Mr Tallinn decided to apply blockchain principles to solve social ills after reading a blog asserting that humanity’s biggest problems all have something in common. “They are all locked in an equilibrium where the players cannot change the outcome of the game,” Mr Tallinn said.
“If you take the example of over-fishing, where endangered fish are being killed, no single fisherman can stand up and say, ‘That’s enough, let’s fix this’.
“An individual fisherman, or a group of individuals, can quit, but that just leaves more fish for the rest of the fishermen. The only way to fix this is through co-ordination mechanisms.”
One of the most famous cases of a co-ordination mechanism was the United Nations mandate to fix the ozone layer. Certain chemicals, such as those used in aerosol cans, were phased out in the 1980s and it is believed that the ozone layer is now recovering.
Mr Tallinn, who is speaking at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool, is compiling a research paper on ways of using blockchain to create more co-ordination mechanisms.
“Shaming people into being virtuous doesn’t change behaviour,” claimed Mr Tallinn. “Incentive schemes, whereby people who have done the most good for humanity are rewarded 20 years into the future would create the expectation that doing long-term good is valuable.”