Blockchain: ethical promise and caution

Blockchain promises to end fraudulent transactions by instantaneous and redundant recording of every step from first producer to end user. Because blockchain happens in the cloud, hackers may be able to commit untraceable fraud not necessarily in the blockchain itself but among its many peripheral apps and services.

On one hand, blockchain promises to increase productivity and reduce back office costs dramatically. On the other hand, what happens to all those people when the accounting department radically downsizes?

Two ethical conundrums, complicated by the opposing constituency with which one most empathizes. A low tolerance for Internet transactions or a high value on job stability means quite a different decision than if one defaults toward advanced technology or efficient throughput.

Ah, the joy of disruption.

In this case, it appears that the promise of blockchain calculating outweighs the unintended negative consequences. Anything that promotes more honest markets tends to promote overall human welfare.

Questions for The Ethics Award

  1. How do you decide when to employ innovative technology when doing so eliminates jobs?
  2. What does the promise of a fraud-free commodity exchange do for trade in emerging markets?
  3. Many types of people, not the least accountants, prefer gradual infrastructure change. How do you make innovation easier at your place?
  4. If you’re a CFO, what causes you to resist blockchain technology?
  5. What can you do to prepare your people for disruptions that eliminate jobs?

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