◆Dear Futurist Thomas Frey. Thank you very much for allowing Blockchain Today to interview you once again for the second time, the first-time being August last year. What is the purpose of your visit to Korea this time?
I was asked to speak at the UCLG Daejeon Congress 2022 Smart City Seminar on the “future of smart cities.”
Held every three years, the UCLG World Summit and Congress builds on the century-old origins of a movement driven by peace, solidarity and city diplomacy, and the pledge of the local and regional governments’ constituency around the world to safeguard the dreams and aspirations of their communities.
◆I heard that your latest book, Future Like a Boss, will be published soon. Can you tell us briefly about the book?
The book, Future Like a Boss, is the manual for a course based on “strategic futurism,” which is an entire toolbox full of unusual methodologies that we’ve developed at the DaVinci Institute. Each one will give the reader a different lens, a different way to visualize a facet of the future, a different way to gain insight into the future.
That’s what futurism is all about, offering people a clearer vision of the future. Once they gain that vision, they will have the tools they need to make vastly better decisions moving forward.
Every one of us is already deeply immersed in the future though few think about it this way. And yet we are living, breathing, and swimming in the future. Just as fish have no awareness of the water within which they’re swimming, we have great difficulty understanding a future within which we’re already immersed.
FUTURE Like A Boss will allow the reader to learn a variety of techniques for understanding the future, managing it, and even, to some extent, controlling it.
◆You have recently experienced Korea's ICT technology and self-driving car test drive. What would you say about Korea's science and technology?
Korea is the most connected countries in the world and aggressively working to become the leader in many industries.
◆If you could select a few notable industries that can lead the 4th Industrial Revolution after the COVID-19 pandemic, what would they be?
Quantum Computing –
Digital Twins –
Cell Culture Bioreactors -
Autonomous Transportation –
Flying Drones –
Artificial Intelligence -
◆As a futurist, please give your perspective on the future of blockchain, metaverse, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Blockchain was the underlying tech, and Bitcoin was simply the first mainstream manifestation of its potential. Even though others had developed blockchain earlier, Bitcoin was the application that triggered all the attention.
Blockchain technology was first developed as a way to secure and track the ownership of digital assets, but it has evolved into much more than that with a growing number of applications in everything from real estate, to healthcare, to global voting systems.
While blockchain is destined to become one of the most important technologies of the 21st century, over the coming decade it will take on much more of a utilitarian role, operating in the background similar to processing speeds and cloud storage.
In 2003 my friend, Philip Rosedale, launched Second Life. It came far too early for the bandwidth we had available at that time. However, it attracted an interesting following that still exists today.
The Metaverse is being planned around a virtual reality (VR) or mixed reality (MR) experience in a number of virtual worlds that extend far beyond Second Life. But very little of the Metaverse is currently in VR or MR, and a recent study showed very few people actually participating so far. The virtual worlds of the Metaverse today are surprisingly empty.
It would appear that we’ve jumped the gun on the Metaverse and had a false start. This is similar to what AI went through in the 1980s. Most of today’s Metaverse applications will fail over the next 2-3 years.
Once corrected, the Metaverse will take on applications with a look and feel that are vastly different than what the pioneers have imagined today. We may not even call it the Metaverse since most massive failures require a massive new branding campaign.
NFTs are quickly evolving from simple jpegs to official documents like passports, drivers license, and birth certificate.
Some are evolving into dynamic NFTs that living tokens that can change and evolve over time like the background in a portrait that changes with the seasons, or an one that keeps a record of all the repairs made to a house or car, or an avatar in a game that evolves with each new level to reflect the rewards of each accomplishment.
Other dynamic NFTs will be used as smart contracts, so when certain provisions are fulfilled it will trigger changes to the status.
For these reasons and many more, NFTs have a rich future ahead.
◆Opinions for and against cryptocurrencies are still a hotly debated topic. What is your opinion considering the current situation?
Cryptocurrencies are to national currencies what the iPhone was to the telephone industry, a total gamechanger.
If we think about currency as a technology, and even though it had been evolving from cash and checks to digital currency, the fact that governments controlled the entire process put a significant damper on innovation.
The same was true of the phone industry, which operated as sanctioned monopolies for much of its existence. While digital phones in the 90s offered wireless options and a few extra features, it wasn’t until the iPhone came out in 2007, offering downloadable apps, that we started to get a glimpse of what these smart devices we had in our purses and pockets could become.
When Bitcoin arrived in late 2008, it was in direct response to the banking crisis resulting from the mismanagement of national currencies. Centralized control of banks and national currencies quickly became the bad guy, opening the door to a rallying cry for decentralization.
Bitcoin creates a classic network effect, with a positive feedback loop. The more people who use Bitcoin, the more valuable Bitcoin becomes for everyone who uses it, and this, in turn, increases the enticement for the future users to start using the technology.
While neither centralization nor decentralization will ever be perfect, decentralization has a way of offering workarounds and reducing the cesspool of political corruption and crony capitalism commonly associated with the banking industry. It also unleashes the potential for many new technologies and new ways of doing business.
◆In September of last year, El Salvador designated Bitcoin as its official national currency, and other countries are beginning to follow suit. What do you think about designating cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as an official national currency?
So far Bitcoin has failed to live up to any of its expectations in El Salvador and the news media has been quick to declare it a complete failure. However, the operation of a country involves many issues, and while the flagging global economy doomed Bitcoin in the short term, we have not seen the last of it.
El Salvador's president, Nayib Bukele, is still one of the most popular leaders in Latin America, and we’re a still long ways from hearing the last of it.
Personally, I think it was too early to make Bitcoin an official national currency, as new systems and payment infrastructures are coming online on a daily basis, and they all need to be weather tested in bad economic conditions before we’re ready to make a global proclamation like this.