If Web 2.0 saw social media integrate with web services, then Web 3.0 will allow for true business autonomy. Imagine a world where every device – not just computers, tablets and laptops, but cars, trains, busses, bridges, traffic lights, security cameras, alarm clocks, beds – have internet capabilities. And now imagine these devices can talk to one another. Web 3.0, aided by the Internet of Things, IOS, AI, robotic, cloud and data analysis systems, will mark the creation of a new internet with different rules that will allow businesses the opportunity to conduct themselves in ways which were previously impossible.
Of course in a world where all devices can connect with one another, two questions arise:
- How do you establish, or better yet, to not require trust in business transactions?
- How do business systems whether AI, cloud, robotic or data analysis systems communicate under an umbrella of governance?
The answer to both questions is smart contracts administered by a blockchain platform. Ethereum is the largest such platform and ether, the currency of transactions on the platform, is a fast-growing cryptocurrency that is already up 2300% this year. Ethereum is a decentralised platform that provides a new global architecture to run smart contracts, allowing for true business autonomy. While in the past businesses faced security risks associated with online transactions – including fraud, censorship, the possibility of downtime and third party interference – Ethereum uses blockchain technology to guarantee payment and contract fulfilment.
Picture this: It’s Easter weekend, and the Roads & Maritime Service wants to increase surveillance on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Both the Roads & Maritime Service and the security company controlling the Sydney Harbour Bridge have DApps – decentralised applications – on the Ethereum network. So the Roads & Maritime Service makes a transaction over the Ethereum blockchain and enters into a smart contract with the security company to increase, and pay for, a greater level of surveillance on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The security company’s robots operating the bridge’s cameras are also connected via the Ethereum blockchain, so additional smart contracts are autonomously sent to each robot by the security company instructing them to increase their particular surveillance operations. Since the transactions are all blockchain based smart contracts, there is an immutable record of the security activities for governance purposes .
What we are witnessing is a new platform where trust is no longer a prerequisite to business because trust is implied by the same contract that guarantees its outcome. What we are really witnessing is the complete redefinition of communication protocols because Ethereum provides the framework to connect AI, cloud, robotic and data analysis systems in brand new, fail-safe ways.
From an IP perspective, those who act first will find profitable, patentable outcomes. While there are over a thousand different blockchain systems running on cryptocurrencies, the true patent opportunities are to be found within the Dapp functionalities using smart contracts or broader systems. So long as a technological advancement occurs which provides a technological benefit – improving the speed of writing blocks, transactions, a new type of security architecture – potential clients will find systems that are patent eligible. In fact, at Baxter IP, we are already acting for clients using smart contract systems in health, banking and identity management.
It’s not just my theory that smart contracts will change the world and a new global architecture already bringing about true business autonomy makes an interesting investment proposition. The future is hurtling rapidly towards us. Those companies who are building their systems and IP with blockchain interconnectivity stand to gain immensely from first mover advantage and ICO opportunities in the present market.