Here’s something to remember; Blockchain is not Bitcoin. Say that with me, Blockchain is not Bitcoin. Blockchain is the technology that allows Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to happen, the two go hand -in-hand, but blockchain is not Bitcoin. In fact, with a modicum of research, you will find that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are about the least the blockchain can do. The uses of the blockchain technology are vast and varied and go far beyond mere financial speculation. Let’s look at just a few of the many uses of the blockchain technology that can improve the lives of people all over the world.
Programmers are currently working away in their programmer dens of programming on decentralized internet platforms to distribute all the functions of the internet over distributed nodes such as we see on SOA-based systems, massive multiplayer online games or peer-to-peer applications. Much like Bitcoin which is not centralized, the decentralized internet will not be controlled by one entity.
Decentralized Social Platforms
Social networking sites are centralized and are prone to censorship of information. Decentralized social media platforms like streemit, mitigate censorship and bypass the ad agencies like Google AdWords which pay bloggers for good content based on the impressions or clicks on advertisements. The steemit site doesn’t require approval from an ad agency to pay you for good content. Decentralized Social Platforms will follow this model and open up possibilities for more people.
This is a blockchain-based contract that holds both parties accountable by only completing the terms of the agreement once both parties have fulfilled their end of the bargain. This sees the blockchain serving as bookkeeping platform or a ledger that is incorruptible. No one can tamper with or deny a smart contract, cutting down on fraud and useless lawsuits that spends year in the court system and never get resolved.
A Little Bit Deeper Now...
Preventing Voter Fraud
Since the U.S. presidential election of 2016, cybersecurity and voter fraud have been a central concern. Voter fraud is a critical imposition on the formation of a solid democracy, not just in the United States, but worldwide. Blockchain technology can provide an unhackable electronic vote-counting system which can make an election secure during voter registration. This will insure votes cannot be tampered with at a later date. The same way blockchain acts as a public ledger for cryptocurrency it can also create this permanent and public ledger for voter tallies. Removing doubt and questions about voting may curb the lack of interest and the feelings of uselessness that some people feel about voting. With the blockchain technology, you will ow your vote is counted and goes unmolested by corruption.
The Humanitarian Side
Tracking The Refugee Crisis
It’s called the Building Blocks Project and it was started as a proof-of-concept project in Pakistan which was then transformed into a fully functional blockchain pilot in Jordan in May of 2017. The project was set into motion by Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum and blockchain big data firm Datarella, Parity Technologies. The gist of the project is helping refugees use cryptocurrencies to purchase food.
The Tazweed supermarket sits on the periphery of the 75,000 person Tazweed refugee camp six and a half miles from the Syrian border. As an occupant of the camp, you shop, bring your goods to the counter and then, instead of opening your wallet and searching for money that just isn’t there, a customer will look into a mirror with a camera at its center. After a moment, the image of the customer's eye flashes on the cashier’s screen, receipt is given to the customer and the transaction is complete. The receipt reads “EyePay” with World Food Program Building Blocks written across the top. Funds for the ones who have no money have been provided by the UNFPA who have provided over 10,000 cryptocurrency-based food vouchers to the area.
A visit to the Tazweed camp involves one of the first uses of blockchain technology for humanitarian purposes. The shopper has their iris scanned to confirm identity on a traditional United Nations database, then checks with the family account which is kept on a variant of the Ethereum blockchain by the world Food Program and the bill is settled. The program was started in early 2017 and it has helped the WFP distribute cash-for-food aid to what is now about 500,000 refugees in Jordan. This technology is helping to massively cut down on fraud and data mismanagement and allows funds for food to get to the people who need it, not drug lords or corrupt politicians.
The ultimate goal of the Building Blocks Project is to demonstrate a fully functional blockchain solution that will serve as a role model for similar humanitarian projects in the future.
While Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies might be the most visible and exciting by products of the blockchain technology, there is so much more that is yet to be discovered or mined. Using blockchain technology to confront issues of financial, political and institutional corruption means we have the potential to create massive, resolute social change and protect the human rights of all people around the world. With the blockchain technology, there is life beyond Bitcoin.