(Franki Chamaki/Unsplash, modified by CoinDesk)
The current blockchain world is so full of crazy ups and downs, it’s easy to become so focused on the short term that one loses track of the big picture. But it’s important to fight this tendency – because the big picture is awfully big.
Revolutionizing finance, the aspect of blockchain’s future that gets the most attention, is only a part of the story. Blockchain will be a central part of the future of technology and humanity in a very broad sense.
As we move toward what Ray Kurzweil has called the “,” in which AIs exceed humans in general intelligence and radically alter every aspect of life on Earth, it is increasingly clear that blockchain will be a critical part of the story. And just as the singularity may unfold with various levels of benefit or destruction, so the role of blockchain may come out positive or negative for humanity.
It is clear to any rational observer that our current social order – with its rapid growth, exaltation of self-disruption and rampant – is transitional and highly temporary in nature. But it’s hard to say what will come next! At least three options seem reasonably plausible to me: Corporate Techno-Fascism, Decentralized-Digital-Democracy (DDD) and … Human-Free.
Will we see a dark future of corporate-totalitarian hegemony, a democratic, decentralized future of diverse flourishing creativity – or a future in which advanced artificial general intelligence (AGI) tech leaves biological humanity entirely by the wayside?
In any of these scenarios, blockchain technology or its direct descendants will play a critical and distinctive role. But the role will be rather different in each case. Further, the ways in which blockchain technology is developed right now will be part of the nexus of factors influencing what sort of outcome eventuates for humanity generally.
What we are seeing in the global economy right now might be characterized as a bear market for humans. AI and automation are booming, and AI-fueled big tech companies are seeing their market caps soar. Businesses highly dependent on human labor are generally suffering, and often are reorganizing to reduce this reliance. Despite buoyant stock markets and financial innovations like DeFi, wealth and income inequality are increasing. Displaced workers newly joining the unemployment rolls seem likely to stay there long-term.