welcome to digital silk road plus 6 youth Belt Road Maps ... Changing Education - the most exciting times to parent or grow up sustainably. Our old versions: EW , AU ...how can web maximise sme value and job creating education? -help welcomed in compiling top 100 alumni networks of alibabauni.com -we see fintech and edutech as linked- can ant and brac partners bank for 2 billion poorest by 2028?- notes on china's greatest educators ggv podcast limebike.. sinica

official alibaba (also notable apps - eg missing children )
*taobao university up to 100 million alumni in China - received training on how to taobao; as of 2017 established 1311 taobao e-commerce villages
*Damo Academy 1 2 started with 15 billion dollar investment by jack ma's as intercity top notch research on humanising livelihood advantages of major components of Industrial Rev 4 such as AI, blockchain, internet of things .. related IR4 at world economic forum: san francisco hub; wef summer china summoit
*gateway17 ma's 3000 citizens and leaders one day masterclass in ecommerce
*ma's personal mentoring (aka efounders) of first 100 entrepreneur chorts chosen with unctad and developing nations that have asked jack ma to help
+Aliresearch 1 tsinghua alumni network of Ying Lowrey's SME curriculum aligned to AliBaba model
Podcast Ant Finance

*hong kong 100 million dollar youth entrepreneur fund: AI webs 1 2 : Jumpstarter competition.-see also hk youth entreprenur curricula YFS & MIT -- taiwan ma entrepreneur fund
*alibaba entrepreneur fund
*poverty funds 1 :: blockchain research china poverty association 1 - alibaba 0.3 revenue to green foundation 1
Breaking news 1 from


jack ma- when i first studied (e)commerce in states i was surprised to find that each market was dominated by 2 or 3 manufacturers- i decided to design china ecommerce to maxise small enterprise suppliers and local jobs

.ying lowrey is tsinghua's professor of small enterprises- her book alibaba way is eyeopening:

foreword by nobel economist edmund phelps, columbia....Alibaba uses information technology to enable mass innovation to flourish.and to improve the lives of the people

related tsinghua - innovation events
lowrey beijing coorindtaor of aliresearch whose dean at hq is Hongbing Gao
.partners of ma &
..
*jack ma chairs cen 1- 2 = china's 50 most respomnsible businessmen - search curricula funds etc - location close to tsingua beijng

example founder of shanghai conglomerate fosun actively celebrates CEN, and partners in one of Jack Ma's universities at hangzhou and supports new york greatest yoth-led arts movement singforhope.com

co-sponsor: wise@beijing: Zhejiang Zhipu Foundation Founded by the six founding members of Alibaba Group, Zhejiang Zhipu Foundation supports rural education and promotes healthy and sustainable relationship between human and the society, as well as between human and the nature.
Guterres UN Digital Cooperation Panel #DigitalCooperation
The Panel is expected to raise awareness about the transformative impact of digital technologies across society and the economy, and contribute to the broader public debate on how to ensure a safe and inclusive digital future for all, taking into account relevant human rights norms.

