The listeners give energy to the speaker,” says a Persian proverb. Perhaps, it was some tacit support from the audience that kept visiting Pakistani Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif going despite the spirited effort of Ahmar Mustikhan—shouting “Free Baluchistan” and accused him of being a “friend of Bin Laden”—to throw him off script in the speech at the US Institute of Peace (USIP) on October 23, 2015. Despite his impoliteness, it was nice that the irate heckler was not hurling shoes; lucky for PM Sharif. Good things come to those who are patient, it is said. And, PM Sharif patiently waited for Mustikhan to be ejected from the auditorium by muscular policemen. While introducing PM Sharif, USIP President Nancy Lindborg informed the audience that he is the first person in Pakistan’s history to serve as Prime Minister for three times. Regardless of one’s view about him, and notwithstanding the fact that he could not complete his earlier two terms, PM Sharif deserves the respect afforded to him during his recent US visit. From the Twitter messages and email traffic, enthusiasm amongst PM Sharif’s supporters and criticism from his opponents of Pakistani origin remained generally what was expected. In the eyes of his supporters, PM Sharif can do no wrong. Likewise, no matter how well PM Sharif did during his US visit, his opponents still will disapprove and consider him a cheat. But, it was surprising to discover strong approval of PM Sharif’s performance from some who were previously supporters of his opposition. From a Pakistani perspective, PM Sharif seemed to have covered all the bases that he was supposed to - making a pitch for more investments in Pakistan while lauding the performance of the Karachi Stock Market, assuring human rights advocates that he will safeguard the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and dangling a carrot for US companies to be able to participate in the opportunities to come from the $48 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Indulging in a sort of charm offensive PM Sharif gifted some pictures of President Obama’s mother during her visits to Pakistan. “War against terrorism, continued presence of terrorist safe havens was one of the major topics of discussion with the visiting Pakistani leader,” Pakistan’s daily Dawn quoted US Senator Kaine on November 1, 2015 about his remarks to at a meeting with Defense Writers Group in Washington. His remarks were based on the meeting with PM Sharif during his US visit. “My sense is that Pakistan is now really going after enclaves of terrorists in North Waziristan and other areas. They are sincerely doing it,” Senator Kaine continued. Michael Kugelman, a Woodrow Wilson Institute scholar, noted in the Wall Street Journal on October 23, 2015 that the “joint statement issued after his meeting with Obama reiterated long-standing pledges of cooperation and announced a series of modest though diverse initiatives in areas ranging from clean energy to girl’s education.” Additionally, the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan provided something to show for. However, there were “no splashy headlines or substantive outcomes—just as expected,” Kugelman said. Ironically, on the same day of the speech, the Wall Street Journal carried a headline – “Powerful Pakistan General Eclipses Prime Minister ‘Soldier-Statesman’ has become a cult here for battling terrorism, criminal gangs.” This was perhaps in recognition of the military’s pacification of Karachi – a megacity where many languages were spoken through the barrel of a gun. Visits of key Pakistani leaders, civilian or military, certainly provide valuable insight into the ebbs and flows of this bilateral relationship between two longstanding allies. But, a more interesting and promising development is the Emerging Leaders of Pakistan (ELP) Fellowship program announced in late September 2015 by the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, US Embassy Islamabad and the Meridian International Center. The stories of these emerging young leaders deserve attention. For instance, after surviving a suicide attack Hussain Haider from Chakwal, Punjab, “founded Beydaar Society, an organization raising a voice for basic human rights, freedom of speech, and quality education for all.” Another emerging leader is Syed Azhar Shah from Mardan who “believes in the power of technology to address the humanitarian crises afflicting his country.Rafia Farooqui from Karachi, Sind, is a social activist and aspiring water expert in Pakistan. Her goal is to “work towards not only creating awareness but also executing actionable ideas to prevent Pakistan from becoming more water-scarce.” The next generation of Pakistani leaders visiting Washington in late October presented their views at the Atlantic Council. Each ELP provides a fresh perspective and something that the listeners must lend their ears to.

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.