Potential, yes, blockchain technology has an incredible amount of it. In mine and many others' opinions, it is undoubtedly the next tech revolution. However, it threatens so much of the status quo of our society. It has the potential to be the basic building block of an incredibly interesting future.
Blockchain is still very misunderstood, seen by most as the underlying technology allowing cryptocurrencies. It's much more than that. The foundation of blockchain is trust through identifiability, reliability by immutability, and decentralization. A block of blockchain is a set of data, a multitude of transactions pushed together and then encrypted. Each block in a blockchain is unique, which makes it completely identifiable. The blockchain can technically not be modified because it builds itself on previous data, blocks/records can therefore be public and immutable. Decentralization allows for a system to be less vulnerable but also spread responsibility and power over the chain instead of concentrating it one place. All of this allows for the building of new systems built entirely around blockchain, ensuring an incredible amount of efficiency and reliability. Blockchain's security can alleviate trust issues, and each individual party can have responsibility in the systems they are part of. From currency, to services and transfers of assets between entities, to systems like government, lawmaking and law enforcement, shared databases for research, and much more. An important thing to note here is that not all blockchains are created equal; the way a blockchain is developed will greatly impact what it can do. That is the fundamental difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum. Therefore, a truly performant blockchain system could be seamless with applications, the internet, you name it. So how can systems be replaced by a blockchain counterpart?
It's starts with how it's built. A blockchain is essentially two things: data and software. By organizing the data in a specific way, many different operations can be done on it. This is pretty much the basis of Computer Science. Apps that run on the blockchain are called D-apps. The data within a block will depend highly on what kind of system this is designed for. Imagine something that could be modular, to work with many different applications. This would mean that the blocks would have a similar build in terms of data, but would be read differently depending on a "state" or a bit. Each of these would be assigned to a type of service: D-RydeS for ridesharing, D-Liver for food orders, D-TF for money transfers, you get the gist. Might I add D-TheSummon to buy unique RGB lights and accessories? Anyways, when simplifying the equation, the common recipe is a customer, a service provider, a value, and a provided service. The state really is like a switch between apps and the same blockchain can theoretically support an infinite amount of apps.
This is still simplifying, but Ethereum already functions under similar rules. We've seen a lot advantages so why are we not seeing wide adoption yet? There are a few reasons, but the main ones are that blockchain is still very misunderstood, and it is quite slow compared to traditional computing. Its complexity makes it that it is difficult to understand, making increasing adoption a difficult and slow process. The technology being developed for it evolves at a similar rate as its adoption. Efficiency in speed and energy consumption can greatly stand to improve. You might have heard this already, but blockchain technology presently consumes as much energy as entire countries. Recent strides have improved the hardware used to process the data, but this is far from enough in the majority opinion for a viable blockchain future.
My vision of such a future can be summarized by the word reliability. An extensive set of automatically enforceable rules for success and failure and everything in between would make settlements both efficient and reliable. A law system taking the best of our current one, but also pushing forward regulation on topics like ethics on the internet, the SEC, lobbying, settlements, and deep seeded corruption. Citizens would be supported by automated technologies powering cities, transport, agriculture, and other infrastructure. The concept of money could somewhat disappear. Work would become duty; citizens would be focused on fixing the systems surrounding them and improving them. Reforming even governmental systems like politics could allow voting systems of all kinds to empower the population instead of relying on the petty promises of politicians. That's potential.