How the technology that powers crypto is being used for more than money


From powering cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to digital assets like non-fungible tokens (NFTs), it appears to be as even though the blockchain technology is all over the place.

Blockchain is a decentralized electronic ledger that merchants and records knowledge, and is finest identified for facilitating transactions for electronic currencies this kind of as bitcoin.

It also has several people hoping to get rich, by investing in digital assets like GIFs and artworks — some of which market for thousands and thousands, like the digital art Everydays: the Initial 5,000 Days by American artist Beeple, which sold for $69.3 million U.S. in 2021. The technological know-how has also been criticized for its harmful environmental effect.

But traders and stars are not the only types investing in the technology or the cryptocurrencies that blockchain enables.

In B.C., Indigenous artists are leveraging blockchain to protected their art, although researchers are finding out how the technological know-how can far better safeguard personal health information and facts.

Indigenous NFT artwork

In an ethereal studio in Burnaby, B.C., artist David Fierro of the Okanagan Nation makes drums using traditional hides, like individuals of elk, and acrylic paint that appears to arrive alive underneath black gentle.

But the drums, component of the 400 Drums undertaking, aren’t made to be bought as they are. After completed, the instrument is photographed and sold as a non-fungible token or NFT.

An NFT is a digital asset that generally exists on the Ethereum blockchain, and stores unique details that includes a record of ownership and transactions. NFTs are not able to be replicated, and as opposed to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, each individual NFT has a unique value.

That unique nature is one of the explanations NFTs appeal to Indigenous artists like Fierro, as the theft, replication and product sales of inauthentic Indigenous artwork remains a important challenge, even at major galleries.

Indigenous artist David Fierro of the Okanagan Country makes these handmade drums, which are photographed and turned into NFTs. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

The skill to document and validate the authenticity of an artwork through blockchain is also interesting to Tamara Goddard, Fierro’s small business partner. Goddard is the head of 400 Drums, a campaign supporting Indigenous creators harnessing on the net platforms to share teachings and tales.

Fierro and Goddard plan to promote the NFTs on the OpenSea platform for 1 ether — the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain — which is around equal to $4,200.

The cash will support initiatives for Indigenous youth and artists, including media education and workshops for starting up their personal NFT initiatives.

“Our artwork is our value, our art is our lawful tradition. We sense that as Indigenous peoples, we will need to enter this area to maintain the genuine character of artwork as a worth, art as funds,” reported Goddard, who is of the Saulteau Very first Nation.

“It can be a really excellent fit for us since we believe that the NFT, even while it is a electronic asset that you happen to be keeping, will choose on a monetary price and increase in value as does all of our Indigenous artwork.”

Securing wellness facts

At the College of British Columbia’s school of information, investigation is also remaining conducted on how the technology can help protect health information and facts.

Victoria Lemieux, associate professor of archival science and just one of the handful of ladies in the entire world leading a exploration lab centered on blockchain, is doing work on a “personalized health and fitness wallet,” where overall health data is securely stored on a person’s smartphone working with blockchain.

Victoria Lemieux is studying how blockchain engineering could be used to safe personal wellbeing information and facts on a smartphone. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

The technological know-how, she suggests, is much more protected than existing facts systems because it does not rely on common safety measures like passwords, and it decentralizes information unlike shared third-occasion services like the cloud.

This implies information on the blockchain is considerably less susceptible to hackers that may perhaps want to perspective or change any of that details, she claims.

“They are not attaining access to this massive pool of data that they can keep for ransom,” she mentioned. “They have to work more challenging to get more compact bits of information.”

The health wallet she’s working on will enable people today to share overall health information and facts with a doctor securely and efficiently, she claims, and enable persons to keep their information from remaining utilised for investigation needs.

“If you have had, for case in point, some variety of a transplant, you can have many different physicians, you may have pharmacists and so on. All of that information and facts requires to be introduced jointly to enable the treatment workforce glimpse immediately after you proficiently, but it really is quite siloed suitable now,” she reported.

“It is all aspect of this trend to empower people today to regulate their data, acquire ability absent from platforms that have tended to hoover up our info with out asking.”


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