The Digital Workplace in the Cognitive Era by Forbes

The Digital Workplace in the Cognitive Era by Forbes

The Digital Workplace in the Cognitive Era by Forbes. Positioning for the future: Intelligent IT for the Anytime, Anywhere Workforce


There is a tectonic shift in the way we work. We expect the same kind of intuitive, tactile experience with our workplace technology that we now take for granted with our smartphones, tablets and gaming systems. We expect our devices to talk to each other and update automatically. Virtual meetings should be as easy to set up as a video chat, and whatever we need to do our jobs should be as easy to tailor as a streaming music or video application.
“In the workplace, there is a shift from ‘one size fits all’ to a more personalized experience in IT support and service,” says Richard Esposito, general manager of IBM’s GTS Mobility Services. “Users want to choose their own devices, and they expect the kind of experience they have with consumer devices. At the same time, the idea of renting versus buying has transformed the way most organizations pay for new IT infrastructure. The infrastructure-as-a-service model has revolutionized the way IT resources can be deployed for many of our clients.”
Perhaps the most dramatic change to the digital workplace comes from the potential for cognitive support to combine intelligence and sentiment for a true sense-and-respond experience. Cognitive systems will change the workplace in ways we haven’t yet imagined.
There is no question that technology gives us more choices and better tools. Yet what most of us want is less complexity and, if we are paying for it, lower costs. Planning for the workplace of the future means striking the right balance between finding the right tools for each user today and accessing an infrastructure that can expand with the intelligence and the power of the technology of the future.
We will explore some of these shifts in the workplace through a series of publications beginning with “The Digital Workplace in the Cognitive Era.

Does the UN Security Council need reform?


Author: Jakkie Cilliers

The world is changing, but not the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Established by 51 countries 70 years ago, the UN now has 193 member states that coexist, compete and cooperate in a world that is very different from the situation in 1945.

Beyond a threefold increase in the global population, the rapidly changing world of the 21st century is characterised by a diffusion of power (away from states); an accompanying shift in relative material power and influence from the West to the East; and an ongoing transition from a brief period of unipolarity to multipolarity.

Transnational threats such as terrorism and cybercrime are straining national capacities, while globally armed conflict has been rising for several years; reversing the sharp downturns seen after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Yet we are stuck with a global peace and security governance architecture from the first half of the previous century. Greater multipolarity does not imply instability, but the global transitions that accompany these and other shifts in power are inherently disruptive. In short, in the years ahead, the world will need an effective and legitimate UNSC.

In the years that lie ahead, the world will need an effective and legitimate UNSC.

There is near unanimous consensus on the need for the UNSC to be reformed, but progress is rendered impossible by power politics. After the 1965 enlargement of the non-permanent members of the UNSC from six to 10 members, reform has been on the agenda since Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s appointment as secretary-general in 1992, but has delivered nothing. Meantime, the roles and influence of civil society organisations in global governance has expanded.

A new campaign by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) called Elect the Council advocates that civil society should bring its weight to bear on the task of major structural and procedural reform that would make the UNSC representative, allow it to retrieve its legitimacy and relevance, and enhance its effectiveness.

The ISS proposes a global initiative in which civil society and ordinary citizens use the power of an interconnected world to advocate for a specific set of fair and equitable proposals to amend the UN Charter. Our goal is to consult and develop a detailed set of proposals and then to establish a broad-based global partnership of civil society organisations. This partnership will work with states to ensure action by two-thirds of the members of the UN General Assembly, including the permanent five (P5) members, to reform the UNSC in line with the global norm of elected representation.

It is not possible to reform the UNSC without amending the UN Charter – and while only member states can effect such an amendment, they have repeatedly proven themselves unable to grasp this nettle on their own. In accordance with Article 109 of the UN Charter, Elect the Council will advocate for a simple majority of members of the UN General Assembly (currently 97 out of 193 members) and a vote by any seven members of the UNSC, for a General Conference of UN member states to amend the UN Charter. The amendment would subsequently need to be ratified by national legislatures as set out in the Charter.

Member states have repeatedly proven themselves unable to grasp this nettle on their own.

Civil society have not been actively engaged in UNSC reform to any meaningful extent, but the global village effect and the marked increase in new forms of instability (terrorism, cybercrime, events in Syria, etc.) demand new approaches. We do not intend to advocate for a commitment for reform – nominally that already exists – but rather on the precise modalities of such reform.

