Decentralized Tech Will Be Ready for Humanity’s Next Crisis

Ben Goertzel is founder and CEO of SingularityNET, a blockchain-based AI marketplace project.

The global need for scalable, usable decentralized information technologies has never been more acute than right now, mid-pandemic.

Forced digitalization is driving most of the world’s population further into the grip of big tech companies. As more of life goes online, more of the world’s data goes into their hands, and a higher percentage of human thoughts and behaviors are guided by their self-serving algorithms.

Effective management of the pandemic cries out for integrated analysis of medical data and data on human movement and interaction. However, integrated doesn’t have to mean centralized. Indeed, the centralized nature of many track-and-trace apps has been their doom, rendering them mostly non-functional due their incompatibility with Google and Apple’s latest privacy-respecting features.

See also: For Contact Tracing to Work, Americans Will Have to Trust Google and Apple

A recent survey done by my colleagues at Humanity+, a nonprofit that advocates for ethical use of technology, showed that, of the attendees at their online event, 61% were not comfortable with governments collecting their physiological and medical data, even in a pandemic context. But 92% would rather their medical data be stored on a blockchain, than centralized government databases.

We should have a global, decentralized system for collecting medical, movement, interaction and lifestyle data from everyone on the planet – and methods to analyze it in a secure, anonymous way. Statistical and AI analysis should be guided democratically by everyone contributing data. While policy could be set by sophisticated agent-based modeling leveraging this data, without sacrificing privacy.

We are not so far off from realizing such a system. A number of relevant tools were created by the 1,000+ developers participating in the COVIDathon decentralized-AI hackathon against COVID…

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