In 1991, Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta worked to develop uncrackable encrypted stacks of blocks, creating a database nobody could tamper with. At that time, they likely could not have imagined this technology would become the foundation of blockchain. Blockchain was born after Satoshi Nakamoto’s paper in 2008 about cryptocurrency that unraveled the many more applications this technology could have.
The foremost practical benefit of blockchain, in any application, is that of taking away reliability from humans and putting it into machines. It is the ultimate automated trust it generates through an uncrackable system of collaborating computers that creates encrypted blocks that guarantee the security and authenticity of any transaction or interaction, avoiding data bridges and human intermediation
In the last 10 years, we’ve seen the birth of several initiatives and organizations that are attempting to make the most out of this technology. It seems we are on the verge of a revolution that will change our lives in much the same way personal computers did throughout the last 30 years.
While it seems clear the value this technology may bring, we tend to forget that most technologies used today are data-driven, running over binary systems. Blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), industry 4.0, autonomous vehicles and most of the amazing achievements of the last 50 years are based on this type of computing. What would happen if these types of binary systems became obsolete?
Change Is The Only Constant
With the technology we have today, cracking current encryptions that guarantee cryptocurrency security through blockchain is not an easy feat. That is what makes blockchain a safe place to authenticate transactions. But what if a new type of computer could do it in just minutes? What’s known as a quantum computer is already used by companies like Google and IBM.
Suddenly, blockchain, the technology that was supposed to change the future, becomes obsolete, and with it, most attempts to be its early adopters. Few administrations and a handful of companies are charting the road of post-quantum encryption. The U.S. is one of those. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has already identified 26 algorithms that could become the standard to protect information today and tomorrow.
But there is no reason for panic. As Ian Kahn mentions in his acclaimed “Blockchain City” documentary, “Tomorrow is not here yet,” and it seems, as he also reminds, that our tomorrow is made of the only constant there is: change. Through constant change, evolution is happening at an accelerating pace, giving us little time to adapt and transforming governments, organizations, companies and consumers all into forced early adopters.
While quantum computers may seem a giant bridge, it is no different than all the other technologies we are benefiting from and do not realize we are using. As consumers, we do not understand internet protocols, and yet, we buy online every day. With quantum technology, it will happen the same: We may not understand it, but we will still run applications that will reap the benefits of this giant disruption that will boost innovation in a way we cannot even imagine.
I believe quantum computers are the new giant leap by humankind that will boost our capacity to understand, learn and build. With them, we will be able to open the doors to unimaginable discoveries and possibilities that will likely make us look like aliens on our own planet. This is the power that is being unleashed for which we will have to work on defining a purpose beyond profits and power, securing its use for the benefit of all. Dreamers will no longer exist the way we know them today.
Innovation Must Have A Greater Purpose
After many years doing marketing for companies of all sorts and sizes on three different continents, I came to the conclusion that focusing on technological innovation only could be a fatal — or at least dangerous — mistake. Marketing is one of the industries that has embraced and adapted to these new technologies at a really fast pace. However, having the power unleashed through technology is not enough if you don’t have a clear aim, and that aim cannot be only profits.
Technology, in most cases, increases efficiency. In essence, we achieve the same results, but faster, safer, in a cleaner way, with fewer resources. Take marketing, for instance: Social media, digital environments and IoT are all techniques marketing is using to the benefit of businesses’ profit and loss. Yet, these technological innovations are obtaining the very same results, though more efficiently, than our old, traditional, nondigital media: reach and segmentation.
I believe society is clamoring for a different impact. Innovation in technology is not enough. We need to innovate in management models that can guarantee, through the use and development of new technologies, that the impacts we generate are different. We need a broader base of prosperity that generates larger social equity and improves our environment.
Richard Branson has stated, “The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit.” The future is now, and companies need to use technologies, products and services that allow them to go beyond, but never forgetting, profits.
Looking To Marketing As A Model To Follow
Marketing is the leverage that can serve as a bridge between corporations and society at large, launching profitable projects that also have social and environmental impacts. Marketing can also make consumers understand that they have the collective power, fostered by individual behavior, to demand those kinds of projects while accepting that companies make money along the way. It’s not bad to make money while helping others and the environment, and it is necessary to make those improvements sustainable.
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