A Global Digital Immune System for Humanity

Dr Shaun Conway
The ixo Journal
Published in
4 min readMay 27, 2021

The vision of creating a digital immune system for humanity took on new meaning and relevance since the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Now we are making progress on implementing this vision to transform how the world senses and responds to Covid and its ongoing variant outbreaks.

Covid Sense-and-Response networks

We have been researching and developing the ixo protocol since 2014, applying the biomimetic principles of the immune system to design an Internet of Impact.

This new stateful, programmable, graph-based, trusted Internet, which is formed by interconnected ixo protocol blockchain networks, enables decentralised sustainable finance and impact verification applications to be rapidly deployed and scaled, for sensing and responding to sustainability threats and opportunities for impact.

We are now rolling out nodes of the primary public network –the Internet of Impact Hub– across the world, which will be hosted by leading sustainability organisations and impact market-makers.

Whilst this is a remarkable achievement, as a public health physician who was at the forefront of the global responses to the HIV pandemic in the 2000’s it was challenging for me personally to feel that, whilst leading a technology startup, I could not directly and immediately apply my health and technology systems expertise to help with the Covid crisis. Now I’m excited to write that this looks set to change.

We are joining forces with world-leading epidemiologists, AI researchers, technologists, human-centric design fundis and communications experts, to launch a next-generation decentralised epidemic control platform, which we believe has the potential to fundamentally transform the future of public health. This is going to become a global digital immune system for humanity, in its truest sense.

Whilst the details of this initiative are not yet public, I can mention some of the innovations which are being implemented in the current design phase of this system.

A vision for the future of Precision Public Health

Data generated by this decentralised epidemic management system will provide the foundations for Precision Public Health by feeding intelligence into epidemiological surveillance systems, enhancing clinical trials and improving post-market drug safety monitoring. This could help us design more powerful intervention strategies which are based on real-time patterns of social contact, changes in transmission modes and new norms in behaviour.

Tokenised health incentives

On their own, digital technologies are not the solution. We also need mechanisms to incentivise people and bring about positive social behaviour changes –as well as to combat negative behaviours, such as the spread of fake news by Anti-vaxxers.

Vaccine Lotteries have shown huge promise in turning around immunisation campaigns, where the chances of winning a large cash prize are enough of an incentive to overcome complacency or hesitation. Current evidence for the effectiveness of this intervention comes from the Ohio Covid Vax-a-Million Lottery, which is now being replicated in various forms across other US states.

ixo as a technology platform for Covid sense-and-response

The ixo Internet of Impact provides an essential public digital infrastructure on which we can build the high-definition secure data applications, decentralised financing and incentive mechanisms for this revolutionary new public health approach.

We have started designing an Immunity Bond mechanism, using ixo Alphabonds, for outcomes-based financing of Covid interventions and to implement decentralised incentive schemes –including new types of tokenized lottery mechanisms. Read more about this here.

The new Interchain standards for NFTs and Verifiable Metadata, which ixo has been leading, will enable health outcome states to be tokenised and used in all kinds of innovative financing and data applications.

When Immunity?

We were not ready at the start of this pandemic, but over the past 18 months we have had the opportunity to learn so much about what works and what has failed.

Together with the collaborators in this exciting new area of technology innovation for ixo, we will release a co-authored White Paper and expect to be able to make public announcements about the initiative in the near future, with a big reveal about how this will be further developed and tested in high-profile pilot implementations. Watch this space! Please do get in touch on Discord, if you would like to be involved.

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Dr Shaun Conway
The ixo Journal

Seeker of serendipity. Inventor of the ixo Protocol for The Internet of Impact.