Blockchain for social good: Moving beyond the hype of cryptocurrencies

11 Apr 2019 11:00h - 13:00h

Event report


The moderator of the session Ms Monique Morrow, President and Co-Founder, The Humanized Internet, explained that the session was envisaged to answer the question, ‘What is blockchain technology?’ Also, how this can be utilised for social good, by showing some real-life user cases presented by the panellists.

Ms Tatyana Kanzaveli (CEO and Founder of Open Health Network) showcased the solution they are working on which is related to the health industry. She added that technologists are responsible for connecting multirole solutions. The health industry is moving towards personalisation, and user-centric solutions are developing accordingly. Their system, she added, is a smart dashboard monitoring all kinds of personal data in order to create a unique, and personalised solution. The most prominent feature of the system is revocable consent from users to data distribution. Users can decide from case to case which data can be shared with certain entities. Self-sovereignty of data will be significant in the future, Kanzaveli added. She pointed out that blockchain is already used in the production phase in supply chain industries. Nevertheless, companies should use blockchain only if necessary, which relates to the way a system is designed. It’s necessary to focus on the specific user case, she added, rather than the technology itself.    

Mr Evan Yap (Independent Researcher) working with digital identities online, recounted the unique circumstances that people in need of aid are faced with when they have to provide proof of identity. Ideas of digital identity were developed from refugee camps, he added. Platform Tykn was deployed to solve some of the unique issues around digital identity, by working on providing identity that can be disposed after use. Consequently this will help avoid authentication based on the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), that can in time lead to real-life identification of users. The platform presents a gateway for various user case scenarios. One of the first projects that Yap participated in involved birth certificates, and he noted that in some parts of the world, such paperwork can be quite expensive to obtain, and is avoided by many. As a result these two billion ‘invisible people’ can experience difficulties in their social implementation.    

Mr Pablo Garcia, Section Head, Development of EU Projects and Initiatives, CERN, added that CERN is one of the first institutions to fully engage in open science and data-sharing programmes. The basic idea of the world wide web, which was invented in CERN, was to provide a decentralised solution for sharing data. In Garcia’s opinion, open science is a key for the future, and in that sense blockchain technology can present great leverage for recognising contributions in the network. Regarding blockchain technology, he said that we have passed the ‘Peak of inflated expectations’ from the Garthen Circle of technology, and we are now in the area of disillusionment. The blockchain has the ability to break the paradigm of the centralised Internet we are now experiencing. The prospect of a more decentralised network is something worth monitoring, he added.  Nevertheless, the issue of scalability is one to be careful of.

Mr Angel Versetti (CEO, Ambrosus Group) pointed out that blockchain has surpassed the point of hype and that there are now workable solutions online. Mentioning the work on his project, he added that the two industries to see the biggest growth are supply chains, and the pharmaceutical industry. Solutions developed by Ambrosus provide the ability to track products in the food industry supply chain. Trust in blockchain-based information provides unique value for suppliers by allowing top class products to gain worldwide certification. The same applies for pharmaceutical products. In 2018 alone, industry reported 16 billion mislabelled food products in the US, he added. The Ambrosus solution provides the environment to create tools and decentralised applications.  

Ms Tereza Nemessanyi, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Microsoft, pointed out that Microsoft is always on the development side, emphasizing that blockchain is one of the many emerging technologies which the company is working on. She reported that key features of blockchain technology are immutability, and the possibility for digital identities. She added that since last year the number of projects related to blockchain has dropped significantly. She also pointed out the considerable restraints of scaling such solutions to the global level. 

In response to a question from the audience, the panellists concluded that blockchain and decentralisation of data can offer significant advantages in the field of cybersecurity for data management, eliminating central bases of personal data (the so-called ‘single point of failure’). Blockchain projects are also utilised in crowdsourcing and crowd-financed projects, but with the emergence of worldwide regulation, this has become significantly less open, and resembles more Initial Public Offering procedures.

As one of the possible breakthroughs in computational power, and the resulting possible scaling problems, the panellists also mentioned the emergence of quantum computing.  


By  Arvin Kamberi