Blockchain - Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

Can Blockchain Technology Improve Your Human Rights?

We are launching a new podcast series, “Human Rights and Blockchain.” It will be an in-depth exploration of the potential uses of blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, to improve our enjoyment of human rights.

Walid focus on blockchain and potential uses to improve human rightsFirst out of the block (no pun intended) is Walid Al-Saqaf. He is a Senior Lecturer at Södertorn University in Stockholm where he does research on media technology and blockchain.

In this wide-ranging discussion we get into the details of what blockchain is, how cybercurrency works, why you need to know about smart contracts, and much more. Clearly there are potential impacts for blockchain technology to advance human rights, but as with all technologies, there are also drawbacks.

Walid talks about the potential impact blockchain has on improving human rights around the world, from potentially limiting land grabbing to stopping the use of smuggled or fake drugs. Walid thinks we’ll see blockchain technology used in the future to track supply chains and even blockchain courts. Other uses of blockchain in improving fundamental human rights could include limiting voter fraud and stopping other forms of corruption.

In the coming weeks we’ll be speaking to different frontrunners who are exploring or starting to use blockchain to address human rights concerns.

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Below you can read the transcript of our entire conversation with Walid Al-Saqaf.

Full Transcript

Gabriel Stein: Walid, thank you so much for joining us today.

Walid Al-Saqaf: It’s my pleasure.

Gabriel Stein: I’m really fascinated to talk to you today about blockchain technology, which many people may have not heard of, but they have heard of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, which is based on this blockchain technology. What I’d like to discuss with you today is potential implications and applications for human rights and other social change work going forward, and I know you’ve done a lot of work on this so I’m looking forward to this conversation, but before we start, our general audience needs a bit of introduction to what blockchain technology is. Imagine I’m a 5-year-old and you’re trying to explain what it is. How would you describe it?

Defining Blockchain:

Walid Al-Saqaf: Oh, okay. That was an unexpected question. I’d say it’s your ability to save information without anyone being able to tamper with it. It’s a place where it is a shared form of storage of data that is possible to look into and confirm and verify without anyone being able to alter it.

Gabriel Stein: How does it work?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah. Let’s say the ultimate characteristics of immutability are guaranteed simply because what happens on the blockchain stays on the blockchain since it is distributed. Imagine that one day you have the ability to record whatever happens in the day and this information is stored on let’s say hypothetically on a million pieces of let’s say notebooks and these notebooks are distributed across the world. And so everyone has a way to verify if the information is identical to the list. It means effectively that the distributive nature of this mechanism alongside the cryptography in it makes it possible to guarantee that no one is going to control what is written there or modify it.

This is what is rather fascinating about this since we have all been used to legacy data systems where you have central authorities taking care of things, but in this case, we actually do not need to trust in the various nodes or holders of these let’s say sorts of data centers because all of them are linked cryptographically and math is what dictates everything. It means that technology itself had a way of sorting how data is stored. All you need to do is run these nodes and be part of this network and then, only you’re strengthening the capacity of the network to be more let’s say resilient, but you’re equally not used as a trusted agent. It’s rather that you’re using your hardware to ensure that the data is stored effectively and without any ability to change it. That’s the basic premise of blockchain.

Blockchain and transactions:

Gabriel Stein: Does blockchain need to have a transaction in order to be blockchain?

Walid Al-Saqaf: The word transaction is basically the phrase we use when we store data. A transaction is a piece of information that ensures that something happened and that’s why it’s called transaction mostly because it came from Bitcoin’s original concept of exchanging money, but the idea behind transaction is that you store some value or a content of any value can be a record of someone sending someone else some money, but it can equally be any form of data that you can imagine. That’s what the name implies.

Gabriel Stein: If we just take the money for a second because that’s maybe a bit easier for people to understand, we have these servers all over the world and they’re all storing this blockchain?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah. A server is a bit of a big name. You can call it like a wallet, like a particular node, yes.

Gabriel Stein: They’re physical computers and they’re storing these databases?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah. A copy of the exact … What we call often … We use the word ledger, a distributed ledger. A copy of it is stored on every single node on the network.

Gabriel Stein: If I give you $5 or 5 krona, that then is sent out. That transaction is then sent out to all of these nodes and there is an encryption, some sort of mathematical calculation that they have to do and then, when 51% of those nodes saw that calculation, then it’s firmly stored in the shared ledger and you can never take it away?

