It seems that blockchain technology is everywhere, from powering cryptocurrency like bitcoin to digital assets such as non-fungible tokens.
Blockchain is a digital ledger that is decentralized and stores data. It is most well-known for its ability to facilitate transactions for digital currencies like bitcoin.
Many people are looking to make a fortune by investing in digital assets such as GIFs, artworks, and GIFs. Some of these digital assets can sell for millions like the Everydays First 5,000 Dayby Beeple, which was sold for $69.3 Million U.S. dollars in 2021. It has been criticised for its negative environmental impact.
Blockchain technology is not only for celebrities and investors.
B.C.’s Indigenous artists use blockchain to protect their art. Researchers are also studying how the technology could better protect personal information.
Indigenous NFT art
David Fierro, Okanagan Nation’s artist, creates drums in a bright studio in Burnaby. He uses traditional hides like elk and acrylic paint to make the drums seem alive when he puts them under black light.
The drums are part of the 400 Drums Project, but they’re not meant to be sold. Once the drums are completed, they are photographed and sold as a Non-fungible Token or NFT.
An NFT, a digital asset, is typically stored on the Ethereum blockchain. It stores unique data such as ownership records and transaction records. NFTs are not easily duplicated and each NFT is unique, unlike bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
Fierro is one reason NFTs are appealing to Indigenous artists. The theft, replication, and sale of inauthentic Indigenous art continues to be a problem , even at the largest galleries.
Tamara Goddard is Fierro’s business partner and also finds the ability to verify and record an artwork’s authenticity through blockchain appealing. She spearheads 400 Drums which supports Indigenous creators who use online platforms to share stories and teachings.
Fierro & Goddard will sell NFTs via the OpenSea platform at 0.1ether (the cryptocurrency of Ethereum blockchain), which is approximately equivalent to $4,200
These funds will be used to support Indigenous youth and artists.
“Our art is our culture, and our art is our value.” Goddard, a member of the Saulteau First Nation, stated that Indigenous peoples need to be allowed to enter the space in order to preserve the true nature of art as a currency, as well as art as money.
It’s a good fit because the NFT, although it’s digital, has a monetary value. We believe that it will grow in value like all our Indigenous art.”
Securing health data
The University of British Columbia’s School of Information is conducting research on how technology can protect health information.
Victoria Lemieux is an associate professor of archival sciences and is one of few women worldwide leading a blockchain-focused research lab. She is currently working on a personal health wallet, where people’s health information can be securely stored on their smartphone with blockchain.
She claims that the technology is more secure than existing information systems, as it doesn’t rely on traditional security measures such passwords. It also decentralizes information unlike third-party services, like the cloud.
She says this means that information stored on the blockchain is less susceptible to hackers who may wish to modify or view it.
She said that “they aren’t gaining access to this vast pool of data that can be held for ransom.” They have to work harder in order to obtain smaller pieces of information.
She is currently developing a health wallet that will enable people to securely share their health information with doctors efficiently and effectively. It will also prevent data being used for research purposes.
“If you have had, for instance, a transplant, you will have multiple doctors and pharmacists. She said that all of this information must be gathered to ensure the best care for you. However, it is very fragmented at the moment.
“It’s all part and parcel of the trend to empower people, to control their data. Take power away from platforms which have tended to hoover our data without us asking.”