How Blockchain Can Help Solve One of the World’s Biggest Problems

5 minute read

Did you ever have one of those dreams where you come up with an awesome, world-changing idea but you wake up and realize you've forgotten the whole thing? Well, a few weeks ago, I had one of those dreams. But this time when I woke up, I remembered everything and I frantically scribbled down some notes before the idea was lost forever.

Readers of this blog, or people who know me personally may also know that I'm mostly working on Decision Tree these days—and I'm always thinking about new ways of combining existing ideas together. Specifically, I'm thinking about how we can use the improved decision science of DecisionTree and combine it with altruism (instead of just the business purpose for which it's traditionally geared).

I remembered a few years ago that Dean Kamen (of Segway fame) had invented a water purification process—some kind of water vapour distillation system—that was tied to a sterling engine. The genius was that this engine could use anything as fuel—even cow dung—to help purify water in far flung places all over the world. If I recall, over a billion people, worldwide, are directly affected by a lack of clean drinking water, so this is a huge problem to overcome. I was struck by the fact that Kamen was taking a crack at solving it using very modest, yet adaptable tools.

Tracking Your Charitable Donations with Blockchain

When we give to charities, we often have in the back of our minds stories about how various charities take and/or misspend the money they collect. With my background in things like Bitcoin and Blockchain technology, I thought it would be pretty cool if we had an altruistic charity that people could choose to give however much they wanted into it. After giving that money, you get put into "decision tree" and you can choose exactly where those funds are allocated.

Essentially, it would be a token-based system (which is very popular these days (especially if you follow things like Etherium or Ubiq). With this token system, money that you put in would be able to be distributed how you wanted it to be distributed. You would never have to worry that the money would be misspent because it would be going along a Blockchain and could be tracked and authenticated along its entire life cycle.

For those of you who may not be familiar with some of this terminology, the Blockchain is a "double ledger" system (to use an accounting analogy) but it's "immutable." What that means is that you can't delete the transaction. Wherever that token goes, it's traceable forever—until the end of time! That's why people often associate the "shiny object" with Bitcoin but in reality, the shininess definitely falls on Blockchain—this immutable double ledger that's transparent forever!

For example, did you know that for every Bitcoin that's ever been used since day one seven or eight years ago, you can download the entire Blockchain for it? It's like over 120 gigabytes right now and you can see every transaction where that money went from Account A  to Account Z (of course replacing A & B with hashes).

Using Blockchain to Help Make Clean Water a Reality

I'm really excited about this idea because according to Dean Kamen (mentioned above), we could actually solve the entire world's clean water problem with only a couple of billion dollars. Kamen's project, called Slingshot, was intended to be limited to selling it to one company—I think it was going to be Coca-Cola.

We're in this era of the sharing economy and crowdsourcing and so that is the other piece that I kind of merged into my "dream idea." Wouldn't it be cool if we could have a crowdsourced project that we could all put our money into and end dirty water around the world for everyone!

Using the merged technologies of crowdsourcing, Blockchain and DecisionTree, we can put money into a clean water project and distribute it equally as we all see fit. We could even see on a map where there are water problems and choose which country or which regions that your money is going to. Using tokens of Blockchain, we can validate that it went exactly where it was intended.

Although two billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, we live in a totally connected world. All the technology to achieve this vision of raising and allocating funds to completely eradicate dirty water already exists! There is nothing new that I would be inventing. It would just be merging Blockchain technology to the water solution systems that are out there now—and using DecisionTree to leverage and optimize the altruism of fellow humans!

Charity: Water has the Means to Implement This Plan

I came across an amazing non-profit, charity: water, that purports 100% of the money that you donate goes towards improving drinking water for people around the world. They use other channels like sponsors to provide the money for the administration side of their operations, so you have that assurance that your money is going to the cause itself and not just the administration of it.

I'd love to chat with Scott Harrison, founder of charity: water about how we might get several very smart minds—with expertise in the technologies I've mentioned above—to get together in a room and end this problem in short order. Getting a marketing giant involved, such as Gary Vaynerchuk, would also help move this project along and get it seen by the right influential people that can help make it all happen. So, if you're reading this and you have any connections to help make this dream a reality, please reach out and let me know.

The secret to making this idea work is to merge existing projects, products and tech together that are already in existence. Once all these things are combined, coupled with a big enough campaign, we can solve the dirty water problem for every human being on Earth -- everyone should have access to clean drinking water. That would be a pretty cool thing for any of us to be involved with, right?

That's my idea, in a nutshell. If anyone would like to talk to me directly about it, you can find me online or contact me on Twitter at @cqwww. Thanks, now let's eradicate dirty water in our lifetime! How much, or what, would you contribute?

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