How blockchain technology can be used for social good was discussed in a recent event held in NewYork City. Speakers included John Paul Farmer, director of technology and civic innovation at Microsoft. Brian Forde, MIT MediaBI Lab director of digital currency and former technology adviser to the White House.
Some of the other speakers were Ryan Shea, CEO of OneName, Chelsea Barabas, Ann Sim and Peter Kirby. The speakers led a discussion on the use of blockchain for various social reasons.
Some of the main ideas discussed in the event were
Chelsea Barabas explained how the crime in the country could be reduced and criminals could be prosecuted quickly by building an online ledger using the blockchain technology that is completely decentralized and allows public to upload video or image evidence to the ledger. This evidence could not be tampered with and will greatly help the law enforcement agencies in the country.
Barabas also went on to explain the use of technology in changing the way this country distributes welfare. Criticizing the current welfare system, she said, “We’re still distributing welfare the same way we did 100 years ago”. The blockchain technology could be used so that people can receive welfare using their smartphones.
Another benefit of using this system would be to empower public and to allow them to see the government funds being allocated and the process being carried out to finish projects. This in result will make the entire system more transparent and will give the public power to voice their opinions.
While talking about governments, she said:
We have governments coming to us saying ‘hey, we’re really interested in being proactive about understanding this technology and using it to improve our ability to serve the public.
Identification and Storage
Kirby CEO of Factom explained that their company is looking to use the technology to become the central storage for land databases and the same storage systems could be used for voting.
Ryan CEO of OneName took the mic to explain his vision for the future. He said almost 25% of African-Americans in the U.S do not have government issued ID’s as well as in many other countries and this is causing these people not to take benefit from services that require I.D. He said we could use blockchain to issue official I.D’s that cannot be tampered with without the knowledge of the person in question.
This will reduce identity theft which currently costs the country $25 Billion annually. The physical documents require a lot of manual labor and are not cost effective or reliable.
Infrastructure and Charitable Causes
Sin from consulting firm IDEO said that the frictionless transactions that the blockchain allows for could be used for charitable purposes as well as to fund other non-profit organizations.
Sin introduced a very innovative idea called The Dandelion which was initially proposed by Princeton students.
“Students planted a Dandelion with petals that have addresses on them. As people donate small amounts of money, the image of the playground started filling in, and the very block was being visualized,” explained Sim.
At the end of the event, Farmer encouraged the speakers to go home and think about the ideas discussed there.While addressing the speakers and the audience, he said we need people like you to come with game-changing ideas to resolve some of the big social problems we have today.
“Please leave this room tonight thinking how you might come up with new, creative and innovative ways to use these technologies or other technologies to help people, because that’s what it’s all about,” he concluded.”
The full recording of the event can be viewed here
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