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How blockchain is transforming organizations and the world

(Editor's note: The following is the Introduction from the new book, "Blockchain: Transforming Your Business and Our World." It is reprinted here with permission by the authors).

We live in a time of accelerated change and today’s world is changing faster than we have ever seen before. The end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century were a period of technological upheaval and re-concentration of populations into urbanized centers.

These shifts were made possible by the massive infrastructure projects that saw canals and railways connect cities and ports with producers of agriculture and mining. Communications systems were revolutionized by the laying of telegraph cable and the invention of flight.

Now, in the 21st century, new technologies are driving even more dramatic changes in the way we live, work, and socialize. These developments and innovations challenge traditional ways of distributing goods and services, doing business, and making payments.

If our recent past is anything to go by, our immediate future seems set to change at a speed unlike any we have ever seen before. In fact, it sees a potential change in what it means to be human. Our interaction with automated processing, data, and the Internet of Things has changed how we store information, how we remember, and how we recall those memories.

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Lights illuminate USB cables inside a 'mining rig' computer, used to mine cryptocurrency, in Hungary. Photographer: Bloomberg Creative Photos/Bloomberg

Decision-making has become something we do in concert with machines. With the advance of technology, we have the potential to create a world in which technology is used for good, while ensuring that the privacy of consumers is respected, a world where data is owned by individuals and used to improve the lives of all—essentially, a world that is better for all.

In the future, it is all about algorithms, machine learning, big data and artificial intelligence.

This change comes about because of the development of robotics, 3D printing and augmented reality, nanotechnology, and quantum computing. There is disruption at all levels, resulting in system-wide innovations that can revolutionize an industry in years, rather than decades.

Blockchain technology will enable the decentralization of the web and the disintermediation of many, if not all, of the services that are offered online.

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The web was originally envisaged as a decentralized network, but somehow, in the past 25 years, it ended up in the hands of a select handful of very powerful companies. As Sir Tim Berners-Lee said during the Decentralized Web Summit in 2016:

"The web was designed to be decentralised so that everybody could participate by having their own domain and having their own webserver and this hasn’t worked out. Instead, we’ve got the situation where individual personal data has been locked up in these silos."

Fortunately, blockchain will allow us to bring back power to the users and create a decentralized society. Already, blockchain challenges many industries, of which financial services will see the largest impact in the coming years. Accordingly, this necessarily begs the question—how will blockchain have an impact on other global problems?

(This book is available from Amazon, and can be ordered here).

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