Blockchain is the future, they said. Blockchains will change the world, they said. Let’s examine the blockchained future of the world then, I said.
The year is 2035.
Snippets from a conversation between Bob, Chan, Priyanka, and Dmitry in a public chat group section of a popular gaming dApp:
Bob: I got 5 Super Pills. I have exhausted my monthly Internet data-tokens. I can help keep your Smark Strife in good health. I am willing to trade 1 Super Pill for 3 data-tokens. First come first serve basis…
Chan: Hey, Bob. I already have 8 Super Pills in stock. Don’t need more. But I am in urgent need of a dental check-up. The price of a DentalCheck token is pretty steep right now. I heard you may be able to help out. I am willing to trade 8 data-tokens for every DentalCheck token. Internet is pretty cheap here in China, unlike the US. Do you mind trading?
Priyanka: Hey, Bob. My account name will ping yours in a few seconds. 6 data-tokens for 2 Super Pills. My Smark Strife is on his last life. Please swap ASAP.
Dmitry: Chan, I have enough DentalCheck tokens to last half a dozen check-ups here in Russia. I need 5 CompSci tokens to unlock the GlobalCompSci Uni’s next course. Can we trade?
Bob lives in New York, United States. In the year 2035, monthly internet is pretty expensive in the US. So his parents lend him 300 data-tokens per month. Data-tokens are internet connectivity tokens issued by a coalition of some of the world’s largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs). While internet connectivity has improved dramatically in the last 2 decades and over 95% of the world’s population now has some form of internet connectivity, several countries have created laws that prohibit excessive internet usage for minors (aged less than 18).
The rise of social media in the first quarter of the 21st century and its impact on children and young adults as well as the supposed disintegration of social cohesion has fueled such laws and regulations. In the US people below the age of 18 are only allowed 500 data-tokens per month.
Bob’s parents assume that 300 data-tokens is all the internet he needs. They are wrong. Apart from being a shy 16 year old with good scores in maths, Bob is also a rising star in the massively multiplayer online role playing dApp – “Final Fantasy – The return of Smark Strife”. Smark Strife is the lead character of the game with some speculated mysterious connection to Claude Strife – a leading character in one of Final Fantasy’s earlier titles a few decades ago.
The Final Fantasy dApp (decentralized Application) is very popular. But it doesn’t just attract teenagers of Bob’s age. The game attracts people of all ages. Every item in the game is a digital asset worth some real world value. Thanks to the advent of blockchain technology and its continued progress in the last 2 decades managing digital assets is no more a tedious task. Every day hundreds of millions of people use thousands of dApps like this one. Most of these dApps have some sort of a digital asset that ties its ownership and identity with a human.
One of the most popular in-game items in this dApp is a Super Pill. Gamers have to cross several levels and prove their mettle in the game to earn a Super Pill. A Super Pill is used to give Smark Strife super powers and it temporarily makes him immortal, thereby aiding in making quick progress in the game by destroying enemies without serious consequences. The further Smark Strife gets in the game (the more levels the gamer completes) the number of digital items in the digital wallet of the gamer increase. Each unit of these items – a hammer, a cat, a tank, a sword, a Super Pill etc – is a digital asset worth some value in the real world.
The value of these assets is not fixed because they are being traded in in-game markets and exchanges all the time. The value of each item is therefore determined by the gaming economy created by participating gamers.
Just like the digital asset – Super Pill – other dApps have their own digital assets and token economies. One of the most important innovations in the last 10 years has been the smooth, secure, and hassle free Interchain communication between thousands of blockchains developed in the 2010s and 2020s. This has not only allowed the movement of one digital asset from one blockchain or sidechain to a completely different blockchain or sidechain, but it has also allowed entirely new industries to come into existence. Like the early crypto-to-crypto exchanges, traders now trade digital assets between many blockchains.
Chan is from Beijing, China. Another of these dApps is the DentalCheck. Like Bob Chan is pretty good at “Final Fantasy – The return of Smark Strife” and has collected 8 Super Pills. So he doesn’t need any more for the time being. What he needs urgently is more DentalCheck tokens because he has been battling with a severe toothache for a couple of days.
DentalCheck tokens are issued by an organization that has many of the world’s leading dentists on its advisory board. This is a decentralized global dental check-up solution that aims to standardize dental check-up best practices while providing holders of DentalCheck tokens the benefit of easy and quick access to the best dentists in their country. All you need to do is pay your local dentist the fees of X DentalCheck tokens. Chan has a few DentalCheck tokens but he is falling short of the dentist’s fee by a couple of tokens.