Panel Members

Co-chairs

Panel members

  • Mohammed Al Gergawi (UAE), Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, UAE
  • Yuichiro Anzai (Japan), Senior Advisor and Director of Center for Science Information Analysis, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
  • Nikolai Astrup (Norway), Minister of International Development, Norway
  • Vinton Cerf (USA), Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google
  • Fadi Chehadé (USA), Partner at ABRY Partners
  • Isabel Guerrero Pulgar (Chile), Director, IMAGO Global Grassroots and Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Marina Kaljurand (Estonia), Chair of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace
  • Bogolo Kenewendo (Botswana), Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Botswana
  • Akaliza Keza Ntwari (Rwanda), ICT advocate and entrepreneur
  • Marina Kolesnik (Russian Federation), senior executive, entrepreneur and WEF Young Global Leader
  • Doris Leuthard (Switzerland), Head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Switzerland
  • Cathy Mulligan (United Kingdom), Co-Director of Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency
  • Edson Prestes (Brazil), Professor, Institute of Informatics, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul
  • Kira Radinsky (Israel), Director of Data Science, eBay
  • Nanjira Sambuli (Kenya), Digital Equality Advocacy Manager, World Wide Web Foundation
  • Sophie Soowon Eom (Republic of Korea), Founder of Adriel AI and Solidware
  • Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah (Australia), Secretary General, CIVICUS
  • Jean Tirole (France), Chairman of the Toulouse School of Economics and the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse
The deliberations of the Panel will be supported by a small secretariat, co-led by:
  • Amandeep Singh Gill (India), Executive Director, Secretariat of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation (ex officio)
  • Jovan Kurbalija, (Serbia), Executive Director, Secretariat of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation (ex officio)
..
.
  • Patrick Bolton, Barbara and David Zalaznick Professor of Business, Columbia Business School
  • Markus Brunnermeier, Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Economics, Princeton University
  • Bengt Holmstrom, 2016 Nobel Laureate, Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics, MIT
  • Lars Peter Hansen, 2013 Nobel Laureate, David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, Statistics, Booth School of Business & The College, University of Chicago
  • Preston McAfee, Most Recently Served as Chief Economist and Corp VP at Microsoft
  • Christopher Pissarides, 2010 Nobel Laureate, Regius Professor of Economics, LSE
  • Yingyi Qian, Distinguished Professor and Dean of School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University
  • Alvin Roth, 2012 Nobel Laureate, The Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics, Stanford University
  • Thomas Sargent, 2011 Nobel Laureate, W.R. Berkley Professor of Economics and Business, New York University
  • Michael Spence, 2001 Nobel Laureate, William R. Berkley Professor in Economics & Business, NYU Stern
  • Steve Tadelis, Professor of Economics, Business and Public Policy, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
  • Neng Wang, Chong Khoon Lin Professor of Real Estate & Professor of Finance, Columbia Business School
  • Shangjin Wei, Professor of Finance and Economics, Professor of International Affairs, and N.T. Wang Professor of Chinese Business and Economy, Columbia University
  • Wei Xiong, Trumbull-Adams Professor of Finance, Princeton University
  • Chenggang Xu, Quoin Professor in Economic Development, University of Hong Kong, Professor of Economics, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business
..
the wicked problem of missing curricula youth most need- as jack says this is a huge problem; correspondenmce case posted may 2018: moreover we have atended many world bank youth summits where missing curricula have been pitched and everyone cheered the value but getiing each different nation to newly cetrtify suc new learning is a fools erand
-here part of a specific example- do you know a missing peer to peer curricula that needs similar linking in

I am staying at brac in bangaldesh my favorite girls education network in the world as well as largest ngo in wortld and partnership networkwe will see dean of james grant school of public health at brac university tomorrow- do you still have any message you wanted passed to brac about the peer to peer adolescent health program you and lancet have been building? we are mainly working with brac's overall education director as specified directly by sir fazle abed when i met him in qatar 2017 - sir fazle kindly gave a lot of his time to remembrance parties of my dad norman macrae at the japan embassy in dhaka in 2012more generally brac and jack ma started fin tech partnership earlier this month with brac's BkashSMS in bangladesh but for s asia (the whole 2 billion of china's neigbors particularly poorest girls on china south and south westren borders), for sustainabiliuty generation to scale and gain from these 2 superstars we believe partnering relations will broaden into looking at skills education ; we will be trying to form team both on bangladesh and china side to monitor this however fast or slow it goesmostofa has been working on bangladesh side for very long time- he also worked with modjtabia sadria then at aga khan in london while they were in london at time muhammad yunus was at his social business peak ; i believe modjtabia is now back in iran after some years with paul at monash? ( i didnt get to pauls grn summit in jordan 2006; i believe sadria did; i note that jack ma just made donation to queen of jordans education fund)