Consultation is important, but this cannot be an open-ended process and like member states, civil society will need to compromise in search of a common position based on principle. Our initial proposals are set out on the Elect the Council website. They are based on a formula of one five-year member per 24 countries, and double the number of five-year members to be elected for three-year terms. This gives a UNSC membership of 24 (similar in total to both option A and B contained in the 2005 report by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, titled In Larger Freedom), consisting of eight countries elected for five years, and 16 countries elected for three years.

The two distinct terms of membership – for three and five years respectively, based on minimum criteria – will allow for global powers and regional leaders to be re-elected on the five-year ticket, while the three-year category of membership would ensure flexibility and representativeness. We are currently looking at additional proposals that would encourage a transition from permanent seats and veto rights to normal elections and majorities.

The first version of our proposals also sets out a detailed position on the development of rules of procedure, voting, transitional arrangements and next steps, and is now open for comment at

By balancing fairness, transparency and efficiency, a new lease of life can be provided to an institution that will be tested as globalisation and shifts in power take their toll.

This article is published in collaboration with ISS Africa. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Jakkie Cilliers is the Executive Director and Head of African Futures and Innovation Section at ISS Africa.

Image: Members of the United Nations Security Council vote. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri.

3 reforms the UN needs as it turns 70


Author: Jeffrey D. Sachs

The United Nations will mark its 70th anniversary when world leaders assemble next month at its headquarters in New York. Though there will be plenty of fanfare, it will inadequately reflect the UN’s value, not only as the most important political innovation of the twentieth century, but also as the best bargain on the planet. But if the UN is to continue to fulfill its unique and vital global role in the twenty-first century, it must be upgraded in three key ways.

Fortunately, there is plenty to motivate world leaders to do what it takes. Indeed, the UN has had two major recent triumphs, with two more on the way before the end of this year.

The first triumph is the nuclear agreement with Iran. Sometimes misinterpreted as an agreement between Iran and the United States, the accord is in fact between Iran and the UN, represented by the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US), plus Germany. An Iranian diplomat, in explaining why his country will scrupulously honor the agreement, made the point vividly: “Do you really think that Iran would dare to cheat on the very five UN Security Council permanent members that can seal our country’s fate?”

The second big triumph is the successful conclusion, after 15 years, of the Millennium Development Goals, which have underpinned the largest, longest, and most effective global poverty-reduction effort ever undertaken. Two UN Secretaries-General have overseen the MDGs: Kofi Annan, who introduced them in 2000, and Ban Ki-moon, who, since succeeding Annan at the start of 2007, has led vigorously and effectively to achieve them.

The MDGs have engendered impressive progress in poverty reduction, public health, school enrollment, gender equality in education, and other areas. Since 1990 (the reference date for the targets), the global rate of extreme poverty has been reduced by well over half – more than fulfilling the agenda’s number one goal.

Inspired by the MDGs’ success, the UN’s member countries are set to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which will aim to end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere, narrow inequalities, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030 – next month. This, the UN’s third triumph of 2015, could help to bring about the fourth: a global agreement on climate control, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Paris in December.

The precise value of the peace, poverty reduction, and environmental cooperation made possible by the UN is incalculable. If we were to put it in monetary terms, however, we might estimate their value at trillions of dollars per year – at least a few percent of the world economy’s annual GDP of $100 trillion.

Yet spending on all UN bodies and activities – from the Secretariat and the Security Council to peacekeeping operations, emergency responses to epidemics, and humanitarian operations for natural disasters, famines, and refugees – totaled roughly $45 billion in 2013, roughly $6 per person on the planet. That is not just a bargain; it is a significant underinvestment. Given the rapidly growing need for global cooperation, the UN simply cannot get by on its current budget.

Given this, the first reform that I would suggest is an increase in funding, with high-income countries contributing at least $40 per capita annually, upper middle-income countries giving $8, lower-middle-income countries $2, and low-income countries $1. With these contributions – which amount to roughly 0.1% of the group’s average per capita income – the UN would have about $75 billion annually with which to strengthen the quality and reach of vital programs, beginning with those needed to achieve the SDGs. Once the world is on a robust path to achieve the SDGs, the need for, say, peacekeeping and emergency-relief operations should decline as conflicts diminish in number and scale, and natural disasters are better prevented or anticipated.

