract, retain and focus the type of talent required and (3) aggressively seeking said talent.We’ve begun to see action in a few areas:With the prospect of self-driving cars, the automotive industry faces an existential risk. Jon Lauckner at GM has been at the center of some bold moves forward, including the $1 billion acquisition of Cruise and a $500 million investment in Lyft. Ford and Delphi have also been active with acquisitions like Argo AI and NuTomony.Source: CB InsightsAgriculture also presents a good example of action in recognition of what’s at stake: Two major AI acquisitions have happened in the last five years. Monsanto acquired Climate Corporation to advance their effort into a data-driven future wherein they can provide customized insights and advice to farmers for planting crops. This past year, John Deere acquired Blue River Technology, which takes this a step further, leveraging computer vision to deliver customized insight and action on every individual plant in real time as a tractor moves through the field.To be sure, acquiring talent is far from the only means to advance as an incumbent, but building the core talent, technology and business model for future success has proven challenging for entrenched incumbents. Netflix is one of the few examples of success, innovating their way from a DVD-based business to a streaming one. Still, it was a painful transition, taking tremendous vision, cannibalization of their own sales and a 75 percent drop in share price before their fortunes turned skyward.Right now, there is a huge opportunity for AI-based products and companies targeting applications in industries outside the tech sector, and there is relatively little competition in the short and intermediate term — moonshots at major tech companies have a spotty record and largely target a distant future. In the meantime, incumbents have historically failed to capitalize on major technology transformations, and outside of the few examples mentioned, history appears poised to repeat itself unless companies take proactive measures.cameraImage Credits: agsandrew / Shutterstock
Blockchain could make it easier to discover the journey that agricultural products take, reduce the frequency and severity of food safety scares, and transform the industry.
Is it possible to track where food comes from?
Several companies have launched services allowing shoppers to see a product’s journey from farm to fork, but they often depend on retailers agreeing to be transparent.
When you pop into a store to buy fresh fruit, vegetables or meat, it’s common for the packaging to reveal which country it is from. Some upmarket brands go further by offering stories about the farm and the conditions where the food was cultivated.
Tracking an item step-by-step through the manufacturing process can be hard — and, sometimes, even manufacturers and retailers themselves aren’t sure about a product’s journey.
This is part of the reason why recent food safety scares have been so widespread: it’s been difficult — nearly impossible — to track where problems begin. However, integrating blockchain into the food chain could mean issues are detected instantly.
Food safety scares! Remind me?
There have been several in recent years… how long have you got?
In 2018, a deadly E. coli outbreak was connected to romaine lettuce that was grown in Arizona. The outbreak affected 35 states across the U.S., with five people dying and a total of almost 200 cases reported.
In 2013, a horsemeat scandal gripped Europe — and products advertised as beef were actually found to contain… yep, you guessed it, horse. It made its way into some of the continent’s biggest supermarkets. They blamed their suppliers, who in turn blamed their suppliers. The furore shook confidence and left some people refusing to buy meat all together.
Blockchain could play a big role in clamping down on food fraud because every component in a finished product would become easier to identify — speeding up recalls and also allowing consumers to find information they can trust about an item, seconds after picking it up off the shelf.
How would that work? Any examples?
Smart agriculture solutions — which boost productivity and address food demand — are thriving, and it is predicted that this industry could be worth up to $26.76 billion by 2020.
Farmers who are already using blockchain describe it as a “game changer, just like the internet.” For example, one meat company says the seemingly insignificant statistics blockchain provides, such as when pigs arrive at a factory, can have a massive effect on the final product they deliver to customers. They show blockchain results in a “detailed passport” where consumers can be assured that the meat they are consuming met strict hygiene and well-being standards — with any issues arising in the production process being identified in as little as 30 seconds.
Meanwhile, the government of Kerala is planning to introduce blockchain in the grocery supply process, with the hope of ensuring that the system will be used whenever food is being delivered to stores across the country. It is hoped this will help deliver products to millions of people on a daily basis more efficiently, as well as provide a form of “crop insurance” to ensure that farmers can be compensated quickly whenever unforeseen circumstances affect their yield.