we are trying to invite any university student to form a club to see where is the nexus between what students most want to study practically and training that sir fazle and jack ma could mooc or otherwise maximally distribute to benefit livelihoods- togther the names of jack ma and sir fazle can be a top 100 web and top 1 web for open action learning- in branding terms this is easy as long as we quickly get all best friends of ma and abed signed up at one launch summit blessed by china and on the road to ma's sponsorship of huge expo at tokyo olympics

after 8 visits to beijing i am reasonably confident that we can get as much additional support as we want from tsinghua university in beijing (over there they know thgere are half a billion undre 30s and that china cant afford any youth left legless by mismatch between jobs and what colleges like examining-- ) additionally tsinghua with aiib is heavily into belt road pitches to india this year so education can be 2 for 1 so to speak
as long as both jack ma and sir fazle have approved a subject area as being one that needs development in this type 2 pee to peer or apprentice mode i believe we can help scale missing curricula

as you think you know i first met pauil komesdroff in 2004- i love everything he was trying to create volunteer expereinces abroad around monash and medics and cultural/arts translators;I hope we can find the right way to linkin monash as this idea gains momentum
- world's largest market fund Yu'e Bao Sesame Credit score

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017's most exciting new academy - damo

damo- 15 billion dollar intercity investment by jack ma
-help us track sighting
future of ai - one of his main scouts jerry yang - see committee 100 interviews
back from future of industrial revolution 4 - see also wef hub san franscisco
future of big data small
future of cloud
future of internet of things , fablab suopercities ...

-all if these fut\ures could  empower education to co-create youth livelihoods of sustainabklluth generation or the opposite

jack has announced first intercity hubs of damo include hangzhou,l west coast usa, israel, fussia - you tell us isabella@unacknowledgedgiant.com

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Alibaba’s DAMO Academy Announces R&D of AI Chip with 40 Times the Cost Performance

2 min read 
Recently, the U.S. ban on sales to ZTE has aroused much attention to the chip industry in China. Today, Alibaba DAMO Academy (DAMO stands for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, and Outlook) claims that it is developing a neural network chip called Ali-NPU, which will be used in AI reasoning calculations such as video image analysis and machine learning. DAMO Academy says that according to its design, the chip’s cost performance will be 40 times that of existing products.
Jiao Yang, a researcher from DAMO Academy, explained that as general-purpose computing chips, CPU and GPU are designed to deal with linear logic and graphics, but they have high power consumption and low cost performance when dealing with AI computing. Thus specially designed chips are needed for AI computing.
At present, AI chips developed by Alibaba are mainly used to solve AI-related computing problems in commercial scenarios including image and video recognition as well as cloud computing, and to improve computing efficiency and reduce costs.
According to Jiao Yang, Alibaba’s Ali-NPU is developed independently based on the large number of AI algorithm models accumulated by Alibaba A.I. Labs and other teams. It can achieve AI model algorithmic computing of the maximum efficiency at minimum cost according to the microstructure and instruction set based on AI algorithm models.
The Ali-NPU chip is designed to have a special architecture with a performance that is 10 times better than mainstream AI chips based on CPU or GPU architecture, while the manufacturing cost and power consumption are only half of theirs. Its cost performance is over 40 times of existing options. In the future, Ali-NPU can not only meet the demand for video and image processing, but could also for computing output through Ali Cloud, empowering all industries.
In fact, Alibaba has been building a team to develop their own AI chips for a long time.
The Alibaba-developed AI chip is a part of Alibaba’s “China Chip” strategy. At present, the R&D team of DOMA Academy has hired dozens of talent in the United States and Shanghai, and will have 100 people by the end of this year. Prior to this, Alibaba has invested in a number of chip companies including Cambricon, Barefoot Networks, Deephi, Kneron, ASR, and C-Sky.
This article originally appeared in NetEase and was translated by Pandaily.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Twitter, but we do have people within the company thinking about it today," said Dorsey, a known bitcoin aficionado.