This brings us to the second major area of reform: ensuring that the UN is fit for the new age of sustainable development. Specifically, the UN needs to strengthen its expertise in areas such as ocean health, renewable energy systems, urban design, disease control, technological innovation, public-private partnerships, and peaceful cultural cooperation. Some UN programs should be merged or closed, while other new SDG-related UN programs should be created.

The third major reform imperative is the UN’s governance, starting with the Security Council, the composition of which no longer reflects global geopolitical realities. Indeed, the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG) now accounts for three of the five permanent members (France, the United Kingdom, and the US). That leaves only one permanent position for the Eastern European Group (Russia), one for the Asia-Pacific Group (China), and none for Africa or Latin America.

The rotating seats on the Security Council do not adequately restore regional balance. Even with two of the ten rotating Security Council seats, the Asia-Pacific region is still massively under-represented. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for roughly 55% of the world’s population and 44% of its annual income but has just 20% (three out of 15) of the seats on the Security Council.

Asia’s inadequate representation poses a serious threat to the UN’s legitimacy, which will only increase as the world’s most dynamic and populous region assumes an increasingly important global role. One possible way to resolve the problem would be to add at least four Asian seats: one permanent seat for India, one shared by Japan and South Korea (perhaps in a two-year, one-year rotation), one for the ASEAN countries (representing the group as a single constituency), and a fourth rotating among the other Asian countries.

As the UN enters its eighth decade, it continues to inspire humanity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the world’s moral charter, and the SDGs promise to provide new guideposts for global development cooperation. Yet the UN’s ability to continue to fulfill its vast potential in a new and challenging century requires its member states to commit to support the organization with the resources, political backing, and reforms that this new era demands.

This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.

Image: Tourists walk past the United Nations Headquarters in New York. At left is the U.N. General Assembly building and at right is the U.N. Secretariat building. REUTERS/Mike Segar

准则-全球挑战奖2017(Criteria-THE GLOBAL CHALLENGES PRIZE 2017)













1. 摘要(不超过1500字)


2. 模式叙述(不超过8200字)


3. 论证说明该模式是如何达到评估标准的(不超过4200字)




1. 核心价值观


2. 决策能力


3. 有效性


4. 资源和融资


5. 信任和洞察力


6. 灵活性


7. 防止滥用职权


8. 问责制




Today, mankind lives not only in national societies, but also in a global community. This means that the behavior and decisions of the inhabitants of nation states also impact the vital interests of inhabitants of other countries. Global warming may be the most obvious example: Greenhouse gas emissions in any particular country will have an impact on global climate change.

The world community is facing a number of major global challenges which have to be jointly managed by all countries through increased co-operation and an increased understanding of our interconnectedness. Other than climate change, the major problems and risks are other large-scale environmental damage and politically motivated violence (war, civil war, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction). Other major problems faced are extreme poverty and rapid population growth.

Rapid population growth – the global population has quadrupled over the last 100 years (which is one of the main reasons for the problem we face today), and is expected to increase by another 50 percent by the year 2100 – exacerbates all these problems. Despite this, and despite the knowledge that there are not nearly enough resources on the planet for the entire population of Earth to enjoy the current Western standard of living, the issue is not on the political agenda.

In order to manage these challenges, we need effective ways of making collectively binding, long-term decisions that take into account the interests of all those affected, including future generations. The system currently in place to manage these issues – including the UN and the organizations connected with the UN – are, in their present form, not up to the task. Today, these challenges are responded to using yesterday’s tools – multilateral negotiations which are susceptible to short-term national interests. As a consequence, the necessary action is either not taken or is taken too late, while the problems and risks continue to grow.

The Global Challenges  Foundation wants to challenge participants from all over the world to formulate alternatives to the present state of affairs – either by complementing, strengthening and revising the present UN system, or by proposing completely new forms of governance. The proposals should be drafted with the aim of identifying and, as far as possible, preventing or minimizing challenges of the kind mentioned above.

The Task

The participant must design a governance model able to effectively address the most pressing threats and risks to humanity. In other words, the task is not to come up with direct solutions to specific problems. Rather, it is to design a general model for decision-making, with the aim of generating such solutions and the ability to do so, and possessing the resources to effectively implement them.

