Although blockchain is commonly associated with Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, its applications go far beyond that. Many people do not realize this right now, but the world is witnessing one of the biggest innovations of the century, which will have a far-reaching influence on the technology and society of the future. Let’s take a look at Blockchain beyond Bitcoin and see how its future applications could reshape everyday processes in innovative ways.
As more and more people share their personal details online, especially to various brands, the matter of cybersecurity has never been more important. Data breaches are a real threat that can affect not only individuals, but also businesses, causing millions of dollars in damages. For example, Target, one of the biggest retails in the UK, was the victim of a hacker attack that affected a whopping 70 million customers – because of a network segmentation error, hackers got their hands on personal details such as names, addresses and phone numbers. However, Blockchain could make events such as this one a thing of the past, because user identity would be authenticated in an extremely secure manner, making digital identity theft literally impossible. The technology could even be applied to birth certificates, passports and IDs.
Preventing electoral fraud
The idea of introducing Internet voting has been debated for a long time, but lack of security was the main reason why this system was deemed unfeasible. With Blockchain, voting fraud would no longer be an issue, because the vote-counting system would be unhackable. For example, Sierra Leone was the first country to run a blockchain-based election on March 7, 2018. If this voting system becomes mainstream, three problems would be solved:
1.The election process would be more streamlined, costing governments less money and resources
2.Citizens with mobility issues or those who are not in the country at the time of the election could still send their votes and make their voices heard
3. Election fraud would be eliminated, reducing corruption in the voting process
Development of smart cities through IoT
In February 2017, IBM and the city of Dubai announced a collaboration on Dubai’s cognitive roadmap. Thus, paper-based import-export contracts could be replaced with smart contracts that would streamline the trading process. For the following years, Dubai is also fully committed to becoming a smart city and further incorporate Blockchain into more aspects of daily life and city services. As more and more people buy devices that can be connected to the Internet, Blockchain will be used at a larger scale, to help governments create cleaner, more energy-efficient cities and overall, create a more transparent environment. For example, people in Estonia have a secure digital identity that enables them to access the services easily and find out who accesses their data.
Decentralized databases of music rights
Copyright and distribution rights are two of the biggest problems in the music industry. If music monetization gets a lot of attention from the industry, ownership rights are often ignored, creating big problems for artists. Blockchain could solve this because it would be used to build a decentralized music rights database for royalties to be transmitted in a transparent manner and transactions could be made with digital currency. At the same time, a platform of this type could be used to fuel creative projects and help content creators earn royalties depending on how well their content sells.
A new era of charity
Donating to charity and getting involved in social causes is one of the most straightforward ways of giving back to the community, helping those in need and making the world a better place. However, the more the media analyzes the practices of NGOs and charity organizations, the more we realize that many of them employ questionable practices and are plagued by corruption. Charities have lost a lot of their trust and not knowing for sure that their contributions end up in the right place has made people more skeptical of donations. Fortunately, future applications of Blockchain can prevent this from happening by creating a fully secure, transparent environment for donations. For example, in 2017, the UNWFP sent crypto-based vouchers to Syrian refugees, bypassing bureaucracy. Because Blockchain enables transfers even for people who do not have bank accounts, it can be successfully used to donate to people in impoverished regions. Also, being decentralized, it wouldn’t charge any additional fees for those who donate.
Creating a digital testament
Not all applications of Blockchain are related to business and finance. The core benefit of this technology – securing data so that it becomes immune to unwanted changes such as hacker attacks – can also be used to store a human mind. It might sound like the script for a Sci-Fi movie, but the future is already here and many of the things we deemed impossible a few years ago are now a reality: BeANKH uses artificial intelligence to record human thinking algorithms and record them into a blockchain, so that after the person’s passing this data can be accessed by friends or relatives. AI can analyze the user’s interactions on email and social media, capture their voice fluctuations and facial expressions during calls and video recordings, so it could be possible for the family to interact with the deceased. Similarly, the technology could be used to execute wills, because the data would be tamper-proof and could only be accessed by authorized users. This is the closest humanity has ever come to achieving immortality and really shows the huge potential of blockchain technology.
More effective governments
Trust and transparency between the people and their governments are the foundation of a democratic society. However, more and more people question this transparency and report low trust in the ones who lead them. By implementing blockchain technology, transparency would be increased and things like smart contracts and decentralized notaries would streamline communication and empower the people. Although the technology is still in its prime and further development work is needed to make things like e-residency and Blockchain governments a reality, Blockchain could become a powerful tool in the future and influence society at a global scale.