The current mishmash of models that drive our global economy are non-linear and based on various technologies and energies that are dysfunctional and full of contradictions. Models in use today are increasingly dependent on unsustainable energies and digital centralised technologies. Over the next 10 years, these will be massively disrupted by blockchain in conjunction with artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
The linear economy works in such a way that items are made, used and disposed of. A more sustainable approach is the circular economy model, which aims to keep resources in use, maximising value achieved from them, and then regenerating products and materials once the service life has reached its end. Blockchain distributed ledger technologies in combination with AI and IoT can help develop a trust economy which lowers the collusion between centralised corporate and government power, while also making them accountable. This will increase collective responsibility for each other and the environment and lower societal polarisation.
Blockchain can open up potential in most areas of society. For example, it is already in the embryonic phases of bringing about change in digital transformation, education, campaigns (calls to action/how to use), how to use blockchain technology, financial inclusion, supply change, and governments. Its usage does have a larger processing overhead and there will be trade offs required to bring about the most optimal benefits for society, the economy and the environment.
Blockchain does bring about multiple opportunities, and these solutions are starting to be accepted by organisations and governments. In particular, blockchain brings about opportunities for a digital fragmented identity, and it raises and makes possible new business models and potential for monetisation. This includes in sectors that are negatively impacted by monopolies currently. The transparency it provides can be the backbone of the circular economy concept, and it can also lower costs. However, managing and organising this does raise challenges. On the other hand the need for third parties and transaction costs are significantly reduced as blockchain is maintained and owned by all users.
The use of blockchain technology at scale does not come without its challenges. There are issues with trust in the internet and a new, more secure approach is needed to that used in the past. However, trust issues can be overcome with blockchain by providing security through transparency. Blockchain is open source, and trust is based on network consensus rather than the approval of one person. There are many opportunities that blockchain gives us to deliver a more sustainable, circular economy. Read the analysis in full.