Too often, people who do the work don’t get paid for that work, or earn only a fraction of the money extracted by institutional layers — middlemen — shoe-horned between producer and consumer. The cook is the least-paid worker at a restaurant chain; the musician or painter gets pennies on the dollar for art; coffee bean pickers can’t afford a place to live while creating billion-dollar industries. Many of today’s technology firms simply find revenue streams and insert themselves into the middle, sucking out their “cut” and leaving even less for people who actually create the value. This elaborate system encourages exploitation, and in many cases, racism.
Rik Willard thinks that the blockchain — and what he calls the Internet of Value — can change all that. Willard is an entrepreneur and early cryptocurrency investor who thinks that blockchain technology is about much more than money – it’s about a wholesale and fundamental change in the way human beings create and share value. Willard is also a consultant and runs the Agentic Group, where experts discuss such lofty ideas (Disclosure: I’m a member).
For example: Food that comes with public audit trail enabled by blockchain would let a salmon eater know exactly which boat pulled their fish from what river. An industrious consumer could make sure that boat owner paid employees a living wage.
As you’ll see from our conversation, Willard hopes blockchain can directly reward people who do the hard work of creating, and disrupt centuries-old structures that keep people in poverty. But there is much work to be done.