Why The Blockchain Could Mean So Much For The Future Of Work
When it comes to Blockchain technology, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency ‘bubble’. In fact, the speculation around Bitcoins may very well be the reason why all the other possible uses of Blockchain technology haven’t yet transformed our everyday lives. After all these years of science fiction developments around the multiple ways Blockchain will change our lives, one may wonder why we’ve moved so slowly and no “revolution” seems yet to be underway. That could be because “the cryptocurrency bubble is strangling innovation”, writes journalist Jon Evans in TechCrunch: the speculative values of cryptocurrencies are “precluding any non-speculative uses”. Thus the whole continent of the Blockchain ecosystem is still in “hibernation”…
Why the Blockchain can transform how we run organisations and how we structure themAlthough accounting is said to have been invented more than 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, we owe our ‘modern’ double-entry system of book-keeping to the 15th-century mathematician and Leonardo Da Vinci acolyte named Luca Pacioli, a Venetian now best remembered for his Summa de Arithmetica, Geometria, Proportioni et Proportionalità published in 1494, that includes the world’s very first treatise on book-keeping. We owe him most of the symbols still in use today, as well as the accounting cycle as we know it today. Pacioli is said to be “the Father of accounting”: he invented what would become balance sheets and income statements.
How regulated professions may be challenged and what it means for individual workersIn their ground-breaking book titled The Future of the Professions (see my summary of their book here), Richard and Daniel Susskind argue that AI and platforms are challenging the future relevance of the professions as we know them. Though the authors do not mention the role of blockchain technology in particular, what they write certainly applies to its consequences on the relevance of professional work. Some of these professions were built on the necessity to establish trust between contracting parties and enforce the contract. And this particular technology makes this aspect of their work irrelevant.
Is Ethereum the way of the future of work?
The benefits of Blockchain seem prodigious: a few more examples for the roadBlockchain technology is generally expected to bring about a more transparent and fairer world. Open ledgers could produce more transparency in wages, which would make it easier to align pay with quantifiable performance. Therefore it could help advance equal pay and equal opportunities at work. The gender pay gap is a complex multi-factor subject, as you can read in our article here, but this technology could help at least with the most blatant cases of active discrimination. Also, labour markets and the relationships between employers and employees could be redefined. For a long time short-term engagements and gig contracting have suffered from a problem of payment security. Freelancers have long complained that getting paid was one of their most critical problems. As explained in this HBR article, “over 70% of freelancers have trouble getting paid at some point in their careers, according to research by the Freelancers Union, the nonprofit group that promotes the interests of independent workers”. Freelancers suffer from a fundamental power imbalance, their paycheck doesn’t always come on time. A new blockchain-based payment and contract system would empower them further. Last but not least, smart contracts are expected to facilitate self-organisation. They are said to have the potential to transform management and the organisation of work as we know them… The discussion of technology and the future of work is too often dominated by the idea of automation and job destruction. But blockchain technology is associated to numerous ground-breaking and life changing applications that can empower workers and make the world of work better, more transparent, safer, more equal and more effective. Too bad we’ll have to wait for the Bitcoin rage to calm down for those developments to happen…
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