Most of the May/June 2018 issue of Technology Review, the MIT alumni magazine, is devoted to blockchain. Futurists will appreciate “Inside the Jordan refugee camp that runs on blockchain”, about Syrians living in a potential future of retinal authentication for spending crypto currency:
Haddad’s idea for Building Blocks was to start by creating an account on a blockchain for every family of Syrian refugees in a Jordanian camp. Families wouldn’t then have to wait days for local banks to transfer their money, or have to share identifying information with the banks, where some unscrupulous employee might steal or misuse it. Meanwhile, the WFP, instead of forwarding money before it’s spent, could itself tally all refugee purchases and pay participating stores afterward in local currency. That’s a big deal, since upwards of 30 percent of UN assistance is lost to corruption.
It is great to do good for others, but what about folks who want to do good for themselves? There is an interesting article on hackers who have made off with crypto currency, not only the familiar Mt. Gox heist, but a January 2018 raid on Coincheck (the thieves netted about $250 million on $500 million stolen).
[The magazine also devoted space to its multi-year theme of female victimhood as evidenced by the paucity of cisgender female nerds (could also be celebrated as evidence of a society with so much opportunity for women that they can do interesting jobs instead; see “The More Gender Equality, the Fewer Women in STEM” (Atlantic), which says “In countries that empower women, they are less likely to choose math and science professions.”). In the introduction to an interview with Amber Baldet, a JP Morgan Chase manager, the “cryptocommunity” is described as “an entitled boys’ club”. The magazine shows its commitment to gender bravery by interviewing this executive, not about technology or finance or what she and her team of coders might be accomplishing, but about “the state of diversity in the cryptocurrency world.” There are two full-page images of the subject, in both of which she shows enough skin to reveal multiple tatoos. (The editors chose to feature full-page images of multiple women in the issue, but men are generally shown at 1/4 or 1/16th this size. An alien reader would assume that women are literally bigger than men.) In the MIT-only section, an engineering professor who earned her PhD in 1964 is quoted as saying “If engineering doesn’t make welcome space for women then engineering will become marginalized.” The journalists doesn’t comment on the seeming cisgender-normative prejudice or denial of gender fluidity (how do the professor, journalist, and editors know that humans currently working as engineers will continue to identify as “male”?)]
Readers: Will journalists end up being some of the main beneficiaries of blockchain? (other than the obvious beneficiaries, such as vendors of illegal products and services) Every magazine or newspaper can recycle every old headline and most old stories by adding “with blockchain” for the next few years?