Exploring Non-financial Use Cases for Blockchain Technology & The Unique Challenges of Working in the Industry
We recently hosted a roundtable discussion at the Blockchain Zoo Headquarters. Our co-founders Roberto and Barton sat down with the co-founder of Indorse.io, David Moskowitz and the founder of CryptoJobsList.com, Raman Shalupau to explore the blockchain industry as it stands today.
This article is a deeper dive into the topics discussed in the video. Let’s jump in…
In this article we will discuss:
- Unique challenges of working in the blockchain/cryptocurrency space
- Leveraging blockchains for non-financial uses cases
- How governments are approaching blockchains for administrative reasons
- The future of data and digital identities
Working in the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry
Working in the “blockchain space” has many unique characteristics that aren’t intuitive to newcomers. Comparable to the early days of the world wide web, the blockchain space moves fast and requires unique skill sets that are not easy to develop.
In order to truly be effective, potential employees must have a very wide range of skills such as distributed systems, game theory, and economics. As Barton mentioned, there are very few people in the world who possess such a diverse skill set. It’s also very challenging for recruiters to assess technical capabilities of potential hires. This poses a challenge for companies who are looking to hire top tier blockchain talent.
There’s also a talent shortage in the industry. There aren’t many well qualified candidates and with the recent surge in excitement, most companies in the space are fighting over good engineers. Thankfully, companies like CryptoJobsList.com help companies source technical and non-technical talent.
The talent shortage brings up another good question: how do people learn about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology?
Sadly, the industry is still lacking in educational materials. We’re seeing some top universities start to offer courses which is a good sign, but not nearly enough. It’s important that the top companies in the space provide educational materials to support the growth of the industry. This is why we decided to create educational material here at Blockchain Zoo.
Other good examples of companies in the space providing educational materials include:
- CoinShares released an in-depth report on the mining industry
- BitMex has an impressive research department
- BitWise released a report examining exchange volume legitimacy
Not only does providing good educational material help the industry and as a whole, but it also helps draw attention to the companies producing the content. The internet is full of noise and good content will rise to the top.
For those who want to work in the industry but aren’t sure how to get started, we recommend Meltem Demirors article: So You Want to Work in Crypto. She explains how the industry differs from others and gives practical advice on how to get hired.
If you’re wondering “is it too late to learn how to code,” it’s safe to say the answer is NO.
“Software is eating the world” – Marc Andreessen
As we transition into the information age, the demand for quality software engineers only continues to rise.
Non-financial Use Cases for Blockchains
Here at Blockchain Zoo we believe that blockchains and related technologies will disrupt much more than money and finance. Two interesting examples are storing accreditation on a blockchain and improving governmental administrative processes.
Currently there is a problem with potential employees faking college diplomas. Employers have a hard time verifying the truth. David Moskowitz is focused on solving this problem directly with his company Indorse.io. They believe storing hashes of diplomas on a blockchain will allow employers to verify “facts” which will improve hiring practices.
They face several challenges which David is confident they can overcome:
- How do you verify the information going onto the blockchain was accurate initially?
- How to motivate incumbents to both pay for and adopt this new system?
Another interesting example of a non-financial use case for a blockchain is government administration. It’s no secret that most governmental processes are archaic. We live in a digital world and yet most governments do business with pen, paper, and rubber stamps.
We’re starting to see some disruption in the government sector lead by countries like Estonia. Blockchains can provide more transparency and efficiency to government, both are a welcomed improvement. This transition is just beginning but the writing is on the wall.
Risks of blockchain technology, digital identity, and governments
There are some serious considerations before we throw a blockchain at every problem our governments face. The questions surrounding “digital identity” and “who owns the data” have immense consequences for the future of humanity.
We’re currently living in a broken system. Each person attempts to manage a series of passwords and “social security numbers” that are impossible to keep safe and inevitably get stolen. Our “best” corporations and government agencies cannot keep data safe. Leaked data can be very harmful to individuals resulting in fraud, theft, and in some cases even death.
Meanwhile, decentralized technologies like blockchains seek to return ownership of personal data to the individual. This would revolutionize digital identity enabling a more secure, more private, less corruptible, and more socially scalable world.
Identity can be defined in many ways:
- Physical body – a biometric record such as DNA, iris scan, or fingerprints
- Government record – tax ID, birth certificate, or social security number
- Memory – username/password combination
- Reputation – a set of attributed given to you by a community
Each method of identification comes with its own unique set of tradeoffs. One real concern is using biometric data to identify citizens. On one hand, it’s very effective because it’s hard to mimic someone else’s DNA or iris scans. However, it also comes with tremendous potential for abuse.
Like all technologies, blockchains and biometrics are amoral. At the end of the day, they are simply tools which can be used for good or evil. It’s our responsibility as technologists to steer our use of technology towards the greater good of humanity. Join us on this mission.
Let’s Wrap Up
The blockchain space is exciting and moves really fast. It attracts some of the most interesting people on the planet and we feel fortunate to be part of it. We’ll continue to do our part in producing educational content to spread awareness. Thanks for tuning in!
How did you enjoy this round table discussion and corresponding article? We’re planning to do more of these in the future and we would love your feedback!