6 must-watch TED Talks on blockchain

Feel a bit behind on how blockchain works and how it may change your world? Check out these six TED Talks
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When it comes to blockchain readiness, are the tides turning among enterprise IT organizations? An August 2018 Deloitte survey found that around three-quarters of digital enterprises see a compelling business case for blockchain, with 34 percent saying deployment is already underway. Another 41 percent said that they expect to ramp up blockchain deployment within a year. This data is interesting, given that earlier this year,  just 13 percent of senior IT leaders surveyed had clear and current plans to implement blockchain, according to IDG Connect research.

[ Can you explain blockchain to non-techies? Read our related story, How to explain blockchain in plain English. ]  

Another recent survey from PwC cites an even higher number: 84 percent of their 2018 Global Blockchain Survey respondents say their organizations have at least some involvement with blockchain technology. According to the report, “Everyone is talking about blockchain, and no one wants to be left behind.” Of course, nobody wants to drown in hype, either.

If you are among those who feel a bit behind on how Blockchain actually works and what's coming next, it’s time to start educating yourself using smart resources. TED Talks are a great place to start. We’ve rounded up six talks that can get you up to speed quickly and answer some basic questions, as you navigate or even drive the blockchain conversations in your organization.

If you still don’t understand what blockchain is

How the blockchain will radically transform the economy


Wired tapped Bettina Warburg, researcher and co-founder of Animal Ventures, for a difficult challenge – to explain blockchain in plain enough terms that even a child could understand. Warberg rose to the challenge: Her TED Talk is another great example of her ability to frame the concept of blockchain in relatable, easy to understand terms. Using helpful comparisons and graphics, Warburg explains how blockchain can lower uncertainty and increase transparency around transactions. It’s a quick watch that can answer a lot of basic questions around blockchain.

[ Where is blockchain making tangible progress? Read Blockchain in action: 5 interesting examples. ] 

How the blockchain is changing money and business


Many of the conversations around blockchain focus on the potential to change and shape how people exchange money. But money isn’t the only thing that will change as blockchain expands. Don Tapscott, author of “Blockchain Revolution,” not only provides another great, plain English overview of what blockchain is in this TED Talk, but also outlines five of the many potential opportunities of blockchain. These range from enabling people to own their data to ensuring that content creators, like musicians, have control over and are being compensated fairly for their work.

If you’re skeptical

Bitcoin. Sweat. Tide. Meet the future of branded currency


Skeptical of a future without banks? It’s already happening. Think about how many people make their morning coffee purchase with Starbucks Rewards. In this TED Talk, Paul Kemp-Robertson offers up several examples demonstrating increasing comfort in branded currency and decreasing trust in government, banks, and other institutions. He makes a convincing case for why paper money is starting to feel outdated in the digital age.

We've stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers


For those who write off blockchain as nothing but a buzzword, this TED talk from Rachel Botsman does a great job explaining how the new era of trust we are currently experiencing paves the way for blockchain to take hold in the future. In particular, we’ve had a wave of significant changes in our day-to-day lives – from how we book travel, where we stay, and how we get there – all initiated by huge leaps of faith in other people (think Airbnb, Uber, etc). The trust leap in blockchain hasn’t quite happened yet, notes Botsman, but it’s coming.

If you wonder what will happen to jobs

Blockchain and the Middleman


This is a quick explainer on what the rise of blockchain will mean for the middlemen. These intermediaries have served an important job for decades – they establish trust, ownership, and history of transactions. Blockchain can replace these intermediary tasks – faster, easier, and with less error. You can’t understand blockchain without understanding the dramatic impact it will have on these institutions. As the video notes: It’s no longer a question of if blockchain can replace these middlemen, it’s which ones, and when.

If you want a look ahead

The future of money


If you just want to know what all of this might mean for you, Neha Narula outlines what the future of money will include. She believes that we’ve been burdened by institutions, and once they are removed the future of money will be programmable. Money will be directed by software, and it will flow safely and securely. Notably, Narula thinks the early examples of blockchain, like Bitcoin, come with their quirks, and she predicts the next iterations will be better and better. Of course, not everything can be predicted and there will be trade-offs, she says. But in the same way that the rise of the Internet made us all more productive while also creating new ways to waste time, she believes the good will outweigh the bad.

Carla Rudder is a writer and editor for The Enterprisers Project. As content manager, she enjoys bringing new authors into the community and helping them craft articles that showcase their voice and deliver novel, actionable insights for readers.  

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