Cointelegraph Talks Recap: Blockchain Giving Power to the LGBTQ+ People

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Yesterday, Cointelegraph hosted another episode of “CT Talks,” dedicated to Pride Month and addressing important questions on diversity, inclusion, stigmatization, acceptance, challenges and opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community in the crypto and blockchain space.

For many people — mostly heterosexuals — the terms “blockchain” and “LGBTQ+” used so close together might seem irrelevant. For those who are a part of the community, as I am, it is perfectly natural to raise this topic within the space, combining these discourses.

Emerging technologies such as crypto, blockchain, AI and big data have already made an enormous impact on people all over the world, and the LGBTQ+ community is no exception. There are myriad potential benefits that these technologies can bring to the community, and we are still only at the early stages of its implementation. I personally believe that a lot of great things will appear in the near future.

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Speaking on one of the benefits, Joe DiPasquale, CEO of BitBull Capital and co-founder and director at StartOut, underlined the positive impact of privacy and anonymity that crypto and blockchain provides to the space:

“There is a lot of excitement about blockchain and crypto and how it could impact society. […] The thing is that blockchain and crypto truly brings in though is also true privacy. […] I guess for fundraising or raising money online, that’s obviously a major impact for crypto. And you can do it in a truly anonymous way.”

Christopher Wood, the co-founder and executive director at LGBT Tech, spoke about the LGBTQ+ community and how it can help in terms of adoption and implementation:

“The LGBTQ+ community has always been an early adopter of technology because of the fact it could create an opportunity for the community, for us, for people who were really isolated or felt that they were alone. […] Newer technologies allow our community to put money where their month is, to go ahead and support causes they really care about.”

Susan Oh, the founder and CEO at Muckr.AI, while speaking about technology highlighted that blockchain possess a great philosophy behind it that brings value to the tech:

“The most important thing to understand about the technology is that it can only amplify the philosophy. […] There are great opportunities to democratize value. […] We get to look at the value by its utility, by how it serves us. And we can do it peer-to-peer. It’s a beautiful philosophy.”

Christof Wittig, the co-founder and CEO of Hornet, stressed the criticality of blockchain and other emerging technologies in countries that still have homophobic laws. In those countries, LGBTQ+ people rely on anonymity and community support to navigate their everyday lives under an authority that discriminates against them. He also said:

“There is still a lot of discrimination within the United States and Western countries, we are not there yet for everyone, and there is still a lot to do. Everyone who thinks otherwise is either very insular in their thinking […] and doesn’t know about people of color, underprivileged people, positive people. […] And then of course we have 72 countries that criminalize LGBT.”

The second part of the panel addressed — among other things — probably one the most important topics for the 21st century: health, with a focus on HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.

Answering on whether blockchain tech could help humanity fight different diseases, Dr. Jane Thomason, chief inspiration officer at Fintech.TV and former CEO at Fintech Worldwide, stated:

“Yes, yes and yes! And if there is one benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic that I see is that it’s forced some of those legacy curtains in the health system to start opening up, as people have been much more willing to accept technology to help, to try and solve some of the issues of the pandemic.”

Erik Lamontagne, a senior economist at UNAIDS, underlined that we are still at the very beginning of technological development in blockchain, and there will be a lot of new discoveries in the field. He said:

“Just think how it was less than 10 years ago when there was an emerging epidemic in a village, in a remote place in a country in Africa or Latin America, for example. […] This technology [DLT] enables us to move almost as quickly as epidemics are moving. And this is fantastic! This is one of the opportunities.”

Sean Howell, the chair at Tech4HIV and CEO at LGBT Foundation, highlighted the issue of stigmatization of HIV-positive people and the lack of accessibility to HIV tests in many regions. This can be solved via e-commerce on a blockchain for selling cheap and high-quality tests while preserving people’s privacy, as enabled by the immutability and privacy of distributed ledger technology:

“In places that have high epidemics face high stigma. […] These are places that have high HIV and it’s almost impossible to go and get a HIV test — either they are simply not offered or you don’t want to disclose that you have sex with men or you being HIV-positive [as it] would be associated with being gay.”

Indeed, our problems cannot be solved with technology, whether it’s blockchain, crypto or something else. Technology itself is very inclusive and doesn’t hold any prejudices, stereotypes or unacceptance of its own. It’s people that have those things. We have to first change our own attitudes in order to work toward a better world and teach ourselves how to be more tolerant, more open-minded and more inclusive to all kinds of diversity. Blockchain will be a great tool in our fight for equality and social justice for everyone.

Cointelegraph Talks is a series of online meetups where crypto and blockchain experts discuss challenging topics in the space. Keep posted for new episodes on Cointelegraph YouTube.