humnchain: using blockchain to restore trust & transparency in giving

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Fintech and blockchain, are buzzing with opportunities to  dis-intermediate traditional monoliths in financial services and change the way that our economy functions.

But what if we used this technology of distributed ledgers and smart contracts to alleviate humanity’s suffering? There are many causes that we care about that are underserved. Causes that we would like to contribute to to make this a better world.

There are many challenges in dispensing aid around us and the world and one of them is in the funding and the use of this funding.

Since 2000 I have jointly led a small association that improves the lives of street children and poor families in Vietnam. We have built schools and hospices and invested in many vocational training and health projects.

school built by “SOS Enfants des Rues du Vietnam”, changing many lifes

From fundraising in France to taking delivery of such projects in Vietnam, there are so many challenges, that is not surprising that so many aid organizations fail from time to time. Money is sometimes missused, or not used wisely. Some projects are badly implemented and fail to meet their objectives.

When I speak with individual donors, they are often willing to donate funds “because they trust me.” Those same donors tell me that would like to donate a lot more to charity but they don’t trust the organizations that ask for their donations. Those big organizations are perceived as opaque. “I have no idea what they do with my donation”, I’m often told.

And yet, I have also worked for and with these large institutions like UNICEF and the Red Cross. The professionals I have met there are highly committed to their causes and will do anything to make sure funds are used wisely. But it is virtually impossible for them to provide the sort of transparency that a small charity can provide. These big institutions lead huge relief projects involving many millions of people that require many layers of management and many layers of implementing partners.

The opportunity for a humanitarian blockchain

Blockchain technology provides us with a real opportunity to restore trust and transparency in funding of global aid from small and large donors. It allows donors to be in touch directly with the implementing partners and more importantly, with the recipients of their aid.

Using blockchain technology like Ethereum, we are able to create a smart contract between a donor (even a very small donor), with the aid organization and the cause that they serve. Such smart contracts are anchored to the blockchain and ensure that donor funds are only released if very specific conditions are met. These conditions may be reports from the aid organization or even a photo from the completed project on the ground. If the conditions are met, funds will be automatically released as planned. If they are not met, funds will not be disbursed and the smart contract will stipulate what should be done with them.

This puts the onus on aid organizations to do a good job in implementing their aid programmes. It will show up the good, the bad and the ugly. But honestly, the vast majority of these organizations are good, or are at least striving to be good.

At www.humnchain.org we are implementing this vision. A world where people that want to help other people, can do so globally in an environment of trust and transparency.

Blockchain technology will produce a new generation of billionaires, sure. But I also believe that this same technology will benefit those of our fellow people that have the highest needs. To make this a reality, is a community effort. Come and see for yourself at www.humnchain.org.

Life under a giant sun

giant sun

I live on the foothills of the Jura mountains and at this time of year we often get fog in the valley. On such days we wake up to a beautiful sun, set in a deep blue sky. Then, as I drive into the valley to go to work, I descend into a fog which evolves into a low hanging cloud.

As I drove int the fog, the sun was ahead of me and I was blinded by its brightness. I had never seen this before but the fog worked like a lens and made the sun at least three time the normal size.

I’m 53.

I love science and nature.

And I had never seen this.

What other huge things have I missed that are ridiculously obvious? Strangely enough, I have often taken the opposite viewpoint in life. I look at the things that appear to be the same, only to realize that they are completely different.

I once watched a documentary on the British artist David Hockney. He does something that I do: he goes to the same place for years and notices that nothing is the same day from one day to the next. He has made the same painting over and over again. They are all different.

david-hockney

Nothing is ever the same. It is probably what defines the difference between reality and our scientific or artistic interpretations of reality, where we pour our perception into a mold and are happy to believe that our molded perception in immutable and real.

Buddhists recognize the fleetingness of reality. They contend that reality flows, that it is like a whirlpool in a river. The whirlpool may appear to be the same but the water that it is made off flows incessantly.

The giant sun I saw this morning  is poking fun at all this subtle philosophy. It is a big WTF in the sky that appears to be saying: don’t worry about the details, just enjoy.

OK.

Returning from a void

Eight months ago I deleted the content from this blog in an attempt to create space in my head. This blog was becoming ultra geeky and needed to be put on ice.

Unable to sit still, I then threw all my energy into a novel. My third unpublished-and-never-will-be. I always get stuck at the 1st revision. One day I will get through that but as you can imagine, my work on genetic fractals naturally worms its way to the fore. But even that work only moves ahead ever so slowly as I scrape the barrel of spare time.

One of the cool things about being me is that my mind always finds some crawling space or cracks that will take it to new and exciting places to hang out and explore. This tends to go hand in hand with the ability to quickly get bored with a good thing. It’s an ENTP thing.

Back in 2013 when I started this blog I was without employment. I then managed to get a job as a consultant and I’ve been commuting between Amsterdam and Geneva since then. It’s a good thing but it’s becoming a drag; I don’t actually unpack my bag anymore, I just swap the shirts and underwear out and adjust for the expected weather in Amsterdam.

Long live the Euro Commuter. But me, I’m bored with a good thing.

Last weekend, my wife and I went for a walk along lake Geneva and just as the sun was about to disappear behind the mountains, it lit up the haze on the lake, veiling the majestic Mont Blanc. I stopped and took this photo.

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Island by Rolle, Lake Geneva, Switzerland

That’s when I knew I had to re-inflate this blog again. You see, such beauty is ever present but if we see it at all, it tends to evaporate the instant that we do.

I couldn’t let that happen, because that is exactly the inspiration I’m seeking. This is the anti-boredom remedy. This will get me out of Euro Commuting into something truly exciting. This is why I’m studying genetic fractals. Hell, this will even get me past a 3rd revision!

It’s good to be back. Good to see you again.

 

The end of it all

image credit Wikimedia
Black hole (Wikimedia)

Recently a colleague asked me about Genetic Fractals. That surprised me because I don’t really talk about this stuff at work. As it turned out, he didn’t ask me about Genetic Fractals but I misunderstood a tangential reference to TED and I launched into a lecture on my theories of genetic fractals as a Theory of Everything starting from the creation of the universe. Continue reading The end of it all