Civic announced that it would try to boost its user numbers by paying for all identity checks for business partners' customers until the end of the year. No less than a third of all CVC tokens will be allocated for this, amounting to $43 million. If the idea turns into a huge success, however, the ethereum blockchain might get overwhelmed. "It would make CryptoKitties look like a walk in the park," Civic co-founder Vinny Lingham told CoinDesk.

Another identity-oriented startup, supported by IBM, Hu-manity.co launched the #My31 app on iOS and Android mobile devices, claiming to protect one's legal ownership of personal data as a "31st human right." Users receive a title of ownership, and their personal details, signature and photograph can be added in the form of a hash on the blockchain, along with their data-sharing preferences.

Eye on enterprises

Talk about chutzpah. As revealed this week by CoinDesk's Ian Allison, in June the enterprise blockchain startup R3 approached the Utility Settlement Coin (USC) consortium and suggested that the project be built on R3's Corda platform.

This was an audacious proposal, to say the least, as USC since its inception three years ago has been managed by another blockchain tech vendor, Clearmatics. Despite R3's offer to fund the technical development and pay a share of legal fees, its overture was rejected by all 17 of USC's bank members during a vote.

Microsoft's Azure cloud division is building bridges between its blockchain services and other, widely used infrastructure and platforms, such as Office 365 Outlook, SharePoint Online, Salesforce, Dynamics 365 CRM Online, SAP, and even Twitter. Once ported from those services to a distributed ledger, data will be a lot easier for customers to mine for business insights, Microsoft reckons.

IBM's Blockchain World Wire is fresh out of beta to provide cross-border payments using the stellar blockchain. World Wire replaces banking intermediaries (correspondent banks, in industry parlance) with digital assets sent over a distributed network, though like Ripple, Big Blue is pitching the product to financial institutions.

A blockchain startup founded by former Deloitte employees, Citizens Reserve is launching a new supply chain platform known as SUKU, which aims to provide trading partners with real-time data on the location of goods, a bid-and-order marketplace and automated contracts. The platform will use both the ethereum and Quorum blockchains.
 
SEE ALL COINDESK STORIES

blockchain lessons from liechtenstein and DC 12 sept 2018

Liechtenstein embassy sponsored very useful blockchain debrief at CSIS - https://www.pwc.ch/en/publications/2018/crypto-liechenstein.pdf

why liechtenstein- its a perfect size and location as a country to develop plro-active legislation for its own people and be a living lab that the EU takes notice of (the EU trying to make rules for 20 countries is exactly opposite in what it can bring)

the ambassaor to is sponsored the meeting and his tech expert patrick bont was on the panel
4 years ago liechtenstein started a "regulatory lab"- and this monthly a trial blockchain law has been launched which will be ratified for national legislation early 2019

the lab emerged as tech people came to government asking for the nation's views- earliest were a group who wanted to do an ICO - - in discussion with the reg team a partnership was formed - ETERNITY 2017 has bene launched and appears a benchmark for a small mation to launch an ICO

from this experience the lab learnt a lot about the playing pieces

apparnetly there afre some critoical choices in terminolgy - if a nation like lichenstein deems a crytpocurrency as a commodity then it is relatively free to design its onw regilulations; if it call this a finacial intrsiment it soon has to fit in with international regulations (including waiting for there to be any made in these fats chnaging areas0

there is also a language in initial cpin oferemnings where lichenstein suggests people consider 3 roles a token may exchnage

can be like a share, a security - something part of the funding
can be a voucher - for use in payment gtransction
can be both at same time


....
matthew wellin of criwell & moring gave some usegful examples
from ibm trying tro see to bif=g clients private blockchain on sourcing in a supply chain such as coffee to australian cases - in very remore areas thosaudnds of piower line pilons now have a blockchian cap- they tallk to neighbors afre you still wlorking - so now in a stlorm when one post goes down it can be found previpouslhy this need huige amount lof searching

daniel forfine labcftc - us securities commission  (also teacher of fintech law at georgetown)

---------

Liechtenstein Blockchain Act To Create Crypto Hub For Institutional Investors

The government, and the Prince, is keen to expand into blockchain.

