May 26, 2022


Born to play

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

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

Blockchain is a decentralized electronic ledger that suppliers and information facts, and is best identified for facilitating transactions for electronic currencies these as bitcoin.

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

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

In B.C., Indigenous artists are leveraging blockchain to safe their artwork, whilst researchers are studying how the technological innovation can superior safeguard personalized wellness information and facts.

Indigenous NFT art

In an ethereal studio in Burnaby, B.C., artist David Fierro of the Okanagan Country makes drums using traditional hides, like individuals of elk, and acrylic paint that appears to be to occur alive under black light.

But the drums, element of the 400 Drums challenge, aren’t made to be offered as they are. At the time performed, the instrument is photographed and sold as a non-fungible token or NFT.

An NFT is a digital asset that ordinarily exists on the Ethereum blockchain, and stores unique details that includes a document of ownership and transactions. NFTs cannot be replicated, and contrary to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, each and every NFT has a unique benefit.

That unique nature is one of the causes NFTs appeal to Indigenous artists like Fierro, as the theft, replication and product sales of inauthentic Indigenous art stays a key challenge, even at key galleries.

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

The capacity to file and validate the authenticity of an artwork through blockchain is also captivating to Tamara Goddard, Fierro’s 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 system to market the NFTs on the OpenSea platform for 1 ether — the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain — which is about equal to $4,200.

The funds will support initiatives for Indigenous youth and artists, including media schooling and workshops for commencing their personal NFT jobs.

“Our art is our benefit, our artwork is our authorized lifestyle. We come to feel that as Indigenous peoples, we require to enter this house to protect the authentic mother nature of artwork as a value, artwork as cash,” claimed Goddard, who is of the Saulteau 1st Nation.

“It can be a really fantastic match for us due to the fact we imagine that the NFT, even while it can be a electronic asset that you might be holding, will consider on a monetary worth and mature in price as does all of our Indigenous art.”

Securing wellbeing facts

At the College of British Columbia’s school of info, analysis is also getting executed on how the technology can assist secure overall health info.

Victoria Lemieux, associate professor of archival science and one particular of the several gals in the world leading a research lab focused on blockchain, is performing on a “personalized health and fitness wallet,” where overall health data is securely saved on a person’s smartphone using blockchain.

Victoria Lemieux is investigating how blockchain technological know-how could be utilized to safe particular overall health info on a smartphone. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

The technology, she says, is additional protected than existing details systems because it does not count on normal safety measures like passwords, and it decentralizes information unlike shared third-social gathering services like the cloud.

This usually means information on the blockchain is fewer susceptible to hackers that could want to see or modify any of that knowledge, she claims.

“They are not attaining entry to this significant pool of data that they can hold for ransom,” she claimed. “They have to operate more durable to get smaller sized bits of data.”

The health wallet she’s doing work on will make it possible for men and women to share overall health info with a health care provider securely and competently, she states, and allow people today to retain their facts from getting utilized for investigate uses.

“If you’ve experienced, for illustration, some variety of a transplant, you’ll have quite a few diverse medical doctors, you can expect to have pharmacists and so on. All of that data needs to be brought with each other to assist the treatment staff search just after you efficiently, but it is really incredibly siloed ideal now,” she claimed.

“It’s all element of this craze to empower folks to manage their data, take ability away from platforms that have tended to hoover up our details devoid of asking.”