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We decided to place this article (Der Good, von Yannick Lebert, 07. Dez. 2018) almost in its intirely and with only a few minor corrections for clairty. It captures similar thinking that we believe is needed to help humanity transition into a new era, an era full with unknowns but see us rise to a higher level of understanding and achievement.
The Potential of Blockchain for Social Good
[The potential that blockchain technology holds for social impact, education, an emergent global ethos, and others is beyond expression. Initiatives directed towards blockchain for social good range from innovative solutions for healthcare, food security, governance, and community development to networks for better communications.]
The revolutionary potential of blockchains lies in providing humanity with a tool to coordinate effort to achieve a collective goal, global human development. Instead of a central authority controlling and owning the network, we will have open and decentralized infrastructures in no one’s personal possession, where everyone can contribute and benefit from.]
While open software and peer-to-peer production isn’t exactly something new, the game changer is the incentive layer (= tokens) we can now add to it. If designed and set up correctly it guarantees a fair distribution of the value created within the network by basing it on individual merits and commitment rather than formal and informal, social and cultural hierarchies. Such systems, designed as digital cooperatives, give back decision power to the people using them. We can be consumers, owners and creators at the same time.
Integrate as many perspectives as possible
But there are still some steps to take before this will become a reality. And I am not talking about the technical issues like scalability, interoperability or poor user experience that currently prevent further adoption of blockchain technology.
In order to build elaborate architectures for our global and digital future, it is necessary to reimagine, rethink and learn from the design flaws that are inherent to most systems that were conceptualized and developed during and after World War II, and in particular those of a more recent future.
But now we should take the time and thoroughly discuss where we are and were we want to go. Therefore we need to include as many disciplinary perspectives as possible and start drafting concepts and system designs that acknowledge the complexity of human motivations and commitments... It is about taking into account the observable patterns of social and economic systems instead of blindly following simplistic theoretic assumptions of the human nature.
Switch Mindsets – From Business to Commons
Another aspect still receiving less attention in the blockchain space than in other technological environments, is that we need to reflect our biases when crafting technological infrastructure. It is necesary to bring in more diversity to the early stages of concept design in order to not widen the gap between genders or North and South. Tech is not neutral. It always reflects its creator’s attitude, mindset and social standing. This is not only true in the development process of AI but also for Blockchains. What does that all mean?
It means that we need to open up the discussion and collectively try to understand what it means to actively design our digital commons. Relying on a Business Model Canvas will not be enough for that task. It lacks to account for consumers being the creators and owners of their own product, for communities collectively steering their shared vision and deciding on the next steps to take. We need new reference points to understand these new constellations. Can we establish best practice patterns for these challenges? A Commons Model Canvas?*
Identity, Economics and Governance
One thing is for sure – exciting times lie ahead! We see the potential of blockchain for good closely tied to three concepts that need to be further developed. These are self-sovereign digital identity, token economics and distributed governance. Why those three?
Self-sovereign identity as it fundamentally impacts the way we manage our data and may allow us to recapture a self-determined digital life. We need [to] free ourselves from being constantly tracked and nudged into corporate interests and build up a democratic digital infrastructure that allows everyone to act in his or her own best interests.
Token economics as they form a basis for any ecosystem that aims to be built upon a network of individuals that want to transfer economic value between each other and incentivize behavior that adds to their shared goal.
Distributed governance as flourishing of an ecosystem depends on dedicated participation and identification of the many. We need to give them the ability to shape the future of what they are committing themselves to.
At betterplace lab we do research where innovation and the common good meet and strive for a digitization that benefits humanity. Distributed governance in particular is a field to which we as betterplace lab feel naturally linked as it overlaps in many ways with our internal governance structures.
Around four years ago we have collectively decided to change our organizational framework to a holacracy model. Instead of having a boss, we rely on competence-based hierarchies, self-management and peer-based structures to organize ourselves and get great things done.
We are always eager to connect to others entering unknown territory, share experiences and think about to what the world of tomorrow might look like. We are especially excited to explore and contribute to the future of blockchain technology and will happily share our findings.
But in the meantime – why not have a look at some of the great projects that inspired this blogpost? For example at Jolocom or Taqanu for identity solutions or Colony, DaoStack and Rchain for cutting-edge concepts in distributed governance and platform cooperatives.