Blockchain for Good? Digital Ledger Technology and Sustainable Development Goals
- 1.8k Downloads
Blockchain technology (aka Distributed Ledger Technology or DLT) is a novel configuration of Peer-to-Peer, cryptographic and distributed computing technologies that have the potential to shift the internet from an internet of information to an internet of value network, with significant disruptive potential. To date, the cryptocurrency ‘bitcoin’ is the application of DLT that has attracted most attention, not all of it favourable. However, DLTs are about much more than cryptocurrencies and, as Kranzberg’s (1986) first law of technology, that ‘Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral’ reminds us, we can ethically frame applications of new technologies. To date, research has tended to focus on the technical characteristics of DLTs, and there has been little reflection on potential socially and environmentally beneficial use cases: Blockchain for Good (B4G). The aim of this this exploratory and descriptive paper is to reflect on innovative B4G applications that could help deliver socially and environmentally beneficial outcomes, framed in terms of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, through challenging existing business models and providing new opportunities for value creation.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (SG160335) in the preparation of this work.
- Adams, R., Parry, G., Godsiff, P., & Ward, P. (2017). Editorial: The future of money and further applications of the blockchain. Strategic change: Briefings in Entrepreneurial Finance.Google Scholar
- Alejandro, J. (2016). Blockchain for good—A beginner’s guide. http://tech.newstatesman.com/guest-opinion/blockchain-for-good-beginners-guide. Accessed 30 Sept 2016.
- Ali, R., Barrdear, J., Clews, R., & Southgate, J. (2014). Innovations in payment technologies and the emergence of digital currencies. Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, 54(3), 262–275.Google Scholar
- Athey, S. (2015). 5 Ways digital currencies will change the world. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/01/5-ways-digital-currencies-will-change-the-world/. Accessed 15 Nov 2016.
- Bheemaiah, K. (2015). Why business schools need to teach about the blockchain. Available at SSRN. http://ssrn.com/abstract=2596465.
- Birch, D. (2014). Identity is the new money. London Publishing Partnership.Google Scholar
- Botsman, R., & Rogers, R. (2010). What’s mine is yours: How collaborative consumption is changing the way we live. HarperBusiness.Google Scholar
- Bradbury, D. (2013). Colored coins paint sophisticated future for Bitcoin. http://www.coindesk.com/colored-coins-paint-sophisticated-future-for-bitcoin/.
- Buterin, V. (2014). DAOs, DACs, DAS and more: An incomplete terminology guide.Google Scholar
- Casalotti, A. (2016). Global carbon trading on the blockchain. Bitcoin and blockchain leadership forum.Google Scholar
- CPTM. (2016). Commonwealth partnership for technology management (CPTM) brief on “Adaptive flexibility approaches to financial inclusion in a digital age: Recommendations and proposals”. London: CPTM Smart Partners’ Hub.Google Scholar
- Currion, P. (2015). AidCoin: A revolution in humanitarian financing. https://medium.com/@paulcurrion/introduction-513f86ed92df#.ebhmrftlz. Medium.com. Accessed 15 Dec 2016.
- Dahan, M., & Gelb, A. (2015). The role of identification in the post-2015 development agenda. World Bank Working Paper 2015.Google Scholar
- Davidson, S., De Filippi, P., & Potts, J. (2016). Economics of blockchain. http://ssrn.com/abstract=2744751.
- Dierksmeier, C., & Seele, P. (2016). Cryptocurrencies and business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 1–14.Google Scholar
- Doguet, J. (2013). The nature of the form: Legal and regulatory issues surrounding Bitcoin digital currency system. Louisiana Law Review, 73(4), 1118–1153.Google Scholar
- Fox-Brewster, T. (2015). How hackers abused tor to rob blockchain, steal bitcoin, target private email and get away with it. Forbes, 24(2), 7.Google Scholar
- Geels, F. W. (2005). Technological transitions and system innovations: a co-evolutionary and socio-technical analysis. Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
- Greenspan, G. (2015). MultiChain private blockchain—White paper. http://www.multichain.com/white-paper/. Multichain.