On Mining:

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah. Basically what happens is that you have a miner. These are the names … Name mining means that the person who first guarantees or verifies a particular transaction. So the miner gets to be the person who records the transaction first and stores it on a block so that’s why it’s called a blockchain-

Gabriel Stein: Where is the miner? Is that …

Walid Al-Saqaf: He is one of the nodes. What happens here is that there are nodes that are mining, meaning that they are the ones responsible for recording and verifying data on the network, and the rest are basically data storers, they mainly verify and store the information.

The miners are the ones who are able to get Bitcoin running because they are the ones who get to solve the mathematical problems that allow them to get a reward in return because what happens here is that if you have a transaction taking place, the protocol of Bitcoin in this particular case allows miners to get to know a particular what we call a hash. So this hash is basically a code that miners need to guess. The first person to guess the code correctly and would be the one who gets to write the next block. And so it happens to be that right now I believe it’s about 1 Bitcoin is a reward for every miner, but then the reward may change over time.

The idea is that the miners are the ones who record the data on the blockchain and so once one particular miner has solved the issue and gets it on the blockchain, the other miners, everyone else up on the network will be able to confirm whether that person is indeed the one who solved it and that’s how it gets to increase what we call confirmation, so one confirmation, two confirmations, so these increase in time and so they ultimately arrive to full confirmations by the whole network. That’s what happened.

The 51%, what we call the 51% attack is that what if we have one miner that solves and the other miner also claiming that they solved it? In which case, the confirmations continue on, then until you arrive to 51%, the one who gets the 51% confirmation is the one who gets rewarded, who is actually going to have the blockchain recorded in his name so that’s how it plays out. It’s not easy I understand, but it’s more important that you get the notion of immutability and how it works because I have done a workshop and we spent at least two hours trying to get to illustrate how mining works.

Gabriel Stein: But like you said, it takes away the middle person or it takes away the central entity, and it’s spreading that across numerous people-

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yes, exactly.

Gabriel Stein: Or numerous computers. So why is it potentially so revolutionary?

Walid Al-Saqaf: It’s because it’s the first time ever that we can consider having a mutual let’s say … We can communicate with each other, send content with each other without relying on a central authority. In the past, let’s say … let’s take the example of Facebook. If you … And imagine that there … Facebook itself is a central authority. What happens that you put your own content on Facebook and then, Facebook gets to refine the content, extract the content, analyze the content, and then let’s say bring in advertisers and advertiser contact Facebook and then, they get the targeted content and end up … the algorithm of Facebook connects advertisers with content providers, which are users like you and me. In which case, Facebook is the central authority. Everyone knows Facebook. They rely on Facebook because that’s where they have the data.

The thing is that with blockchain technology, you don’t have a Facebook. You don’t have a central authority taking charge of content. So, what happens is that blockchain is distributed everywhere. Whenever you put in your own content, it’s spread all over the network and advertisers themselves also are spread all over the network. What happens here is that if you put content, there is no authority to take a commission or a fee from your advertising, so from advertising revenues. For example, in this case, advertising revenue would go directly to the content provider. So you eliminate the overhead fees for administration, accounting, all sorts of other central authority related expenses because this is all eliminated. What you have is everyone is a content provider. Anyone can be an advertiser so they can communicate with each other directly without a central authority so that’s the promise.

The thing is that it’s not easy to comprehend how this would happen unless you begin to learn about something called smart contracts. I don’t know if you want to get into that, but that’s really the core of this idea, ultimate let’s say promise or revolutionary thing within blockchains on top of immutability and transparency.

On Smart Contracts:

Gabriel Stein: Yeah, let’s talk about smart contracts and what they are and why they’re so important.

Walid Al-Saqaf: Okay, good. A smart contract is basically an agreement that you have between two users on the blockchain. Let’s say I would agree that I rent an apartment from you and if it were to be like Airbnb, Airbnb is an authority that’s central. In this case, what we do is that we emulate Airbnb into a smart contract. The smart contract is a piece of code that receives arguments let’s say from me as the individual or the renter, the one who would like to rent. It would take a parameter from the renter. Say I’d like to pay $500 per month and pay it to another account who is also part of the smart contract, let’s say the owner of the apartment.

