Viewpoint | From Google Maps, I saw the future of the blockchain

Source: Medium,

Translation: First Class (First.VIP)

We are still in the early stages of blockchain development. Further development of new applications for infrastructure and protocol development is needed. At the same time, these iterations will continue to grow exponentially, but there will be winners and losers in this evolution, as well as many “learning experiences”. Some applications and protocols will become the gold standard, while others will become irrelevant.

Image courtesy of Henry Perks on Unsplash

The following content is adapted from Bitcoin Pizza: The No-Bullshit Guide to Blockchain.

Is there a chicken or an egg first? Or, in other words, is there a cryptocurrency first or a corresponding infrastructure? The answer to this question is not as clear as it was when it first appeared. The natural reaction is to think that the infrastructure must be built before the application can be built. But this process is much more complicated and doesn't look as simple as linear.

A classic example is a light bulb that was invented before the grid was built. The bulb can be lit without the need for a grid: electricity can be generated locally. However, it is necessary to establish a grid before the wider consumer can use the bulb. The widespread adoption of consumers has driven the emergence of a large number of new and different types of light bulbs.

Similarly, the aircraft was invented before the airport, but the airport was already required to be built before the aircraft and air travel were widely adopted. All evolutionary processes seem to follow the same pattern.

A more relevant example, closer to us, is the Internet. Before the Internet was widely used by the general public, basic Internet protocols such as TCP/IP already existed. In the development of this technology, there is a mutually reinforcing feedback loop between the infrastructure layer and the application layer. When the average person could use the Internet's web browser, it triggered a series of competitive "browser battles", and then new consumer applications were proposed that required further infrastructure development to be truly viable. Internet service providers have spawned portals, which have spawned search engines, and then emerged as e-commerce applications like Amazon.

Blockchain development cycle

What is the relationship between the above and the blockchain? It gives us a glimpse of the possibilities of a new technology development.

We are still in the early stages of blockchain development. Further development of new applications for infrastructure and protocol development is needed. At the same time, these iterations will continue to grow exponentially, but there will be winners and losers in this evolution, as well as many “learning experiences”. Some applications and protocols will become the gold standard, while others will become irrelevant.

Since this is an iterative process, we really don't know how it will evolve. The "fortune teller" who claims to know is like this (not reliable). No one can predict the future. Twenty years ago, who can predict Google, Facebook and Amazon will become what they are today?

For comparison, take MapQuest as an example. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, MapQuest was the leader in map applications. You can visit their website, enter two locations, and get directions. Then print them out, refer to them while driving, and finally stuff them into your compartment, which increases the hassle of file stacking.

Fast forward to 2005. Google Maps, like maps and directions, entered the market. But it is different, it's not just a better map. Google Maps has launched its own API that allows other developers to use and build their own applications on their data. Within a few years, we saw the rise of the demand economy. We saw Uber, Lyft. Then, soon we saw a variety of branches: "Uber for food delivery", "Uber for dog walking", "Uber for companionship", "Uber on call", "Uber for _____".

Why is this important? When Google created Google Maps, the world was still thinking about how to better use MapQuest and display orientation on paper. The MapQuest digital map is indeed an innovation. However, considering real-time location data in a linear manner is limited. The world is still thinking about how to create a "better map." MapQuest didn't see Uber, Airbnbs, room service and the "on-demand" economy completely reshaping the possibilities of our lives. Google Maps saw it.

If you ask MapQuest employees what their customers want, they will say a better map. No one can expect that in 2005, with the release of Google Maps and their open approach to sharing APIs for real-time location data, we will see the rise of a new generation of Unicorn technology companies: Uber, Lyft, Yelp , Airbnb, Delivery.com, Grubhub, etc. The shift in thinking patterns has enabled people to view maps as dynamic rather than static, leading the entire “on-demand” economy.

Today, the blockchain is in a similar position. Currently, there is confusion about which developments belong to the infrastructure and which are the application categories. The key is that these categories are important, but they are not static.

Blockchain and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

It is important to recognize that blockchain and cryptocurrency are part of a socio-cultural, geopolitical, economic and technological change, and are an integral part of the larger “earthquake” that is currently taking place. Blockchain is not just a new technology, just as Google Maps is a new way to view, understand and interact with the world. Therefore, we are still not sure where we will be taken.

In general, a part of the blockchain transformation is often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. This transformation covers advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, enhancement and virtual reality, additive manufacturing, the Internet of Things, robotics and genomics.

The convergence of these technologies will affect future production, work, community, business and everything in between. We can't reduce the interaction between all these technologies to a simple two-dimensional map. What happens is multidimensional, so it's hard to understand.

This unique historical moment represents not only the integration of multiple technologies, but also the integration of new ideas. Our thinking will range from concentration to dispersion, from opaque to transparent, from closed to open, from passive to active, from restraint to self-execution.

When I look at the ideological changes that are taking place now, terms like the "fourth industrial revolution" do not seem to be well interpret. Perhaps such a major shift in human history was the Paleolithic revolution, when humans took the evolutionary steps of making and using tools. Therefore, the subsequent revolution, from the agricultural revolution to the industrial revolution to the Internet revolution, represents the accelerated development of existing tool manufacturing.

The revolution we are now undergoing represents the evolution of ideas, so we need to conceive and build new tools. If you don't believe that the blockchain will be a technology to become the backbone of this change, at least try to understand that it is a manifestation of a larger evolutionary social and cultural process.

What will be the next infrastructure application matrix (next bulb and grid feedback loop)? My feeling is that there will be not only specific solutions or applications, but also new business models and market trading models, as well as new organizational and governance models.

This may have an impact on elections and the government, and even the demise of the concept of a nation-state. In our context of globalization and peer-to-peer linkages, it seems that the concept of a nation-state is outdated. We just don't know that this revolution will go on many different levels, except for the basic changes we know.

In this strange new world, there is hardly anything that can be affirmed. The only clear thing is that this will be a crazy journey given the fact that we have seen multiple volatility and blockchain networks in multiple booms (here, the price spikes and plunge).

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