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    Blockchain and Love

    Why is important to consider love in our blockchain solutions?

    At the end of May I spoke at the Heartland Festival in Denmark on the topic of Blockchain – Future questions of trust? I was on a panel with Fritz Henglein who spoke more to the technical aspects of blockchain. I spoke to the social aspects and examples I already knew of in development which will contribute to an increasing happiness by reducing administrative friction, to strengthening communities by simplifying value exchange, reducing both social and environmental atrocities through better provenance and narrowing the economic gap through financial inclusion.

    During the preparation for this talk, I came across an Irish proverb, which resonated with my 5th generation New Zealand, 100% Irish ancestry

    “When mistrust comes in, love goes out.”

    Given two key tenants of blockchain are trust and transparency, can Blockchain really play a pivotal role in reversing this trend and enable more trust and love in the world?

    I posed the question to the Heartland audience and I have been contemplating it since and discussing it with a few blockchain enthusiasts open to the discussion.

    Blockchain technology is creating a paradigm shift in our commercial eco-system, and by extension, in how we operate as a society. We are now having new conversations around trust and transparency in business contexts, and what blockchain can now support. Sadly though, this trust and transparency is not always evident in the actions of the people themselves, and I believe that for many people it’s because they simply have never really considered what it is to trust and what it is to be transparent in the context of their own life let alone how this might extend into their work.

    I find it interesting to explore what motivates humans – for most it falls loosely into 3 categories:

    1. Greed
    2. Fear
    3. Love

    I’ve found it disheartening that many of the conversations around the need to “take action” regarding climate change impact stem from fear (and rightly so) or greed (hey I can now make some money out of “being green”.) It is seldom that I have a conversation, particularly with those “in business” who’s motivation includes that they love our earth and our non-human friends to an extent that they are driven to protect it in any way they can.

    The thing is, love really is the biggest motivator of them all. Greed will soon shift to an easier way to make a buck, and actions motivated by fear tend to stop as soon as one feels safe enough. However, we will do what it takes to protect what we love in a far more enduring way.

    When we consider why we love, we often find that trust is a big factor. Hence the proverb “When mistrust comes in, love goes out.”

    So, what does this trust look like? What does it mean to trust a person, a process, a product? When you break it down, it’s not actually the “thing” that we trust, but it’s behaviours, performance and actions that sway us one way or the other.

    If we are shifting “trust” into the blockchain, we need to be clear on the purpose that trust serves. Rather than using blockchain for a solution that means “we no longer need to trust one another”, what about a solution that really does enable us to trust each other more.

    There are many broader questions to ask ourselves in the design process. Who does it serve? There are likely to be multiple stakeholders with different “trust” needs. What are the behaviours that we would expect to see from each of these stakeholders as a result of that inherent trust now available to us?

    Consider each of these scenarios and the characters involved

    • I simply need enough food – to – I want to know the provenance of my food.
    • I want access to a financial system – to – I want to know my investments are having meaningful impact
    • I simply need a decent place to live – I want efficiency in the system that supports new housing / property development
    • I’d like a pair of shoes to walk in – I want to minimise the frustration of my frequent travels
    • I need an ID record – I’m sick of having to provide my ID every time I want to make an investment

    What trust elements are important to each of them? What actions and information are available to support that trust, and what can blockchain sensibly support? Where does using blockchain allay the doubt?

    When you are next involved in a solution using blockchain, ask the questions regarding the purpose of trust:

    Is it to feed the greed?
    Is it to allay the fears?
    Or is it to create space for love?

    As a creative alchemist, I make connections, facilitate diverse conversations and contribute as one of many stewards to generate a paradigm shift so that our grandchildren’s grandchildren have a future.

    Read these pieces to explore additional questions for yourself on love and trust.