The smart contract is a piece of code. So what happens is that it receives information of whether you have paid the rent. So every end of month let’s say you get to pay the rent through this smart contract. You send it over. If you haven’t sent it in time, it actually makes sure that this is embedded in the system so it can, for example, link up, theoretically speaking, it can link up to the account of … to the apartment where you live and then lock the door, for example. All of this would be done automatically without even having a central authority. It’s all embedded in the code.

Just like you can do it with rent, you can do it with insurance. You can do it with finance. You can have what we call emulated escrow accounts where people can let’s say submit money into an escrow account built on top of the smart contract. Then once a particular amount is reached, then this would be distributed in a percentage for example. All of this information can be embedded in smart contracts.

The idea here is that since it’s a machine, whatever is written on the contract will be implemented verbatim, literally. There is no human involved. That on the one hand it saves a lot of money because it means that there’s no overhead in terms of expenses and accounting, etc. But it’s equally important to understand that if it’s code, it’s immutable and it’s going to be executed anyway so you better be very careful of what you write in there.

Gabriel Stein: How come it’s immutable? Why can’t the code be changed?

Walid Al-Saqaf: It’s because the smart contracts themselves, the program itself is also written on the blockchain. So not only is it the data, it’s also the code that’s on the blockchain. It means that the exact copy of the smart contract will be on every node. So, it’s not possible once it’s written.

Gabriel Stein: And there’s no way to tamper with that?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah, it’s because it’s simply the same as with any other type of code that you store on the blockchain. So we can’t remove a transaction and you can’t remove a smart contract. That’s why it’s amend only if you … Let’s say assuming that you had an error in a smart contract, a bug, and in which case, you would actually have to update the smart contract and ensure that whoever is using the old smart contract gets to know that that smart contract is no longer valid. And so these are ways in which we can …
Also you cannot apply some code inside the smart contract in which let’s say the originator of the smart contract would have inside the code itself a piece of information that if it receives the particular say transaction from the owner, then the smart contract itself will be invalid. You will no longer receive.  This is part of the code itself. It becomes like a piece of legislation so to speak that is impossible to amend or adjust or modify. So, we end up having to create a whole new smart contract and then, everyone would use that instead.

Gabriel Stein: In a way you’re putting complete trust in the code and also-

Walid Al-Saqaf: Exactly.

Gabriel Stein: … the technology?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Exactly. In that case, in that sense it’s what we call a positivist is that you totally have full confidence in that machines and code will get it all sorted out, but eventually, if you can think of it in the long term, it means that the human being who writes the code will be the one you are trusting.

Gabriel Stein: Right. Wow. There are so many ways to go with this now, but I want to swing back around to that, the potential downsides in a couple minutes, but let’s talk about the work that you’re doing. You’re exploring the potential applications of blockchain that intersect with social impact including human rights. What are you finding?

Blockchain and Human Rights:

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah, very interesting question. The idea behind this is that let’s look into the aspects of blockchain that can help promote certain human rights. We looked into this and we found that there are a number of things such as transparency. Once you have information on the blockchain, it’s there forever to look at. It means that it has a transparent layer that ensures no one is going to let’s say meddle with or change or alter.

In cases of corruption, for example, if you have all the records over there, then there’s no way for governments to hide this information. It’s out already. In some sense, it promotes transparency to the general public. The more governments use these forms of immutable data centers that are public, the more it creates a sense of empowerment for the general public because it eliminates let’s say corruption or reduces corruption to some degree.

Another aspect that we considered is that since money can be transferred across the world without any let’s say conditions or restrictions, that means that you can immediately dispatch an amount to anyone around the world assuming that, of course, everyone has a wallet on this network. This would help, for example, activists in times of crisis to get their amounts without having to think of, “Okay, I need to go to an exchange or I need to ask for permission from the government,” etc. Equally, it’s also powerful for any member of society who is let’s say anyone who is suffering from a particular disaster, a crisis to immediately get the funds immediately in the sense, depending on how fast this transaction goes, but rather seamlessly.

Gabriel Stein: Can I just jump in on the-

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yes.

Gabriel Stein: Sorry. Can I just in on that point? But would you need to have a cryptocurrency to be able to do that or can you do that with normal currencies, so called normal currency?