Certification of fruit and vegetables could also be enhanced through blockchain — ensuring that information isn’t lost and streamlining the manpower needed to confirm a product’s provenance. Every shipment of fruit and vegetables is accompanied by paper certificates showing where the food has come from, validating its quality and declaring it free of disease. In Belgium, work has begun to digitize some of these certificates so they are placed on a blockchain instead.
Food safety’s great, but what about food prices? They’re constantly rising.
Blockchain could eliminate paper-based processes and cut costs, with these savings passed on to you.
Getting rid of middlemen would minimize transaction fees, and decentralization would also make it easier for smaller farms to compete with larger corporations.
For example, blockchain concepts such as PavoCoin are entering the fray — giving smaller farmers access to attainable financial services, such as the ability to pre-sell crops via smart contracts, helping them to improve the quality and quantity of their harvests, and providing consumers with greater amounts of information about the food they are buying. The company says, farmers in Stockton and in Dixon, California, have recently started using the system. A third installation is planned in Merced soon.
Optimizing farming would empower farmers of all scales with the information, resources and security they need to have higher yields, more lucrative crops. This would drive prices down for the average consumer and increase accessibility to higher quality goods. Higher yields also pump more money into the agricultural ecosystem, increasing the availability of farmed goods.
But wouldn’t farmers be out of pocket from lower prices?
On the contrary, smart contracts could ensure they are paid fairly for their hard work without delay — and smaller farms would have a larger market for selling their fresh produce.
Blockchain empowerment has the potential to shift farmers, who do the hardest work, from being price takers to price setters, forcing downstream cost reductions.
Blockchain would also allow premium brands to stand out from the crowd — and justify why their free range or organic produce is worth the extra money. This is because the provenance of their goods can be easily traced, giving consumers confidence that they are getting added value from a high-end product.
The agricultural sector would also find it easier to figure out how much their crops are worth by comparing the money being offered by a distributor to the sums paid to their rivals in earlier purchases, giving all farmers the opportunity to earn the money they deserve.
Is there any way to get fresh food on store shelves faster?
Inefficiencies in the supply chain can often mean delays before produce is ready for sale, but automated processes through blockchain could speed things along nicely.
There could also be less chance of food going to waste because agricultural businesses and retailers would be able to gauge the demand for certain products and adjust supply accordingly. This spare capacity can then be devoted to other crops — eliminating food waste.
Blockchain’s ability to tackle food waste, and the power that smart contracts can have in ensuring farmers get paid fairly and don’t go out of business, could help the world cater to rising levels of demand — helping eradicate food safety issues, poverty and political instability.
Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.
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What is blockchain? The most disruptive tech in decades
The distributed ledger technology, better known as blockchain, has the potential to eliminate huge amounts of record-keeping, save money and disrupt IT in ways not seen since the internet arrived.
￼By Lucas Mearian
Senior Reporter, Computerworld | MAY 31, 2018 1:35 PM PT
What is blockchain technology?
Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin has garnered most of the media coverage and hype to date, but keep your eye on blockchain – this new technology is poised to change IT in much the same way open-source software did a quarter century ago.
Blockchain is poised to change IT in much the same way open-source software did a quarter of a century ago. And in the same way that Linux took more than a decade to become a cornerstone in modern application development, Blockchain will take years to become a lower cost, more efficient way to share information between open and private networks.
Because blockchain is based on a distributed, peer-to-peer topology where data can be stored globally on thousands of servers – and anyone on the network can see everyone else’s entries in real-time – it’s virtually impossible for one entity to gain control of or game the network.
But the hype around this seemingly new, secure electronic ledger is real. In essence, blockchain represents a new paradigm for the way information is shared and tech vendors and companies are rushing to figure out how they can use the distributed ledger technology to save time and admin costs. Numerous companies in 2017 began rolling out pilot programs and real-world projects across a variety of industries – everything from financial services to healthcare to mobile payments and even global shipping.
It’s unlikely to be a wholly disruptive technology that attacks traditional business models with a lower-cost solution that overtakes other networking technology quickly, according to Karim Lakhani, a professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. Instead, Blockchain is a foundational technology, with the potential to create new foundations for economic and social systems, Lakhani said in The Truth About Blockchain, which he co-authored.
In simple terms, blockchain isn’t going to replace the corporate relational database, but it will create a new paradigm for transactional data within (and outside of) global enterprises.
