Blockchain can be powerful for social impact, especially for tracing materials, protecting identity records, and activating smart contracts (automatically), but it remains poorly understood. It is essential to do it right by understanding its real promise, writes Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder of the GovLab at NYU.
The piece identifies the types of social impact problems that are best solved with blockchain, the risks in using blockchain and how should they be mitigated.
The seven foundational design principles below serve as a guide or toolkit for individuals, organisations or governments considering blockchange projects:
1. Develop clear data responsibility principles.
2. Consider ethical implications, especial around identity data.
3. Evaluate if blockchain is essential to solving the problem.
4. Avoid high energy-dependent proof-of-work mining.
5. Resist creating your own blockchain platform.
6. Avoid long-term vender lock-in and patenting of essential protocols.
7. It's key to ensure that the first block in the chain is accurate.