Why you’re better off being a number – Blockchain explained, and how it can save our oceans

Paying safely is a number one concern in the digital age. Combining that with making money is exciting (and lucrative). When it’s social it is fun. While it’s impossible for me to describe the workings of Blockchain to you (because it’s hard), this is in essence how that revolutionary technology works.

Simply put (let me try): a, let’s call it, social network (like Facebook or Instagram) has many subscribers, when they interact the blockchain technology creates a “smart contract”, an algorithm that defines their exact transaction. Everybody’s transaction joins a ledger, a digital ledger: the blockchain (imagine each contract is a block, as it attaches to the previous one). The more users the network has the more value each transaction’s protocol has. Translate the protocol into a “token” or a “coin”, and you can theoretically (and actually, if you believe in it) exchange that “token” for a more traditional form of value, like money. More precisely: that “token” has a value, dependent on the number of transactions, and it is registered in a “number” which cannot be changed. (If it’s changed, it no longer denotes that transaction). Because you can’t change it, but also because the information is shared – there is no central control – that transaction is safe, and verifiable (by the network). (I will not go into the fact here that those tokens can be stolen from your digital wallet).

See, it’s complicated. However, once you get your brain around it, and people are doing that in countless conventions, meetups and social groups around the world, you can start imagining uses for the technology.

That’s where the theme of this blog comes in: saving the environment, for you, now. I was racking my brain, trying to find a way to link blockchain to cleaning the oceans and I found The Plastic Bank. This company out of Vancouver is developing ways to create value out of plastic, so nobody would ever want to throw plastic into the ocean! Instead, through blockchain technology, you could “exchange” this plastic for digital value. Again, I don’t understand how, but enough people do, and more importantly the Plastic Bank, which has a set up a partnership with IBM, are trying to find ways for us to understand it. Specifically, they have a project in Haiti and the Philipines where people pick up plastic trash, cleaning up their beaches, oceans and waterways, handing it over to the Plastic Bank for disposal and receiving tokens in exchange with which they can purchase items they need.

As I wade through the concepts, you might be interested to read about this initiative firsthand, with this link: The Plastic Bank

The point is, we all need to be educated. If algorithms can save our planet, then I don’t mind doing the maths and being a number.




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