The aging process can cause decline in both body and mind. The rate of decline depends upon a number of factors some of which can be controlled—like lifestyle and diet—and others, like the gene pool, potential hereditary diseases, and environmental hazards, are beyond individual control.

With time, cognitive health—i.e. the ability to clearly think, learn, and remember—becomes at risk, especially in advancing years. But, there are a number of things that can be done to mitigate this risk and maintain cognitive health.

Courtesy of the German Embassy in Washington, we learn about a relevant conference onCognitive Health, which took place in Berlin in November 2018. The event brought together experts from academic institutions, medical professionals, and the pharmaceutical industry as well as technology companies to exchange ideas and explore new initiatives on cognitive health.

The goal of the experts was to explain why drug discovery today is in crisis and there is a data flood overwhelming the scientists. Experts discussed how technological advancements in computing power and developments assist our understanding of disease biology motivate numerous companies to create blackboxes that aim to transform big data into smart data. Case studies discussed precision medicine, deep learning, and the global war on brain disease, the outlook for2025, and drug discovery through a discovery engine based on biological intelligence.

TheBerlin conference on Cognitive Health is indicative of the vigorous efforts by healthcare professionals and institutions as well as businesses at the macro level. Equally important is the emphasis on promotion of healthy lifestyles by media as well academic and research institutions.

For instance, Sarah Boseley, Guardian newspaper’s Health Editor, wrote on July 3,2018 that “walking is just not enough, according to a new review of the evidence from Public Health England (PHE)”. According to PHE, “in older adults, poor muscle strength increased the risk of a fall by 76%.” At the recommendations of British Health experts, the article reminds that “fewer people have taken on board the need to stand more and sit less and muscle strengthening and balance have been largely forgotten.”

A very useful report by Harvard Medical School describes a six step program for maintaining cognitive health. “The heart of our cognitive fitness program, however, involves lifestyle changes,” say the expert at Harvard Medical School.

  • Step 1: Eat a plant-based diet
  • Step 2: Exercise regularly
  • Step 3: Get enough sleep
  • Step 4: Manage your stress
  • Step 5: Nurture social contacts
  • Step 6: Continue to challenge your brain

TheNational Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging provides very useful information that reinforces these simple concepts advised by Harvard Medical School. In fact, there is a lot of practical information for those who are aging—or caregivers for the elderly.

The case for maintaining cognitive health becomes strong by looking at some exemplars who engage in robust physical activity. Take for example, Bill Kennedy of Charleston, SC who worked in Egypt at the Ministry of Finance on a USAID project after retiring from the Federal Government. His routine included a daily run in the oppressive Cairo heat. At 84, he still runs and swims in the creek near his house. Dr. Riaz Haider, a retired associate professor at GeorgeWashington University explained his exercise regimen, continuing strong at the age 84, in the gymnasium of his club where he still plays golf and tennis regularly.

Education is the key to many problems faced during the aging process. This is a point stressed by Swiss Ambassador to the U.S. and Board Member of the World Demographic and Ageing Forum, Martin Dahinden. Despite his busy schedule as a diplomat, Ambassador Dahinden is seen on a bicycle around Washington. In doing so, he is another role model for promoting a healthy lifestyle in support of cognitive health.

But it’s difficult to think about value when we have no buoy for understanding it outside our traditional lenses: for example, our time, our job, and what others tell us they are worth in cash. This, largely, is the world’s paradigm for value so far. But understanding what value really means changes everything—and will be at the center of the decentralized revolution in global coordination that will unfold over the next decade. So, where do we begin?

Let’s start with gold.

Gold is an inherent value. When backing a market, gold allows us to grow a balanced economy well into the trillions. But why does it allow for massive stable markets to form around it? It is gold's permanence that creates stability. We understand that gold will always have value, because it is inherent in all of us, not just in one part of the world, but everywhere, not just today, but tomorrow and for the long haul.

In the 1930s when the gold standard was removed, we learned that the U.S. dollar didn’t need gold to back its economy to flourish. We learned that it was just a symbol for U.S. citizens to decentralize their coordination around the United States economy.

It turns out, common agreement is a philosophy for building shared economy.

And so it seems inherent value is a marker for us to begin exploring what the future could look like—a future beyond gold and the existing realm of credit. And so what else has inherent value? Is education as valuable as gold? What about healthcare? What about a vote that can’t be tampered with? What about an ID that can’t be stolen or erased? What about access to nutrition or clean water? You will find value everywhere you look.

It turns out, we’ve already done the legwork necessary to uncover the most elemental inherent values: The Sustainable Development Goals are commitments grown out of the drive to bring to life basic tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the closest possible social contract we have to a global, common agreement.

