With his five MoneyInc.com articles on topics ranging from cryptocurrency to the influence of the gig economy, you may feel like you know Dr. Mir Emad Mousavi. However, there is so much more to him and his impressive background that makes him an expert.
Tell us a little about your background.
I am a data scientist with nearly 13 years of professional experience in oil, gas, infrastructure and IT industries. I received my PhD in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2013. In both my academic and professional spheres, I have focused on how data and technology influences decision-making in complex systems. I have applied that focus to all of my professional endeavors, most recently with QuiGig, a freelance marketplace platform that connects service buyers and sellers, and facilitates the hiring, execution and payment processes. However, unlike the others, we leverage advanced data science to deliver unique insights to our users, and we are decentralized thanks to blockchain technology.
What led you to create QuiGig?
The “Gig Economy” has been brewing for a long time now but it really has seen its growth explosion in the last five to ten years. People think of work differently, and technology has enabled workers and employers to redefine how they get things done. I started recognizing this trend in my academic work as well, and ultimately it led me to envision a new kind of marketplace, one that didn’t just provide job listings and resumes but actually used data to help make connections that would lead to the most successful outcomes, i.e.; high customer satisfaction, smooth transactions, repeat transactions and ongoing relationships between employers and service providers, etc.
We actually developed an artificial intelligence-based matching method for least risky prospects for both our employers and service sellers. It takes into account ratings and reviews, but also personality types and work styles and other microdata that leads to the best matches, fewer disputes and better outcomes for everyone. Decentralization is a big part of that goal too.
What made you prioritize decentralization?
I started learning about blockchain around the same time I started recognizing the need for a new marketplace platform. I quickly saw that the existing platforms were optimizing based on the needs of their customers, the employers, and not really looking out for the interests of the service providers. Then when I learned about the concept of decentralization through blockchain, I put the two ideas together.
At its core, decentralization is much about fairness. When you remove the central authority that has all the power, and the potential to abuse that power, both buyers and sellers can police themselves, to maintain a fair market balance. Obviously, there has to be some kind of technological infrastructure, a platform to host transactions and communications, and blockchain makes it possible without having to have a powerful middle man. Blockchain provides the infrastructure and the process involved to keep everything transparent, fair, and secure.
Blockchain helps us incentivize use engagements, and improve operational efficiencies to minimize the platform costs and thus fees. Blockchain also enables smart contracts, which help create a fair dispute management system, one that does not prioritize the needs of the employer over the needs of the worker.
We prioritize decentralization and the equitability blockchain can provide because it is important to maintain fairness in this community we’re trying to build. The Gig Economy exists because you have individuals, who may lack all the resources of a business, but who also have great ideas and passions and work ethic. We think they deserve the chance, the tools, to pursue those passions too, because they’re going to be the next big wave of innovators.
How do workers, who, as you said, don’t have access to the money or technology that large businesses do, access things like blockchain and AI?
They do it through platforms and applications, many of which are free and/or low cost. Your average freelancer probably has little to no knowledge of blockchain or its intricacies, so they don’t Google “blockchain job platforms;” instead they look for certain features and benefits. It’s blockchain that enables some of the security and fairness aspects they’re looking for, but they don’t have to know anything about blockchain to take advantage of them.
It’s the same with AI. Most of what AI does at this stage is automate processes and provide “predictions,” based on machine learning, and those functions have application in any number of areas. For our users, it means being able to make decisions for their businesses based on all the available information, leading to more favorable outcomes.
Speaking of predictions, where do you see these things—Blockchain, AI, the Gig Economy—going in the next few years?
Blockchain and AI are being explored in dozens of industries; as I mentioned, the operational efficiencies and automation capabilities really are thus far unmatched. Blockchain also has been a major disruptor in the field of data security.
I see the decentralized databases becoming more popular in the short term, but it will have long lasting ripple effects, as entire industries will have to shift to accommodate the new structure. In the long term, all the industries built on middlemen, the businesses whose revenue model is being paid to authenticate or verify an agreement or transaction will probably figure out a new value proposition.
The Gig Economy is predicted to comprise 40% of the U.S. workforce in the next few years, and I support that estimation. I think that will also cause a major shift in business infrastructure, as there will be legacy methods that don’t cut it anymore, and the need to shift other things to support this new kind of work. As I’ve already mentioned, I see this group having a huge influence on the technologies that are developed to give them access to the benefits that business enterprises take for granted.
As for the future of QuiGig, we want to be the support network that individuals don’t have to grow their businesses, and help facilitate that network among individuals. We’re incentivizing our users to help us build that community, with a great platform that rewards engagement and makes finding work and talent faster and easier than ever.