Necessity is the mother of invention, so the proverb states. While humanity continues to survive on earth with a specific set of basic needs, the complicated and evolving world that has come to manifest around civilization requires a dynamic approach by architects to build on evolving foundations. To that effect, one might assert that blockchain technology has risen up as society identifies a necessity for progress. It isn’t hard to find people on a global scale who have fallen through the gaps of society. The fractured trickle-down economic system has inspired the vertical development of a decentralized system of governance, capable of being delivered by blockchain technology.
The relative security that developed nations enjoy also allows for the niche advancement of new technologies. Often times, inventions propose to solve novel problems in order to make a profit, but in other cases, breakthroughs can translate into life-changing projects that forever alter the landscape of social economics. For example, when the lightbulb was unveiled at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago it was a grand gesture that captivated the hearts and minds of attendees. Electric lights changed the face of the world both in the home as well as in commercial and industrial settings. Another such example of a world-changing innovation takes the form of blockchain technology.
Blockchain-based systems can be applied to help benefit numerous other technologies including AI, IoT, and self-sovereign identity, and also fit a myriad of commercial applications. Breakthroughs like blockchain technology tend to follow a certain progression; they require the most prosperous and developed nations to incubate innovative projects and provide funding to carry them out. In turn, these projects are often most effective when deployed elsewhere.
The best sandbox for testing these projects is, by contrast, underdeveloped places that stand to benefit the most from the technological updates, helping them to build out their infrastructure. Where there is a lack of structure, there is an opportunity to build something efficient and new. In this sense, underdeveloped nations offer a boon to blockchain architects that can deliver meaningful growth from a clean slate.
Projects are already gaining traction in less advantaged communities. Blockchain-based fractional power grid ownership was tested by Sun Exchange during February 2017 in South Africa, with a plan to implement Ethereum’s executable distributed code contracts. Investors get monthly payments in cryptocurrency. The European Union’s 2018 budget likewise calls for the development of blockchain to track the sovereign identities of refugees. What’s more, the United Nations World Food Programme has used an Ethereum system to assist 10,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan.
It may come to pass that places currently stigmatized as “third-world” will rapidly benefit from the inverse dynamic at play. Because rather than being developed in elite factions of society for a select few in the ruling class, blockchain technology is more about building decentralized systems as a means of providing a robust infrastructure. Ironically, in areas that lack a broken and corrupt lattice of power to begin with, it becomes easier to deploy better, more efficient, and more modern substructures, such as blockchain governance systems.
Jeremy Nation is a writer living in Los Angeles with interests in technology, human rights, and cuisine. He is a full time staff writer for ETHNews and holds value in Ether.