Will Blockchain Disrupt the ‘Jobless’ Future?

Frederic Dussart By Frederic Dussart Senior Vice President & General Manager, Dell Technologies Consulting Lead, APJC & EMEA January 16, 2018

A flurry of books and articles are raising alarm about a “jobless future.” Rapidly evolving technologies, they warn, are doing away with more than the need for human muscle and dexterity. Self-learning machines will out-think our human brains. Life-like robots will deliver care and services with a super-human patience, politeness, and efficiency. In the future, therefore, no humans need apply. From baristas to surgeons, to marriage counselors—just about everyone’s job is going away, and the social, psychological, and economic impact will be devastating.

Brave New Digital World

I take a contrary view. I do not think that work will disappear. New needs will be created. There will be new ways to contribute and different things to do.

While history since the industrial revolution shows that some jobs do disappear with new technologies, overall, job loss is temporary, as new kinds of jobs are created.

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Some argue that “this time will be different” because the technological disruption goes beyond physical work to displace white collar and service jobs. While I agree that we find ourselves in a time of tremendous change, I also note that the future has a way of way of surprising us.

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Blockchain, for example, could create new kinds of work by revolutionizing the way that transactions—buying, selling, trade, barter, investments, and pay for work—are conducted.

Blockchain, developed as the system of record for the Bitcoin cybercurrency, is a “distributed ledger” that maintains a transparent record of transactions across a network of unrelated computers. Data is updated by consensus in blocks linked to each other, providing a permanent, verified, end-to-end record of every transaction, shared by all users. A blockchain can be public, as with Bitcoin, or private, accessible only to particular participants. Built-in cryptography and encryption promise to address challenges of cyberfraud, identity, authentication, and privacy protection. With its transparent, documented audit trails, blockchain could also help prevent and uproot corruption.

Web of Trust

Of course, blockchain is a hot topic right now. As with other emerging technologies, it’s important to recognize both the potential—and the hype, which glosses over significant technical and practical considerations.

Nevertheless, for our purposes it’s worth pondering how a secure, rules-based platform of “cyber trust” controlled by no one entity, might affect the future of work.

From micro-loans, to trade, to services, to asset-sharing, as blockchain platforms and services evolve, they promise to empower individuals to conduct business directly with other individuals in an easy and secure way. Not only could blockchain services restore ownership over one’s individual identity and privacy and shift agency to individuals—they could enable a pure marketplace in which the determination of value for work performed shifts to individuals as well, rather than to institutions or intermediators.

Quality of Future

All of which raises the question of whether a “jobless” future might be a good thing?  Rather than fear “competition” from robots, AI, and other advances, perhaps we should envision and work for a future in which we use technology to free ourselves from the constraints of “jobs” defined by others, to focus on work that we ourselves value and want to do?

As multiple studies show, it is connection with self, family, friends and community—too often sacrificed in today’s job-based economy—that contribute to health and happiness.

Blockchain is one factor that, by minimizing the “human” risks of fraud, exploitation and distrust from our transactions with each other, could help us create a future of work that is, ultimately, more humane.

Frederic Dussart

About Frederic Dussart

Senior Vice President & General Manager, Dell Technologies Consulting Lead, APJC & EMEA

Frédéric Dussart is a Senior Vice President and & General Manager for Dell Technologies Consulting Services, a provider of strategic guidance and technology expertise that organizations need to transform their IT across technology, people and processes. In his role, Frederic is responsible for helping APJ and EMEA customers derive more value and positive business impact from their infrastructure investments through Dell Technologies comprehensive portfolio of Consulting Services offering.

Before moving into EMC Global Services, Frédéric held other senior roles at EMC, including Senior Vice President of EMEA South region (from 2007) and Regional Country Manager for France (from 2003). In these roles, he was responsible for driving the region’s growth and leadership through delivering and supporting the full range of EMC’s products, services and solutions.

Originally Frédéric joined EMC in April 2003 from Hewlett-Packard (HP) where he spent almost 18 years in various positions. His last position for HP was Vice President and General Manager of the Personal Systems Group.

Frédéric graduated in 1985 with Advanced Studies in Civil Engineering. More recently, in 2005 he completed the Columbia Senior Executive Program at Columbia University, New York.

With a wife and three children he is a dedicated family man who is just as happy playing golf or scuba diving off the south coast of France as he is strategizing and leading in the boardroom.

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