Brian Forde from the MIT Media Lab believes that the block chain and related technologies may serve to remind the government that they need to become more transparent and open. Forde’s Digital Currency Initiative is specifically looking into ways that the block chain can be a force for social good.
According to him, the block chain can be used to distribute social welfare. Forde thinks that some of the best innovations will come from the developing world, as their banking infrastructure is not as strong, and they can come up with stronger, more creative uses of the technology.
It turned out that most of the audience from MIT’s recent meet up on Bitcoin (see video below) did not yet know what the block chain was. A representative from MIT explained the various ways that the block chain can be used outside of currency applications. Immutable time stamping, and distributed record-keeping can be useful in some applications outside of currency. There is a lot to be said for a global hashing power that guarantees the authenticity of files, and transactions, such as the Bitcoin mining network.
For Bitcoin miners, there is an incentive of money they make. If they make under a certain amount, some will drop off. If it becomes unprofitable overall, even more will drop off. However, others will come on who will have learned to profit in the new environment. MIT is interested in turning good intentions into reality, according to their speaker.
Peter Kirby from Factom then took the stage and gave a presentation on how block chains work. He explained proof-of-work as a concept, and how Factom takes advantage of the block chain to do things like stamp land records. Technology such as Factom makes use of the security of the Bitcoin block chain and from there the records cannot be tampered with, the owner will be the only person able to modify the entry. Direct corruption such as violence against the owner could potentially still be a problem. Modification of records without the knowledge of the owner will necessarily be a thing of the past with technologies like Factom.
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