Walid Al-Saqaf: No, so far, it’s obviously this isn’t … We are hypothetically thinking of a world where everyone has a wallet so they’re all connected through cryptocurrencies and so they have already established their own wallet and so everyone would be well in that position. That’s where the real value of blockchains or cryptocurrencies come. Right now, as of today, this is of course not the case. We need to actually convert your fiat or regular money to cryptocurrency, and this is done through exchanges, and depending on the fees that you pay, have to get that across, but once you have the money in cryptocurrency, then you can easily transfer that to whoever you would like.

Gabriel Stein: All right. Let’s go in two directions now. One is how far away do you think we are from having these cryptocurrencies that are kind of everyone has a wallet?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Well, it’s still far away. Today, it’s like people are still grappling with the notion of what this is about and then, there’s quite a strong resistance by governments who think that this needs to be regulated. I would give it another 10 to 20 years until it’s become like the norm for people to exchange with these types of transactions.

Additionally, there’s a technological challenge because scalability is one of the big issues. My paper very explicitly explained that Bitcoin as it is today is not feasible if you were to use it for what we call daily transactions, micro transactions because they require speed and today, transaction takes up to 10 minutes. In the best case scenario, it can take a few minutes. In the worst case, it can take days. It means that there’s still need to work on the technological layer.

New solutions and new ideas are emerging every day, but that means that people will have to sift through them and find what’s more suitable, more practical, and so there’s a legal challenge. There’s a technological challenge. Then, of course, awareness and the culture of using cryptocurrencies needs to be let’s say introduced, this concept needs to be introduced to the overall public.
Gabriel Stein: Then my second question related to that is that one of the issues is the exchanges, right, and you bring that up as well, that they, the exchanges, which are the places where you take a US dollar or a Swedish krona and buy the cryptocurrency, that those exchanges themselves have been hacked in some big hacks and that’s an issue, right?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yes, exactly. The hacks themselves are not an indicator of the vulnerability of blockchain itself because you think of blockchain, once you are already in the cryptocurrency world where you already have let’s say Bitcoins or ethers, whatever the currency you have, in which case, you don’t have that vulnerability, but then you need to move from the fiat to the cryptocurrency world. That’s where you have the vulnerability and it’s mainly because of poor security considerations by the various exchanges, lack of understanding of how to save or deal with private data. Until we arrive to a world where there is really no need to use fiats, you can buy a car with crypto, you can rent a house with crypto, and you can do all the things in virtual currencies, until then, you would still continue to have the vulnerability of exchanges.

Gabriel Stein: That being said, we’ve talked a lot about hypothetical here, but what are some concrete things that are being done today with this technology in the field of social change, human rights, etc.?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah, there are several examples of this. On the paper, I describe, for example, one case where it’s very evident. It can be used in many developing countries, which is ownership of land, real estate ownership. Oftentimes, you get powerful individuals in developing countries, power centers would seize land of the victims, regular citizens who have no power over them. And then they seize it and they just write under their name.

In a blockchain enabled real estate system where it’s already been implemented in Georgia country, Georgia, they’ve already established a system where real estate registration is already embedded in the blockchain. So the moment you buy a land, then it’s on the blockchain. The moment you sell it to someone else, it goes on the blockchain. This information is saved and it’s saved permanently so it means that there is no way for someone to claim the land being theirs because it’s already registered in this decentralized ledger and even if the government itself collapses, you still have the decentralized ledger. It’s like the ultimate way for people to feel relaxed. They can sleep at night. That’s one example.

Gabriel Stein: Let me just jump in. This is a massive issue, land grabbing where land is super important and this has major impact for the most vulnerable people, people who have less money and also, indigenous people, not to mention the impact it has on the environment. This is potentially huge.

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah. Exactly. Another one that’s also huge and it’s about affecting people’s lives is the use of smuggled drugs or fake drugs. What happens that if you go to the black market, you can sell many different types of drugs that you may think that are effective and cheaper, but they end up to being disastrous and harmful. In many countries, these are not possible to control because the government isn’t really able to guarantee if this is fake or not. What happens is that you can have a health record of all, that’s an agreement around let’s say the pharmaceutical industry players to ensure that every single medicine that has a particular code is on the blockchain. We can easily check the label and check the code and then, run it through the scanner and see if it’s really legitimate or not.

