The modern society we live in can be regarded as the era of “Anti Trust”. No, that doesn’t have anything to do with laws made during the early 1900s. It refers to how much suspicion the everyday citizen harbors for their government, most corporations, and even their own neighbors. It’s a marvel that such a world could even function without collapsing in on itself.
In fact, this constant feeling of suspicion has become so pervasive that corporations have even begun to capitalize on it with the rise in virtual private networks (also known as VPN’s) and proxy servers. This very well may sound as if the people who are buying into these “safety nets” are overreacting, but in reality, they may be justified. Votes, information about online activity, and even medical records are not entirely safe. Even for those who work in cybersecurity, figuring out a way to keep all of this information safe from tampering can be perplexing. To the average citizen, then (whose technological know-how often does not extend past the use of the Internet) the prospect of having this data tampered with can be downright terrifying.
That is until in 1991 when Stuart Haber and his colleague, W. Scott Cornetta, first conceptualized a system where document timestamps could not be tampered with, laying the groundwork for what is now called Blockchain Technology. Of course, nobody would know the importance of this technology until an entity by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto integrated this technology as a ledger for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Even now its true potential has not been realized by the general populace.
What is Blockchain?
In short, Blockchain is a public ledger used to record transactions and information that is then distributed to multiple computers so that it is virtually impossible (with the help of assistant programs) to alter. It is easy to see how this technology could benefit the exchange of cryptocurrency or even the exchange of normal currency, but this is only scratching the surface of what Blockchain is capable of.
By using Blockchain technology, not only can transaction data between two parties be secured, but any data set can be entered into a near immutable block and secured with the aforementioned software.
Voting fraud is happening all over the world. If systems were in place to secure citizens vote within a blockchain it would guarantee that no tampering or altering of a ballot could have taken place after it was cast. Utilizing the peer to peer network built inside of Blockchain technology could dispel any distrust citizens might have in an overarching entity during a democratic process. This ensures a transparent and nearly incorruptible process that takes the power away from a central institution and gives all parties involved ownership and viewing rights to what happens after the information is exchanged.
Although, the drastic increase in transparency isn’t where it stops. If we were to use a publicly distributed ledger like Blockchain could provide, it would eliminate the need for an intermediary and thus transactions could be completed in real-time. The convenience of being able to wire money in seconds without having to go through a third party is a huge benefit in itself. This, of course, is not to mention cutting out the fees tagged onto exchanges from having to go through that third party institution. Blockchain is an overall cheaper and more effective way to exchange currency for goods or services while keeping the viewing strictly between you and the recipient. This is where the formation and distribution of one’s data enter the picture. Every transaction between two individuals, more often than not, requires an intermediary to make sure the exchange goes smoothly. In the process, these intermediaries don’t just ask for a stream of currency from one account to another; they end up knowing who you are, what you’re buying when you’re buying it. In turn, this data about your buying habits can be sold to other companies or entities who want to target you further. Drastically reducing interactions on this level puts the individuals back in charge of who can view their data and how it’s being distributed.
With the constant expansion of the internet comes the equally expanding creation of digital content produced every day. Although, with this influx of new content also comes the pirating of intellectual property that is often hard to prove or enforce. Problems like this can be circumvented by the creator of the IP by having a blockchain-based registry. This would make it much easier to track who has rights to use the content. The creator could also set up an account where funds can be funneled straight to them from users of their content, as well as setting up user agreements and contracts. This technology has the potential to make the internet a more creator-friendly place, and make it easier for consumers of this content to support their favorite creators.
Supporting the development of blockchain isn’t just a step towards new and interesting technology; it is a humanitarian goal that we should all be striving towards. Immigration has been a big point of contention inside the general populace of European countries and countries like the United States. Citizens afraid of immigration to see the people fleeing as question marks rather than fellow human beings. Now imagine a worldwide digital registry that allows any individual to have access to an easily verifiable ID. Instant and trustworthy identification can give humanity to refugees, and possibly even save their lives. And now that these people all over the world could have access to verifiable identification it grants them access to other financial services citizens in first-world countries have. This moves our society closer toward a global market where everyone can interact despite social and economic inequalities.
The Human race is a relatively clever species, but right now we possess the means to create prosperity for everyone and we aren’t using it to its fullest extent. As the capability of technology exponentially grows we need a system in place to make sure our digital interactions are safe and secure. Blockchain is the system Human society needs to give us back our sense of safety and community.