Blockchain, A.I., and the Shifting Landscape of Technology
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Although blockchain is no longer the cryptic buzzword of a few years ago, heard by all and understood by few, practical implementation of the technology is still in its early stages. New ideas for applications for blockchain are being developed every day, giving rise to endless start-ups and ventures – and the relatively recent combination of blockchain with A.I. capabilities has broadened the possibilities even further.
To find out how existing major businesses are utilising new technologies, including A.I., blockchain, augmented reality and IoT, enterprise identity provider Okta asked over 1000 decision makers in the fields of IT, engineering, and security about their companies’ investments in emerging tech. The results? 68per cent of officials from global companies with a revenue of at least $1 billion claimed they invested in A.I., while 61per cent reported investing in blockchain.
The increasing interest – and accompanying revenue – with A.I. and blockchain has facilitated the growth of innumerable start-ups and small businesses aiming to get a head-start in finding new ways to implement these technologies, often using them to provide entirely new services, both for corporate and private customers. Although investors may approach some of these ventures with a degree of caution, both individuals and corporations have proven themselves increasingly willing to invest in a blockchain- and A.I.-based start-ups. In August 2018, the fintech company Roobee completed their pre-seed round with a single investment equivalent to $4.5m made by an anonymous trader; the value of the blockchain start-up S4FE has increased by 600per cent since the start of 2019; and in April this year, the online payments giant PayPal made its first-ever investment in a blockchain business. In fact, IDC predicts that global blockchain spending in 2019 will show an 88.7per cent increase from the previous year – going from $1.5 billion in 2018 to $2.9 billion in 2019.
Technology Accessible to all
Blockchain has the irrefutable advantage of being widely accessible and transparent while at the same time remaining considerably more secure. And as the database becomes decentralized, so access to its data becomes unlimited. This means that officials and institutional investors no longer have the monopoly on Big Data: with access to information and the right tools – increasingly often involving A.I. – literally, anyone can now take advantage of the wealth of information available.
One example of a company using this level of accessibility to gain an edge over their competition is the aforementioned start-up Roobee – their app, combining A.I. algorithms and robo-advisors with blockchain-based security, is considered to be the first blockchain investment platform developed exclusively for retail investors, giving private individuals the ability to invest in cryptocurrencies, loans, IPOs, stocks, venture capital, and other opportunities. What was once the domain of professional traders is likely to now become entirely navigable by untrained individuals – thanks to such largely automated, purpose-built platforms? Applications for blockchain beneficial to individuals are not limited to investing, though – for instance, the start-up Photochain developed a stock photography platform enabling photographers to retain a higher than average amount of their earnings, while the ODEM platform promises to connect students, educators, and service providers to facilitate better access to education.
In all the excitement about what’s becoming known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the global economic impact of these rapidly developing technologies shouldn’t be underestimated. Technological advancements such as increasingly advanced A.I. are beginning to shape the landscape of financial and employment markets. A 2018 study by PwC predicts that within the financial industry, over 30per cent of jobs could become automated by 2030. It’s certainly not all bad news, though: an earlier study, also by PwC, estimates that the productivity boost caused by increased implementation of A.I. could contribute up to 14per cent to global GDP over the next decade – the equivalent of around $15 trillion by today’s value. A portion of the benefits will surely be the domain of individual investors and customers – during only 10 months of testing the Roobee platform in a limited mode, 5000 people invested a combined $15m in a range of options, including 30 blockchain projects. As the technology becomes more widely available and easy to navigate thanks to robo-advisors and automation, we can expect a considerable increase in the activity of retail investors.