This is something that’s already been … it was in Vancouver last year and one of the presentations was actually a potential practical implementation of this for a number of pharmaceutical companies. This would effectively be able to limit smuggling of the medicine and fake medicine fraud in the pharmaceutical industry, which would save a lot of lives and reduce the victims that are being abused as we speak. That’s just another example of how … We call it tracking the supply chain, how we can ensure that the data on various types of products is in fact verified or confirmed or validated through this immutable global universal ledger. It makes it really powerful for people to use.

Gabriel Stein: We have been very active for years in the field of justice. Fair and efficient justice is one of our focus areas and we do trainings and workshops, and capacity building around the world for court clerks, and judges, and prosecutors. I’m curious, you discussed crowd jury here a little bit and that sounds very, very interesting. Can you go into that a bit?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yes. The idea is that there might be a time when you have the actual work on, let’s say in legislation on the blockchain itself, understanding what can you use if you get let’s say a parameter. Let’s say you have two parties. They have a conflict and they have some data that you can feed into a smart contract and it will give you the result. This is automating the process of judging. This is one thing.

Another thing is that you can use the blockchain as a mechanism of consensus. We bring in the cases and then, members on the network can either vote or look into this based on how rationale or their own understanding of how the case should be and the result would be. Then eventually, we’d come to a point where there’s a majority voting in one direction and based on these particular facts.
This is all still hypothetical, but it’s an example of how smart contracts and immutable data would guarantee some degree or ensure or improve the level of let’s say fraud resistance and the abuse of power whether it’s on the judges or government officials or criminals, whoever is being involved in this. Data is so transparent and so open and possible to be matched and ensure that everyone is aware of, in which case, it can lead to better judgments overall.

Downsides and Challenges:

Gabriel Stein: I know there are some downsides as well. What are the big issues right now do you think?

Walid Al-Saqaf: The biggest downside is that there is potential for this to be used by criminals and we’ve had this discussion before when the internet itself started. You remember the days of Napster. There are cases where there was copyrights violations. There is potential for it to be used to achieve illegal ends. Not far back, you may recall the cases where you have the ransomware spread out in many different sectors and the culprits behind this actually called for remittances to be made in Bitcoin.

It’s a way to somewhat not totally anonymize, but we can send your money across to a Bitcoin account and that address may be owned by someone whom you don’t know and no one knows because Bitcoin allows anonymous addresses. It doesn’t associate a name to a particular address. Let’s say dark market, the so called like let’s say transactions that may take place using these types of the cryptocurrencies is one downside.

The way to deal with it in my opinion is not regulation. It’s more to do with understanding the risks being involved, not to be a victim yourself, and this is going to take a long time.

Gabriel Stein: Would you say that blockchain could easily be explained considering like peer-to-peer technology like Napster?
Walid Al-Saqaf: It’s a bit of a fallacy to bring it to Napster. Peer-to-peer is just simple, one simple let’s say characteristic of blockchain, but unlike Napster … In Napster you don’t necessarily guarantee if the data on it is legal or it’s valid or not. What is good about blockchain is that you have the element of verifiability. Not only are you peer to peer, but you also can confirm and validate the information on this network. That means that effectively you can guarantee the security of the data.
Gabriel Stein: And the confirming-

Walid Al-Saqaf: On Napster, it’s totally opposite.

Gabriel Stein: Right. And the confirmation is the different nodes doing the crypto-

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yes. Yes, so anything on that blockchain is already confirmed. It’s confirmed by all these 51% plus. Unlike the case in a Napster environment where you have just one file that’s been copied over, but you don’t … This can be a virus. It can be malware, all sorts of information, but no one will be able to tell you exactly what it might contain. Additionally, of course, it doesn’t necessarily state that it’s shared by everyone. A small group can actually be the ones that hold this information. It can be peer to peer. It can be 3 to 1, but eventually, the data there is not at all verifiable.

Blockchain and voting:

Gabriel Stein: I’ve also read a bit about voting and how that could be a potential application for the blockchain?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah. This is still quite early and it’s one of the early stages, that idea of making sure that there is no central authority that could defraud a particular vote. That means that you have to embed a very strong personal information let’s say protection on the blockchain. The issue that that might be another example of a vulnerability or let’s say downside is that blockchain has been built on so much transparency that the idea of bringing in privacy or private data, let’s say hidden, encrypted data on the blockchain is a bit challenging because you need to know the data to confirm it.

