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Here’s the lowdown on the next new thing that will upend the world economy

October 3, 2019

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Viagra began life as a treatment for hypertension. Bubble wrap protected greenhouses before it found a home in packaging. Frisbees came from pie tins. The internet was first invented for military purposes.

Some products and services take time to find their significant use.

So it goes for the core technology underpinning bitcoin, the digital currency that operates on a decentralized swarm of computers. Turns out that the blockchain technology has a bunch of other applications. Masses of them. And a real revolution may yet be unfolding.

Simple and elegant, the blockchain system is finding uses in transferring money, paying artists and musicians, proving identity, and protecting health and academic records. And that’s just for starters.

Some experts see upended apple carts and leapfrog growth in the offing, not unlike what happened in the early days of the internet, in areas of the global economy where trust barriers between customers can be partially overcome through the unique and powerful decentralized information-sharing system known as blockchain.

The impact could be “mind-blowingly big because it affects every aspect of the global economy,” said Michael J. Casey, a senior adviser to MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative and co-author of an upcoming book on the implication of blockchain ideas, The Truth Machine.

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