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Q: Blockchain, is it going to be a technology to promote anonymity or is it going to bring us closer to a true digital identity that allows us to have a vote in public policies like never before?
R: Blockchain can contribute to greater anonymity, but it also allows us to better understand the traceability of objects. There are companies that are providing services through blockchain, granting certainty about the production processes of products that later go to the market, whereas before the truth depended on an official seal. This situation will have a political impact and there will be a lot of issues that will no longer be decided through traditional mechanisms; new technologies allow the formation of heterogeneous spaces in which each one decides to be, and technology allows them to be partially shared without conditioning the other to take part. The issues that will remain under traditional politics are the essentials: security, justice, and basic education; everything else is going to become spontaneous and interactive. People are going to choose service and product providers based on new criteria: as I am going to learn more about that company, I may be interested, for example, in how it handles ethical issues. We are moving towards a world where the paradigm is value and not cost.
There is an Argentine consultant who talks about a phenomenon he calls the anthropomorphization of companies: the company becomes a person who takes sides and commits to different causes. It does this because there is a need for the consumer to look at the behavior of the company, which is possible thanks to the technological support that allows us to act in a more individual way, not subject to an imposed group, but through new groups.
Q: Blockchain removes intermediaries. Could this mean the passage from an indirect democracy (like the one we have) to a direct democracy?
R: Yes, and a little we already lived it. You have the performance of the seller and the opinion of all the buyers. Today, there is already a direct democracy in commercial platforms: if someone wants to sell a product, they make a record and their background is visible to everyone; in this way, the person interested in acquiring your product knows in advance who they would be buying it from.
Q: If you had to bet on a technology, would it be virtual reality or augmented reality?
R: They are two different things. Augmented reality is the expansion of the ability to learn more about something; for example, I can point to a product and know if it is natural, the place where it is produced and even the information of the people who produced it. Thus, augmented reality provides information in more detail. For its part, virtual reality is more focused on social relationships; for example, I imagine that in the future I will be in front of my students, with all the sensory elements we need and without having physically moved.
Q: The main difference between humans and other animals are: the ability to create and believe fictions, and the ability to cooperate massively on a large scale. The key is trust, and the Blockchain has the ability to encode trust, what potential is there?
A: Trust is something that feeds on new technologies, because new technologies give you certainty and information. If I have more information, I trust or distrust. It is the person who decides which aspect of the information provided by technology is the one they value the most, and that is fully subjective. There is a happening revolution in society that is not adequately perceived by politics, by social leadership, or by companies. These trust phenomena are transferred to the economy that is experiencing a return to barter since, for example, we pay technology companies through our own data. And cryptocurrencies also have some barter because you have to triangulate between currencies to have a price. Thus, we are all consenting to living in a new economy where transactions do not have a monetary price, but another type of payment that has to do with trust, that is, we are facing a new economy of social interactions. These trade-offs are very difficult to measure since global statistics do not look at how much information is transferred from one country to another, and that which is information is considered an economic input.
Q: Is there a risk of dehumanizing people, if they are treated as nodes in a network? Are tech company owners more susceptible to this kind of thinking?
R: The training necessary to function in this world is increasingly comprehensive. If you have a one-way training, you will have fewer virtues than necessary. The isolated discipline does not work: the food industry is linked to medicine, agriculture is linked to satelliteization, car design with psychology, etc .; the boundaries of disciplines are erased. We are in an instance that Peter Senge calls “the fifth discipline”, the systemic knowledge. The system integrates everything and is a knowledge in itself. It is an almost Renaissance period where knowledge is comprehensive. Columbia professor Rita Gunther McGrath in her book called “The End of Competitive Advantage” said that unlike the 20th century, in which one had a star product and that lasted a long time, the company that is based on a single product in the 21st century, it doesn’t work. Companies are displaced, not by competition, but by technology. It is like the surfer when he is on top of the wave, he knows that he is at his best, but at any moment he will fall and he will have to start over. This forces any leadership, in any group, to have a broader vision.
Q: Can cryptocurrencies coexist with currencies? fiat?
R: I believe that cryptocurrencies are an emerging phenomenon. Today it is impossible for states to control the flow of global social movements. The State as an organizer has increasing difficulties and new emerging ones are appearing. In this phenomenon of the weakening of the State, cryptocurrencies appear. States began to weaken currencies by going to issue to spend more than they really could. And this generated a reaction. Before, it would have occurred through the devaluation of metals such as gold or commodities. Today, crypto appears in response to the mistrust that people have about currencies fiat. I believe that cryptocurrencies understood as such, have a significant future because they can give you much more certainty. There will probably be a lot of volatility for a while, but non-state currencies will prevail. If this is good or bad, I don’t know, it will depend on how we use it.
Q: How do you see the emergence of artificial intelligences?
R: All the stages in which there are scientific, technological and cultural changes generate challenges and fears. Humanity is in need of an ethical commitment. It is not that now there are risks that never existed, today’s anxiety makes us fear immediate risk, and we do not realize that there was always risk, and also advances. Human beings make mistakes and will continue to make them, but ethics must prevail. As it is a coexistence between imperfect beings, there are always going to be risks.