The moment that you put in information that no one can read and see because it’s private, that moment is then brings in a new challenge to the blockchain. It’s contrary to the belief system of a blockchain. You end up having to rely on legacy solutions for that.

Gabriel Stein: When you say legacy, you mean a different platform basically?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yeah. You end up having to let’s say connect to a regular authority for verifying personal information that’s saved on the blockchain for example. Then you bring us back to square one. It’s still early in that respect, but these are all attempts to find solutions.

Gabriel Stein: How could potentially an individual, their identity be stored in the blockchain?

Walid Al-Saqaf: There are mainly a few projects that are trying to work on this. Among the ideas that you’ll have your data stored on your own computer and so this data will have to be verified, let’s say verifiable data like in Sweden, we have bank ID, which basically is a way for you to identify your identity through working bank, through your own bank.

This information will be on your computer and not put on the blockchain at all. What you will put on the blockchain is a hash or a key that corresponds to the identity, your identity. It proves that you are the one that owns that your account. In which case, you can then pursue whatever it is. It might be voting. It might be any other form of transaction, but eventually, the promise that blockchain technology will not force you to store your data, your private data on the blockchain itself, but rather connect you to the blockchain by confirming it through the data that’s on your computer. That’s where the challenge is.

Blockchain and censorship:

Gabriel Stein: You come from Yemen and you’ve been an internet rights advocate for a long time. Can you talk about the potential for blockchain to circumvent censorship by governments?

Walid Al-Saqaf: Yes, indeed. One area that’s been explored recently is using what we call the new web or blockchain-enabled web. The idea behind it is that just like you have Bitcoin as a way to distribute transactions, you can have the blockchain used to distribute data. Web pages, for example, need not to be on a central website. They can have caches or copies of it can be distributed across various servers around the world and these caches can have their own transactions keys and these keys can then be stored on a blockchain like Ethereum.

For example, there is a interplanetary file system, IPFS. They are working on a way to create what they call the censor resistant web, in which case, you can actually have data stored on in some way as if you’re uploading your data and having its hash stored on the blockchain, but equally, anyone who has the hash can find a way to access your data. If your server is offline, if it’s censored, then you have the information stored elsewhere so you keep on finding new and new copies of the same data. In that sense, blockchain can enable freedom of expression and a censorship-free web.

Additionally, you can use the blockchain to, as I said earlier, communicate with … send and transact, send donations to victims or human rights activists in remote parts of Yemen. If they have, let’s say if they were to need a particular amount to save a life or get something done on the ground very quickly, then this money can be sent across to the country without the need to worry about the borderline or the authorities taking charge or taking that money. It’s still early for that that case, but these are some examples of what you can do.

The future for Blockchains:

Gabriel Stein: Where are we headed? Do you think that this is going to really change things in many different industries and many different areas?

Walid Al-Saqaf: I believe so. There are some areas that are of government concern such as trying to ensure that legislation is in place to control who sends money or receives money, but even the governments themselves realize that they may actually benefit from these sorts of technologies to enhance their own services.

I’ll give you the example. You’ve seen the example of real estate protection because the governments don’t want people to complain that their lands were grabbed. So the government itself has an incentive to build a system that is let’s say fraud resistant, but equally, they also can use it to make expenses lower for their own staff. They can reduce the cost of administration by setting up blockchains to ensure that data is protected and safe, and used in a transparent way. There are different types of blockchain. Not all of them are public so you can have permission, than private blockchains. In which case, governments can use them for their own purposes, within their own scope.

The use of blockchains in my opinion is going to shoot up. It will continue and will rise. The only concern, the only let’s say problem that might occur is the amount of cryptocurrencies that would increase in time over time and people would fall through scams and fall through various other let’s say cases where they lose money and then blame the blockchain, which has nothing to do with that.

It means that there will need to be more awareness of the public to understand that this is not let’s say a get-rich-quick scheme and it’s also not only to cryptocurrencies. It’s much beyond that. So there is going to be a learning curve. There is going to be a lot of momentum going forward, ups and downs, but there’s no doubt that it’s going to grow.

Gabriel Stein: Walid Al-Saqaf is a senior lecturer at Sodertorn University in Stockholm where he does research on media technology and blockchain. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain all this to us today.

Walid Al-Saqaf: A pleasure.

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