Blockchain for Impact: Blockchain Revolution Global Event Wrap-Up – Guest Post
By Amy Neumann
Note from Beth: Amy Neumann recently attended the Blockchain for Impact gathering in Toronto last month with 1200 attendees from dozens of countries. The event was hosted by the Blockchain Research Institute. Here is her report. (For background on blockchain and why it matters for nonprofits and NGOs, this Thrive Global article, Blockchain Positive Impact: Social Enterprise and Nonprofits, provides use cases and a brief technology overview.)
Toronto has been at the forefront of the blockchain effort, with the Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) (@blockchainRI) founded there in 2017. And Toronto celebrated their first official Blockchain Week April 22-28. The founders of BRI, Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott, are also the authors of the breakout book, “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World.”
So, Toronto made sense for the inaugural Blockchain Revolution Global (#BRG2019) conference, with more than 150 speakers holding over 60 sessions focusing on ten pillars of possibility in the blockchain space:
- Blockchain for Good
- 4th Industrial Revolution
- Asset Chains
- Financial Services
- Government & Regulation
- Security & Identity
- Technology & Platforms
- The Innovation Economy
And from my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, Bernie Moreno even walked away with the Enterprise Blockchain Awards’ Community & Ecosystem Leadership award for the groundbreaking Blockland project (which brought together over 1000 Cleveland community members to help leverage the possibilities of blockchain for community development, digital inclusion, philanthropy, and more).
— BlockchainRevGlobal (@rev_global) April 25, 2019
The event’s technical host, MCI Canada, used a unique setup that facilitated being able to hear many more speakers, tracks, and sessions in two days than a traditional conference could allow. Using headsets for breakout sessions, a 360-degree hexagonal stage setup meant that keynotes could be viewed and heard by all from any side as speakers shifted, and then the stage was set for 5 concurrent speakers or panels on each side of the center.
Some of the highlights that spoke to the value of blockchain technology in the social impact space:
Alishba Imran, talking about how she – at age 15 – has created a solution to help prevent counterfeit medications in the supply chain (a huge problem in developing countries), as well as a way for people to have access to their own medical data in impoverished countries so that they can share it with medical providers when needed.
After a successful kickoff and two-day run, the Blockchain Revolution Global conference is coming to an end. We would like to thank Alishba Imran, winner of the Young Leader in Blockchain Award at the Enterprise Blockchain Awards, for closing #BRG2019 on a high note! pic.twitter.com/840Qdb5svo
— BlockchainRevGlobal (@rev_global) April 25, 2019
CEO of Everledger, Leanne Kemp, on how a “platform of provenance” using blockchain technology can track diamonds from mining to purchase, removing cartels and other unsavory characters from the supply chain, therefore removing conflict or “blood diamonds” from circulation. The Everledger process is also being used for things like recovering rare earth minerals (cobalt, lithium) from batteries, in the sustainability space.
Bettina Warburg of Animal Ventures sharing how Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain can combine to build a set of rules for machines to trade directly… “robots with wallets.” A distributed, transparent, autonomous system for exchanging value with no central authority, blockchain can also help facilitate direct trading among people who previously were unbankable. (Her fabulous blockchain explainer video is below.)
Co-Founder of @animalventures and @blockchainri researcher @BWarburg will share her insights on blockchain, AI, and radical new methods of value exchange at #BRG2019. Watch her explain blockchain in five different difficulty levels here: https://t.co/aE7ASGpi8H
— BlockchainRevGlobal (@rev_global) February 25, 2019
Grammy Award winner Imogen Heap speaking about how Mycelia is helping track artists’ rights so that the bulk of financial proceeds get distributed to the artists (and their teams of support) directly, and then performing using her magical Mi.Mu sound gloves (so very cool).
There were countless examples of wins in the social good space, and here just are a few more:
- 70% of land rights globally are currently unenforceable; putting property records on an unalterable blockchain provides documentation that cannot be burned, lost, or seized
- Clean energy can be both produced and consumed by everyday people directly to and from each other, making them prosumers, and creating more streamlined and efficient clean energy
- 1.2 Billion people globally do not have an identity; blockchain allows an immutable record of one’s identity to be kept, which is critical for refugees and others without proof they exist
This was a fascinating conference, and the possibilities for positive social impact using blockchain and AI in the nonprofit/NGO and social enterprise space are already real, and growing. For additional use cases of blockchain for social good, the Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Social Innovation created an in-depth report, “Blockchain for Social Impact: Moving Beyond the Hype,” that can be downloaded here.
Amy Neumann is a social good fanatic who has been working professionally to help create positive change since 1994. She is the CEO and principal of the social enterprise consultancy, Good Plus Tech, with a focus on leveraging emerging technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence. Amy’s 2018 Simon & Schuster book, “Simple Acts to Change the World: 500 Ways to Make a Difference,” is a tribute the many great ideas she’s discovered on the topics of social good, social justice, and volunteering during over two decades in the space.