Technology fuelling the future, says expert

948442By Lakshmi Kothaneth — MUSCAT: MARCH 7 – Fuel being produced from carbon dioxide is just around the corner and it is already being used to produce plastic, said futurist, writer and entrepreneur, Mark Stevenson adding, “You have to be literate about the questions the future is asking and especially what technology is asking you.” “The problem with most of us is that we are too busy doing what we are doing,” he pointed out while speaking to Oman Observer at the Technology Evolution conference organised by Bank Muscat and held at its headquarters. We have problems such as climate change, inequality and companies that do not understand blockchain which is going to fundamentally change how finance works.
According to Stevenson, blockchain is a way of creating systems of trust that do not require trusted third party, so it is technology replacement for things like transactional banking or certain parts of the legal profession. It works because the trust is distributed around the network. Every transaction is recorded in a ledger but that ledger is duplicated hundreds of thousands of times potentially, which means if anyone wants to hack it they would have to hack every ledger at same time taking into account the speed of light.
“It is a very good way of bringing together the speed of technology with the speed of administration. At the moment the two things are going at different rates. With technology we can have both of them at the same speed which is really good for the economy but not so good if you are a banker or a lawyer. Many people believe this is not going to happen, but that is what happened to Blockbuster. They did not believe in digital downloads of movies,” explained the author of the book, We do things Differently.
The entrepreneur also feels that nearly every social, technical and business infrastructure 20 years from now the customers would not be customers as they are now but would want to be in a network or be partners. “What we are moving from is a world based on economies of scale, which is a very sensible way to organise the world back then we did that and it was the best we could do and we are moving to what I call as economies of distribution where by it would be possible for individuals and crowds of people in a distributed way to outperform the hierarchies and monoliths. This has been seen in medical research using network technology collaboration because we are able to tap into knowledge where ever it maybe. This was not possible 20 years ago. What this means is that a fundamentally different way of seeing how you run the economy, where the value lies and how that value works with each other.”
The corporate world need to look into the future outlook — “We have to see what is our role in making world more sustainable, humane and just. As we move from economies of scales to economies of distribution it would not be companies competing with each other but networks competing with each other. The networks are tied into ideas of equality, justice, compassion and sustainability while attracting smartest and most enthusiastic people.”
Regarding technology and banking he said, “I think banks have to go back to what they used to be and that is to help economies perform better. And to do that banks must understand systemic things such as climate change, inequality and to help citizens. At the moment, banking, especially in the west, is all about helping itself and making more profit. It has forgotten its core performance. But there are new players in the industry. Twenty years ago it was the music industry and now its banks. We just have to pay attention and adapt to change.”