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The Principality of Liechtenstein is not on the beaten path. A German-speaking Alpine state nestled between Switzerland and Austria, the country covers just 62 square miles and had a population less than 40,000 citizens at the last census. A seemingly unlikely setting for an aspiring blockchain hub, one might think.
However, its geopolitical position could make Liechtenstein a leading light for blockchain regulation, and a future powerhouse (or powercastle?) in cryptocurrency.
Although the Principality is in the EEA and therefore subject to relevant laws (around 5,000 of the total of 23,000 EU laws apply there), it is not entirely at the mercy of European Union edicts, and has a level of independence with regard to its own financial regulation.
Historically known for little more than agriculture and winter sports, the country’s low corporation tax began to attract big businesses in the latter half of the 20th century. By the new millennium, Liechtenstein had reinvented itself as an international center for finance; the country is in the peculiar situation of having more registered companies that it does citizens.
Liechtenstein is now working on a new piece of legislation that observers claim will make the country one of the most attractive destinations in the world for institutional investors. Called the ‘Transactions Systems Based on Trustworthy Technologies Act’, the bill has been described as a means to secure regulatory oversight, whilst maintaining open dialogues with blockchain businesses and encouraging continual innovation in the space.

The Liechtenstein Blockchain Act

The proposed bill approaches blockchain legislation by setting clear rules for the businesses that work with it. Liechtenstein will not regulate cryptocurrency itself, but will instead focus on regulating the transfer of digital assets, as well as the businesses and service providers that leverage distributed ledger technology (DLT).
Part of the reasoning is practical. The pace of innovation is fast and the act saves the government having to rattle through new legislation everytime a new application is developed. According to Matthias Niedermüller, a lawyer who has worked closely on the proposed Blockchain Act both with businesses and the government, this is a realistic decision. Regulating the transfer of assets, as well as the companies that facilitate access to the blockchain, provides effective cover without curbing development, says Niedermüller.
“The Blockchain act provides for a comprehensive system for creation, storage and transfer of tokens along with the security for enforcement of the rights associated with every token and therefore creates an entire token economy”, he adds.
Liechtenstein’s role in global finance means there is already considerable overlap; existing regulation covers large swathes of the cryptocurrency sector’s activities. Liechtenstein’s Financial Market Authority (FMA) had already determined in September of last year that tokens sold in public sales already counted as financial instruments subject to existing regulation, especially in regards to security tokens. There was already enough regulation in February for Bank Frick, based in the Lichsteiner town of Balzars, to introduce a new service for its clients to directly, and legitimately, invest into cryptocurrency.
Projects looking to host a public sale need to provide potential investors with a comprehensive overview of the token and would have to register with the FMA, which would ensure adequate internal procedures are in place.
Most tokens are already recognized as legal tender in Liechtenstein. The Act states that cryptocurrency ownership is based on the private key. Excluding cases of theft, this gives the owner of the private key the right to sell the asset. Third party services are required to ensure safe custody and clearly define the company’s own assets from the ones held on the behalf of others.

Is Liechtenstein the Alpine Malta?

Malta has been one of the most enthusiastic national advocates for blockchain technology. The cryptocurrency exchange Binance moved its operations base to the island back in April and the government devoted most of the summer to passing legislation that gave legal status to cryptocurrency, as well as providing guidelines on token sales. The Maltese Stock Exchange (MSE) signed an MOU with Binance yesterday, the two companies will work together to establish a security token exchange.
Like Liechtenstein, Malta and Gibraltar transformed their economies in the latter half of the 1980s. Both jurisdictions lowered their capital gains tax and became prominent business centers for offshore gambling.
Monty Metzger, the CEO of LCX (Liechtenstein Cryptoassets Exchange), told Crypto Briefing that far from attracting institutional players, this will repel them. “Liechtenstein has a triple-A rating from Standard and Poor’s and a super high reputation, well known as a serious place of business with strong regulatory relationships”, he said. “Malta and Gibraltar, on the other hand, are known as for their online casinos which won’t help them attract serious clients”.
Although in the heart of Europe, Liechtenstein is not a member of the European Union. This is vital: it has a lot more freedom when drawing up its laws than its neighboring countries, which are also expected to comply with the European Parliament in Brussels. “The key difference between Liechtenstein and somewhere like Malta is that we’re not in the EU”, explained Ninos Mansor.
Liechtenstein’s membership to the European Economic Area (EEA) means its products and services have unrestricted access to the wider European market. As Niedermüller points out, financial instruments approved by the FMA, including cryptocurrency investment vehicles, could be distributed and sold across Europe, including in Switzerland. “A comprehensive EU-wide regulation of the Blockchain business does not appear to be probable in the next years,” he said. “The success of the Liechtenstein Blockchain Act, however, could form a role model on how to regulate the Blockchain business.”

