Sometimes you get what you put out into the universe. I first heard of blockchain technology and this new digital currency, Bitcoin in 2009 or 2010. I was working on my very first startup in Denver, the economy was tanking, and I was in a shared office space. There happened to be a brilliant MIT grad there with whom I became friends. He told me about this new currency and how impactful it will be on the world. At first I thought he was slightly crazy and it just sounded like rewards points on a very local level to me. As the months went on, he dove in deeper and deeper. Finally, I joined him and many others I have met over the years in that bottomless rabbit hole as well.
Over the last 10 years, my obsession with wisdom became a mirror everywhere. During this time, I also had the opportunity to advise (a fancy term “Thought Leader” was gifted to my CV) Carnegie Mellon University and UMPC’s joint Quality fo Life Technology Center. It was during a dinner with the director that I was bouncing this idea of the value of wisdom and discovered the most important use case for blockchain technology and a new type of digital currency I could think of: preserving and sharing the value of wisdom.
I spent much of my freetime experimenting with this concept, getting qualitative feedback from millennials and Gen Zs. I also worked on a few startups and consulted with some consumer electronics companies, gaining hands-on experience with a few key technologies: machine learning (AI), VOIP (Alexa), virtual reality filmmaking, 2D filmmaking and, eventually, blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT).
Back to the wisdom. Never before have we had such a gift in an aging world. Unfortunately, the majority of people agree that we are wasting this precious resource. Our obsession with youth is causing us to overlook an extremely important natural phenomenon.
We see value in our grandparents and parents advice, but oftentimes when it is too late. My goal connecting the wisdom of elders with distributed networks is twofold:
Preserving the wisdom. To protect the stories and prevent them from being tampered or lost, storing the content in a decentralized manner can greatly benefit security.
The value of the wisdom. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Z Cash, and other tokens have created not just a store of value, but their own economies. Why couldn’t we do this with wisdom if we can do this with Crypto Kitties?
Another important, but often overlooked, factor in all of this is privacy. A lot of blockchain evangelists push for everything to be transparent. I don’t agree, especially in this case. To enable people to feel safe and trust the technology to share some of the most difficult lessons of their lives, privacy is essential, just as it is for a psychologist. Secondly, the gathering of some of these stories can cause harm to those recording the memoirs. Think of countries much less free than the US. We need to protect those recording and sharing the stories.
This is why I wanted to work with the “Godfather” of blockchain and pioneer of digital privacy, David Chaum. It has been whirlwind of a learning experience and wonderful to work with such a talented group of engineers, designers, and cryptographers. For me, it has validated not only the need for privacy, but the trust that we can preserve and value wisdom in a different way.
Thanks for jumping down the rabbit hole for a few minutes. I’ll signoff with this realization that haunts me: the power of cryptography to prevent the rewriting of history is profound.