The governance model must also be such that it can be implemented within the foreseeable future. This requires that it be acceptable to major states and the wider international community. A significant measure of civic acceptance is also required. This requirement eliminates models that rely on time-consuming and controversial changes in the political system of individual states, e.g. models that postulate that all states should be democracies.

Furthermore, the governance model must involve a minimum of limitations to the sovereignty of nation-states, meaning that it should involve only such limitations as are necessary to ensure that national decisions do not seriously harm the vital interests of inhabitants of other countries, or of humanity as a whole. In other words, decisions within the governance model must not deal with the internal affairs of individual states.

The entries must consist of the following three parts:

1. Abstract (no more than 1000 words)

The abstract must summarize the design of the model, including the institutions, regulations, decision-making paths and control mechanisms it involves, as well as how key individuals and other decision-making bodies are to be appointed.

2. Description of the Model (no more than 5500 words)

The document must be divided into subsections with clear and descriptive headings. The Participant must clearly define the functions of the various components, their areas of responsibility and the extent of their decision-making mandate. Also, describe how the model is meant to manage both current and emerging challenges and risks.

3. Argumentation demonstrating how the model meets the assessment criteria (no more than 2750 words)

For each of the criteria listed below, the participant must provide convincing arguments as to how the proposed model meets the criterion.

Assessment criteria

Entries will be assessed based on how well they can be expected to manage global challenges and meet the criteria listed below:

1. Core Values.

Decisions within the governance model must be guided by the good of all humankind and by respect for the equal value of all human beings.

2. Decision-Making Capacity.

Decision-making within the governance model must generally be possible without crippling delays that prevent the challenges from being adequately addressed (e.g. due to parties exercising powers of veto).

3. Effectiveness.

The governance model must be capable of handling the global challenges and risks and include means to ensure implementation of decisions.

4. Resources and Financing.

The governance model must have sufficient human and material resources at its disposal, and these resources must be financed in an equitable manner.

5. Trust and Insight.

The trust enjoyed by a successful governance model and its institutions relies on transparency and considerable insight into power structures and decision-making.

6. Flexibility.

In order to be able to fulfil its objectives effectively, a successful governance model must contain mechanisms that allow for revisions and improvements to be made to its structure and components.

7. Protection against the Abuse of Power.

A control system must be in place to take action if the organization should overstep its mandate, e.g. by unduly interfering with the internal affairs of nation-states or favouring the special interests of individuals, groups, organizations, states or groups of states.

8. Accountability.

It is a fundamental requirement of a successful governance model that it performs the tasks it has been charged with, and the governance model must include the power to hold the decision-makers accountable for their actions.

Want to solve global crises? $5 million prize seeks fresh ideas

Laurie Goering


LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As the world grapples with potentially catastrophic global problems, including climate change, it needs to find solutions by overcoming short-term thinking, risk analysts say.

To drive that, a Swedish risk specialist and philanthropist is offering a $5 million prize for the best idea to create a new international decision-making system capable of tackling the world’s intractable issues, from extreme poverty to the spread of nuclear weapons and growing environmental damage.

“Today’s risks are so dangerous and so global in their nature that they’ve outrun the international system’s ability to deal with them,” said László Szombatfalvy, who fled from Hungary to Sweden in 1956 as a refugee, and later made a fortune in the stock market.

“We’re trying to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s tools,” said the 89-year-old, who launched the Global Challenges Foundation in 2012. “We believe a new shape of collaboration is needed to address the most critical challenges in our globalized world.”

The New Shape Prize – which will be awarded next November, after entries close in May – aims to spur fresh thinking about innovative means to solve problems that cross borders and are hard to tackle when most political terms of office are short and many businesses and markets remain focused on near-term gains.

“The public and even the private sector are underestimating the risks because we are too short-sighted in our decision-making,” said Mats Andersson, a former CEO of Sweden’s largest pension fund and now head of Szombatfalvy’s foundation.


He points to continued government spending on fossil fuel subsidies, for instance, while many leaders resist efforts to put in place a carbon price and trading system that would drive richer countries to pay for their climate-changing emissions while giving poorer ones funds to develop cleanly.

Such a shift could help drive action against global warming. Instead, “we’re sending the bill to our kids and grandkids, and I think that’s deeply immoral”, said Andersson, who has worked on de-carbonizing pension funds.

A U.N.-brokered deal to tackle climate change, agreed by more than 190 countries in Paris last year, aims to limit global temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, by getting countries to deliver voluntary emissions reductions and financial contributions that could be ratcheted up over time.

