Blockchain for Social Good

21 December, 2017


Cornerstone for a new era of economy or just the last buzzword? Idealistic bubble or social revolution?

After several weeks of frenzied preparations, we spent a day exploring the undeniable potential of the last outcome of the digital innovation panorama.

The event “Blockchain for Social Good”, held in a freezing day of mid-December, brought in Turin an exceptional group of international speakers and experts in the ever-changing fields of social and digital innovation.

While in 2017 we’ve seen the interest for cryptocurrencies and Distributed Ledger Technologies spreading all over the world, 2018 will be even more significant for any European interested in working with Blockchain.

The European Commission is currently working to launch the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum in the first months of the new year to map and monitor initiatives, projects and new trends with the purpose of shaping a common and shared vision of these technologies.

Besides, the event has been the perfect platform to launch the European Commission “Blockchains for Social Good” Prize: a 5 million challenge to spark the development of scalable and efficient projects with an high-social impact using DLTs technologies.

Academics, researchers, entrepreneurs, public administrators, startuppers and experts spent a day with us. We talked and, most importantly, we listened.

Here’s some insights we’re taking home from the panels.

The first panel of the event “Uncovering the potential of Blockchain” brought together five academics and experts of Blockchain technologies.

After exploring potentialities, problems and progresses of Blockchain, we started to meditate on the importance of …

#1 Reading before use

We’re living in a time where the Institutions that have historically held the economic power are systematically called into question by citizens, who plead for a redistribution of the resources’ control and governance. In this context, Blockchain’s philosophy gains an unquestionable appeal.

This enthusiastic and exponentially growing hype can’t make us forget the necessity of an accurate and meticulous research around the technical development of a tool that is still in its infancy, characterized by remarkable sustainability and privacy issues, as well as other ambiguities.

From theory to practice. The second panel of the day, “Showcase of Blockchain Applications” inspired the most vivacious conversation of the day.

Six among experts, activists and entrepreneurs showed some of the smartest  applications in the Blockchain arena. Immersed in the contagious enthusiasm of the room, we started to understand a couple of things …

#2 Social Impact: don’t say it. Do it

Even if we can detect more application of the Blockchain in the corporate universe rather than in the social sector, someone has already started to use it at the service of the common good.

It would be beneficial helping these examples gaining a wide appeal with the public to inspire more proactivity in shaping the social uses of this technology.

To this purpose, we can’t avoid mentioning AID:Tech, that’s using Blockchain security and traceability features to provide digital identities and humanitarian aid in difficult and high-risk scenarios; and platforms like Decidim, that has built and successfully tested processes of community governance and participatory democracy.

#3 An elite circle?

The zeal around disruptive tech as the Blockchain can’t eradicate the fact that digital technologies are still a deplorable representation of inequality.

According to the World Economic Forum, the digital ecosystem is far from being a global public resource: more than 50% of the World is offline (more than 4 billions of people, more than 50% of women), 15% of adults are considered digital illiterate and 31% of global population don’t have 3G coverage.

The noble ambition and moral manifesto that promotes Blockchain as an example of equality, decentralization and participation must be associated with a tangible and organic commitment to keep this tool accessible. We desperately need strong digital literacy projects, a conscious advocacy strategy in favour of community empowerment through open source and privacy-proof technologies, a constant dedication in developing user-friendly applications not only for but also with their beneficiaries.

The “Blockchain for Social Good” event, a path that crossed theories, studies and good practices in the field of Blockchain, ended with an inspiring conversation with some excellent representatives and actors of digital innovation of European cities.

Benefits of Blockchain in cities” left us determined to keep investigating Blockchain technologies, remembering that …

#4 Code-word: contamination

Technologies as the Blockchain evolve alongside the elaboration of possible and desirable futures. It’s essential extracting the conversations over these topics from the closed rooms reserved to specialists and academics, in order to bring them in the open, public arena, accessible to all citizens and permeable to every kind of expertise.

Only in this way, thanks to the hybrid collective intelligence, we’ll be able to preserve and develop the Blockchain’s democratic vocation.

A democratic revolution is fundamental to implement successful digital innovation processes.

The first event on Blockchain for Social Good has initiated something that we hope will become a well-established habit in Turin, Italy and Europe: the promotion of open and inclusive conversations to foster the debate among different perspective, for the sake of community well-being.

Check the event’s programme, speakers’ interventions and photos at the website: