Blockchain has a bright future with the potential to revolutionize many industries apart from business financing and cryptocurrency.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ian Khan, three-time TEDTalk speaker, technology futurist, author, and filmmaker of the upcoming documentary Blockchain City at the Money 20/20 USA conference in Las Vegas. In his film, Khan travels to cities around the world to speak to leaders and experts in the field about how they are using blockchain to bring efficiency to government and humanitarian functions.
We talked to Khan about what blockchain and other technologies are doing to change the world.
How is blockchain and AI changing business and finance?
Ian Khan: A blockchain and AI are in different ways doing different things for the industry and together they will change [everything]. So, for example, blockchain is creating more trust —at a financial level and at a transactional level. You are able to cut out middlemen and be in control of your own money, your own transactions and so on at a very high-level.
Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, is creating a lot more automation. So you don’t have to worry about doing manual tasks. When you combine these two–trust with automation–you’re looking at an incredible amount of efficiency within our financial institutions, including the banking system–anywhere where there is trade and commerce, whether it’s domestic, international, and across borders, there is efficiency and at multiple levels that will be created with the convergence of blockchain and artificial intelligence.
You recently produced the documentary Blockchain City, which explored the potential of blockchain technology being applied to smart cities. How does it create its efficiencies?
Ian Khan: Blockchain technology is really in its infancy right now. It has not hit a mass proportion where it is mature. We know how it works, but it is still at its infancy because there aren’t many use cases that have been proven. There is many of them but the technology is in the process of being adopted.
In Blockchain City the documentary, we spoke to key influencers in governments worldwide and asked them why blockchain was at the top of the list of technology implementations. We spoke to the governments of Estonia, the Netherlands, Dubai, and key influencers and asked them what is blockchain doing that cloud didn’t do—that technology, in general, hasn’t been able to do? And the one thing that resonates to all these conversations is transparency, trust, and the efficiency that blockchain creates.
In many of the use cases that we’ve seen or initiatives that governments use in public and private partnerships, it is all about cutting the cost. We are spending an extra amount on making something happen—whether it’s a bank transaction or whatever—it’s all about traceability. So you can be tracing, let’s say, the origin of the beef industry, of cattle that’s exported from Australia and it gets imported into America. You could be tracing the origin and where it lands and all through the supply chain. There are almost 200 parties involved in that logistics chain. Blockchain helps secure and trace each change in the logistics chain.
Blockchain made cryptocurrency possible, yet mainstream consumers are yet to fully adopt the technology. In what ways do you think blockchain technology will be utilized beyond cryptocurrency?
Ian Khan: Many and I believe that the least important aspect of blockchain is cryptocurrency. Many different faces of blockchain are coming out. Again, I mentioned the logistics industry, efficiency in government transactions, royalties in advertising, facilitating cross-border trade, enabling the rights of musicians, artists, and the creative industry, privacy in healthcare, digital identity is another. There are tens and tens and hundreds of use cases that are possible because of blockchain. And that is why it is a blockchain revolution.
Do you have any cybersecurity concerns surrounding the IoT (Internet of Things) and blockchain?
Ian Khan: Absolutely, as industries are maturing—IoT, blockchain, and AI—there is definitely the aspect that nothing is secure. You know the saying goes that either you are a company that has been hacked or you’re a company that doesn’t know it has been hacked. I believe the challenge will always be there, whether it’s blockchain or AI or IoT. We will never be able to fully tackle these challenges because the bad guys are equally working hard at doing things under the table.
However, having said that AI has a possibility of being able to detect fraud and intrusions at a much better pace and level that we haven’t been able to do. And blockchain might be able to secure those transactions that were previously broken. The possibilities are there as we head into an era of smart cities where devices will be powered by the internet and connected through sensors, there is a huge possibility that the level of threat will go higher because now the stakes are higher. Our buildings are under threat, our cars, automobiles, roads, aircraft, transportation could be under threat because it is all connected to the internet.
What if somebody gets access to that? So I think it’s going to be an amazing time and an amazing future because there is a tremendous opportunity for companies to jump into this and create solutions that we all will need.