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Rhodri davies - blockchain and social impact

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Slides from a talk I gave to London Funders Research & Evaluation network, June 2018

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Rhodri davies - blockchain and social impact

  1. 1. 1 Blockchain & Social Impact Rhodri Davies Head of Policy & Programme Director, Giving Thought
  2. 2. What are blockchain & cryptocurrency? 2 Distributed public ledger: record of transactions and ownership within a system, without the need for traditional trusted 3rd party NB: ≠ Cryptocurrency is the best-known use case of blockchain so far, but there are potentially far wider applications
  3. 3. What does blockchain enable? 3 Decentralisation & Disintermediation Radical transparency Assets and value of all kinds can be recorded Smart contracts Transforming governance
  4. 4. How could it be relevant to charities? 4 Cryptocurrency Blockchain • Crypto-mining for charity • Crypto-philanthropy Financial • Radical donation transparency • New Digital Assets • Charity crypto- tokens & ICOs • Disintermediation Non-Financial • Asset tracking & provenance • Digital Identity • Social Purpose DAOs • Social Impact
  5. 5. Civil Society Blockchain so far 5
  6. 6. Blockchains & Social Impact 6 Creating Measuring Recording IncentivisingPredicting? Transacting
  7. 7. Creating Social Impact: Civil Society Blockchain Possibilities (part 1) 7 1) Disintermediation • Reduced transaction costs • Direct cash transfers at scale • Increased trust? 2) Radical Transparency • Ability to track donations at all points • Increased trust? • Challenges in terms of core costs etc. • What about justified donor/beneficiary anonymity? 3) All Kinds of Assets • Any existing asset can be recorded on blockchain- tangible or intangible • Entirely new digital assets can be created- e.g. tokens
  8. 8. Creating Social Impact: Civil Society Blockchain Possibilities (part 2) 8 6) Real-time financial info • Immutable shared ledger of transactions • No need for separate reporting regime • No need for audit? 4) Smart Contracts • Self-executing computer protocols that perform defined functions when set criteria are met • Wide range of applications e.g. automated Payment by Results, algorithmic regulation 5) New governance models • Distributed Autonomous Organisations (DAOs)- networks of individuals able to coordinate at scale without centralisation by using smart contracts etc. • Challenge to traditional charitable organisations?
  9. 9. Measuring Social Impact 9  Blockchains are not themselves measurement tools, so they won’t automatically solve existing challenges with measuring social impact  In the short term, we will still need: Agreed frameworks (goals &metrics). ‘Oracles’ Authoritative individuals/organisations who verify info on a blockchain But there may be other possibilities in the future…
  10. 10. Recording Impact 10 NB: Assuming we have a way to measure impact, what is the benefit of using a blockchain to record it?  ‘Social Impact Data Commons’: break data siloes to drive innovation  Shared record: can be updated by multiple parties without central oversight or separate reconciliation process  Highly secure: immutable, distributed ledger so no central point of attack  Universality: social impact data recorded on same ledger as financial data etc., opens up wide range of possibilities in terms of transactions/incentives
  11. 11. Direct Social Impact Recording: Internet of Things 11  Gartner predicts there will be 20bn IoT devices by 2020  Many experts believe blockchain tech will provide infrastructure for data collection and transaction  Some data could provide proxies for social impact and outcomes (e.g. health data, environmental data, data on from smart homes).
  12. 12. Digression: IoT, The M2M economy & Philgorithms 12  One upshot of IoT development will be emergence of a Machine-to-Machine (M2M) economy made up of vast numbers of very small transactions.  Can we harness some for social good?  Impossible to do through direct human oversight, so will need to be automated.  Hence AI philanthropy and philgorithms (algorithmic process of matching need with interventions based on analysis of social data and impact data)  Will put a much stronger emphasis on impact measurement
  13. 13. Like this… 13
  14. 14. Transacting in social value 14  Once impact data is recorded on a blockchain, it can be used as the basis for transactions  Cryptographic tokens can be created to represent value of any kind (financial, non- financial, physical, intangible) – including social impact  Tokens could combine different elements of value recorded on same underlying ledger to create blended assets or currencies  Already efforts to do this for e.g. charitable giving, SDGs, environment etc. But this isn’t all you can do with tokens…
  15. 15. Token Incentives & Social Impact 15  Crypto tokens can be used as the basis for reward systems designed to incentivise many different things when it comes to social impact, e.g: NB: Theory of creating incentives is called “Mechanism Design” – essentially the inverse of Game Theory, and won its creators the Nobel Prize for Economics… Production • Users rewarded directly for producing measurable impact • Token likely to function as currency (closed or exchangeable) Measurement & Reporting • Users rewarded for accurate measurement and trustworthy reporting of impact (similar to projects aimed at combatting fake news etc.) • Token may have financial value, or function merely as marker of reputation Prediction • Users rewarded for success in predicting which interventions will deliver best outcomes/highest impact • Already a number of blockchain-based prediction market platforms (Augur, Gnosis etc.)
  16. 16. Prediction markets for social impact 16  Basic idea: create a marketplace around a token which rewards those who successfully identify the best interventions and approaches to deliver impact  Benefits of using a blockchain: decentralised (i.e. you don’t need a “bookie”) and payments can be automated using smart contracts i.e. “Bet on your theory of change”  Potentially democratising: would be open to organisations from all sectors, as well as individuals  Over time, participants would develop track records. Those who prove to be good at predicting social impact will attract more funding.
  17. 17. Where to find more 17 CAF Giving Thought think tank and Future:Good project Giving Thought Podcast: http://givingthought.libsyn.com/ @Rhodri_H_Davies
  18. 18. Rhodri Davies Head of Policy & Programme Director, Giving Thought Charities Aid Foundation rdavies@cafonline.org