Blockchain and crypto: The challenges and opportunities for progress

Progress can occur in various aspects of life, and technology has the potential to drive significant changes, ideally for the better. One technology that has gained attention recently is blockchain. In a previous article, I explored the potential of blockchain as a powerful source of progress. 

Despite the challenges faced by centralized financial institutions and some major centralized organizations in the cryptocurrency world, I maintain a positive outlook on the potential of blockchain and crypto to make progress.

Even though I am not an expert in this domain and acknowledge its complexity, I am still fascinated by it. Consequently, it may be valuable to re-examine the fundamentals of blockchain and cryptocurrency and explore their potential for driving progress.

What are blockchains? 

Blockchains are digital ledgers that allow for secure and transparent storage of information without the need for a central authority. This means that transactions can be recorded and verified without the need for a third party, like a bank or government, to oversee the process. 

What is crypto?

Crypto, or cryptocurrency, is a type of digital asset that is designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of new units. 

What may be their benefits?

Some advantages of blockchains and cryptocurrency are:

  1. Decentralization: Blockchains and crypto operate on a decentralized network, which means that there is no central authority controlling the transactions. This makes it more difficult for any one entity to manipulate or corrupt the system. 
  2. Security: Blockchains and crypto use advanced encryption techniques to ensure the security and privacy of transactions. 
  3. Transparency: The use of blockchains makes transactions more transparent as all parties can view the same ledger. 
  4. Speed: Transactions on blockchains and crypto networks can be completed quickly and efficiently without the need for intermediaries. 
  5. Lower costs: Transactions on blockchains and crypto networks can be completed at a lower cost than traditional methods, which can be particularly beneficial for international transactions. 
  6. Accessibility: Blockchains and crypto provide financial access to people who may not have access to traditional financial systems, particularly in developing countries. 
  7. Innovation: Blockchains and crypto have the potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries, from finance to supply chain management.

How may they bring progress?

The blockchain has the potential to contribute to progress for humanity in several ways: 
  1. Financial Inclusion: Blockchain-based systems can provide access to financial services for individuals who may not have access to traditional banking systems. This can help to reduce poverty and promote economic growth in developing countries. 
  2. Transparency and Accountability: The blockchain can increase transparency and accountability in various industries, such as supply chain management, by creating immutable records of transactions. This can help to prevent fraud, corruption, and other unethical practices. 
  3. Secure Digital Identity: The blockchain can provide a secure and decentralized digital identity system, which can be used to verify identity for a range of purposes, such as voting, healthcare, and access to government services. 
  4. Decentralized Governance: The blockchain can facilitate decentralized governance systems, where decisions are made by a community rather than a centralized authority. This can help to promote greater participation and inclusivity in decision-making processes. 
  5. Intellectual Property Protection: The blockchain can be used to protect intellectual property by creating a tamper-proof record of ownership and licensing rights. This can help to prevent piracy and ensure that creators are fairly compensated for their work. 
Overall, the blockchain has the potential to promote greater social, economic, and political inclusion, while also increasing transparency, accountability, and security in various industries.

Downsides and obstacles

There are downsides and obstacles. While blockchain and crypto have the potential to bring progress and positive change to humanity, there are also risks and potential dangers associated with these technologies. 
  1. Political instability: Blockchain and crypto can potentially threaten governments and contribute to political instability through the use of cryptocurrencies to evade government control and regulation;
  2. Criminal activity: One risk is the potential for criminal activity, such as money laundering and terrorist financing, as these technologies can facilitate anonymous and untraceable transactions. Additionally, the lack of regulation and oversight in some areas of the blockchain and crypto space can make it difficult to prevent fraudulent or unethical practices;
  3. Raising inequalities: Moreover, the use of blockchain and crypto can exacerbate existing inequalities, particularly if they are not accessible to everyone or if they are used to perpetuate economic, social, or political exclusion;
  4. Security threads: The rise of technologies such as quantum computing could potentially turn the advantages of blockchains into a liability by compromising the security of the cryptographic algorithms that underpin blockchain technology;
  5. Environmental impact: Finally, the environmental impact of crypto mining, which requires significant amounts of energy, is a growing concern. 
Overall, it is important to recognize the potential risks and dangers associated with blockchain and crypto and to work towards developing policies and regulations that promote their safe and responsible use.

Steps forward

Here are some ways of to addressing the downsides and obstacles associated with blockchain and crypto: 
  1. Regulatory safeguards: Governments and regulatory bodies should work to develop policies and regulations that promote the safe and responsible use of blockchain and crypto while addressing the risks associated with these technologies, such as money laundering and terrorist financing. 
  2. Transparancy improvements: The blockchain and crypto industry should prioritize efforts to improve transparency and accountability, such as through the use of auditable smart contracts and open-source development. 
  3. Improve global accesibility: Efforts should be made to promote greater accessibility to blockchain and crypto technology, particularly in developing countries and marginalized communities. 
  4. Improve consensus mechanisms: The industry should explore alternative consensus mechanisms that are more energy-efficient than proof-of-work, which is currently the most commonly used consensus mechanism in blockchain networks. 
  5. Ensure post-quantum safety: The development of post-quantum cryptographic algorithms should be prioritized to ensure that blockchain technology remains secure in the face of advances in quantum computing. 
  6. Public education: Finally, industry stakeholders should work to increase public education and awareness about the potential benefits and risks associated with blockchain and crypto technology to ensure that the public is able to make informed decisions about its use. 


It is unlikely that the advance of blockchain can and will be stopped. These technologies have already gained significant traction and have the potential to bring significant benefits to individuals and society as a whole. Addressing the downsides and obstacles associated with blockchain and crypto will require a collaborative effort among governments, regulatory bodies, industry stakeholders, and the public to promote the responsible and sustainable use of these technologies.


Coert Visser said…
Link to article

Blockchain technology has had a major impact on several fields. It offers new ways to store and process data with greater transparency, immutability and reproducibility. This is especially important because recently there have been doubts about the reproducibility of many scientific findings, including computer studies. A group of scientists has come up with a solution: they ran a simulation of a chemical reaction on a blockchain, showing that it is possible to perform scientific calculations within a blockchain environment. This could increase transparency and accessibility in science. All in all, this shows how blockchain technology can help solve important problems in science.

(Hattip to Justin Visser)
Unknown said…
Hi Coert, this is a very interesting articles that nicely sums up the pros and potential disadvantages.

However, for me, it left me with a feeling of "okay, so how big are these potential disadvantages? What do experts with great scientific reputations have to say on each of them?"

Therefore it would be great to have a follow-up article on that, with strong evidential underpinnings for its arguments.

Then again, great overview of your perspective on blockchain tech. Thank you.

Stijn van Willigen
Coert Visser said…
Dear Stijn,

Thank you for your comments and for suggesting a deeper exploration of the potential disadvantages of blockchain technology. While I aim to provide a balanced view on the topics I cover, I appreciate that there's more to be explored. I must admit, however, that as I am not an expert in this field, I may not be best placed to provide the level of in-depth analysis you're seeking.