Blockchain Semantics Insights
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Will Blockchain solve Un(Employment)?By Swati Keswani | April 6, 2018, 7:51 a.m. GMT
India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech 2017-18 called out technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Blockchain for their potential to strengthen the Indian economy. The Indian government is likely to create a country level program to research new developments in these fields and how these technologies could be applied to drive efficiency and employment in key business sectors of the country. It is not just governments but private corporations, think-tanks, and foundations also that are beginning to think through how emerging technologies like Blockchain will impact the way we live our lives.
In 2015 at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland a panel of technology executives from Microsoft, Facebook and Vodafone discussed the impact of technology on jobs. All agreed that, although technological innovations may disrupt labor markets temporarily, overall they generate new and incrementally more jobs. There is no reason to believe this transition will be any different with Blockchain. The displacement of workers through automation is nothing new. Consider the Internet’s impact on travel agents and music retailers. Uber and Airbnb have created income for drivers with extra time and homeowners with spare rooms, but critics argue neither provide health insurance or the employee benefits and both are displacing better-paid jobs in the travel and hospitality industries.
The Blockchain is an extraordinary platform for radical automation, where computer code rather than humans do the work, managing assets, and people. What happens when autonomous vehicles replace Uber drivers or digital currencies obviate Western Union’s five hundred thousand points of sale around the world. Or when a shared blockchain platform for financial services eliminates tens of thousands of accounting and IT systems management jobs While there will be many new business and employment opportunities created through this technology platform, will it drive further unemployment especially in the relatively unskilled market for relatively routine tasks? It is a story everyone is waiting to watch unfold.
In the developing world, the Blockchain and cryptocurrencies could enable entrepreneurs to raise capital to protect assets and intellectual property and create jobs even in the poorest communities. Hundreds of millions could become micro-shareholders in new corporations and participate in the economic exchange. The technology could radically improve the delivery and deployment of aid, increase government transparency, reduce corruption and set the conditions for goods government -a precondition for jobs in many parts of the world. Even in the developed world, the effects are promising. A global platform that drops transactions costs, in particular, the costs of establishing trusted commerce and wealth creation, could result in more participants. Even if this technology enables us to do more with fewer human resources, we still have no cause to fear, delay, or halt its march. Ultimately, what matters is not whether new capabilities exist but the extent to which societies turn these into a social benefit. If machines are creating so much wealth, then maybe it’s time for a new social Contract that redefines human work and how much time we should all spend making a living.