But their pledges for the accord still leave the world on a path to at least 2.9 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial times – enough to swamp many low-lying island states, kill most coral reefs, drive food shortages and far more extreme weather, and potentially trigger melting of the biggest ice sheets, scientists say.

When it comes to solving global problems, “we have the United Nations, but the United Nations was founded in 1946, with the challenges we had at that time. We’re now some years down the road. We need to remodel and find new ways,” Andersson said.

The prize, he said, is not aimed at finding whole solutions to global threats such as climate change, wars and poverty, but rather “a model or mechanism that could provide the solutions”.

“We don’t have any preconceived views,” Andersson said. “We need to look in every corner, turn every stone.”


Rob Bailey, who directs energy, environment and resources research at London-based think tank Chatham House, said it is likely too late to craft an innovative new framework to limit climate change.

“Even if the politics for grand plans was possible, which we know is not the case at the moment, there isn’t enough time for grand plans anyway,” he said. Within two years, existing power plants will lock the world into more than 2 degrees of global warming if used over their full lifetime, he added.

But fresh approaches could help police and make more effective the Paris climate agreement’s voluntary goals, and verify what is being done by businesses, cities and other major players to curb climate-changing emissions, he said.

They could also offer new ways of dealing with the global problems climate change is set to worsen, from food shortages to migration, he said.

“What kind of global and international institutions will we need to have for a stable and resilient international order?” Bailey asked. “It raises questions for our food system, our humanitarian system, for international laws on refugees and asylum, (and) for social protection mechanisms.”

“These are the things we can be thinking about grand designs for, before things get really hairy from 2030 onward,” he said.

Entries for the New Shape Prize close on May 24, 2017, and the winning idea will be chosen by a panel of academic experts and a high-level international jury.

The Global Challenges Foundation will then back efforts to put that idea into practice, Andersson said.

(Reporting by Laurie Goering editing by Megan Rowling)





这种把人的天性情感升级为强制伦理就违背了人性,而且非常狠毒。因为他们借尊爱之名可以行强暴迫害之事。还有很多类似忠孝的,比如通奸,嫖娼。人本来有选择爱恨和尊卑的自由,如果套上枷锁就违背人性,滋生冤屈和悲剧。 中国的忠孝文化发展到极致,君君臣臣,父父子子,君要臣死臣不得不死,父要子忘不得不亡,还有三从四德等等,“官大一级压死人”等级森严。在这套伦理系统中,天子掌握一切生杀大权,这就是人治社会,因为没有更高的非人的法则和标准来限制这套人伦股则。

西方古代社会也有忠诚和尊老爱幼的伦理道德,为什么他们的人伦和社会制度没有发展到中国的忠孝伦理呢? 因为他们的尊爱天性没有儒家来绑架,圣经没有确定等级,只是宣传爱和平等。也许可以说,圣经是西方的伦理道德宪法,但是中国古代却没有类似圣经道德宪法。虽然君亲前面还有天地,但是这“天地”没有明确具体的伦理和道德标准。所以中国的伦理道德的标准实际上是掌握在最高的天子手中,因为忠于天子实际上是最高的古中国伦理,现在也许还是这样! 也许批判忠孝的意义在于此。










毫无疑问,在众多投资blockchain初创公司的投资者当中,银行无疑是最活跃的金融服务巨头。Capital One Financial(第一资本金融公司)、Citi Ventures(花旗风险投资公司)和Fiserv都已经成为blockchain初创公司Chain的投资者。



在最近的一份报告中,世界经济论坛认为,分散支付技术(比如比特币)可能会改变保持了100多年没有发生变化的资金转移业务的体系机构。 Blockchain能够绕过这些笨重的系统,并创建一个更加直接的付款流程。这将跨越国界、没有中介并且费用成本极低,而最关键的是这几乎在瞬间就可以完成转账。Abra是其中的一个例子,这是一家使用blockchain技术在全球范围内开展比特币业务的创业公司



blockchain分类账是公共的,并利用先进的加密技术发送经过验证的数据。这确保了数据的正确来源,同时在此期间没有任何临时截获。所以从这个角度来看,如果blockchain技术被更广泛的使用,黑客的概率很可能会下降,因为blockchain被认为比许多传统系统更加安全。而降低传统网络安全风险的方法就是消除几乎所有人类的中介机构。“通过消除必须的中间人,降低黑客腐败的潜在安全问题”Goldman Sachs写道。Guardtime是其中的一个例子,这家爱沙尼亚的创业公司,专注于研究blockchain工业级网络安全方法。







