ENR FutureTech 2018 Blockchain Panel

Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Production are the Holy Grail of blockchain applications due to their very high impact on an economy, the intrinsic value that they articulate, and their data intensive environments. The EngTech sector also presents many challenges due to the technical nature of the work, high sunk costs and unforgiving consequences of failure. The day is quickly approaching where Blockchain may become applicable to the built environment at a comprehensive and integrated scale. There will be a right way and there will be a wrong way to go about this process.

The first key point is that all construction and engineering professionals need to work together to build a native blockchain platform and shared body of knowledge that applies specifically to the realities of engineering, engineers, and the physical state of the world. If we do not do so ourselves, we run the risk of “Uberization of Engineering” … The emergence of a third party platform that neither creates engineering data nor consumes engineering data, yet is positioned to harvest, broker, and control engineering data at scale and finality.

The second point is that Engineering is now in the unique position, with blockchain technology, to measure our economic contribution to society differently than in the past. Instead of measuring ourselves by the consumption of products that we enable, we can capitalize our intrinsic value by measuring the systemic risk removed from the economy due to engineering creations, such as durable and safe roads, building, transportation systems, and infrastructure, etc. This now allows engineers to articulate value directly, effectively bypassing the legacy consumption cycle of 18th Century economics. This opportunity has never before existed.

The future job of the engineer will be to adjudicate the representation of the physical world to the virtual world. This simple, scaleable, and repetitive use case is applicable to nearly every industry from Aerospace to Energy, across nearly all technologies from AI, IoT, BIM, digital twins, and multiple economic sectors from Finance, to Insurance. To capture the value created by engineers is to capture 80% of the value created by society. Blockchain is the domain of engineering like no other.

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