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In 1973, the U.S. Department of Defense sought a solution to locate its military units, operations, and targets anywhere on the planet. By the beginning of the 1980s, 24 satellites in orbit became what today we know as GPS. Today we use the Global Positioning System everywhere! Cars, phones and multiple devices use a solution designed to solve an old military problem and in the 21st century it became are a fundamental facet of daily life.
When we talk about blockchain, most people still think of Bitcoin, world´s first cryptocurrency that took the world by surprise a decade ago and its new innovations and applications in banking and payments — the genesis Bitcoin block was successfully mined at the time, kick-starting the first tangible application of the blockchain philosophy. Due to media orientation, you might understand that this technology applies only to trade or finance, right? There is nothing further from reality and, just like GPS, blockchain´s launch in cryptocurrencies can evolve into a massive takeover solution in the close future, leading toward the solution for fundamental dilemmas in our society.
Blockchain as the disruptor
First, it must be understood that blockchain started with the sole purpose of solving a basic problem of our social nature: Trust, understood as the assurance that a person or thing behaves according to “its intended purpose” by elementary rules in an exchange of basic goods, information or services. Today blockchain has emerged as a digital creator of transparency.
In our humble beginnings as a society, the main value proposition for trade between primitive tribes was to trust your counterpart. With the evolution of complexity within barters, the eventual need for a centralized entity (a mediator or third party) that would impartiality legitimize these exchanges was evident and monetary management, and eventually the traditional banking industry, was born with a core business model has remained untouched for centuries. This scenario is so deep-rooted in our current society that we often don’t view a monetary transaction legitimate without a central currency, state or bank as a validator of our elementary exchanges.
Now let’s all have a friendly reminder: Our childhood! Remember back when we were kids and we were to split a candy bag among friends? At that time, with the sole purpose of being fair and transparent, everyone was there at the distribution and visually verified it was carried out in a healthy manner. Certainly, our level of confidence in our childhood was based on the way that we all knew or were shown an honest distribution of goods.
In fact, this child-sharing situation describes one of the elementary concepts of blockchain that can change the way we perceive our world and innovate it: A Distributed Accounting Record (or ledger): A robust, incorruptible and shared registry that evidenced changes in anything worth of value (not just money in transactions).
With these key features of decentralization and transparency, this technology provides greater capacity to address systemic social issues generating new and creative ways to address challenges in education, health and information.
Blockchain changing lives globally
For third world countries, these innovations are changing the way education budgets are allocated for schools and tax schools. This money is allocated in the volatility and class attendance of its students (consequently pushing creative and innovative ways for educators and academic leaders to stop school dropout). Elemental education is not the only beneficiary, the impact this technology can have on higher education around the world is a game changer never seen before in human history. According to a report by the Association of International Educators, the validation of college education and academic certificates is becoming a huge international problem. The Kenyan government and IBM came together in 2016 to allow universities to award college degrees and prevent academic fraud. Blockchain technology is helping to create a framework in the region for which academic institutions and businesses can have greater confidence in student credentials and assessment results.
In Tunisia, education and nutrition go side by side. Last year, 420,000 people died as result of foodborne illnesses — Africa and Southeast Asia taking the hardest hit. This was caused by chemicals, bacteria, parasites, natural toxins, and so on (or simply, when something gone terribly wrong in the food supply chain). The startup Devery.io has partnered with the Ministry of Education to implement follow-up for school meals with a blockchain-based solution. This helps prevent waste and provide fresh food daily to disadvantaged students. Blockchain easily applies to supply chains, which means that as soon as a food supply chain problem arises, the parties can intervene to stop production – and prevent the disease from spreading further especially in sensitive populations like underprivileged youngsters and small kids.
Health is one of the areas that will have the greatest impact with a transparency scenario, doctors and specialists will have direct access to the medical history, treated illnesses, previous and current treatments and appropriate diagnosis if required. Also, insurance companies will have access to updated information to prevent frauds by atypical scenarios, pre-existences and poorly diagnosed diseases. By joining this analytics base with AI, we could generate dosages of new medicines and treatments more effectively. There are already several startups aligned with global medical standards that allow medical registration to be private, inviolable and shared to doctors and institutions worldwide. Examples of this are Dentacoin and Health Wizz, which are paving the way with positive results and charting the path to a much higher standard of healthcare.
Local innovation for global change
Like any major change, this new form of value management faces major legal, regulatory, technical challenges and obstacles, ranging from ideal information and analysis owners to providing “exits” for those who don’t want to data recorded and handled with due to privacy — this includes mechanisms to track and control critical information to prevent its use for criminal or terrorist purposes.
Although these challenges are indispensable to deal with before blockchain´s global adoption in other scenarios, change comes in the short term and as a society, we must be ready for a radical shift in the way our society sees trust as an implicit value in the exchange of goods or services.
Are you ready for change? Better start preparing today!