[ Further reading: The top 5 problems with blockchain ]
Blockchain adoption is expected be slow and steady, as the changes it brings gain momentum, according Lakhani, a principal investigator of the Crowd Innovation Lab and NASA Tournament Lab at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science. “Conceptionally, this is TCP/IP applied to the world of business and transactions,” Lakhani said in an interview. “In the ’70s and ’80s, TCP/IP was not imaginable to be as robust and scalable as it was. Now, we know that TCP/IP allows us all this modern functionality that we take for granted on the web.
“Blockchain has the same potential.”
What is blockchain?
First and foremost, Blockchain is a public electronic ledger that can be openly shared among disparate users and that creates an unchangeable record of their transactions, each one time-stamped and linked to the previous one. Each digital record or transaction in the thread is called a block (hence the name), and it allows either an open or controlled set of users to participate in the electronic ledger. Each block is linked to a specific participant.
Blockchain can only be updated by consensus between participants in the system, and when new data is entered, it can never be erased. The blockchain contains a true and verifiable record of each and every transaction ever made in the system.
In layman’s terms, blockchain is a write-once, append-many electronic ledger.
Blockchain isn’t a single technology. Rather it’s an architecture that allows disparate users to make transactions and then creates an unchangeable record of those transactions.
Blockchain isn’t a single technology. Rather it’s an architecture that allows disparate users to make transactions and then creates an unchangeable, secure record of those transactions.
While it has great potential, blockchain technology is in its infancy and CIOs and their business counterparts should expect setbacks in deploying the technology, including the real possibility of serious bugs in the software used atop blockchain to create business-specific applications – for example, a mobile payments system.
In another example, one of the most prevalent blockchain platforms, Ethereum, doesn’t support the use of decimal points in its script for smart (self executing) contracts. Those coding a blockchain network would need to create a workaround.
The Linux Foundation has created tools for building out blockchain collaboration networks. And in July, the open-source developer unveiled Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, a collaboration tool for building blockchain distributed ledger business networks, such as smart contracts.
While some industry groups are working toward standardizing versions of blockchain software, there are also about 200 startups working on their own versions of the distributed ledger technology.
Why is blockchain getting so much buzz? In a word, Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the wildly hyped cryptocurrency, a method of transacting payments over an open network using digital bits and encryption. It was the first ever decentralized one when it was created in 2009. Other forms of cryptocurrency or virtual money, such as Ether (based on the Ethereum blockchain application platform), have also sprung up and have opened new venues for cross-border monetary exchanges.
The term bitcoin was first… well, coined in 2008 when Satoshi Nakamoto (likely a pseudonym for one or more developers) wrote a paper about a “peer-to-peer version of electronic cash that would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”
What does blockchain do?
As a peer-to-peer network, combined with a distributed time-stamping server, blockchain ledgers can be managed autonomously to exchange information between disparate parties. There’s no need for an administrator. In effect, the blockchain users are the administrator.
Additionally, blockchain networks can be used for “smart contracts,” or scripts that automatically execute when certain conditions are met. For example, Ethereum Ether exchange users must meet pre-determined conditions that prove someone owns the cryptocurrency and have authority to send the money they claim to own. In addition, multiple blockchain users can create contracts that require more than one set of inputs to trigger a transaction.
One example: real estate transactions require sign offs between buyers, sellers and their financial institutions.
Each digital record or transaction in the electronic ledger is called a block. When a block is completed, it creates a unique secure code that ties it to the next block.
How secure is blockchain?
While no system is “unhackable,” blockchain’s simple topology is the most secure today, according to Alex Tapscott, the CEO and founder of Northwest Passage Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in blockchain technology companies.
“In order to move anything of value over any kind of blockchain, the network [of nodes] must first agree that that transaction is valid, which means no single entity can go in and say one way or the other whether or not a transaction happened,” Tapscott said. “To hack it, you wouldn’t just have to hack one system like in a bank…, you’d have to hack every single computer on that network, which is fighting against you doing that.”
The computing resources of most blockchains are tremendous, Tapscott said, because it’s not just one computer but many. For example, the Bitcoin blockchain harnesses anywhere between 10 and 100 times as much computing power compared to all of Google’s serving farms put together.