- Halford, R. (2014). Gridcoin—Crypto-currency using Berkeley open infrastructure network computing grid as a proof of work. http://www.gridcoin.us/images/gridcoin-white-paper.pdf.
- Helbing, D. (2014). Qualified money-a better financial system for the future. Available at SSRN 2526022.Google Scholar
- Koestler, A. (1968). The ghost in the machine. Oxford, England: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Krugman, P. R. (2013). Bitcoin is evil. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/28/bitcoin-is-evil/?_r=1. New York Times. Accessed 26 Apr 2016.
- Lemieux, P. (2013) Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Regulation, Fall 36, 14–15.Google Scholar
- Majchrzak, A., & Markus, L. (2012). Technology affordances and constraint theory of MIS. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Mattila, J. (2016). The blockchain phenomenon: The disruptive potential of distributed consensus architectures. http://brie.berkeley.edu/BRIE/. Berkeley roundtable on the international economy (BRIE). Berkeley: University of California.
- McWaters, R., Galaski, R., & Chaterjee, S. (2016). The future of financial infrastructure: An ambitious look at how blockchain can reshape financial services: World economic forum.Google Scholar
- Nakamoto, S. (2008). Bitcoin: A peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Consulted, 1, 28.Google Scholar
- ODI. (2016). Applying blockchain technology in global data infrastructure. http://theodi.org/technical-report-blockchain-technology-in-global-data-infrastructure. Open Data Institute.
- Pea, R. D. (1993). Practices for distributed intelligence and designs for education. In G. Salomon (ed.), Distributed cognitions: Psychological and educational considerations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Potts, J., Davidson, S., & De Filippi, P. (2016). Disrupting governance: The new institutional economics of distributed ledger technology. Available at SSRN.Google Scholar
- Price, R. (2016). Digital currency ethereum is cratering amid claims of a $ 50 million hack. Business Insider, 17 June, 2016.Google Scholar
- Reber, D., & Feuerstein, S. (2014). Bitcoins-hype or real alternative? Internet Economics VIII, 81.Google Scholar
- Rizzo, P. (2016). Sweden tests blockchain smart contracts for land registry. CoinDesk, June 16, 2016.Google Scholar
- Russell, S. V., Dewey, D., & Tegmark, M. (2015). Research priorities for robust and beneficial artificial intelligence: An open letter. A association for the advancement of artificial intelligence.Google Scholar
- Scholz, T. (2016). Platform cooperativism: Challenging the corporate sharing economy, New York. www.rosalux-nyc.org. Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.
- Schumpeter, J. A. (1934). The theory of economic development: An inquiry into profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle. London, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Shin, L. (2016). Republic of georgia to develop blockchain land registry system. Forbes, 21 April.Google Scholar
- Swan, M. (2015). Blockchain: Blueprint for a new economy. O’Reilly Media, Inc.Google Scholar
- Thebault-Spieker, J., Terveen, L. G., & Hecht, B. (2015). Avoiding the south side and the suburbs: The geography of mobile crowdsourcing markets. Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, 2015. 265–275.Google Scholar
- Thomas, J., & Harden, A. (2007). Methods for the thematic synthesis of qualitative research in systematic reviews. Evidence for policy and practice information and co-ordinating (EPPI-) centre, social science research unit. London: ESRC National Centre for Research Methods.Google Scholar
- UN. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld.
- UN Millennium Project. (2005). Investing in development: A practical plan to achieve the millennium development goals. New York: United Nations and Earthscan.Google Scholar
- Walport, M. (2016). Distributed ledger technology: Beyond block chain. A report by the UK government chief scientific adviser. Government office for science.Google Scholar
- WCED. (1987). Our common future. World commission on environment and development. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Welch, A. (2015). The bitcoin blockchain as financial market infrastructure: A consideration of operational risk. Legislation and Public Policy, 18, 837–893.Google Scholar
- Wright, A., & De Filippi. P. (2015). Decentralized blockchain technology and the rise of lex cryptographia. Available at SSRN 2580664.Google Scholar
- Zuberi M, & Levin, R. (2016). Schumpeter’s revenge: The gale of creative destruction. Banking and Financial Services Policy Report, 35(5).Google Scholar