Blockchain podcast

Episode 9: Blockchain and the promise of a decentralized future

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How do you get on board with blockchain?

In today’s episode, your host, Matt Hooper, is speaking with Alison McCauley! Alison is the founder and CEO of Unblocked Future as well as an author, speaker, and consultant. Her bestselling book, Unblocked: How blockchains will change your business (and what to do about it), answers the question: Why do I need to get on board with this whole blockchain thing? She is helping non-technical executives all around the world to better understand how this technology will trigger change.

Growing up in a family of engineers, Alison ‘rebelled’ by becoming a social scientist. She was completely enraptured by what changes our behaviors as humans, what changes our minds — and overall, how our brains work. After she graduated, Alison became deeply fascinated by technology, our relationship with it, and how human behavior and emerging technologies interact. In the midst of studying this she caught the “blockchain brain virus”, as she calls it, and now works with organizations to help them adopt and leverage new tech to drive forward a better digital future.

Learn how industries are revolutionizing business with IBM Blockchain

In this episode, Matt and Alison dive in and take a look at how the promise of a decentralized future with blockchain is something that has not been seen before, why it is a value generation system and not a value extraction system, and perhaps most notably: why and how organizations and companies need to adopt this technology! She also touches on all the work that she does in the space, how the research of her incredible book took shape, key insights from her book, and how listeners — of all different levels of familiarity with the space — can become more blockchain literate.

Key takeaways

[:01] About today’s fantastic guest, Alison McCauley!
[3:16] Alison speaks about her form of rebellion: becoming a social scientist, and how she ended up becoming involved in technology.
[5:20] When did Alison first catch the “blockchain brain virus?”
[8:20] What were the pools of digital discontent that this engineer (who first introduced Alison to blockchain) was describing? What was the exact moment in which her skepticism in it begin to recede?
[11:30] Alison has written that the backlash of the big tech companies “happening amidst a backdrop of global discontent.” How, in Alison’s estimation, did we arrive here? And what role have the big tech firms played in leading to this discontent?
[15:37] How are blockchains disruptive? And what does this mean?
[17:30] Alison elaborates on what John Henry Clippinger has said about blockchain and further explains the incredible benefits and value generation of blockchain for an organization.
[23:21] About the IBM Garage and how it can help you begin your blockchain journey.
[24:04] Where is the proof that the blockchain ecosystem needs more established players (like banks or governments) to get involved? Historically, hasn’t there been just as much success letting developers and entrepreneurs play in the ecosystem for a longer time first before more established players jump in? Or is it so different now with blockchain because of cultural circumstances or technological differences (that have to do with blockchain itself)?
[28:22] How would the solution to this great backlash (this discontent for tech), who’s driving force is decentralization, be different? How will decentralization ensure that there will not be any one blockchain firm that will overtake the internet in the same way that the four or five big tech firms over the last ten years have?
[31:00] Alison further elaborates on a quote from her book about the security opportunities for blockchain adoption within organizations.
[31:58] Alison speaks more on the topic protecting the democratization of blockchain and making it hard for any one firm to centralize control.
[33:35] Alison elaborates on keeping blockchain decentralized, as well as her advocacy for blockchain literacy.
[34:46] How can one learn about blockchain literacy? (Beyond reading Alison’s book, Unblocked, of course!)
[36:56] Matt thanks Alison for joining the IBM Blockchain Pulse Podcast!

Sources mentioned

Unblocked Future
Unblocked: How Blockchains Will Change Your Business (and What to Do About It), by Alison McCauley
Tim Berners-Lee
John Henry Clippinger
IBM Garage
The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, by Tim Wu
Sheila Warren

Follow-up with our guest

Alison McCauley

Looking for more episodes? 

Visit IBM Blockchain — and for news and updates, follow @IBMBlockchain on Twitter!

Tweetables – For social media

“As you start to learn about [the blockchain] space, it has so many layers and it can have such an impact that you get pulled in. So, it kind of captivates everybody!”

— Alison McCauley

“The possibility is that this technology, if the protocol is built right [and] the governance is done right … [it] could have decentralization actually built into the foundational layer.” — Alison McCauley

“If [blockchain is] done right, it could potentially be one of the first [technologies] that resists that move towards more centralization.” — Alison McCauley

“We need to learn more about what this technology makes possible [and] what it can do so that we can lend our voices in a productive way to [build] this foundational layer correctly so that it helps to shape the world that we want to live in.”  — Alison McCauley

“If you can get yourself in that space and understand some of the basic attributes of [blockchain], you’ll start to see how it could be applied in many different ways, everywhere. Getting engaged is where the real learning will come from.” — Alison McCauley

Learn more about blockchain today

Managing Editor

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