As with any emerging technology, blockchain faces challenges and barriers to adoption.
“So again, [it’s] not un-hackable, but significantly better than anything we’ve come up with today,” Tapscott said.
Public vs. private blockchains
There are a variety of blockchain permutations, and they fall mainly into one of two categories – public or private. Public blockchains allow anyone to see or send transactions as long as they’re part of the consensus process. There are also consortium blockchains, where only a pre-selected number of nodes are authorized to use the ledger. For example, a group of banks and their clearinghouse might use blockchain as part of the trade-clearing, where each node is associated with a step in the verification process.
Private blockchains, in contrast, restrict the ability to write to a distributed ledger to one organization, such as a group of employees within a corporation, or between a set number of organizations, such as a number of banks that agree to a network partnership.
Along the way, blockchain – because of its self-policing security – eliminates huge amounts of record keeping, which can get very confusing when multiple parties are involved in a transaction, according to Saurabh Gupta, vice president of strategy at IT services company Genpact.
Which industries use blockchain?
Shipping. Fintech. Healthcare, Energy. Blockchains are being put to a wide variety of uses in several industries. (Most recently it’s been touted as a way to exchange carbon credits.)
In shipping, for example, a bill of lading for cargo shipments has traditionally been paper based, which requires multiple sign-offs by inspectors and receivers before goods can be delivered. Even when the system is electronic, it still requires multiple parties to sign off on cargo shipments, creating a lengthy administrative process. To try and streamline that cumbersome process, the world’s largest container shipment operator, Maersk, in March 2017 announced it is using a blockchain-based ledger to manage and track the paper trail of tens of millions of shipping containers by digitizing the supply chain. And Maersk has now teamed up with IBM on a new blockchain-based electronic shipping platform. It’s expected to be up and running later in 2018.
Each participant in the shipping supply chain can view the progress of goods through the blockchain ledger, understanding where a container is in transit. They can also see the status of customs documents, or view bills of lading and other data in real time. And, because it creates an immutable record, no one party can modify, delete or even append any one of the blocks without the consensus from others on the network.
“Blockchain and distributed ledgers may eventually be the method for integrating the entire commercial world’s record keeping,” Gupta said.
Genpact, for example, announced a service for finance and accounting that leverages blockchain-based smart contracts to capture all terms and conditions between a customer and an organization for an order.
Blockchain in FinTech
But it’s financial services technology where blockchain is currently shining brightly.
At a high level, blockchain removes third parties from the transaction equation; in other words, a financial transaction on a blockchain needs no bank or government backer, and that means no fees.
Because blockchain entries can be seen in real time, the technology also has the potential to reduce time for clearance and settlement, which can take up to five days.
Accenture recently released a report claiming blockchain technology could reduce infrastructure costs for eight of the world’s 10 largest investment banks by an average of 30%, “translating to $8 billion to $12 billion in annual cost savings for those banks.”
In the case of cross-border payments, processing is often complex and includes multiple layers of communication among payment participants to verify transactions – an operation known as payment and settlement.
Payments, clearance and settlement in the financial services industry – including stock markets – is rife with inefficiencies because each organization in the process maintains its own data and must communicate with the others through electronic messaging about where it is in the process. As a result, settlements typically take two days. Those delays in settlements force banks to set aside money that could otherwise be invested.
Because it can instantly share data with each organization involved in a blockchain database or ledger, the technology reduces or eliminates the need for reconciliation, confirmation and trade break analysis. That helps yield a more efficient and effective clearance and settlement process, according to Accenture.
Madeline Meng Shi
Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev is aiming to shake up digital advertising supply chains with the help of blockchain technology.
The world’s largest brewer has launched its first ad campaigns through the Kiip mobile marketing app, which uses ethereum’s blockchain to record and track data.
The goal is to monitor and, eventually, expand the reach of a particular ad, according to a press release.
The campaign, which started two weeks ago, has featured five of AB InBev’s most popular brands, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Limeatrita and Estrellas.
The campaign is built around Kiip’s new blockchain product, which is designed to enhance transparency and tackle issues like mobile ad fraud by keeping the campaign database available to all players in mobile ad sales.