The European Hub for FinTech?

A lack of regulation creates uncertainty in the market. The vast majority of businesses want to work within the law and will move to places where they can operate legally. Investment bank Goldman Sachs shelved their bitcoin (BTC) trading desk last week, citing a lack of regulatory clarity from the SEC.
There are benefits to being small: it’s easier for regulators to adapt to new technologies and innovation faster than their counterparts in larger economies. Whereas Gibraltar, Bermuda, and Malta have already passed some form of blockchain legislation in the past two years, America’s SEC has yet to provide anything resembling a clear legal framework for cryptocurrency.
Being less than a quarter of the size of London gives businesses in Liechtenstein plenty of access to the FMA. This has multiple benefits explained Monty Metzger. As a firm looking to facilitate security token trades between institutional clients, Metzger, who was originally based in Luxembourg, said they were attracted to Liechtenstein because of the high level of support from government and banks. “We’ve heard how companies in other countries have their accounts frozen without warning; LCX currently has three banking partners in Liechtenstein”, he said.
Frequent and wide-ranging contact with local cryptocurrency and FinTech services means the FMA has developed a strong working knowledge. Programmes like Impuls Liechtenstein have already established dialogues between state authorities and startups, providing clarity for both regulators and businesses.
The small size of Liechtenstein definitely gives market participants and the regulator much better possibilities to exchange views and thoughts on a regular day to day basis to create a comprehensive and sustainable blockchain economy,” said Niedermüller. “In particular regular open communication with the regulator is very common.”

Well into the late 1960s, the princely family was selling off parts of its fine art collection just to keep the economy afloat. Finance transformed Liechtenstein into a very rich country. It now has a 1.5% unemployment rate and the highest GDP per capita in the world, a startling $139,100, over 10% higher than its closest competitor, Qatar.
On turning itself into a reputable hub for blockchain, the Crown Prince of Liechtenstein, Alois, said the country’s early regulation of blockchain ensures it attracts reputable service providers. A prince waxing lyrical about blockchain in his medieval castle seems like the collision of two very different worlds, but the Alpine state sees blockchain as the future.
Rather than protecting established interests, Liechtenstein is facing forward; even in the preamble to its Blockchain Act, legislators say that: “The government is convinced that the future of prosperity and an alternative range of jobs for Liechtenstein and the region can be obtained through continuous development and entrepreneurial innovation.”
The government has reportedly been working on this legislation for two years and officially announced the act at the Finance Forum back in March. Following the Government’s adoption in August,  the proposed act is currently in the consultation period which end in November; if all goes well, the bill is expected to pass in Q1 2019.
Partly because of its size; partly because of its economy, Liechtenstein keeps a low profile; the Blockchain Act could change this. Already used to high-altitudes, the principality could soon reach the pinnacle of blockchain regulation. The country’s regulatory swiftness could earn it a princely sum.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Blockchain Solution to the Opioid Crisis

