Blockchain technology can be used against slavery. But we don’t know all the consequences
Blockchain technology can be used in the fight against slavery. But Catharina Drejer of Tankesmien Skaperkraft says that vulnerable children should never be guinea pigs for the tech experts’ final move.
The technology environment needs diversity. We are experiencing an explosion of technology-based initiatives. At the same time, various industries still find it difficult to collaborate on joint projects.
An example: Slavery is everywhere. From labor exploitation in distribution chains to sexual abuse, forced marriage; yes, slave-like work is a global phenomenon. Criminals are very innovative and when using new technology, society’s systems are heavy, and keeping up with technological changes is hardly renewable.
Five concrete examples: How blockchain can change work-life (TU Extra)
Blockchain against corruption
It is a forward-thinking technology blockchain. Blockchain is the technology behind the currently well-known digital currency Bitcoin and was developed to enable peer-to-peer (peer-to-peer) digital commerce. Once the need for an intermediary such as a bank is removed, you are left with a safe, traceable, and transparent behavior. Safe because you remove a potentially corrupt broker (this is the case in most of the world). It is traceable because the information is stored on the blockchain and cannot be deleted or changed afterward. It’s transparent because everyone has access to the chain.
Blockchain can help solve some of the underlying causes of slavery: economic and political corruption, poverty, inequality, and lack of democracy. In addition, technology can be used more directly by making corrupt value chains more transparent, thus creating conditions for workers. Blockchain can also be used to register properties and thus prevent documents from being lost intentionally in vulnerable countries.
The consequences of digital identity
A new initiative from the World Identity Network, a universal
Technology optimism alone can obviously take us in the wrong direction.
digital identity to help undocumented people who are very vulnerable to conditions like slavery. In collaboration with various UN offices and technology companies, they launched a pilot project in Moldova. The project aims to record biometric information from 350,000 children paperless and store it using blockchain technology. If a child is attempted to be smuggled out of the country, it can be recognized and stopped at the border.
Although I appreciate their commitment and initiative, it is important to ask about the consequences for children whose identities are kept in indelible records. The truth is we don’t know the consequences. In our enthusiasm for the possibilities that exist in new technological solutions, it is easy to be blinded to the challenges that can be created in the long run.
Yes, it is important to test solutions for digitally storing identity documents, but never do this in vulnerable groups who do not have the opportunity to give consent.
Technology developers need people from all disciplines. One of the strongest cards of academic disciplines is to think critically strictly from several perspectives, something that is sorely needed in tech companies. Technology optimism alone can obviously take us in the wrong direction.
Melvin Kranzberg, professor of technology history, predicted this as early as 1986. “Most of our problems with technology arise from unpredictable consequences when seemingly harmless technologies are used on a large scale. This is why many technical practices that seemed a boon to humanity when they were first introduced became threats when they became widespread. »It’s not hard to see how Facebook fits into this perspective, and blockchain could be another example. Fortunately, it is not technology that makes decisions, but we humans set the course.
Trine Kopstad Berentsen: Blockchain can change business models in various industries (TU Extra)
Fortunately, it is not technology that makes decisions, but we humans set the course.
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