NEW YORK, December, 2018 —

The Social Venture Circle New York event Bridging Profit & Purpose hosted the panel The Promise of Blockchain: 3 Models of Impact, featuring panel members Pia Mancini and Herb Stephens from Democracy Earth Foundation, joined by Candice Cook from The Cook Law Group, Haider Nazar from MAHA.global , and moderated by Gagan (Jared Levy) from Guru, the current chair of Social Venture Circle.  With this blog we’d like to recap some highlights of the panel discussion, point to further information sources that many attendees asked for, and address some of the frequently asked questions that came up during this and related discussions.

Blockchain and social impact

A frequently asked question is, “How can blockchains be used for good?”  It is a very interesting question, because the main reason blockchains were created was for social justice – this was the original message of the founder(s) Satoshi Nakamoto, who encoded their social impact intention on the genesis block of the bitcoin blockchain (pictured above): ‘The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.’  In other words: We the people no longer need as many middlemen between the buyers and the sellers. Digital wallets and blockchains eliminate today’s TTP (Trusted Third Party) middlemen extracting value by charging for trust.

A panel consensus:  Blockchains will have more social impact than any previous tool, and even the Internet itself. Ledgers keep and track history – they are, in a way, a storytelling medium for value.  Value and influence have been handed down historically through the technology of language, starting with the spoken word, then, with the advent of the Gutenberg Press, the written word. With the internet, the written word could be shared more widely and instantaneously than ever before  – but can also be influenced, i.e. corrupted. Distributed public ledgers are the next evolutionary stage, where incorruptible global governance, reliable history and accountability is possible for the first time. If “the medium is the message” as media theorist Marshall McLuhan famously said, the medium of blockchains has a democratic message.

Global governance has been the holy grail of blockchains – the promise of global collaboration to solve the world’s most pressing issues – climate change, mass migration, political corruption. That may sound like hype or hyperbole, but it’s empirically not – a recent Stanford report on Blockchain for Social Good analyzing 193 blockchain social impact projects and organizations concludes “early data suggests that blockchain can provide ..transformative solutions for people solving our world’s toughest challenges, with earliest impact expected in sectors like democracy and governance.” Numbered among these organizations and projects is Democracy Earth Foundation, building a people-based system enabling global and organizational governance. As technologists and political leaders, together Herb and Pia feel blockchains are the most important technology for democracy, specifically in the realm of getting corruption out of voting and public budgets.  

Blockchain’s significance will also grow related to environment and climate change, mostly revolving around the use of tokens to reduce carbon emissions, increasing transparency and trust and to create rewards for individuals who are recycling or producing clean energy.

Business has helped us make the social, environmental, and economic messes we’re in today – and it can be instrumental to getting us out. After decades working at the nexus of business and impact Haider Nazar and Gagan (Jared Levy) with MAHA Global recognized the need and in 2019 will launch the world’s first cloud-based impact management system to more effectively and efficiently help brands to define, implement and expand their impact. Our mission is to empower and connect values aligned brands, influencers and individuals for amplified action on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in service of amplified global impact. Blockchain is an absolutely key technology to enable some of the innovative solutions MAHA Global is launching.

Blockchain 101: You can’t have accountability without accounting. As Herb Stephens noted during the panel discussion, blockchain technology enables accountability that everyone can verify without needing special permissions or access. Think of blockchains as “immutable spreadsheets” tracking balances and changes to balances in open, public ledgers, where not just one “Big Brother” has keys and controls to the one copy…but a system where everyone is  a Big Brother, everyone is able to audit and confidently trust the ledger, whether for vote, budgets or climate data. Watch Herb’s 3 minute “my blockchain 101” explanation in this appearance on World Affairs: Blockchains, A Tool For Social Good

To support Democracy Earth Foundation you can make a tax-free donation, or purchase vote tokens at 50% less than the public price (before end of year or tokens sell out).  Info at: token.democracy.earth. For the SVC members that have a Metamask wallet and want to help test Democracy Earth’s ‘Sovereign’ beta platform, go to testnet.democracy.earth (sign up for test tokens here).

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