How Blockchain Can Address Pressing Social Problems

I got asked a great question on LinkedIn today, and I think it’s a topic deserving of a wider audience. I am genuinely interested in learning other people’s thoughts and opinions on all this. Anyway, I was asked:

Hey Kris, Just saw your profile, great to see so much interest about the crypto world and blockchain. One thing I’d like to ask you as you are quite familiar with the space — how do you think we can use blockchain technology in the social sector to solve problems in a country like India where problems like poverty, hunger, absence of basic water and sanitation facilities and unemployment persist. It would be great if you could share your views on that.

After giving it careful thought and consideration, here’s what I came up with:

Thanks again for such an awesome question. I really, really, really want to hear your thoughts on all this as well.
I don’t want to get us too far off track, but I want to explain one thing about me because there are some personal threads that will run through my analysis… I believe that everyone can tell you without too much thought ‘what’ they do. I believe that smart, self-aware people can tell you ‘how’ they do ‘what’ they do. I think the people that really make a difference in this world can you the ‘why’ behind the ‘how’ and the ‘what’. When people have a ‘why’, it shapes every decision and action they partake in. My own personal ‘why’ is educating people who need it most with skills they can use to become truly and completely self-sufficient. My ‘why’ heavily biases my answers and my thinking…
You asked me how blockchain might address five problems:
1 — Hunger
2 — Poverty
3 — Clean water
4 — Sanitation
5 — Unemployment
I thought about this all day, here’s what I came up with. Poverty is a symptom of unemployment. If GOOD employment options are available for all or most of the people who seek a job, poverty becomes a much less severe issue. This probably does a lot to help the hunger problem, but won’t address any macro-level systemic problems in food production or distribution. For this reason I’ve split hunger up into two issues, the macro problem and the micro problem. The micro-hunger problem is solved with employment, leaving only the macro problem. In my mind, this get us down to four root problems:
1 — Hunger (macro)
2 — Clean Water
3 — Sanitation
4 — Unemployment 
 A — Poverty
 B — Hunger (micro)
The unemployment problem and it’s children (poverty and micro-hunger) are solved on a personal level, they’re not infrastructure problems. Macro-hunger, clean water, and sanitation are all infrastructure-level problems — they can’t be addressed on an individual level. I’m going to add one more item to the list of infrastructure problems — data access or bandwidth. So now I have a list that looks like this:
I — Infrastructure Problems
 1 — Hunger (macro)
 2 — Clean Water
 3 — Sanitation
 4 — Data Access / Bandwidth
II — Individual Problems 
 1 — Unemployment 
 A — Poverty
 B — Hunger (micro)
The key to solving all the Individual Problems is education. We need educational programs in place to teach people the skills to be self-sufficient. Tech provides a great use case for this — you know just as well as I do that there are FAR more good ideas out there than there are developers to build them. If you can teach someone to be a proficient developer they can work from anywhere in the world with a laptop and a data connection. When developers develop things, you need designers to make them pretty. You also need managers to make sure things get done. You need salespeople to go sell the product. You need finance people to keep track of cash flow. The key is getting education into the hands of the people who need it most. Blockchain is HUGE here because there is already FAR more demand then there is supply and it’s only going to get worse. There has just never been a better time or better opportunity for people who want to learn code — the upside is tremendous and anyone with good data access and a basic education can be self-sufficient and able to support a family.
That gets us into the Infrastructure problems. To me, clean water and sanitation seem very closely related — if you knock one out the other takes a big hit too. I think adapting the idea of a revenue-neutral tax is what’s needed in this area. Government needs to levy a tax to all businesses which can be completely and totally offset if a business can prove all of it waste products were handled in an environmentally sound manner. The record of a business doing everything it needs to do to fulfill these requirements and avoid paying the tax can (and SHOULD) be recorded on a public blockchain for purposes of visibility, verification, and immutability.
The last two infrastructure problems, macro-hunger and data access, are ones that I simply don’t know enough about to provide any intelligent commentary on. I live in America, so I have a very remote and macro-level view of the situation in India. Help me understand, in your mind, what are the root causes of these two issues? Are data access issues in this part of the world due to infrastructure problems, lack or private investment/interest, or something else entirely?

Please share your thoughts! I want this to be the beginning of a bigger discussion!

Whatever the right answers are, for the first time in history, we get to figure them out together.

Feel free to chat with me on LinkedIn too —