From powering cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to digital property like non-fungible tokens (NFTs), it appears as if the blockchain expertise is in all places.
Blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that shops and data knowledge, and is finest recognized for facilitating transactions for digital currencies resembling bitcoin.
It additionally has many individuals hoping to get wealthy, by investing in digital property like GIFs and artworks — a few of which promote for hundreds of thousands, just like the digital artwork Everydays: the First 5,000 Days by American artist Beeple, which bought for $69.3 million U.S. in 2021. The expertise has additionally been criticized for its harmful environmental impact.
However buyers and celebrities usually are not the one ones investing within the expertise or the cryptocurrencies that blockchain allows.
In B.C., Indigenous artists are leveraging blockchain to safe their artwork, whereas researchers are finding out how the expertise can higher shield private well being info.
Indigenous NFT artwork
In an ethereal studio in Burnaby, B.C., artist David Fierro of the Okanagan Nation creates drums utilizing conventional hides, like these of elk, and acrylic paint that appears to return alive below black gentle.
However the drums, a part of the 400 Drums venture, aren’t made to be bought as they’re. As soon as executed, the instrument is photographed and bought as a non-fungible token or NFT.
An NFT is a digital asset that usually exists on the Ethereum blockchain, and shops distinctive knowledge that features a report of possession and transactions. NFTs can’t be replicated, and in contrast to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, every NFT has a distinctive worth.
That distinctive nature is one of many causes NFTs attraction to Indigenous artists like Fierro, because the theft, replication and gross sales of inauthentic Indigenous artwork stays a serious drawback, even at major galleries.
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The flexibility to report and confirm the authenticity of an paintings by means of blockchain can be interesting to Tamara Goddard, Fierro’s enterprise companion, who spearheads 400 Drums, a marketing campaign supporting Indigenous creators harnessing on-line 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 roughly equal to $4,200.
The funds will help initiatives for Indigenous youth and artists, together with media coaching and workshops for beginning their very own NFT initiatives.
“Our artwork is our worth, our artwork is our authorized tradition. We really feel that as Indigenous peoples, we have to enter this area to protect the genuine nature of artwork as a worth, artwork as cash,” stated Goddard, who’s of the Saulteau First Nation.
“It is an excellent match for us as a result of we consider that the NFT, though it is a digital asset that you just’re holding, will tackle a financial worth and develop in worth as does all of our Indigenous artwork.”
Securing well being knowledge
On the College of British Columbia’s college of data, analysis can be being performed on how the expertise may help shield well being info.
Victoria Lemieux, affiliate professor of archival science and one of many few girls on the earth main a analysis lab centered on blockchain, is engaged on a “private well being pockets,” the place well being info is securely saved on an individual’s smartphone utilizing blockchain.
The expertise, she says, is safer than present info programs as a result of it doesn’t depend on typical safety measures like passwords, and it decentralizes info in contrast to shared third-party providers just like the cloud.
This implies info on the blockchain is much less susceptible to hackers that will need to view or change any of that knowledge, she says.
“They aren’t getting access to this huge pool of knowledge that they’ll maintain for ransom,” she stated. “They need to work more durable to get smaller bits of data.”
The well being pockets she’s engaged on will enable folks to share well being info with a physician securely and effectively, she says, and permit folks to maintain their knowledge from getting used for analysis functions.
“If you happen to’ve had, for instance, some sort of a transplant, you may have a number of totally different medical doctors, you may have pharmacists and so forth. All of that info must be introduced collectively to assist the care group take care of you successfully, but it surely’s very siloed proper now,” she stated.
“It is all a part of this pattern to empower folks to regulate their knowledge, take energy away from platforms which have tended to vacuum up our knowledge with out asking.”