Countless discoveries and inventions have been made throughout our history. Some of the developments have been minor, some of them have been major, some have been short-lived, and other events have been more critical and longer-lasting. There have been certain developments throughout our history that have been so vitally important to humanity that they are considered the sole factor behind all of humankind, collectively making progress and taking a critical and everlasting step forward.
For example, consider how the creation of farming equipment and fertilizers allowed for the exponential growth of food outputs from fixed pieces of land. Without these inventions and discoveries, the world would not have been able to support the explosive population growth that we have witnessed across the globe. It was only a few hundred years ago that scientists and economists indicated the end of population growth, due to the fact that food production just grew at numerical rates, doubling or tripling every certain number of years, while populations grew at exponential rates, expanding to the power of two or more during that same period.
At the time, this meant that sooner or later there wouldn’t be enough food to feed everyone unless more food could be obtained from fixed pieces of land every year. Fortunately, this is precisely what happened. Science was able to deliver heavy farm equipment, fertilizers such as ammonia, and other improvements so that food harvests could keep up with the population growth rates. This allowed for more people to be sustained in the same area of land as before. Without these developments, the world would be a very different place today.
Similarly, the creation of antibiotics, penicillin, the introduction of air travel, ocean freight, and the steam engine, and more recently, the sharing of information in the Information Age that was made possible by the invention of microchips and transistors, have all changed the world irreversibly. As a result of these innovations and discoveries, we are more connected, better off, healthier, and have more accessible and cheaper access to goods and services than ever before.
When it comes to the information age, things have progressed at breakneck speed, ever since the first dot-com wave in the early to mid-90s. Everything from the user interface tools and technologies that have defined how we interact and interface with technology. Everything from payment solutions to banking solutions has dramatically changed over the last 20 years.
The same can be said for social networks and primary email, along with the advancements that have been made in fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analysis, both of which have an impact on everything from helping with governance to online search. Collectively, we’ve gone from necessary solutions for all of the above to have sophisticated software services that combine various aspects of technology to deliver effective, robust, value-added, and seamless services to billions of people around the world.
However, with all the progress comes new challenges. AI, big data, and the ability of governments to implement mass surveillance initiatives, and the ubiquity of technology all around have begun to pose serious ethical questions and technological challenges. This leads to the question, where do you draw the line between legal and illegal surveillance? How can we, as a society, trust the data usage collection and manipulation practices of companies and governments when they aren’t transparent. When it comes to the role of government and big corporations and their relationships with private users, where is the world headed?
It is with this exciting and challenging background in mind that blockchain will be discussed. In recent years, blockchain has become a popular technology and so much more than the latest tech fad. It is, in the opinion of many subject area experts and tech gurus, the next giant leap for humanity and something that will have a significant impact on our children and us as the farming and healthcare developments of the past had an effect on our great-great-grandparents more than a century ago. We have now entered the new Information Age.