Blockchain technology, the decentralized ledger system that supports the cryptocurrency world, may be the most important invention since the internet. Indeed, in a review of some of the greatest inventions that mankind has ever produced, including the printing press, electrical-powered devices and radio, blockchain was found to share many traits of these previous epoch-making inventions. Below, we’ll explore some of these similarities and discuss what the implications of this distinction might be for blockchain technology.
According to a catalogue of great inventions by The Atlantic, some of history’s most innovative and influential products and ideas share common characteristics. While it’s impossible to come up with a truly objective list, the approach in creating the catalog was to document the opinions of several experts, each of whom could rank the top inventions according to his or her own justifications.
The most important inventions are often seen as those that have the capacity to expand human intellect through new and innovative creative and expressive possibilities. World-changing inventions like the printing press, paper, and the internet all opened up new ways for individuals to communicate and to express themselves. For some, blockchain technology holds the same promise, as it can allow new forms of secure, anonymous communication to take place in a multitude of areas around the world.
Many of the inventions that had the greatest impact on mankind are those that have become so integrated into our daily lives that we hardly think of them at this point. Experts count inventions like cement and sanitation systems among these items, as well as electricity. Blockchain has certainly not yet reached this point. However, many in the digital currency community believe that fiat currency will someday be replaced with cryptocurrency. Given that blockchain undergirds all cryptocurrency transactions, such a shift would mean that blockchain would play a role in essentially every monetary interaction that takes place.
Health and Longevity
Others of the most important inventions are those that, like penicillin and vaccination, have helped to eradicate disease and extend longevity. Blockchain technology is likely less directly applicable in this category as compared with those previous examples, but it nonetheless holds the potential to improve health by means of improving health care. In the U.S., health care systems are widely believed to be vastly outdated, with doctors still relying on comparatively outdated technologies like fax machines and pagers. If blockchain could be integrated into the health care system, as some projects are aiming to accomplish, it’s not hard to imagine it directly improving the lives and treatment plans for patients of all kinds.
The Movement of People and Goods
Blockchain can be used to track the movement of goods in exciting and powerful new ways. One need only look to examples of companies that found that blockchain allowed them to track shipments of products with degrees of efficiency much higher than traditional models in order to see evidence of this. In this way, blockchain could come to rank alongside radical inventions like the steam engine, the automobile and the airplane, if in a slightly less direct way.
A Multitude of Applications
Many of the most influential inventions of all time have such a broad range of applications that it’s difficult to properly categorize them. The internet has impacted virtually every area of business and personal life since it came into common use in the 1990s. While blockchain is newer to the scene, there are many supporters who feel that its applications are essentially limitless.
In the case of blockchain technology, it’s likely that it will take some time before anyone can convincingly argue that it has earned a place among the most important innovations in history. As time goes on, though, more and more individuals have come to believe that it has that potential.