西班牙的一个名为Agora Voting的软件项目,还使用了加密技术使得网络投票变得更加安全,部分系统已经在西班牙进行了试验。近日,该项目的负责人表示比特币和blockchain能够适应于投票程序,虽然目前他们还处于早期试验阶段。



Visa 和DocuSign去年年底公布了一项合作,希望能够借助blockchain打造一个验证程序,并最终让消费者只需通过“点击、签名和开走”几个简单的步骤,就实现汽车租凭验证。潜在的客户选择他们想要的汽车租凭,然后进入blockchain公共事物分类账;客户坐在驾驶座上,就可以完成签订汽车租凭协议和一份保单,而blockchain将会更新这些信息。这并不是一个夸张的想象过程,随着技术的发展,未来的汽车销售很可能也会进入这个市场。








例如,抵押贷款可以通过blockchain,随着岁月的流逝自动执行条款。人们签订结婚证已经在使用Ethereum的智能合同程序,一种使用blockchain技术构建的分布式智能应用程序。另一个公司Hedgy,今年早些时候宣布从Tim Draper, Marc Benioff, Boost. vc 和 Sand Hill Angels处募集到120万美元的种子轮融资,则建立了一个平台,使得用户可以采用智能合同来洽谈比特币的价值。








由企业家Phil Barry带头成立的Ujo Music表示blockchain正在重建音乐产业。它希望解决流媒体音乐中如何向艺术家支付的问题。除了流媒体,Ujo还设想利用智能合同背后的自治大脑,更好的为艺术家和创作者建立目录。







