Among the millennial generation, there is a notion that the majority of problems can be solved with the touch of a button. The era of the internet is defined by the ease of information flow: the magic of an app that transforms a task that would take hours into seconds and the idea of power held in a single post on the internet. Technology has allowed the world to progress in ways that were unfathomable before. With the outreach of social media and cutting-edge applications, barriers to access seem shattered. However, there are still hurdles to tackle. Looking toward the future, it is now this generation’s responsibility to use new advancements to build a better world. That was the focus of the 2017 Social Good Summit, where leaders and influencers cultivated ways in which global progress can be achieved by 2030 through new media and tech-based solutions. Technology and social media have revolutionized activism Social media has ushered a new era of activism. Why? Panelist and civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson said that “Something wakes us up, and for so many people that was a tweet or Facebook post or Instagram post that got them to understand that world wasn’t the place they thought it could be.” Indeed, social media has made it possible for people to hold governments and organizations accountable for injustices. With new waves of interconnectivity, activists have more outreach than ever with online platforms. Not only does the message spread, new technology has adapted the way people become involved. Now, people can learn about emerging petitions and get involved using their voice. Panelist Randy Paynter from the charity organization Care2 announced a collaboration with Amazon Echo to bring about easy ways to become involved with advocacy. The emerging voice technology will allow people to sign petitions and donate money by simply asking their Amazon Echo to do so. With tools in place to promote messages and act on them, activism could grow on a massive scale.  Developing countries can benefit from tech-based collaborations with local governments and companies For countries throughout Africa, humanitarian crises and outbreaks of disease can be prevented when governments and companies work together. Africa is already in the midst of a mobile revolution and new technology is expected to increase African countries’ GDP. Now, technology may save Africa. Juliana Rotich, panelist and information technology professional said “it’s the frontier for extending the technology renaissance when we have public and private partnerships.” The emergence of such partnerships is set to create transparency and flow of information. Companies such as Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) and Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) have worked with African governments to not only crowdsource funds but cultivate data that allows them to forecast potential emergencies. In light of the Ebola outbreak, programs have already collected research to track migration patterns and the spread of disease so the impact of the next epidemic can be minimized. Innovative solutions need to be outsourced between multiple sectors The sharing of information may boost the extent to which the UN’s sustainable development goals are solved. Even though there are dozens of agencies that have cultivated forms of aid, the solutions are not often shared and standardized to fit different contexts. Panelist and president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer said that “a global humanitarian lap, a virtual space where startups, companies, NGOs, the Red Cross and UN agencies to find innovative solutions is one of the big challenges we are confronted with today.” The lack of communication prevents the commission of shift and sizable missions to aid a multitude of SDGs—from climate change, education and hunger to global health. Within the private sector, interactions between organizations could also lead to not only more groundbreaking solutions but investments that are crucial to funding SDGs. The future of impact investing has been focused on bringing philanthropies and companies together to reach funding goals. By linking all forms of aid, the outreach can be expansive rather than narrowed toward one area of need. Online platforms can be utilized to stop the spread of terrorism Although several countries have proposed internet regulations to stop terrorism, the answer may lie on the use of online search engines and platforms. Panelist Yasmin Green, head of research and development at Google’s company Jigsaw, proposed that more information can help combat online terrorist recruitment. In her research with terrorist groups in Iraq, Green found that terrorist groups can be hindered by informing potential recruits on the risks and implications of joining such organizations from the start. By adapting searches on Google, Jigsaw has made improvements by using technology to make the masses of extremist websites less available and bring people to sources of accurate information. In addition to adaptation in searches, social media has also created a platform for people to speak out against terrorism and inform at-risk groups of the dangers involved in joining terrorist organizations. Panelist and YouTube personality Humza Arsha spoke on how he used his YouTube channel to speak against ISIS recruitment by notifying his viewers of the risks involved in fighting for ISIS and speaking against Islamic extremism. Despite the circulation of hate on the internet, social media and new technologies can block the magnitude to which terrorism can spread. Young people are at the forefront of change The success of the UN’s SDGs relies on youth. Panelist and UN Special Envoy Jayantha Wickramanayak said that “it’s no longer a question if we should let young people take the leadership, I think they are already taking the leadership. The question is whether the rest of the world can keep up with them.” Organizations should not only the involve the millennial population, but promote younger generations to spearhead change. From efforts to reduce the extent of climate change and solving world hunger to creating a better world in 2030, young people are responsible for answering global problems. Photo by UNDP.  

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.