The nature of work and education is changing, and we’re part of the vanguard of that change.

Author Anastasiia Marushevska

Adam Dorfman is an international speaker, author, founder of ifwhenthen and a philosopher of the future. He’s dedicated his recent career to pursuing the concept of the blockchain platform business models, the philosophy of science and how all of these will change the nature of work and education.

What is the IfWhenThen platform?

  • Our mission: To organize the world’s non formal education programs for an evolving job marketplace.
  • Vision: To become the company most well known for changing the global perception of non formal education
  • Core Purpose: to facilitate global employment outcomes in non formal education

Their objective is to reduce the global knowledge gap by introducing a competitive search ranking system in the non formal education ecosystem, then to connect the top training programs to global employers.

We need to find a balance between centralized and decentralized higher education communities for the future of jobs. This is currently the most important structural change coming!

In doing so, they hope to discover a sweet spot between the formal and non formal educational ecosystems to the benefit of society.

I sat down with Adam to discuss the future in various fields and agreed that scenes from sci-fi movies are still not here. But it can be soon, if we start take the time to understand what truly motivates people towards skill mastery.

About the philosophy of the future

Do I think about myself as a philosopher? I think that my philosophy informs my beliefs in what people will need in the future. So I feel my philosophy enables me to look forward, while logic works well for daily tasks.

If you wanna do something innovative, I don’t think you need to have logic, you need philosophy and to find misconceptions.

My philosophy is that our understanding of reality will always be incomplete so, there’s always gonna be something going on, there’s always some way to make it better.

We are most motivated to learn when we have autonomy, the perception of choice and a sense of connection to the future. (step by step challenges towards mastery)

This is the basis of self-determination motivational theory and non linear learning.

The current education system is too centralized and rigid in its approach preventing it from unlocking the motivation of millions of people to prepare for the future of jobs.

Regarding the future of education

When I look at the university with a 4-year degree, where they tell you what you’ve got to learn, who you’re gonna learn it from — I don’t think it’s motivating. Especially, when it takes so much time. When I look at things that are changing I don’t see how any country is gonna survive with an old type of system because it’s gonna lead to a massive loss of motivation. And, people will become very upset when they graduate and can’t find a job.

The most important thing is to create a more open community that provides skills to students that employers need.

The purpose of my platform is to grow the non formal learning ecosystem and decentralize higher education into new learning communities. Defining learning communities is also important, so any type of course you take can be completed in less than 1 year and help you to improve your skills towards mastery.

Given the recent technological trends, we believe there are strong forces that will continue to support the decentralization of higher education in more flexible communities — in the future nobody will have time to go four years to relearn, upgrade or change professions.

We need learning experience to much quicker and less centralized so that it can more easily adjust to the changing economy. So the platform is really about a search engine, social network and blockchain to increases the trust employers and students have in non formal learning communities. The ecosystem is extremely fragmented and there’s lots of noise, so its important that communities and speakers are able to establish a reputation that can carry them to some other spheres and provide them with the visibility needed on a local and global stage.

Most of the new type of curators and speakers at these communities, come from the private sector because they have a better ear to the ground on things that are changing. In the search engine and social network, students are going to decide who is the best in these emerging fields and who is the best in adapting and changing. We’ll be following different reputation indicators and this will play a role on the community and speaker rankings.

Right now, you don’t get to choose your professor at the university, the pathway to completion is long, and you don’t get to choose the material. The materials are used in a classroom are often directly related to the professors personal connections or his own authored books. Over time, the content of these books has become disconnected with the reality in the private sector and scientific advancements.

For example, 5 of 5 of America’s largest companies by market capitalization are platform business models. (Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook)

Traditional economics is being replaced with more modern knowledge about platform economics. But, only a handful of elite Universities teach the new knowledge on platform economics.

The future of jobs

The world economic forum estimates that 65% of children who are in elementary school will be doing jobs that don’t exist yet. I feel the most important skill that people can learn, is the ability to deal with emergence in a system. If you can recognize the larger system changes, then all the new tools become more relevant.

For the last six months I’ve been doing a presentation in Central and Eastern Europe about called the “The Future of Jobs: How Blockchain Platform Business Models Will Change the Nature of Work.”

I’ve given different variations of this presentation more than 50 times to innovation labs, co-working spaces, private corporations. In this presentation I explore the misconceptions of blockchain and platform business models, and how they can unlock more productive behaviors.

One of the biggest differences in Eastern Europe is that people are open to misconceptions. They’re open to the idea that there may be a better way of doing something. The problem in the developed countries is that they’re called developed which assumes that everything’s been done.

Eastern Europe has the potential to skip outdated ways of doing things and become a leader in these new business models.

