Winning projects show the variety of social impact of blockchain ideas
One technology, infinite possibilities.
The Impact Summit was held in New York from 1-3 June, with the goal of connecting a talented community with meaningful career opportunities, and meaningful ideas with the funds to help bring their ideas to life.
There have been a lot of socially impactful blockchain ideas around, with ideas ranging from water treatment funding schemes to different models of microfinancing platforms to better serve underbanked populations around the world.
The Impact Summit nominated three winners at the end, with an opportunity to earn $30,000 prize money.
The expansive potential of blockchain technology is becoming more apparent by the day, helped along by events like this which can showcase the many different forms that such projects might take, and how very different ideas can contribute to the same basic idea of making the world a better place.
The Exponent Project
The overall winner was The Exponent Project, which uses a cryptoeconomic incentive model to create a new way of motivating crowds to find someone or something.
The investigative potential of the Internet as a whole, and just enough people on the street, is well established by now. Internet sleuthing has been known to solve cold cases, while random tips from someone who saw something suspicious have saved lives.
But there's a lot of untapped potential in that crowd, and a bit more motivation might help bring it together. The Exponent Project might be used to find a lost pet, a forgotten item or even a missing person. The idea is that it rewards people who find people who can search, rather than just the finders themselves. For example, someone with a suspicion might contact someone they know in the area. This system might motivate more people to join the search, rather than have it carried by just one or two very dedicated individuals.
Did you like that movie? What do you want for dinner? How do you feel about that business? Do you know who your local representative is? Who should be the next president?
Having an opinion isn't that different from voting. So why are there so many more opinions and so few votes? Docklist aims to create a decentralised voting platform with far reaching impacts on topics as critical as where to go for dinner, or as unimportant as who should be the next president.
Beyond its obvious use as an opinion poll, Docklist aims to bridge the gap between opinions and formal votes with the world's greatest unifier – a clean UX.
Wishing Well is, well, a wishing well. People put money in and wishes come out.
It's an artistic crypto-powered wishing well though, designed to inspire people to make charitable donations at public art spaces. It's a fountain exhibit that responds to donations in different artistic ways, which can be varied depending on the type of donation, the location of the display and other factors. Someone might make a donation which projects an image on a nearby wall, or the fountain might alter its water pattern, or anything else that can be created.
Plus, it can issue givers a token, unique to the artwork, event or display, essentially giving them back a piece of the artwork as a way of thanking them for their contribution. Everyone's naturally at their most charitable when they have an audience, so a showy display might serve a quite practical purpose.
It's easy enough to picture the wishing well as a scenic centrepiece in a black tie gala, periodically lighting up the room in different ways for different sized donations, with the more generous givers winning a polite round of applause from bystanders for their efforts.
Although quite basic on the surface, it's worth noting that these systems wouldn't necessarily be possible without the advent of blockchain technology.
Cryptocurrency is a lot cheaper to implement in systems than real money, but can serve as an equally effective motivator and can be just as valuable in its own right if a system takes off. Something like The Exponent Project would be infinitely more difficult without cryptocurrency, especially when rewards need to travel a long way to reach their recipient.
Plus, the architecture itself is essential for the kind of transparency and security that allows a platform like Docklist to see such a wide range of applications.
And the Wishing Well might not be strictly dependent on digital currency, but it is what actually makes it feasible and worth doing in real life.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC, NANO