Editor’s note: This was contributed by Patrick Dai, the founder of the Qtum Foundation. Patrick is a fellow at SUSS and was recently selected as one of Forbes China’s 30 under 30 for his contributions to consumer technology. Patrick was previously employed by Alibaba and has committed himself to the development of blockchain technology since 2012. 

What is Blockchain? What are tokens? What’s the meaning of the Qtum project? What’s the difference between Qtum, EOS, Ethereum, and every other blockchain? And, what’s the difference between an ICO and equity financing?

For many of these questions, it’s difficult to have an accurate understanding. There are many reasons for this problem. One being that blockchain technology is a combination of a concept change both technologically and organizationally, which can be difficult to explain.

Before 2014, industry didn’t have much of an idea as to what a blockchain is. From 2009–2014, industry practitioners just called everything a coin or a cryptocurrency. There was no mention of “blockchain” in Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper, but there was the phrase, “chain of blocks”. Since 2014, the industry has changed to advancing beyond the technology being used just for its financial attributes.

Blockchain networks themselves are a complex set of systems and software engineering, mathematical principles, cryptography, network architecture, consensus mechanisms, and economic models. Without the benefit of higher education in a science and engineering background, it can be difficult to understand.

Expecting everyone to understand the technology behind the blockchain, the innovations in the space and get an accurate understanding of the project, is similar to expecting everyone to understand the concept of partial derivatives in calculus, and binary entropy functions. For the most part, fewer than 1% of the population will ever truly understand all these different aspects that make the technology what it is.

This is why, most of the time, explaining blockchain technology to “CEOs,” “journalists,” or “anonymous” and having them try to make a judgment of a project is especially hard. No matter how intelligent a person is, most people limit their expertise to a particular field.

If blockchain technology itself were only a simple technological innovation, it wouldn’t have caused such a massive uproar among scientists, economists, mathematicians, government officials, the press and so forth. Blockchain is the essence of change in what we can conceptualize.

In the form of organization reconstruction, the transformation of social collaboration mechanisms, pooling together, blockchain is creating a new concept. This notion is difficult to recognize quickly, and even if we understand it clearly, it can be difficult to accept.

If someone told you, in the next 30 years, perhaps all the companies will disappear, everyone will say you are crazy. But this kind of “company” organizational structure has only existed for 300 years of thousands of years of human history.

Blockchain development can make humanity quickly establish a new kind of “organization structure,” and this kind of autonomous organization structure exists on the blockchain network, protocol, and in our minds. Everyone can grasp the idea of a company. But I feel the next era will be a protocol-based commonwealth.

A protocol-based commonwealth with the development of Internet and blockchain technology will make virtual organizations become mainstream in the next 10 to 20 years.