Let’s not abandon trust as we adopt new technologies

Bitcoin. Adoption of blockchain technology is changing how people carry out business today. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Bitcoin. Adoption of blockchain technology is changing how people carry out business today. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It is a gross understatement to state that blockchain technology has revolutionised digital transactions.

It facilitates transparency and security while displacing the need for trust among the parties of any transaction. The parties need not trust each other because their trust is in the technology.

Blockchain attests to man’s ability to invent better systems but they cannot replace the need for trust in humanity. It may achieve greater efficiency but they may work to deepen distrust among people unless they can trust a system.

Blockchain has not depleted the need for trust; it has merely transferred it from people to a system. Essentially, we now trust the person who makes the system and not the people who use the system alongside us.

In every corner of academic work in recent times, people strive to adapt blockchain to new functions. We are on a race to adapt and improvise blockchain to cater for every sphere of our lives.

Blockchain has been effective for its primary function – creating verifiable databases of transactions in the bitcoin system – but we are plagued with a malaise of treating everything as if it is a decentralised currency.

In other words, our minds have recreated everything in the image of bitcoin and we are striving to import the blockchain technology in order for it to work.

The fascination with blockchain may well serve to stifle further innovation since all questions now stem from how blockchain can fit to the problem at hand.

Blockchain is a commendable invention but it was created to foster security through anonymity. We are now working towards devaluing trust in all transactions if we are to institute blockchain within them.

The resort to blockchain for greater efficiency in transactions that may not need it points to the obscure fact– trusting people is not the cause for transactions gone badly.

This is a problem of ethical values within those specific people. Blockchain does not solve the real problem; it leaves it intact by working around it entirely. Arguably, we do not create a better society through blockchain we are merely ensuring that people do not take responsibility for their actions because we are now obliged to heap blame on a system.

Alternatively phrased, Aengus Collins at World Economic Forum states that organisations are approaching the problem in the wrong manner. Instead of gauging to what extent blockchain may address the ‘problematic’ transactions, organisations are seizing blockchain and assessing what problems fit into their predetermined ‘solution’.

We do not bring antidotes to the table and start looking whose malady we may cure. We assess the infirmity and subsequently, find the befitting medicine.

This is the mistake we are making with blockchain – we are so captivated by it that we have briefly taken leave of our wits.

All technologies are created with an inherent bias for the purpose that was hatched in the mind of the inventor.

Bockchain is not going to permeate all transactions no matter the level of fascination in contemporary scholarly or corporate circles.