Master Ledger 2077: A Blockchain Blockbuster
This blog was first published on Huffington Post Tech.
From 1984 to Black Mirror and The Matrix, it’s a matter of time before we see a movie inspired by blockchain technology.
Blockchain has become a real buzzword over the past year - not only in technology and business circles, but also in our everyday conversations. But what would life look like if blockchain underpinned our society, businesses, and government, in the same way the Internet transformed our lives?
Blockchain is a sequential, ever-growing, timestamped set of records that are grouped in blocks and maintained by disparate participants. Each block is inter-dependent, making alterations of records uneconomical, if not impossible. So, imagine a world where everything we do, good, bad, or insignificant, becomes a permanent part of human history.
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The scene is set. It’s Chicago in 2077 and every ledger in the world has been replaced with blockchain technology. Introducing the “Master Ledger”, a global network of blockchains and self-governing nodes which stores data and executes transactions on every aspect of our lives. Banks no longer hold money as they become a mere ledger access point. Cryptocurrency has replaced fiat currency. Our identities and daily lives are also now tracked in the all-mighty ledger.
It’s an efficient, prosperous society where financial and electoral fraud has been eliminated since any attempts are automatically spotted, rejected, and traced. Justice in this world is swift too - laws, regulations, and judgement have been reduced to code.
There also hasn’t been a single major terrorist attack in the past two decades. By tracing blood diamonds and laundered money on the ledger, terrorism groups have been throttled. Additionally, “people of interest” are heavily monitored and blocked from travelling outside their country. Businesses are virtually autonomous as trades are automatically priced and executed.
Our heroine, Caroline, a primary school teacher, takes her class to the Immutable History Museum. Here, she teaches her class how the Master Ledger bought justice to individuals committing crimes against humanity.
She points out that in 2020, collating evidence was difficult as records were held in disparate locations. Evidence often followed refugees who became dispersed, and as they escaped these crimes, they also lost their identities. Murder did not exist without a body or evidence of an individual’s existence.
This was why high profile crimes against humanity took years to prove and convict. However, since the introduction of the Master Ledger in 2033, which brought together the worlds’ distributed ledgers, authorities have been able to provide evidence of humanity and bring that evidence to convict criminals.
Following the trip, Caroline walks home, when she witnesses the kidnapping of a girl who is bundled into a van. Despite her best efforts chasing the van down, she’s unable to rescue the girl. Still shaking from what she has seen, she runs into her apartment and immediately reports the crime to the police, providing the vehicle registration, location, and description.
Hours later, following an extensive investigation, she is told that there was no evidence of any crime. Since the vehicle and the identity of the woman didn’t exist on the ledger, there was no evidence of a crime.
Convinced with what she had witnessed, Caroline begins to investigate and finds a hidden side to this seemingly utopian society. She discovers a rise in suicides because individuals were unable to erase their social media histories. She also finds that forgiveness in the legal system and society has been lost. Former criminals are forever labelled as criminals thanks to the ledger. Ostracised from society, they struggle to find employment and are forced to go underground.
Some pursue “below the radar” roles in grey industries, while others resort to joining criminal gangs. Introducing “The Don James”, the leader of “The Horns,”. He gained notoriety after he successfully manipulated and hacked a global humanitarian aid fund based on blockchain technology quicker than the community could have prevented the attack.
The vulnerability didn’t lie in the blockchain’s design. The culprit was merely two transposed, adjacent lines of code on top of the project, allowing The Don to drain funds. And before the community managing the fund could patch the bug, he drained $1bn from the fund’s ledger in the space of hours.
Accessing a restricted section of a library, Caroline reads about the Red Queen phenomena - where criminals are adopting technology faster than society to gain an advantage. Criminals are manipulating organisations from banks to pharmaceuticals by targeting the blockchain. She also reads about side chains at the upper echelons of society, where monopolies are shaping the development of blockchain technology to benefit the privileged few at the cost of others.
In a mission to find the kidnapped woman and to expose the underground world of dystopia, Caroline uses blockchain to drive good and recast trust in humanity...