Veteran journalist Jules Witcover narrates the journey from “irrelevance to power” - through the stories of US Vice-Presidents from John Adams to Joe Biden, in a recent book. The elected position of the US Vice-President was once described as “not worth a warm bucket of spit” by John Nance Garner who was elected the 32nd Vice-President during 1933-941 and served with President Franklin D Roosevelt. Over time, US Vice-Presidents have played important roles is projecting US influence in creative ways. As Vice-President, Richard Nixon vigorously debated Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow in the “Kitchen Debate”, famously pointing finger at him. As US Vice-President visiting Pakistan in 1961, Lyndon Johnson befriended an illiterate camel driver Bashir Ahmad setting off a chain of people-to-people diplomatic events. Then Vice-President Johnson greeted him at the airport upon his arrival in New York and was a bit apologetic for the chilly weather. Though unlettered, Bashir responded: “it is not the cold; it is warmth in the people’s heart that matters.” Johnson’s successor as the 37th US Vice-President, Hubert Humphrey had a lot of warmth in his heart – earning him the nick-name “Happy Warrior” and who championed many worthy causes. He was the lead author of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and first introduced the initiative to create the Peace Corps. “Every time he spoke to a large or small audience he would bring people to their feet cheering with his brilliant oratory and his encyclopedic knowledge,” remembered Ann Howard-Tristani, Board Member, the Embassy Series and niece of Hubert H. Humphrey, at Boston University Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program Graduation Ceremony on May 1, 2015. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter initiated the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship program to foster “an exchange of knowledge and mutual understanding throughout the world.” This program serves as a lasting legacy of a caring man and a memorial to one of the finest US Presidents. The Humphrey program brings young and mid-career professionals from across the world for a year no-degree graduate level study, leadership development and professional collaboration with U.S. counterparts. A wealth of information is available on the website about this program is sponsored by the US Department of State. Applicants can obtain information about eligibility, the fellowship provisions and components. Host Universities are listed on the website, which also provides encouraging information about why a university should become a host. A luncheon at the National Press Club with Humphrey Fellows from Pakistan, Fernanda Katz Ellenberg, International Programs Coordinator, American University (AU) Washington College of Law and Anne Howard-Tristani provided an in-depth understanding about this important program and its far reaching impact. Each participating fellow visiting from Pakistan brought energy, enthusiasm as well as fresh perspective. They came across engaged and eager to take back a renewed spirit to serve in the communities from where they came. As a host university representative, Ms. Ellenberg – originally from Brazil – had shared with empathy and provided ardent support to each fellowship participant. Haidar Zaman a lawyer, graduating from the University of Peshawar, worked as a literacy coordinator for the National Commission for Human Development before coming to US. Zaman was taking back both knowledge and experience from AU and the Humphrey Fellowship program. Malala Yusufzai has earned a venerable place in history due to her courageous stand for education. However, among the enlightened exemplars of Pakistan is the mother of Qurrat-ul-Ain Rasheed, a Humphrey fellow at Syracuse University. “My mother was an illiterate woman but she left no stone unturned to ensure that I go to school and make her proud,” recollects Qurrat.  In a recent article “Societal Fault Lines,” which would earn her mother’s pride, Qurrat wrote “a successful life is all about humanity - to be a human first and foremost.” After an year of “extraordinary cultural and social experiences in United States and in this transitional phase I’m endeavoring making plans to contribute and bring difference in the lives of ordinary people of my country,' she wrote in a recent email to the author. Umar Mehmood, an engineer with background in renewable energy and water management is another dedicated Humphrey Fellow. “Although, I got extension until December, 2015 but I came back to Pakistan with the passion to justify the cause and objectives of Hubert Humphrey fellowship to share my expertise for a positive change. Currently, I am in Islamabad, visiting national and international organizations like USAID etc. to look for a potential place/ forum to work, where I can effectively use my skills and expertise to help contribute to the growth and development of my country,” he wrote to me. Before the advent of emails, in the age of political correctness and hypersensitivity, many are eager to paint the US as the arch enemy of Islam and Muslims; however, few will know that as US Vice-President Lyndon Johnson wrote in a cable to his departing camel rider friend Bashir, who did not even own a shoe before his visit to US: “since your return to Pakistan takes you so close to Mecca, arrangements have been made through the People-to-People program for you to visit there."

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.