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A brazen, hours-long militant attack on the American University of Afghanistan ended early Thursday August 25 after at least 13 people were killed and dozens wounded in the assault on the sprawling campus on Kabul's outskirts, a government spokesman said. The attack underscored how despite efforts by the Afghan authorities to improve security, militants in this country are still able to stage large-scale and complex attacks, including in the capital. The dead included seven students and one teacher, according to Afghan authorities. Three police officers and two security guards were also killed, the Interior Ministry said. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the assault but suspicions are pointing to the Taliban. The group's spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, would only tell the media that the Taliban are "investigating." President Ashraf Ghani laid the blame on neighboring Pakistan, accusing it of supporting the Taliban in sanctuaries across the border, and saying the attack had been "organized" in Pakistan. Ghani spoke by telephone with Pakistan's army chief, Raheel Sharif, and demanded "serious action," his office said. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry "strongly condemned" the attack. Pakistan's military also issued a statement on the conversation between Ghani and Sharif, saying "Pakistani soil would not be allowed to be used for any type of terrorism in Afghanistan." It said Kabul had provided three cellphone numbers "allegedly used during the university attack." An investigation had traced them to an Afghan company "whose spillover signal affects some areas along the Pak-Afghan border," it said, without further detail. Ghani's statement also raised the death toll to 13, saying that a teacher, identified on social media by the as Naqib Khpolwak, a graduate of Stanford Law School and a doctoral candidate at Oxford University, was also among those killed. "Most of the dead were killed by gunshots near the windows of their classrooms," said Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. The ministry said 36 people were wounded, including nine police officers. The assault began just before 7 pm Wednesday August 24, a time when hundreds of students typically attend evening classes at the prestigious university, with a suicide car bombing at the university's entrance. The blast breached the security walls and allowed two other militants, armed with grenades and automatic weapons, to enter the campus, Sediqqi said. The siege of the university lasted almost nine hours, before police killed the two assailants around 3:30 a., he added. More than 200 people, mostly students who had been trapped in university buildings, were rescued by special police units. Ghani's office earlier said he had visited some of the wounded in the hospital and extended condolences to the victims' families. He condemned the assault as an "attack on educational institutions and public places" and said it would "strengthen our goal to eliminate the roots of terrorism." The university, located on the western edge of Kabul, was established in 2006 to offer liberal arts courses modeled on the U.S. system, and has more than 1,000 students currently enrolled. The university remained closed on Thursday and it wasn't clear when it would reopen. Faculty leaders could not immediately be reached for comment. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul called the attack a "cruel and cowardly act" and said it was "ready to assist Afghan authorities with their continuing investigation in bringing those responsible to justice." The U.N.'s assistance mission in Afghanistan called the attack an "atrocity." Pernille Kardel, UNAMA's acting head, said in a statement she hoped the attack would not discourage Afghan youth from "continued learning and attaining the knowledge and skills critical to Afghanistan's prosperity." Associated Press photographer Massoud Hossaini was in a classroom with 15 students when he heard an explosion on the southern flank of the campus. "I went to the window to see what was going on, and I saw a person in normal clothes outside. He shot at me and shattered the glass," Hossaini said, adding that he fell on the glass and cut his hands. The students then barricaded themselves inside the classroom, pushing chairs and desks against the door, and staying on the floor. Hossaini said at least two grenades were thrown into the classroom, wounding several of his classmates. Hossaini and about nine students later managed to escape from the campus through an emergency gate. "As we were running, I saw someone lying on the ground face down. They looked like they had been shot in the back," he said. Hossaini and the other students took refuge in a residential house near the campus, and were later evacuated by Afghan security forces. The Pentagon said U.S. military advisers were on the ground with Afghan security forces at the university. Spokesman Adam Stump said the forces had been embedded with the Afghan units. The attack came two weeks after two university staffers, an American and an Australian, were kidnapped from their car by unknown gunmen driving home from the campus after evening classes on a Sunday night. Their abductors were men dressed in Afghan military uniforms, officials said at the time. The whereabouts of the abductees remains unknown. The Taliban have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government for 15 years, and regard foreign civilians as legitimate targets. Last month, Kabul was shaken by a massive suicide bombing that struck a peaceful rally by Afghanistan's minority ethnic Hazara community, killing more than 80 people and wounding hundreds. That attack was claimed by the Islamic State group, which emerged last year in Afghanistan as an affiliate of the militant group fighting in Iraq and Syria. It was the IS Afghan branch's first assault in Kabul and the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since the U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban regime in 2001. The accusations from Kabul have highlighted the Afghan government’s rising tensions with their neighbors in Islamabad. The Pakistan army has already denied the claims of Pakistani involvement in the attack with General Sharif stating that there were no "technical traces" of telephonic contact between the Kabul university attackers and the Pak-Afghan border. While recent alliances and deals, such as a 2015 intelligence sharing memorandum, have been hailed as signs of “Af-Pak rapprochement,” the reality of the relationship between supposed “twin brothers” seems more fragile than ever.   About the author: Akshan de Alwis is the UN correspondent for the Diplomatic Courier.

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
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.