Different metrics – including impressions, engagement and price – are encoded on the ethereum blockchain, and AB InBev can track these ad activities every hour. This approach reduces the amount of time that the campaign’s organizers spend in tracking the metrics. Meanwhile, the ad buyers can pay only for the ads that meet their criteria.
The new ad system is only AB InBev’s latest move into the crypto space. The Belgium-based behemoth joined a consortium to experiment with the blockchain technology for global shipping uses in March, as previously reported by CoinDesk.
Image Credit: Shi Yali / Shutterstock.com
Under the Microscope has aimed to cast a critical eye over the social, environmental and economic impacts of the way we currently transact and transfer wealth, be it through legacy systems like gold and fiat currencies, or through newer digital cryptographic ones.
The series has also endeavoured to give readers a clearer idea of the human and environmental impacts associated with both current and future monetary systems, and allow them to draw their own conclusions on the relative sustainability of the old and new systems when viewed from a holistic “triple-bottom-line” approach.
Although it is not necessarily fair to compare bitcoin to the entire legacy banking system, there was doubt in the community about the impact of the legacy banking system, and thus, it has been quantified for completeness.
It should be noted that the only thing involved in bitcoin mining is electricity use, and as the world moves towards clean and renewable energy, Bitcoin will have even less of an impact on the environment (See Koomey’s and Moore’s Laws). There is also much larger scope for energy efficiency improvements in integrated circuits and computing than there are in gold recycling.
As can be conclusively seen, the relative impact of the bitcoin network does not even register on the radar of the fiat and gold-based monetary systems, representing a very conservative relative environmental impact of just over 0.13%, and a relative economic impact of just under 0.04%. When one considers Koomey’s Law, we can expect energy/GH to continue to half every 18 months until 2048.
This means that we can expect our current industry best efficiency of 0.733 W/GH to reach 0.0000000873804 W/GH. Thus – armchair academics take note – in the event that bitcoin scales to a million times its current size and market cap over the next 30 years, it’s environmental impact will still be insignificant compared to existing systems.
When considering Moore’s Law, we can expect $/GH to continue to half every 18 months until at least 2020. When we consider the advent of decentralised emission-free renewable energy, we can expect tCO2/GH, and possibly even $/kWh, to tend towards zero.
The more agile and dynamic bitcoin companies can take advantage of these trends, but the sluggish, inert and over-encumbered incumbents simply cannot. As time goes on, bitcoin only becomes more sustainable, while legacy systems continue to bloat year-on-year.
There are no negative social externalities as a result of bitcoin proliferation, and any money laundering and shadow economy dealings that currently happen on the network will reduce drastically in proportion as adoption grows and regulations firm up on the on-and-off ramps into the bitcoin economy.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the crypto-currency space will take time to evolve to ensure that the issues faced and created by our legacy monetary systems do not continue to plague us for the next century and beyond.
It has been demonstrated that institutional fraud is a problem systemic to humans, and not to monetary systems. However, transactional fraud is only a problem in legacy systems due to the infallibility of the fact that 2 + 2 will always equal 4.
Although this paper has shied away from all of the ideological and philosophical debates surrounding bitcoin, what is clear is that the argument that bitcoin is superior monetary system – from the benefits and protections it provides to merchants and consumers, to the relative lack of negative impact it has on our planet and humanity in general is a strong one.
The world is currently crippled by several issues, and the human race faces several existential threats such as climate change, the global ageing population demographic crisis and wealth and income inequality.
It is also unacceptable in 2014 to still have tens of millions of people forced into labour, and current monetary systems are somewhat responsible for several of the social ills brought about by corruption, money laundering and the black market.
For those who are willing to back their principles and morals with their money, bitcoin provides the opportunity for socially, environmentally and economically conscious global citizens to choose to no longer participate in the fragile and rotten legacy monetary system, and voluntarily participate in the open and wondrous bitcoin ecosystem.
Due to the several benefits and significantly reduced burden on our planet and society, there is a certain feeling of inevitability about digital currencies, whether it be bitcoin, or a future currency that proves to be even more sustainable and beneficial for humanity.
You can read Hass McCook’s paper ‘An Order-of-Magnitude Estimate of the Relative Sustainability of the Bitcoin Network’ (on which this series is based) in full here.
The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.
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