Bettina Warburg: How the blockchain will radically transform the economy

Economists have been exploring people’s behavior for hundreds of years: how we make decisions, how we act individually and in groups, how we exchange value. They’ve studied the institutions that facilitate our trade, like legal systems, corporations, marketplaces. But there is a new, technological institution that will fundamentally change how we exchange value, and it’s called the blockchain.
Now, that’s a pretty bold statement, but if you take nothing else away from this talk, I actually want you to remember that while blockchain technology is relatively new, it’s also a continuation of a very human story, and the story is this. As humans, we find ways to lower uncertainty about one another so that we can exchange value.
Now, one of the first people to really explore the idea of institutions as a tool in economics to lower our uncertainties about one another and be able to do trade was the Nobel economist Douglass North. He passed away at the end of 2015, but North pioneered what’s called “new institutional economics.” And what he meant by institutions were really just formal rules like a constitution, and informal constraints, like bribery. These institutions are really the grease that allow our economic wheels to function, and we can see this play out over the course of human history.
If we think back to when we were hunter-gatherer economies, we really just traded within our village structure. We had some informal constraints in place, but we enforced all of our trade with violence or social repercussions. As our societies grew more complex and our trade routes grew more distant, we built up more formal institutions, institutions like banks for currency, governments, corporations. These institutions helped us manage our trade as the uncertainty and the complexity grew, and our personal control was much lower. Eventually with the internet, we put these same institutions online. We built platform marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, just faster institutions that act as middlemen to facilitate human economic activity.
As Douglass North saw it, institutions are a tool to lower uncertainty so that we can connect and exchange all kinds of value in society. And I believe we are now entering a further and radical evolution of how we interact and trade, because for the first time, we can lower uncertainty not just with political and economic institutions, like our banks, our corporations, our governments, but we can do it with technology alone.
So what is the blockchain? Blockchain technology is a decentralized database that stores a registry of assets and transactions across a peer-to-peer network. It’s basically a public registry of who owns what and who transacts what. The transactions are secured through cryptography, and over time, that transaction history gets locked in blocks of data that are then cryptographically linked together and secured. This creates an immutable, unforgeable record of all of the transactions across this network. This record is replicated on every computer that uses the network.
It’s not an app. It’s not a company. I think it’s closest in description to something like Wikipedia. We can see everything on Wikipedia. It’s a composite view that’s constantly changing and being updated. We can also track those changes over time on Wikipedia, and we can create our own wikis, because at their core, they’re just a data infrastructure. On Wikipedia, it’s an open platform that stores words and images and the changes to that data over time. On the blockchain, you can think of it as an open infrastructure that stores many kinds of assets. It stores the history of custodianship, ownership and location for assets like the digital currency Bitcoin, other digital assets like a title of ownership of IP. It could be a certificate, a contract, real world objects, even personal identifiable information. There are of course other technical details to the blockchain, but at its core, that’s how it works. It’s this public registry that stores transactions in a network and is replicated so that it’s very secure and hard to tamper with.
Which brings me to my point of how blockchains lower uncertainty and how they therefore promise to transform our economic systems in radical ways. So uncertainty is kind of a big term in economics, but I want to go through three forms of it that we face in almost all of our everyday transactions, where blockchains can play a role. We face uncertainties like not knowing who we’re dealing with, not having visibility into a transaction and not having recourse if things go wrong.
So let’s take the first example, not knowing who we’re dealing with. Say I want to buy a used smartphone on eBay. The first thing I’m going to do is look up who I’m buying from. Are they a power user? Do they have great reviews and ratings, or do they have no profile at all? Reviews, ratings, checkmarks: these are the attestations about our identities that we cobble together today and use to lower uncertainty about who we’re dealing with. But the problem is they’re very fragmented. Think about how many profiles you have. Blockchains allow for us to create an open, global platform on which to store any attestation about any individual from any source. This allows us to create a user-controlled portable identity. More than a profile, it means you can selectively reveal the different attributes about you that help facilitate trade or interaction, for instance that a government issued you an ID, or that you’re over 21, by revealing the cryptographic proof that these details exist and are signed off on. Having this kind of portable identity around the physical world and the digital world means we can do all kinds of human trade in a totally new way.
So I’ve talked about how blockchains could lower uncertainty in who we’re dealing with. The second uncertainty that we often face is just not having transparency into our interactions. Say you’re going to send me that smartphone by mail. I want some degree of transparency. I want to know that the product I bought is the same one that arrives in the mail and that there’s some record for how it got to me. This is true not just for electronics like smartphones, but for many kinds of goods and data, things like medicine, luxury goods, any kind of data or product that we don’t want tampered with.
The problem in many companies, especially those that produce something complicated like a smartphone, is they’re managing all of these different vendors across a horizontal supply chain. All of these people that go into making a product, they don’t have the same database. They don’t use the same infrastructure, and so it becomes really hard to see transparently a product evolve over time.
Using the blockchain, we can create a shared reality across nontrusting entities. By this I mean all of these nodes in the network do not need to know each other or trust each other, because they each have the ability to monitor and validate the chain for themselves. Think back to Wikipedia. It’s a shared database, and even though it has multiple readers and multiple writers at the same time, it has one single truth. So we can create that using blockchains. We can create a decentralized database that has the same efficiency of a monopoly without actually creating that central authority. So all of these vendors, all sorts of companies, can interact using the same database without trusting one another. It means for consumers, we can have a lot more transparency. As a real-world object travels along, we can see its digital certificate or token move on the blockchain, adding value as it goes. This is a whole new world in terms of our visibility.
So I’ve talked about how blockchains can lower our uncertainties about identity and how they change what we mean about transparency in long distances and complex trades, like in a supply chain. The last uncertainty that we often face is one of the most open-ended, and it’s reneging. What if you don’t send me the smartphone? Can I get my money back? Blockchains allow us to write code, binding contracts, between individuals and then guarantee that those contracts will bear out without a third party enforcer. So if we look at the smartphone example, you could think about escrow. You are financing that phone, but you don’t need to release the funds until you can verify that all the conditions have been met. You got the phone.
I think this is one of the most exciting ways that blockchains lower our uncertainties, because it means to some degree we can collapse institutions and their enforcement. It means a lot of human economic activity can get collateralized and automated, and push a lot of human intervention to the edges, the places where information moves from the real world to the blockchain.
I think what would probably floor Douglass North about this use of technology is the fact that the very thing that makes it work, the very thing that keeps the blockchain secure and verified, is our mutual distrust. So rather than all of our uncertainties slowing us down and requiring institutions like banks, our governments, our corporations, we can actually harness all of that collective uncertainty and use it to collaborate and exchange more and faster and more open.
Now, I don’t want you to get the impression that the blockchain is the solution to everything, even though the media has said that it’s going to end world poverty, it’s also going to solve the counterfeit drug problem and potentially save the rainforest. The truth is, this technology is in its infancy, and we’re going to need to see a lot of experiments take place and probably fail before we truly understand all of the use cases for our economy. But there are tons of people working on this, from financial institutions to technology companies, start-ups and universities. And one of the reasons is that it’s not just an economic evolution. It’s also an innovation in computer science.
Blockchains give us the technological capability of creating a record of human exchange, of exchange of currency, of all kinds of digital and physical assets, even of our own personal attributes, in a totally new way. So in some ways, they become a technological institution that has a lot of the benefits of the traditional institutions we’re used to using in society, but it does this in a decentralized way. It does this by converting a lot of our uncertainties into certainties.
So I think we need to start preparing ourselves, because we are about to face a world where distributed, autonomous institutions have quite a significant role.
Thank you.
Bruno Giussani: Thank you, Bettina. I think I understood that it’s coming, it offers a lot of potential, and it’s complex. What is your estimate for the rate of adoption?
Bettina Warburg: I think that’s a really good question. My lab is pretty much focused on going the enterprise and government route first, because in reality, blockchain is a complex technology. How many of you actually understand how the internet works? But you use it every day, so I think we’re sort of facing the same John Sculley idea of technology should either be invisible or beautiful, and blockchain is kind of neither of those things right now, so it’s better suited for either really early adopters who kind of get it and can tinker around or for finding those best use cases like identity or asset tracking or smart contracts that can be used at that level of an enterprise or government.
BG: Thank you. Thanks for coming to TED.
BW: Thanks.