We’ve already agreed, as a global community, to ensure inclusive and equitable access to quality education. We’ve already agreed to empower all women and girls, to ensure pure and clean water access for all, to promote health at all stages of life, and to end hunger.

We’ve already agreed.

Our agreements are grounded in deep value centers that are globally shared, but undervalued and unfulfilled. The reason for this is our inability to quantify intangible value. All of these rich, inherent values are still nebulous and fragmented in implementation—largely existing as ideals and blueprints for deep, globally shared common agreement. That is, we all agree education, health, and equality have value, but we lack common units for understanding who and who is not contributing value—leaving us to fumble in our own, uncoordinated siloes as we chase the phantoms of impact. In essence, we lack common currencies for our common agreements.

Now we find ourselves at the nexus of the real paradigm of Blockchain, allowing us to fuse economics with inherent value by proving the participation of some great human effort, then quantifying the impact of that effort in unforgeable and decentralized ledgers. It allows us to build economic models for tomorrow, that create wholly new markets and economies for and around each of the richest of human endeavors.

In late 2017 at the height of the Bitcoin bubble, without individual coordination, planning, or the help of institutions, almost $1 trillion was infused into blockchain markets. This is remarkable, and the revolution has only just begun. When you realize that Blockchain is in a similar stage of development as the internet pre-AOL, you will see a glimpse of the global transformation to come.

Only twice in the information age have we had such a paradigm shift in global infrastructure reform—the computer and the internet. While the computer taught us how to store and process data, the Internet built off that ability and furthered the conversation by teaching us how to transfer that information. Blockchain takes another massive step forward—it builds off the internet, adding to the story of information storage and transfer—but, it teaches us a new, priceless and not yet understood skill: how to transfer value.

This third wave kicked off with a rough start—as happens with the birth of new technologies and their corresponding liberties. Blockchain has, thus far, been totally unregulated. Many, doubtless, have taken advantage. A young child, stretching their arms for the first couple times might knock over a cookie jar or two. Eventually, however, they learn to use their faculties—for evil or for good. As such, while it’s wise to be skeptical at this phase in blockchain’s evolution, it’s important not to be blind to its remarkable implications in a post-regulated world, so that we may wield its faculties like a surgeon’s scalpel—not for evil or snake-oil sales, but for the creation of more good, for the flourishing of commonwealth.

But what of the volatility in blockchain markets? People agree Bitcoin has value, but they don’t understand why they are in agreement, and so cryptomarkets fluctuate violently.  Stable blockchain economies will require new symbolic gold standards that clearly articulate why someone would agree to support each market, to anchor common agreement with stability. The more globally shared these new value standards, the better.

Is education more valuable than gold? What about healthcare or nutrition or clean water?

We set out in 2018 to prove a hypothesis—we believe that if you back a cryptocurrency economy with a globally agreed upon inherent value like education, you can solve for volatility and stabilize a mature long lasting cryptomarket that awards everyone who adds value to that market in a decentralized way without the friction of individual partnerships.

What if education was a new gold standard?

And what if this new Learning Economy had protocols to award everyone who is helping to steward the growth of global education?

Education is a mountain. Everyone takes a different path to the top. Blockchain allows us to measure all of those unique learning pathways, online and in classrooms, into immutable blockchain Learning Ledgers.

By quantifying the true value of education, a whole economy can be built around it to pay students to learn, educators to create substantive courses, and stewards to help the Learning Economy grow. It was designed to provide a decentralized way for everyone adding value to global education to coordinate around the commonwealth without the friction of individual partnerships. Imagine the same for healthcare, nutrition, and our environment?

Imagine a world where we can pay refugees to learn languages as they find themselves in foreign lands, a world where we can pay those laid off by the tide of automation to retrain themselves for the new economy, a world where we can pay the next generation to prepare themselves for the unsolved problems of tomorrow.

Imagine new commonwealth economies that alleviate the global burdens of poverty, disease, hunger, inequality, ignorance, toxic water, and joblessness. Commonwealths that orbit inherent values, upheld by immutable blockchain protocols that reward anyone in the ecosystem stewarding the economy—whether that means feeding the hungry, providing aid for the global poor, delivering mosquito nets in malaria-ridden areas, or developing transformative technologies that can provide a Harvard-class education to anyone in the world willing to learn.

These worlds are not out of reach—we are only now opening our eyes to the horizons of blockchain, decentralized coordination, and new gold standards. Even though coordination is the last of the seventeen sustainable development goals, when solved, its tide will lift for the rest—a much-needed rocket fuel for global prosperity.

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.”  —George Washington
C. Naseer Ahmad
C. Naseer Ahmad is a contributor to Diplomatic Courier.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.