Bitcoin to change the future of humanity: WeWork SA boss

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Stafford Masie, GM of WeWork SA and computer scientist.
Stafford Masie, GM of WeWork SA and computer scientist.

Bitcoin is the greatest gift mankind has ever received technologically, and has the power to change the future of humanity.

This was the word from Stafford Masie, computer scientist and GM of WeWork SA, addressing delegates in his personal capacity yesterday at the SingularityU South Africa Summit 2019, in Johannesburg.

Masie has been involved in the IT industry for more than 25 years, having worked closely with ICT companies including Telkom, Dimension Data, Novell and Google.

Delivering a presentation titled: “Reimagining the future of humanity”, Masie explained that artificial intelligence (AI) has the power to create shifts in technology adoption that deliver unimaginable services, enabling humans to do what was previously impossible, through symbiotic autonomous systems.

These systems, he added, are developed by companies whose sole responsibility is to create more value than they derive, revolutionising almost every aspect of day-to-day life, without completely taking over the human species.

Using Bitcoin as an example, Masie warned the audience to never underestimate the power of what is sometimes perceived as a “mediocre human innovation”.

“While hugely underestimated, Bitcoin, an AI in itself, will change the future of humanity more so than any other technological innovation. It is the greatest gift to mankind that we have ever gotten technologically, used for the exchange of value without an intermediary. The crypto wallet is misunderstood, misused, misrepresented and viewed as complicated, but it will revolutionise international trade.”

Referencing the introduction of the Internet in the 90s, Masie explained that when word had it that the Internet is expected to be revolutionary, many people were pessimistic and made remarks such as: “Yeah, whatever. But look at where we are today.

“While some people are investing in Bitcoin, others are still trying to figure it out, to get a better understanding of it, but we have never had anything like it that has the mechanism to exchange value without an intermediary,” he pointed out.

“What governments are worried about when they see Bitcoin is that it has incredible power, as a decentralised payment network that can immediate federal reserves and is 100% secure and un-hackable. It’s the exchanges that can be hacked, not the Bitcoin.”

While he was quick to point out its revolutionary impact won’t be felt anytime soon, Masie explained that Bitcoin will not be predominantly used by the first world economy (people who predominantly use credit and debit cards), nor will it be used by the informal economy – (people who predominantly use cash), but rather in time it will be predominantly used by those in the third economy.

“The third economy is an economy where people don’t have access to electronic forms of distributing value or cash, these people are still using animals as a form of trade. Think of the people who live two hours outside Shanghai, China’s central coast. They will use Bitcoin to trade and unlock international transactions outside of the existing frameworks in a manner that you and I cannot imagine.”

Tech makes trillion-dollar businesses

When building disruptive business models, Masie advised entrepreneurs not to build their strategy on the notion that these technologies will advance slowly, because they evolve incredibly fast – the same exponential speed businesses of today are evolving.

“Last year, we saw trillion-dollar-valued companies for the first time. In the next five to 10 years, we will see a trillionaire, for the first time in the history of mankind. This is likely someone who would have dealt with AI in a particular way.”

The top five companies in the world, which are all technology firms, represent the total value of all the S&P 500 companies, he added.

“When combined, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft’s net asset value represents the same value as S&P 500 companies combined and this is extraordinary because we have never seen the concentration of wealth like this in history. Combined, these companies have value that equates to the gross domestic product rates of some countries.”

When analysing the fibre of these companies, they are built on a common notion – they derive less value than they create, as co-creative companies which have created platforms of participation, he noted.

“Sustainability now in this new age is not selling products and services packaged in a beautiful way. That’s not good enough anymore. When you look at Apple, all the applications and business services that run in the Apple store, when combined are much bigger than Apple. These are businesses that derive less value than they create, by providing the architecture of human expression and that’s the fundamental law they are built on.”

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