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斯德哥尔摩综合症是指犯罪的被害者对于犯罪者产生情感,甚至反过来帮助犯罪者的一种情结。这个情感造成被害人对加害人产生好感、依赖心、甚至协助加害人。 西方心理学家这样解释斯德哥尔摩综合症: 人质会对劫持者产生一种心理上的依赖感。他们的生死操在劫持者手里,劫持者让他们活下来,他们便不胜感激。他们与劫持者共命运,把劫持者的前途当成自己的前途,把劫持者的安危视为自己的安危。




























北欧小国瑞典的斯德哥尔摩市,在1973年8月,二个劫匪进入银行抢劫,扣押六个银行职员作人质与警察对峙达六天之久。终于劫匪 被制服,人质获救。这本来是一件普通的刑事案,就像世界各地经常发生的银行劫案一样,按说很快就会被人们忘得干干淨淨。可是不然,下面发生的事让瑞典人大 跌眼镜,以为活见鬼了。

受害人被救出后,受害人对救他们的警察不感谢,对获救也不高兴,反而对警察不信任、甚至表现出明显的敌意,好像解救他们的警察到成了破坏他们 “美好生活”的敌人似的。受害人对警察的调查取证工作也採取坚决不合作的态度,致调查取证工作困难重重。如不是媒体此前进行了长达六天的现场报导,让全世 界都知道了劫匪的罪行,这眼前的态势恐怕会让警察都要犯嘀咕:这是不是幻觉?是不是真的发生过抢劫?是不是把见义勇的好人错当成劫匪啦?尤让人惊奇的是, 其中有一个受害人竟然爱上了劫匪,非他不嫁,为了表示决心,跑到监狱里去和劫匪订婚;还有一个受害人被解救后,急不可待要干的第一件事情就是成立一个基金 会,奔走呼号,到处募捐,为的是筹钱,打算高价请名牌律师替劫匪辩护、脱罪。真是天下怪事,于斯为盛。瑞典举国一片哗然,这是怎么啦?

为了解答人们心中的疑惑,瑞典国会拨出巨款,成立专门机构对这事件进行研究。经过十年努力,广征博採,最后得出了结论:这些人质之所以表现出 如此怪诞的行为,是因为他们患上了一种心理疾病。这种心理疾病並不是天外飞仙,並不是突然出现的新病种,而是源远流长,几乎与人类漫长的进化历程相伴相 依,是老掉了牙的。只不过有时症状不大典型、不太突出,常常被人忽略,致使人不知道有这种疾病存在而已。这一次由于各种机缘湊巧,受害人表现出这种心理疾 病的极其典型、极其突出的特征,这才引起了注意。从此,人们把这种心理疾病命名为“斯德哥尔摩综合症”。

一, 受害人生命受到严重威胁;



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