Humankind is approaching a new industrial revolution. Unlike the previous three, it will impact every industry and interact between the digital, physical and even biological worlds while approaching at a neck-breaking speed due to the unprecedented amount of breakthroughs. This revolution is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace when compared with previous three (1).
This revolution can be summarized with data, its connectivity and what they will be used for. The amount and precedence of connectivity will be unmatched and unlike what the Digital revolution (3rd industrial revolution) has offered. Furthermore, the number of connected devices is expected to grow to a mind boggling number that could reach somewhere between 28-50 billion by 2020, according to estimates published by multiple CEOs as mentioned in IEEE.
Having such a massive number of connected devices also entails that network speeds will be much faster than current networks. For example, “with 5G, users should be able to download a high-definition film in under a second (a task that could take 10 minutes on 4G LTE). Wireless engineers say these networks will boost the development of other new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things” (2).
In my opinion, Blockchain technology will be the core tech used among all others that will form the basis of the 4th industrial revolution. For example, artificial intelligence and machine learning will remain a challenge if the trust and privacy in gathered data is not present. Machine learning requires a large amount of data about a particular object, person or a thing in order to learn and predict its behavior and make decisions. However, if this data is breached, corrupted or manipulated it will make the job of machine learning a rather difficult one and thus prone to erroneous or even catastrophic decisions. Blockchain solves all aforementioned issues which will enhance the correct development and valuable uses of machine learning technologies. That, in addition to keeping privacy of users as they can contribute data to the blockchain while choosing what to share.
The pillars of the 4th industrial revolution will become a privacy and security nightmare without blockchain. Take for example the privacy concerns of Facebook. Merge that with the upcoming large number of connected devices and other technologies that will make connectivity embedded even biologically. This will produce an AI for every social network, eCommerce website, business and perhaps everyone that profits from data. Without Blockchain, your news feed, email, phone, social profile(s), and potentially smart home appliances will become an ads nightmare. Likewise, cyber criminals will have new and more powerful tools in their disposal. Machine Learning devices, eCommerce tools and algorithms, and autonomous systems can randomly gather information about you that may not represent your genuine interests.
The main pillar of the 4th industrial revolution is data and its connectivity, and the key issue will be how this data will be used and handled by the complicated society we live in. Privacy breaches, the correct use of data (especially by machine learning technologies), and other potential issues will become a far more complicated problem if Blockchain is not embedded with the rest of these technologies. Blockchain is the checks and balances system that ensures other technologies and actors will not use data in ways that are unauthorized by the owner of said data. Blockchain will also enhance these technologies by giving them the necessary and correct data, thereby avoiding data processing waste and enhance the correct and safe autonomous decision making.