Will blockchain really make our lives better?

If emerging technologies have the potential to improve our lives, why are we always working more? Is it really true that blockchain can make a better world?

It was my father’s generation that was promised computers would bring a better world. That work would be easier, faster, more productive. They may have replaced the filing cabinets and copious amount of manual work tallying up tax forms, but I challenge you to find anyone who can claim they work less than the generation before them, or has more time to spend with their family.

We constantly hear about how blockchain can make a better world, but will it really make our lives easier?

The 24/7 work week

Computers, smartphones, and the internet have all made our lives better in many ways. 20 years ago, it would have been impossible to up sticks and work from Bali while still putting in a full day.

Yet, there are plenty of times when everyone surrounding us is nose-down staring at a smartphone. Doesn’t it make you ache for a time when you left your work at the end of the day?

My home office is pretty much open 24/7. It’s absolutely staggering that I get any sleep at all between the swooshes, beeps, and pings from my smartphone and the all-too-frequent late-night meetings.

Without a doubt, it’s wonderful to be able to communicate with anyone in the world. Apart from the fact that some of us should be in bed while others are drinking their morning coffee.

I cling to the hope that blockchain can make a better world, because I can say in all honesty, on the wrong side of 35, that I have never worked harder in my life.

It’s not even the same dilemma as our parents who had to deliver more results in the office. Now we can email on the go, check our Google docs and presentations, and keep working long after the office is closed – if we waste time commuting to one at all.

Blockchain can make a better world – but how?

Price speculation aside, I wouldn’t feel compelled to get this far involved in technology if I wasn’t convinced of its potential to make our lives better. I do believe that decentralisation can allow humanity to finally free itself from the shackles of centuries of centralised institutions looking for nothing but profit.

I believe that the 90% of the world who are at the bottom of the wealth pyramid can finally make a change.

Blockchain can make a better world by allowing people to access loans through microlending and action trade through microtransactions. It can bank the unbanked and, eventually, hopefully, unbank the banked.

But when we get down to our everyday lives, sometime in the future when blockchains have learned to scale and smart contracts can be trusted enough to act as law for humans, will we finally be able to say we’ve made it?

Can we take some time off work without worrying about looking bad or feeling guilty for not being continually active? Or will we simply be scrambling harder to control the automation?

Blockchain can free our time, but it’s up to us how we use it

Jimmy Zhong, CEO of IOST, an application-friendly public blockchain, is confident that blockchain can make a better world. Given what he does, that’s not really surprising. He declares:

“Underpinned by smart contracts, blockchain technology and its applications will allow for people to spend less time and money on administrative or manual tasks, such as waiting for banks or utility companies to respond to requests, and give us more time offline to spend with friends and family.”

Dylan Dedi, brand strategist at æternity, a public, open source blockchain, echoes his sentiments somewhat. Yet he also believes we have to be responsible with what we do with our free time.

“Technology has increased human productivity significantly, but the catch 22 is that now more is expected from us. Blockchain will be no different in this sense. We will get things done quicker, but in the structure of capitalism and the 40-hour work week, more work will be expected from us in that time frame.”

Blockchain can change the order of society

Blockchain has so many use cases, from the supply chain to manufacturing and finance. Above all, it has the tremendous potential to act as the great leveller in a society that favours the wealthy and treads on the poor.

CEO of Pyrofex, Nash Foster, says:

“People hate banks. If you do a survey in America, maybe 80% will respond that way. Possibly more after the 2008 crisis. Blockchain’s biggest opportunity to improve our lives is to get rid of traditional banks and create something that’s more usable, more personal, and more secure… There is no reason for a bank or a government to have control of your money, or to lock you out of financial markets.”

Mobile technology combined with blockchain can serve for something more powerful than making us slaves to our jobs. Combined with cryptocurrency, it can allow nearly two billion unbanked to be financially included and even change the order of society.

Closing thoughts

Alan Dubla, co-founder and CEO of Waves World, says: “Technology, by definition, enables us to do things we weren’t able to do before. Blockchain offers many promising developments.”

However, he goes on to say that it is human nature, not technology, that is guilty of misusing advances.

“We invented TV and the internet, and now the average American watches four hours of TV per day. We invented the smartphone, and the average American checks their phone 80 times per day. We have this amazing capacity to make activity fill the space available. That’s a matter of choice – and there doesn’t appear to be a technological fix for human nature.”

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