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  • Blockchain Law for Social Good Center

Insights from 7 Experts: The Future of Emerging Technologies for Positive Societal Change

  • Uncertainty lingers regarding the equitable distribution of benefits from decentralized and AI technologies.

  • Technology isn't just a random collection of isolated tools like blockchain, AI, and quantum; it's an interconnected ecosystem that shapes our world. 

  • The future of technology can still be a force for uplifting humankind and bettering the world, especially when paired with the right policies and laws, but we will only get there when we give sovereignty back to technology users.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and decentralized technologies have reached a pivotal stage of development, permeating the fabric of daily life in our increasingly digital world. These rapidly evolving technologies, characterized by decentralized power structures and powered by troves of data, are poised to revolutionize various sectors. Forecasts indicate that these advancements will improve financial access for all, elevate productivity, catalyze economic expansion, embolden individuals across artistic and scientific domains, and potentially tackle formidable global challenges. 

Yet, amidst this wave of innovation, questions arise regarding equitable distribution of power and inclusivity. Will the benefits of these advancements disseminate uniformly or will they disproportionately favor already privileged communities? Moreover, how can we safeguard against a scenario where the advantages predominantly benefit affluent nations already equipped with the resources, infrastructure, digital literacy, and training to harness frontier technologies optimally?

As we delve into these pressing questions, the Social Impact Summit taking place on Tuesday, February 27, will provide a platform to unpack and address the complexities surrounding the equitable distribution of power, wealth, and inclusivity with decentralized and AI technologies. "Recognizing that our world has become increasingly driven by digital solutions, it is imperative that we approach society’s manifold challenges with a steadfast commitment to honoring and centering the lived experiences of often marginalized communities who are unjustly pressed to grapple with the unintended consequences of tech-centered tools and services," says Evîn Cheikosman, Director of the Blockchain Law for Social Good Center.

In an effort to shed light on these pressing concerns, seven experts weigh in on the transformative potential of emerging technologies, their capacity to foster positive societal change, and what we need to know to ensure that everyone – not just the fortunate few – reap the benefits of innovation.

Oluwaseun Adepoju, Editor, Africa Blockchain Report

Blockchain technology is an essential component in transforming the financial landscape, particularly in assessing the creditworthiness of individuals within crypto-heavy transaction ecosystems. Blockchain's transparent, decentralized ledger gives financial institutions unprecedented access to a complete and immutable record of an individual's cryptocurrency transactions patterns. This transformative capability enables a more accurate and comprehensive assessment of creditworthiness, allowing institutions to make informed lending decisions in the volatile environment of cryptocurrencies. By leveraging blockchain technology, financial institutions can navigate the complexities of crypto-heavy environments with greater confidence, fostering trust and efficiency in the evolving realm of decentralized finance.

Thiago Amparo, Law Professor, Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV)

Technology innovations can and should be integrated into ESG and inclusion corporate initiatives. In the past decade, significant technological innovations have emerged, such as blockchain, which refers to a system for registering and validating data relevant throughout the product lifecycle. This data includes information on carbon emissions, natural resource usage, labor practices, and social impacts. It encompasses supply chain traceability, certification of sustainable products, funding for environmental projects, and financial inclusion of marginalized communities. This new technology offers opportunities to improve transparency and trust in corporate data in general, and those data points are essential to compliance with ESG standards in particular. 

Alexandra Andhov, Associate Professor in Corporate Law and Technology, University of Copenhagen

AI and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) harbor the promise of unprecedented advancements across myriad sectors, offering solutions that could enhance efficiency, transparency, and the democratization of resources. Yet, beneath this promise lies a shadow of concern: if the reins of these powerful technologies are held but by a few concentrated hands, we risk designing a future where the architecture of our digital world is monopolized, not democratized. We might make the same mistakes we made with Web2. It is imperative that we strive for inclusivity and equitable access in the evolution of AI and DLT, ensuring that these technologies benefit all of humanity, not just a privileged few. 

Marta Belcher, President and Chair, Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web

Today’s internet is centralized: the vast majority of data is stored by just a few companies, creating single points of failure and making it so we live our lives through a handful of corporations. Cryptocurrency is already creating a better Internet — providing an alternative that puts people in control of their own data. Decentralized data storage technologies like Filecoin are preserving some of the world’s most important information, including government data, evidence of human rights abuses, and critical scientific datasets. Decentralized file storage is the foundation for the next generation of the web.

Enrique Crespo Peñaherrera, Regional Digital Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


Embracing frontier technologies (like AI and blockchain) isn't just about staying ahead; it's about leveraging innovation to pave the path towards sustainable development. These cutting-edge tools empower us to transcend traditional barriers, fostering inclusivity, transparency, and efficiency in pursuing a better world. Embracing these technologies isn't merely an option; it's an imperative for building a future where every individual and community can thrive, leaving no one behind. 

Rainey Reitman, President of the Board of Directors, Freedom of the Press Foundation

Over the last few decades, online power has centralized. A handful of corporate giants are siloing our data, blocking our access to knowledge, and gatekeeping our digital experience. In the movement to decentralize technology, I see a return to the ethos of an earlier internet era, when creativity and experimentation were the norm. It gives me hope. The future of technology can still be a force for uplifting humankind and bettering the world, especially when paired with the right policies and laws, but we will only get there when we give sovereignty back to technology users.

Sheila Warren, Chief Executive Officer, Crypto Council for Innovation

Technology isn't just a random collection of isolated tools like blockchain, AI, and quantum; it's an interconnected ecosystem that shapes our world. To drive meaningful change that benefits people, communities, and the planet, we must recognize this intersectionality. Approaching technology with a holistic mindset - always factoring in the human component - allows us to approach complex problems in ways that benefit all of us.

Make sure to register for the upcoming Social Impact Summit 2024, hosted by Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web and Blockchain Law for Social Good Center. Join us in person or virtually on February 27.

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