How will today’s healthcare systems change in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Confluent revolutions in biology and computer science will have profound effects on healthcare worldwide. New monitoring technologies will facilitate earlier diagnosis, precision treatment plans, and lower healthcare costs, while new understanding of the human genome and immune system will allow for better medicines and the empowerment of patients. Simultaneous revolutions in biology and technology, especially computer science, have created new devices, such as biometric sensors, that will disrupt the existing healthcare system along four major themes: speed of care, ability to manage illness, role of patients, and relationship between healthcare and stake holders. New technology will bring new medicines to patients much faster.  Innovation emerging in the nascent technological revolution will facilitate the universal digitization of medical records, biometric technology, and advances in medicinal knowledge, leading to new, better medicines and faster care for patients. New technology and advances in life sciences will allow physicians to manage chronic illnesses more effectively. As the convergence of the life science and biology revolutions develops, physicians will be able to diagnose illness much faster, apply personalized treatment plans, and monitor the progress of patients in real time. Universal connectivity and greater access to information will empower patients to take a greater role in their healthcare. As patients become better armed with their own research they will demand to be part of the conversation on their treatment plans.   New technology could disrupt the existing relationship between healthcare providers and their stakeholders. Technological revolutions are inherently disruptive to existing systems.  If the healthcare systems evolve through the life sciences and biology revolutions the relationship between healthcare providers and their stakeholders must evolves as well.   Data will be the underlying theme behind changes to healthcare over the next five years. The convergence of the two nascent revolutions will facilitate the collection of more data on both the body and brain than ever before.  From this data innovations in multiple healthcare sectors, such as the medical research, patient care, hospital infrastructure, and pharmaceuticals, will emerge. New data will allow for large leaps forward in medical research. For example, medical researches stand on the threshold of breakthroughs in the human genome. Greater quantities of relevant data on the human genome could allow for innovations that will allow physicians to predict illnesses before they happen. New technology will improve monitoring of patients, applying personalized treatment plans, and predictive medicine.  For example, the digitization of the immune system would facilitate the application of personalized medicine.  Moreover, biometric devices, could lead to scanning systems that fill the void between physician consultations, allowing for early treatment and prevention of chronic illnesses.   Faster and more widespread connectivity will have a profound impact on hospital infrastructure. The panel predicts that 5g technologies will begin to emerge in the coming year and will become widespread in the next few.  At the same time the ability split networks, or to create a slice of a mobile network available solely to a specific hospital, will increase the connectivity speed of hospitals a thousand times over.  5G and network slicing will decrease latency from 50 milliseconds to 1 millisecond, allowing for groundbreaking medical procedures such as remote robotic surgery, provided that security and privacy is properly protected. Better data on our bodies and brains will allow pharmaceutical researchers to develop new, better medicines. For example, in the next five years researchers could unlock the cure for cancer or the key to fighting obesity as long as the data collected is not hidden away in unreachable silos.  Emerging technologies will decrease healthcare inequality. Faster and more widespread connectivity, as well as new medical technologies will allow world-class healthcare to be provided to more people for less money. New technology will decrease the cost of healthcare worldwide. Almost two-thirds of healthcare costs come from noncommunicable diseases, like cancer and heart failure, which if caught early can be treated more effectively and for less cost.  New technology, especially biometric sensors, will allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment, saving billions of dollars in in-patient chronic treatments. High-speed connectivity will facilitate the creation of equal quality healthcare in both urban and rural areas. Currently, the greatest impediment to healthcare in rural areas is lack of connectivity, which can be solved with 5g networks.  Moreover, the ability to create a universal patient record at the population and individual leaders will decrease inequality.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.

And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.

It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.

In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.

Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.

This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?

We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?

Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?

Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.

Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.

These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.