We live in a crisis-wracked world. “The once-heralded Arab Spring has given way almost everywhere to conflict and repression,” wrote Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Many governments have responded to the turmoil by downplaying or abandoning human rights,” using the Internet to spy on citizens, using drones to drop explosives on civilians, and imprisoning protesters at events like the Olympics.
That’s the wrong response, according to economist Hernando de Soto. “The Arab Spring was essentially and still is an entrepreneurial revolution, people who have been expropriated,” said de Soto. “Basically, it’s a huge rebellion against the status quo,” the systematic trampling of citizens’ rights until they have no choice but to work outside the system.
That’s where the blockchain comes in. Blockchain is a vast, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value – money, but also titles, deeds, identities, even votes – can be moved, stored and managed securely and privately– and where trust can be established through mass collaboration and clever code rather than by powerful intermediaries like governments and banks.