We’re far from seeing the true nature of Blockchain. Like with the transition between offline to online, the first use cases are both, elementary and unimaginative. They rarely embrace the full range of possibilities the technology enables. The problem is, predicting what they will look like is impossible. But disruptive they’ll be.
The next two years will be critical for the technology. We’re going to see a fast iteration of the core technology
. The transition between Bitcoin’s Blockchain to Ethereum was a big first step. It jumped from a currency use case to much broader use of the technology through smart contracts. Ethereum though put into evidence the current limits of some aspects of Blockchain technology
, i.e., scale and volatility.
The next generation of Blockchains is attempting to fix this. From sharding
(Zilliqa) to new consensus methods (pBFT, dPoS, dBFT); from public (Zilliqa, NEO, EOS, …) to private (Hyperledger Fabric
, R3 Corda, …); from data-centric (Ethereum) to agent-centric (Holochain
As with any disruptive technology, gathering critical mass is a problem. Most of the next generation innovations are still in testing phase. They’ll need at least one more year before they’re operational and can start maturing. I don’t expect this to take too long and we could have scalable commercially mature Blockchain platforms by the end of 2019.
Infrastructure problems solved, new users will pour all over the smart contract dimension
. The automation of contracts will, in turn, accelerate the rise of new business models. We’ll experience gradual automation of traditional contracts. New companies will start offering plug & play contract templates
for everything, not just financial services.
This will be coupled with the convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence
over the smart contract horizon.
This combination will provide the basis for new world order.
Increasingly intelligent devices, powered with AI agents, will start having the capacity to enforce and execute smart contracts at scale. On one side we’ll have to deal with machine-to-machine contracts and on the other with human-to-machine contracts. AIs will develop very different contracts to deal with other AIs than the ones employed by humans.
New automated arbitrage systems will be developed, and we’ll enter the age where machines and humans are different citizens.
I know that what I paint might seem dystopian, but it seems we’re heading that way. Automated contracts mean, faster and less ambiguous social enforcement. Time will say how humans adapt to the new paradigm.