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‘A slow revolution’: Could the future of all work exist on the blockchain?

Lynsey Jackson was looking for a change when she quit her corporate finance job to assess her career options, before settling on a direction that would shock many.

She sees her future in blockchain technology, beginning with a diploma of applied blockchain from TAFE Queensland.

Most commonly known as the platform that hosts cryptocurrencies, blockchain is the basis of “Web3”, the brave new internet held together by distributed databases, each confirming the same information.

Blockchain is a peer-to-peer security network that allows users to become part of the system.

In relation to cryptocurrencies the system validates coin ownership and transactions, as well works to create new coins.

“Most people when I mention that I’m pivoting my career into blockchain don’t really know what I’m talking about and what the opportunities are … for the most part, people in my world are pretty unaware,” Ms Jackson said.

“It can improve things like tracking and traceability and reducing fraud … We can use that sort of technology to make the world a more fair and inclusive and sustainable place for everyone.”

As for what she wants to do in the industry?

“That is the million-dollar question,” she said. “That’s why I’ve enrolled in the diploma.”

Ms Jackson first learned of blockchain the way most do: cryptocurrency.

According to CHOICE, one in nine Australians invested in a cryptocurrency within the last 12 months and a further 11 per cent are interested in investing.

But Ms Jackson, who “holds” investments in some of the major coins, said that isn’t what drew her to study the technology.

“What’s actually happening in the blockchain space is far beyond just what we know about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency and an opportunity to get rich quick,” she said.

Searching for stability

According to economist and futurist Steve Sammartino, a better public understanding of the difference between cryptocurrencies and blockchain is fundamental to the latter’s future success, or failure.

“The fact that they get bundled into the same category is kind of problematic,” he said.

“Cryptocurrencies are a single-use case for blockchain … blockchain has incredible upside and potential to reshape the entire fabric of the economy.”

Cryptocurrencies are infamously volatile and there are currently about 10,000 on the market.

Steve Sammartino sitting at his desk.
Steve Sammartino says blockchain technology is much more than a host for cryptocurrencies.(Supplied)

Mr Sammartino said some cryptocurrency will be needed if blockchain is to be used for large-scale financial transactions, but the current proliferation and instability degrades any value as a viable replacement for fiat money. 

He believes there is a role for government in what has up to this point been a largely unregulated space.

“Regulation frames what we believe as community and society, that’s the first part. The second part is education in schools,” he said.

“The challenge is that the space is changing so rapidly, regular regulation and education can’t keep up because there’s always the next thing or the next iteration on a rapidly evolving technology.

“That gives the hucksters that five minutes to get in front and to say, ‘OK, boomer, you don’t understand.'”

‘Just a way of us storing data’

Danielle Marie is trying to get in front of the hucksters.

She teaches the applied blockchain diploma at TAFE Queensland.

Ms Marie said many of her students enrol in the course hoping to learn more about investing in cryptocurrencies, but leave with more concrete goals.

“Crypto is the gateway drug to blockchain,” she said.

She said most of her students will become either project managers and planners or business analysts, positions added to the skilled migrant occupation list in 2019, indicating a need for more people with blockchain knowledge and training in Australia.

Read More: ‘A slow revolution’: Could the future of all work exist on the blockchain?

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