Blockchain technology could bring much-needed transparency and data traceability to the opioid prescription system. Image: Getty Images
Image credit
Blockchain technology could bring much-needed transparency and data traceability to the opioid prescription system. Image: Getty Images
In the urgent search for multipronged, coordinated solutions to the opioid epidemic ravaging the U.S., blockchain might be just the powerful weapon we need.
More than 115 people in the U.S. die every day after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Institute sets the price tag for the economic burden for prescription opioid misuse in the U.S. at $78.5 billion a year.  Communities all over the U.S., particularly rural areas and industrial cities, have suffered from the consequences. Imagine the scale: Drug manufacturers reportedly shipped 20 million painkillers to a town of 3,000 people, sending on average more than 6,000 pills for each resident.
Many factors contribute to this highly complex problem, but a few key issues stand out:
  • Lack of Transparency: Like the overall healthcare system, the prescription drug market has many actors, each driven by different motives. This system severely lacks transparency and accountability. Suppliers, drug manufacturers, doctors, pharmacists and ill-informed patients all bear some responsibilities.  What’s more, it is difficult to pinpoint the source of wrongdoings and root out bad actors.
  • Meddlesome Middlemen: Adding to the web of intermediaries, Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) administer pharmacy benefits for most Americans with little regulatory oversight, creating friction between manufacturers and payers while pocketing huge profits thanks to widespread opacity. 
  • Lack of Data Integrity: Despite various data initiatives to shed light on the prescription system, there is no single source of truth when it comes to data collected about this antiquated process—leaving it vulnerable to fraud and abuse.
  • Misaligned Incentives: Though we are moving towards value-based care, medical services and drugs are still mostly reimbursed on the volume-based model. Government incentives rewards doctors who overprescribe drugs. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies incentivize insurers with rebates to include their drugs on the formulary. However, there is little financial incentive to prescribe appropriate amounts and provide value care for patients.
All the above contribute to a broken system, fueling a lack of trust among all the players that discourages coordinated action to help stem this crisis.
This is where blockchain technology comes into play.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain has captivated many with the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Blockchain is a distributed ledger database shared across all computer nodes on the internet. It provides a single source of truth that cannot be retroactively altered, and therefore ensures the integrity of the data stored on it. No alteration. No opacity. No middleman.
This shared ledger brings transparency and traceability of data, which can represent money, real estate, rights to artwork, coffee beans or anything of value. In these networks, blockchain designers use a mix of economics and cryptography to align incentives of the actors, penalizing bad actors and rewarding good behavior.
The benefits of decentralization, data security, and provenance have organizations across many fields—from Silicon Valley startups to IBM to the World Bank—experimenting with blockchain.
How to Tackle the Opioids Problem?
In ‘redesigning’ the lifecycle of prescription drugs, we propose tracking the prescriptions sent from providers to the pharmacy and the quantity being prescribed. Building a prescription drug platform on the blockchain allows each party to have a set of shared facts. This removes information discrepancies between plan sponsors and drug companies, while reducing the power and involvement of the PBMs in price negotiations—and holding them accountable for cost management for the patients.
Instead of paper prescriptions, e-prescriptions securely stored on the blockchain can restore trust to an outdated system with a layer of monitoring for misuse. That is because an algorithm built into the network ensures the consistency and integrity of data, which prevents attempts to tamper with prescriptions written by doctors.
Early Adopter Already Taking Action
Some blockchain startups have plunged into solving these thorny issues, including BlockMedx, which is building a blockchain-based prescription platform to bring transparency and accountability to the misuse of opioids. Its solutions include other emerging technologies such as machine learning to predict the likelihood of drug misuse and abuse. And a blockchain-based identity management solution gives patients control of their data.
Though blockchain technology is still in early stages, the opioids emergency is already here and will persist until we intervene. It’s imperative we deploy innovative, multipronged solutions to this coordination problem—and blockchain could prove to be key.

Yidu Wang is a healthcare product manager and blockchain researcher.Dang Du is a cryptocurrency journalist and blockchain strategist. The authors run A Bit Cryptic, a podcast that features blockchain pioneers including those in digital health. Check out their interviews at: Medium;iTunes; and Google Play.  
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