The Future of Entrepreneurship

Jack Ma says that over the next 30 years 90% of all business will be done through the digital platform business models. The digitization of our interaction is enabling these new business models to emerge, so it’s important to understand how they work.

A platform is about interactions. So you’re not building technologies — you’re enabling interactions.

One of the major differences between platform business model and a linear business model which is defended like castle (the traditional business controls everything to prevent competition) — there’s a big gate so you can’t access.

It uses gatekeepers to control what comes in and out, so it’s very hard for the business to scale, the infrastructure is very intensive and this leads to major market inefficiencies.

The platform business model drives market market efficiencies by removing the gatekeepers which reduces friction and the barriers to open participation. Platforms then use the data obtained from the digitization of the ecosystem interactions to enable new value exchanges.

The more frequently someone has a positive interaction, the less likely he/she will leave — that’s the new defensible strategy. Over time the user becomes invested into the platform and ecosystem. The traditional business model is more process driven while platform economics is focuses on understanding interactions and ecosystems.

It’s that you’re actually measuring these interactions, measuring the fact that the persons are enjoying themselves using a product or a service and working to prevent any interaction failures.

In a restaurant business, they normally say that you have to market to 3 positive interactions. So one is not enough, you need 3 in a row and then the person realizes “I love this place, I want to come back”. The same thing with platforms.

Uber is a great example. It addressed the need for a global reputation system for taxi services, and it makes it pretty convenient to gather around. When you travel to a new city, you now frequently have great interactions with transportation and it’s easy to get around. When you use the service, the driver has a reputation to uphold, and so do you. The more good experiences you have, the more likely you are to come back. Over time, the network effects emerges.

One thing that is consistent with every platform it that every platform allows somebody to do unleash a new supply of something. So it aggregates all the supply and then unlocks it in a new way. For example, when YouTube was created, it provided people with tools to upload videos, and then anyone could become a local or global celebrity.

Instagram — they created tools and rules and also anyone can become a professional photographer. In Facebook you could connect with anybody, in Airbnb you could rent your apartment. So it engages people in completely a new way and it connects demand and supply new ways. Things they couldn’t do before. Like you could become a taxi driver quickly, build a good reputation and I could find. That was impossible before, the demand had a limited supply of options.

The best platform unlocks some kind of new behavior that people want and feel like it helps them to progress in life and so then it communicates to them. It’s about creating an ecosystem, establishing partnerships in the industry, integrating and facilitating the interactions between global networked marketplaces.

A lot of people, who build platforms, forget about that process. Like it’s not good enough to build up technology — it’s about enabling interactions.

About the future itself

People think that it’s like this sci-fi future or like an utopian one. In my opinion, it’s not of those two. The future is about exploration, access and learning.

At the end of the day an AI is another misconception in the sense that machine biases are human biases. So humans can never be unbiased. There’s always some form of a bias and therefore when we program an AI machinery our biases are in AI.

We use today’s logic to program computers, but that logic will always need to be updated as we learn more about the world and ourselves.

With a platform business model we are able to remove the gatekeepers but but the centralized platform controls all the data. When these platforms such as Facebook pursue a profit maximizing strategy, and have complete control over our personal data, it can create many problems. With Blockchain, the technology promises to give the user more control over his/her personal data. While the ecosystem data will be in a shared data layer, meaning it will be available for everyone to see — no single entity will own it.

At the end of the day we can’t use an AI in any broad decisions because we know very little about ourselves and our biases. AI decisions are best used in narrow applications and routine tasks: speech recognition, image recognition and situations that don’t require much context. The future is about access to the ecosystem data so that we can better understand ourselves.


Industries like space exploration and industries that we have been unable to do because we are too busy doing these routine jobs, they’re going to become super in demand.

You can’t automate things that you’ve never done before. And, as we learn more, we’ll need to update the logic that we use in these technologies.

Now that’s where ifwhenthen comes up to — while we don’t think University program will disappear, we think there’s a better distribution between centralized and decentralized learning. A sweet spot between the two that can dynamically adjust to reflect emerging technologies in the marketplace and changing employer needs.

The biggest problem right now is how many people understand these technologies and that’s what is limiting our development.

The future is already here, the knowledge is just not yet evenly distributed. — Gibson:

There’s a danger because there’s a sense that technology can solve everything with an algorithm or online courses. That’s why the most important thing right now is decentralizing higher education to include more offline experiences by using IF WHEN THEN thinking.

This will help people to start asking the right questions through a dynamic process of self-determination. Effectively giving people the ecosystem information to make more market efficient decisions towards working in the private sector, as an start-up entrepreneur or innovator.

Enabling them to connect with the best communities and leaders to better understand the limitations of these technologies, how they can truly assist and augment us.

Then you really see the future emerge in a sort of sci-fi movies.

The Original Version was published in L-A-B-A