There are two simultaneous technology shifts taking place, each sending rippling effects across the workforce. First is the collective rise of artificial intelligence, automation and the gig economy reshaping the modern workforce. Second is the crypto-powered marketplace altering the way we transact business and interact across global commercial markets. The intersection of these two forces seems inevitable -- so when and how will tech come into play in the midst of all of this?
AI And Automation: Mass Unemployment, Displacement Or Disruption?
Let’s talk AI first. There have been concerns of a robocalypse. The zeitgeist is brimming with concern over robots and automation causing mass unemployment, and there may be a sliver of credence to that. The latest McKinsey report on the topic finds automation could force at least 75 million U.S. workers to transition into new fields and skills sets in the coming decades. The report also reveals that 60% of occupations can have at least a third of daily tasks automated.
My take is that mass unemployment is not necessarily in the cards; mass disruption is a far more appropriate characterization. The information age fostered economic changes and restructuring from the industrial age. That trend will continue. New occupations will emerge, and workplace proficiencies, productivity and workflows will change. If anything, AI is making both tech and labor more intelligent and effective -- and it will only continue to disrupt in this way, freeing up bandwidth and brain power for more on-demand work, freelance engagement and entrepreneurship. The new, modern, agile workforce will be focused on its core competencies and expanding the reach of expertise beyond full-time gigs while also being more global in nature than our current state of affairs.
The Crytpo Star Only Rises
Blockchain’s transparent, open distribution ledger technology is the disruption of the moment. Cryptocurrency is its golden child. With Bitcoin hovering at $16,000 and ICOs continuing to hit multimillion-dollar fundraising goals, this ecosystem may be starting to move past its earliest stages of development (and skepticism). Granted, this decentralized ecosystem still operates in a separate parallel universe, but the velocity of change continues at a breakneck speed. Its potential disruptive force is like nothing we have seen before and will most likely dominate many aspects of the global marketplace -- from finance to healthcare -- both in the near term and for decades to come.
Bridging The Tech Gap: The Cryto Network For Work
A few commonalities among these AI- and crypto-driven spheres are worth noting:
The move away from centralization.
The drive toward transparency as a top priority.
The importance of powering efficiencies to replace redundant or complex systems.
The unique combination of these two forces, integrating their commonalities and distinct characteristics within the tech space, has the potential to completely transform today’s on-demand workforce, particularly when it comes to contract work and the greater freelancer market. Think of a tokenized ecosystem in which freelancers and project managers can transact business and complete bids via smart contracts while participating in the private crypto marketplace -- in other words, the tokenized, blockchain-enabled freelance network of the future.
While the freelance and gig economy expands its foothold, pain points still exist. Imagine the potential of bringing the benefits of blockchain to this realm. How much of the freelancer hiring and project execution process can blockchain automate? How many middlemen can blockchain retire? Blockchain can power streamlined, transparent transaction processing, while smart contracts have the ability to iron out the friction of traditional contractor relationships. What about the added value of crypto market participation in a closed freelance network system? Tokenization can allow for freelancer engagement, incentivization and monetization, all in a single network.
It’s no secret that we are in the midst of a multi-pronged technology shift. The crypto ecosystem will undoubtedly intersect with today’s evolving, on-demand freelancer workforce. The next generation freelance network is only one of many possibilities.
This article was originally featured on Forbes. Access it here.