It feels like we are enduring uniquely tumultuous times, especially when it comes to truth and clarity. We live in the information age, but there is a discernible lack of transparency about the validity and authenticity of the information that we so readily consume.
A series of missteps by global technology companies has only exasperated the problem. In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russian operatives were strategically doctoring photos to prey on people’s prejudices while attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election. This same strategy was employed on Alphabet’s platforms, which includes the search behemoth, Google.
Most recently, the New York Times reported on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which included the harvesting of unsuspecting users’ data to create manipulative ad campaigns that reached millions of people.
The information age is morphing into the era of fake news, bias, and manipulation. While Facebook is at the center of these stories, they are far from the only offender. In total, the technology that was intended to connect us has, instead, confused us. What’s worse, this isn’t limited just to the social internet. Businesses, organizations, and individuals are increasingly required to verify and certify their data because of a lack of trust and a definite need for verifiable records.
In the information age, authenticity is king, and new technologies can help business successfully navigate this terrain.
Building Trust on the Blockchain
Although misinformation is not a new problem, and it far outdates the emergence of connective technologies, many of our current issues are brought on by the accessibility and capability of existing technologies. Companies can manipulate data reports, propagandists can doctor photos, and scammers can forge emails using nothing more than a laptop and an internet connection.
Therefore, it can be disconcerting to pose more technology as a solution to a technology problem, but this time is different. Really different.
Formed as the accounting backbone to Bitcoin, the preeminent cryptocurrency, the blockchain was first introduced in 2009. However, as digital currencies brought increased attention to the technology, its use cases and capabilities are increasingly touted as the means by which we can best iterate on our technologically connected culture. The blockchain is a decentralized network that specializes in the authentication and transmission of data including digital currencies but also many other things as well.
In March, Congress released its Joint Economic Report, and it included high praise for the blockchain by noting its prowess in enhancing security, efficiency, and data transmissions. The report noted, “Blockchain technology essentially stores and transmits data securely, in large volumes, and at high speeds.” Moreover, research and consulting firm McKinsey and Co. described the blockchain as a “platform for truth and trust.”
Truth and trust are precisely what we need right now, and we should be deploying the blockchain to areas where it can be most effective.
Use Cases for Building Confidence
In a March editorial for the Wall Street Journal, Mounir Ibrahim advocates for the blockchain’s use in holding Syria’s despotic leader, Bashar al-Assad, accountable for his atrocities. By using a smartphone’s device sensors, Ibrahim argues, photos can be verified and housed on the blockchain. From there, any changes will be documented in its immutable ledger so that we can have complete confidence in a photo’s authenticity.
This same methodology can be brought to enterprise scenarios as well. Certification, licensure, and valid data points are often required of companies, and the blockchain is more than capable of storing, cryptographically verifying, and transmitting that information when necessary.Not only that, existing data tools such as SQL are mutable and can be hacked, where as blockchain solutions cannot.
Evident Proof, a blockchain-base platform for data verification, is already offering their services to corporations and individual users. Hosted on the popular Ethereum blockchain, Evident Proof receives, verifies, and cryptographically seals a wide array of data points that can then be conveyed to third parties at the user’s discretion. Their proof of evidence chains represent a tangible way forward for data verification in an age of skepticism and doubt. In fact, because Evident Proof has built its Intellectual Property on top of the blockchain, proof certificates can even be used in court.
Of course, Evident Proof isn’t just predicated on its users’ sense of altruism. Many companies or individuals are legally required to demonstrate their qualifications, and this blockchain embraces the tokenized economy to make the process as simple as possible. Open source APIs allow third-party services to connect with Evident Proof’s system, so the importing and exporting of data is secure but also fast and easy.
The Future Requires Little Faith
The blockchain and distributed ledger technologies are still in the early stages of development but their capabilities are already profound. When it comes to the things they do best, they are extraordinary. They play a critical role in maintaining digital currencies but they are capable of much more than just tracking Bitcoin transactions.
For the information age, they can help us to create better records and to more quickly and efficiently validate information. They are purveyors of confidence and the implications of their wide adoption extend far beyond just a trendy technological innovation. They could transform a whole range of organisations across politics, finance or business more generally.
A new decentralized and trustless environment would allow for the fractionalisation of workflows, bringing into existence new micro-services that we don’t have now. Things could be matched together in a trusted way that allows them to interact seamlessly, extending existing cloud economics to be scaled up or switched on and off with ease to save money.
A fluid, value based system such as this wouldn’t need control by banks or governments at the centre and could have a profound effect on our societal systems. The power of the information age resides in its authenticity and the blockchain is restoring that principle for millions of users.