In the past I’ve made some harsh comments about NFTs – comments that my editors at the Tech Report ultimately needed to cut to keep #youpeople from catching hurt feelings. As the edge lord of “often wrong and never in doubt,” I am here to potentially set the record straight and eat my words. I say “potentially” because if anybody can be wrong about one thing twice, it’s ya boy!
What’s the Current State?
Right now, NFTs are, indeed, dumb. That is if we’re talking about investing serious money into cartoon images on the internet. Please don’t buy this stuff. Hey, it’s your money though. You do you. There are so many Wolf of Wall Street wannabes out there on the internet willing to pay thousands of dollars for silly cartoons. Sure, they have every right to spend their money on a “priceless” digital gallery of things you can cut and paste from Google images. I’ve heard people claim that “NFTs can be considered modern-day collectibles.” Psh! If by “modern-day collectibles,” they mean modern-day Beanie Babies, then yes. I guess I can see an NFT coming with a Happy Meal.
And yet, despite all this, I fully support creating NFTs!
What Are NFTs?
OK, seriously, what is a “non-fungible token” (NFT), and what does any of it mean? An NFT is a digital token on a blockchain that records ownership of a digital product – it’s not the digital product itself – and declares that it’s unique and cannot be reproduced. As the NFT is sold (by the manufacturer or secondhand), the ownership record is updated on the blockchain. Imagine owning Kanye West’s digital copy of Taylor Swift’s second album.
What Does the Future Hold?
Despite the firestorm of critics and proponents, NFTs, like the blockchain, really are the future of digital transactions and cybersecurity. CD keys, airline passes, and paper tickets will be a thing of the past as they get replaced by NFTs. It’s gonna be everywhere, so people are trying to find a way to invest in it since it’s essentially an evolved application of the blockchain concept.
But investing in NFTs can be dangerous, so enter at your own risk. Right now, the crypto and NFT space boasts a Gold Rush or Wild West-like atmosphere where scams and conflicts abound. Several high-profile instances of NFT lawsuits, mis-sales, and hacking have popped up in recent months, including February’s phishing attack on the OpenSea NFT marketplace and the more recent Bored Ape Yacht Club hack, both of which cost users millions. Instead of throwing your money away at JPEGs, perhaps would-be investors should explore the companies underpinning the blockchain and NFT technology, creating faster, cheaper, and more sustainable ways to implement NFTs.
How long will this continue? It’s hard to say. But technology companies, marque brands, and futurists alike seem to be signaling that they’re open to NFT adoption. Eventually, we won’t talk about bad drawings that fetch six figures or more from too-rich-for-their-own-good buyers. NFTs will be attached instead to every digital product we own: movies, e-books, music, video games, downloadable content, skins – they’ll even serve as digital receipts, certificates of authenticity, and e-memberships for physical goods, particularly among luxury brands like Lamborghini. We won’t necessarily refer to them by name, but we will be interacting with them on a regular basis.
Use Cases in Manufacturing
And what of manufacturing? Here’s a very basic example: NFT adoption will allow additive design files being sold online to be resold – and, in some instances, manufacturers could receive a cut with each resale. Digital twin files could allow prospective buyers to “try out” the technology before buying the whole shebang. While some argue that NFTs create solutions for problems that don’t exist, they may also be creating new business opportunities and social pathways. After all, advancements like the PC, internet, and cell phones arrived with plenty of naysayers. Even now, “cell phones” are mobile devices that are rarely used as phones and will eventually be technically described as MHIs (machine-human interfaces – see what I did there?) which allow our tech overlords to monitor our usefulness and energy/natural resource consumption as we continue our evolution into becoming cybernetic ... I’ll stop now.
What Can Be Done Now?
Sit and wait. Check in from time to time, but focus on bigger, more important things. I hope you didn’t read all this for investment help because I’m not trying to get sued, and none of this is financial advice. Right now, in my opinion, the investment potential of NFTs is hidden behind a smokescreen of hype. But I do think even we in the manufacturing industry can see a bright future as the security promised by blockchain is a micron closer to becoming a viable solution … for something.