The internet in China isn’t as expensive as it is in the US. China has never really co-operated with global Internet regulations though it has benefited from several projects that helped bring internet to the remotest parts of the world. This is why Chan is happy to trade what seems like a high number of his data-tokens with Bob for each DentalCheck token.
Priyanka is a social media manager in Pune, India. Much of her work is oversight because what she does involves bots and automation. This means she has a lot of free time on her hands. And what better way to spend your time than play “Final Fantasy – The return of Smark Strife”.
A lot of people either play games these days to collect digital assets or earn tokens of some kind by being active on social media. Since the blockchain and cryptocurrency market matured, these activities have become much more than a pastime. Many of these dApps allow people to earn digital assets that have some real world value. If you can secure DentalCheck tokens in exchange for some Super Pills, why would you not want to do more of that? After all, you are acting upon the most basic of human instincts – survival.
Priyanka has spent many hours progressing in the game but now her in-game hero Smark Strife is pretty close to dying and if he dies, her in-game digital wallet will be frozen until she can deposit some SmarkCoins in it. Each SmarkCoin represents a life for Smark Strife.
Due to the popularity of the game, SmarkCoins are in high demand and this has led to a meteoric rise in its price. Priyanka cannot afford to spend too much on buying more SmarkCoins right now. So her best option is to give Smark Strife a boost through a Super Pill. But she has run out of Super Pills. The moment she saw Bob’s message, she sent him data-tokens so she could quickly acquire a couple of Super Pills.
After years of trials and errors, when the Interchain began to see some serious momentum about a decade ago, sending a digital asset across blockchains eventually became pretty easy. There was a time when almost all downloadable applications on the Internet lived on application stores run by just 2 companies – Apple and Google. Now that we live in a world of decentralized applications it is hard to believe that people were largely comfortable with 2 companies – as pioneering and revolutionary as they were – having the power to decide what can and cannot be allowed to exist on the Internet’s 2 largest app stores.
Thanks to the emergence of the Interchain everyone now has an account name that uniquely identifies them and makes transactions seamless and super fast. So when Priyanka sends 6 data-tokens to Bob and requests 2 Super Pills, the smartcontract running on the Interchain ensures that the transaction only takes place when Bob’s account name releases 2 Super Pills to Priyanka’s account name. Once Bob hits the “swap” button this transaction becomes irreversible and immutable on the Interchain. The transaction is completely safe because the smartcontracts of today are far more superior to the ones written in the early days of the blockchain revolution.
Dmitry is from Moscow, Russia. He is a student at the GlobalCompSci University, a blockchain based online education platform that allows students to learn computer science at their own pace. The university offers a wide range of courses. Students (or their parents) sign up for GlobalCompSci University once by buying a set amount of CompSci tokens. Students can then unlock each course they would like to enroll in by using these tokens.
The CompSci tokens are considered among the best implementations of stablecoins. These tokens are issued by GlobalEducation, a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) that is revolutionizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education online.
Dmitry has plenty of DentalCheck tokens because he has never really had any dental issues. While the price of tokens is determined by the global market, dentists in various markets may choose to charge the number of tokens they need for fees as per their regional rules. To prevent dentists from charging an extremely high number of tokens, patients are allowed to rate their experience and provide feedback for each dentist on the DentalCheck dApp.
It has been observed that the dentists’ fee varies from country to country depending on the local healthcare system and other government benefits. So while the dentists in the US may charge 15 DentalCheck tokens for one visit, dentists in Russia may charge 5 DentalCheck tokens for a visit. The US has struggled to fix its healthcare problems since Donald Trump left office while Russia’s healthcare system has improved dramatically since the fall of Putin.
Dmitry sees that Priyanka has already initiated a transaction with Bob for his data-tokens so Chan probably still needs his DentalCheck tokens. So he reaches out to Chan, whose public Dragonbook dApp profile shows that he is also a GlobalCompSci University student. Dmitry hopes that Chan will trade his CompSci tokens in exchange for DentalCheck tokens so he can unlock the next course.
. . . . .
You are probably wondering how much of this example is likely to be real and how much of it is pure computer science fiction. I would not comment on the Trump/Putin bit here but everything related to blockchains and crypto tech mentioned in this example will likely come true. I encourage you to explore the links in this post and check out these (mostly functional) ideas on your own.
I will add that I chose the year 2035 not because I think blockchains, interchains, smartcontracts, and several other crypto tech ideas will take that long to mature but because I think that in close to a couple of decades these ideas will become just as commonplace as Google and Facebook are right now. To be honest not all of it is all that futuristic. Several blockchains offer bare-bones versions of many of these ideas and they are being improved upon everyday. So it is entirely possible that I could be wrong about the timeline of events. May be we will get there by 2025.