Monday, 30 april 2018 | Redacción CEU
The changes that our environment experiences in this digital transformation era are presented under the already faded adjective of disruptive. The “new” breaks abruptly with our traditional conception of the world. Technologies like blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, tokenization or the Internet of Things are also the trends that we all talk about, but from which, we know very little. What can they imply? How can they transform our future? The uncertainty about tomorrow flies over the way that our society and economy take. Although the human projection is linear, the technological changes follow an exponential pattern, will we be able to adapt to this accelerated pace? What challenges does this new digital economy set out?
Tim Berners-Lee, Jymmy Wales, Jaron Lanier, Vin Cerf and Wendy Hall are the leading roles of a famous article published by Wired that defends “The Internet is broken”. This is precisely the forceful phrase that served as an introductory idea of “Tokens, cryptoeconomics and exponential technologies in the new digital economy", that was an event held at the headquarters of The CEU IAM Business School a few days ago. The CTO of New Digital Business of BBVA and Board member of Hyperledger and Alastria, Carlos Kuchkovsky, presented this interesting conference on the new trends that are transforming the economy addressing the issue of the peremptory need to "reinvent the Internet as we know".
In order to understand the turning point where we are, Kuchkovsky proposes to go in deeper on the Internet origin. Although there are many definitions of the "network of networks", he chooses one that addresses the perspective of the Internet as a system of computers that allow thousands of users around the world to share, transmit and exchange information. This is something that has allowed us to reach this phase characterized by the development of digital banking, instant messaging, social networks or marketplaces. The behavior on the Web is changing, so it is evidenced by some of its main problems like cybercrime, monopolies or fake news. The own Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, indicates in the article from Wired: <<When we designed the network we didn't have a specific purpose in mind. We didn't care what the application was. We just wanted to get packets from one point to another>>. Kuchkovsky completes: <<They created something huge and it is what we are living in this digital society, but, at the end, there are some kind of problems that we are seeing now for the things that they did not created>>.
In the 90s, the Internet was a very decentralized network where nobody had the power. On the other hand, users did not have an optimized experience when using it. However, we are now witnessing the effects of a new age of the Internet marked by the walled gardens and the information silos' property. We begin to question issues like the monopoly of the data, the lack of control over it or the lack of flexibility when trying to connect our data with each other. Blockchain, tokenization, Artificial Intelligence or the Internet of Things are the new trends that burst into the room to turn our system around, propose new alternatives to these situations and, on their way, transform our economy. This is a plan that aims to take advantage of new opportunities, leaving the problems aside. But this is also an ambitious challenge considering that the technology grows at an exponential rate, while humans move on a linear plane.
The exchange of information does not seem enough when the opportunity to replace that information for value comes out. From precisely this desire, a new phenomenon known by some as “the Internet of value” arises and that Kuchkovsky prefers naming it as the "Internet of trust", the development of a network that allows value sharing -not only understood as the monetary value- and that also allows to have a real trust in the Web. This is the change of course that these new disruptive trends bring with them that appear in a hyperconnected environment where crowdsourcing is increasingly gaining a greater presence. This is a space that invites to a greater participation and collaboration of the people in the processes of design, the creation and, even, the management of the new projects that are transforming our world and that proposes a new Internet decentralization.
The CTO of New Digital Business of BBVA explains that we are in the transition from a semantic web to a decentralized web where some companies, foundations, open source communities and other agents are betting on new projects that deal with the improvement of the functionalities of the existing applications, always from a perspective of value contribution. Kuchkovsky highlights some of these examples: Brave (regarding Firefox), Storj and IPFS (Google Drive or Dropbox) or Streemit (Medium or Reddit). Within this framework where value is presented as the star asset, one of the most relevant disruptive technologies is the blockchain that captures the value through tokens. The number of startups dedicated to the development of the blockchain and its investment (especially through ICOs) is growing exponentially.
A growing tokenization is affecting the traditional companies: <<You can "tokenize" all your assets, so we can create a hyperliquidity ecosystem where you can value exchange all your assets>>. The applications and uses of these tokens are as different as the different people and organizations that work or invest in them. Almost all tokens are based on the blockchain protocol and this technology can be key when it comes to returning control over identity and personal data of users and when bringing the collaborative economy closer to everyone. Artificial Intelligence also has an important role. With the blockchain we are creating a large amount of data but without a good structure, the AI has the great challenge of shaping this data. Smartcontracts can also favor the creation of certain standards in this system.
The expert explains that there are different strategies and visions: At first, banks and financial institutions were more inclined to bet on blockchain and smartcontracts, but, more reluctant to do the same with cryptocurrencies and, although there are still different points of view, now the trend is changing. In light of the tokenization of the systems, you cannot look the other way. However, he adds: <<The challenge is that we are at the beginning, we are living a kind of "Wild West" at this moment and we need to be sure that we work for some kind of opportunities, but with the regulation behind us>>. Kuchkovsky concludes this event with an important reflection: <<Exponential technologies need an exponential ethics>>.
At The CEU IAM Business School we are committed to promoting an education aligned with the changes that occur in the economy and also in our society. For this reason, we bet on the design of a training offer adapted to these new realities, an example of this is the design of our Advanced Programme in Digital Economy, FINTECH and Intelligent Society (Online).