Blockchain technology will revolutionize healthcare, education, supply chains, finance, and even the law. Will the government allow that?
Most people’s knowledge of blockchain starts and ends with bitcoin, which is a volatile asset associated with bubbles and speculation.
So does this mean blockchain is irrelevant?
Because people will forever associate it with bitcoin?
First of all, bitcoin is way more than just a volatile asset, and cryptocurrency is way bigger than just bitcoin, and blockchain will most definitely change the world, with or without cryptocurrency.
If society embraced blockchain to its fullest potential, the world’s current power structures would disappear overnight.
Could this be why its adoption is moving so slow?
What is Blockchain?
A blockchain is a digital series of encrypted bits of information (called blocks) that form a chain.
The point of the encrypted blocks is to store and exchange data securely.
Since you already know what bitcoin is, let’s use that as an example.
The bitcoin blockchain is a public recording showing each transfer and transaction of bitcoin. A key detail is that the recipients and senders of bitcoin remain anonymous.
Today, if I send you $100, only my bank and your bank (and the government) are allowed access to my information, your information and our bank balances.
In other words, today’s financial system is centralized, with a few players owning all the data.
Bitcoin, because it exists on a blockchain, is decentralized. No central authority owns the data, everyone does.
So if I send you $100 worth of bitcoin, our information is encrypted we remain anonymous, but the transfer itself can be seen and by everyone.
Moreover, in order to successfully transfer you $100 worth of bitcoin, the transaction must be verified (do I really have $100 worth of bitcoin to send you?) and this is done through cryptographic protocols.
With fiat money, only the banks and the government can verify that I have enough in my account to send you $100 dollars. With bitcoin, however, it is the decentralized public and technology that confirms whether or not I have the bitcoin to send to you
The details can be complex, but the concept is simple: instead of using middleman (like a bank) to process transactions, blockchain allows its users to process transactions themselves.
And the use cases for blockchain extend far beyond our financial system.
Related Reading: 5 Reasons Cryptocurrency is Not a Scam
Blockchain in Government
Voting in America today is a joke.
Can’t we do better?
After all, voting is simply a transfer of information.
The voter chooses a candidate and transmits the information to a ballot box. This made sense in the 1800’s before the internet and its efficiency was invented.
What’s our excuse today to maintain the same method as 100 years ago?
Like with everything, power. Those in power want to maintain that power. Blockchain, however, could remove them and their incompetence forever.
Asking people to show up in person to vote is expensive and requires swarms of middlemen who are supposed to make the process secure and accurate.
But the evidence does not support these middlemen are capable of such tasks.
Moreover, it’s just stupid to require people show up in person to vote. If I send an email to my boss saying I’m not coming to work today, why would I ever drive to the office and tell her in person?
The absolutely only reason America is as antiquated as we are when it comes to voting, is simply because those in power don’t want to give it up.
Conducting the vote digitally using blockchain would increase total vote counts, make the process *actually* democratic, remove the risk for fraud, and eliminate human error.
If fucking India can get their act together — why can’t we???
Blockchain Supply Chain Use Cases
Since the government is beyond corrupt, I’m not holding my breath that blockchain will be used for voting any time soon.
But there’s lots of ways to blockchain! Such as tracking food supply chains.
Food goes through several stages before it reaches our plates:
Along the way, there are ample opportunities for food to become contaminated.
As of now, when contamination occurs, it’s difficult to trace the time of contamination, which specific haul was affected, and to only recall those goods.
So instead they recall everything.
Billions of products are thrown out every year. This ledger is from the FDA’s website:
It’s wasteful to throw away as much food as we do, given that only a percentage of everything tossed was actually affected.
Using blockchain in food supply, therefore, would help food distributors and manufactures, pinpoint exactly what was affected and when.
Each stage of the food supply chain would become a ‘block’ and those who handled the food at each stage would have to verify their safety and quality assurance checks.
This information would be on a public ledger, making it quick and easy to identify at what point the contamination happened and to recall only those items.
To read other ways in the food supply blockchain can help, check out this article from PlugAndPlay.
That said, you might be someone who fears relying on technology for everything could pave the way for abuse. People could input data incorrectly which defeats the whole point!
But alas, that is precisely why smart contracts exist 🙂
Blockchain as Your Lawyer
Smart contracts are blockchain’s answer to lawyers, should anything ever go awry.
A smart contract ensures transactions are legitimate and verifiable.
Today, if two parties create an agreement based on conditions, there’s always an element of uncertainty and lack of trust. This is precisely why expensive lawyers exist. They draw up contracts to ensure both parties are held accountable.
But lawyers are flawed mortals and make mistakes just like the rest of us.
Therefore, within just a few lines of code, a smart contract lays out the conditions, and if a condition is broken, the transaction will no longer take place.
Without realizing it, you have agreed to hundreds, even thousands, of contracts in your life.
It could be in the form of terms and conditions when downloading an app, agreeing to collect a salary for a job, ordering a new passport or even simply paying rent!
Involving lawyers, i.e., middleman, is a nuisance and costly. And at the end of the day, ineffective.
For example, let’s say a local government raises taxes to pay for a bridge. We take the government at their word and expect to see the bridge built.
Years go by and the bridge is never built, yet you are still paying the increased tax rate. As of today, you’re shit out of luck. But with a smart contract in place, the government would be held accountable and for not meeting their conditions, the money would be returned to you.
Can you imagine that level of fairness and transparency?
How Blockchain Will Change the World
It’s obvious that blockchain technology could solve a wide range of problems faced in our society.
So why is it barely being used?
Two words: The Government.
Blockchain poses a serious threat to the status quo and our current systems.
Since the technology cuts out the middleman in just about every industry, unemployment would skyrocket and entire corporations would shudder overnight.
I understand the hesitation and resistance to change. But now that we know there’s a better solution out there, it’s simply a matter of time before it’s adopted.
It would be beautiful if the government could do what is best for society, and support the integration of blockchain in our country.
But when has government ever done what is best for the people?
Related Reading: Did the Government Cause Obesity?
Blockchain is a decentralized solution to the screwed up centralized world we live in today.
Most of us can look around and see that we are not living up to our full potential. We are bored at our jobs, we sit in traffic for hours and we are at the mercy of lawyers and lobbyists and loopholes. Any attempt to hold our elected representatives accountable is impossible.
To me, a world run on blockchain is exciting.
It’s about fucking time we peasants can make our rulers (banks, politicians, lawyers, landlords) actually do what they said they are going to do.