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Decentralization can change the world and is already making an impact. It helps us solving issues as big as hunger and food waste.
Over the years, we have been teaching machines to simulate the real world behavior. We have developed numerous technologies that translate the real world into the digital one.
However, there can be, and actually, there is a reverse logic. Solutions on how to make everyday life can be derived from technologies. We are trying to imagine the world through the lens of decentralization and distribution, where people interact, connect and share to achieve their full potential and bring the benefit for a community they are part of.
This week Bucharest has hosted d10e, the leading conference on decentralization. The most prominent experts in the field of decentralizing technologies, state officials, entrepreneurs and thought leaders discussed how decentralization is impacting all segments of our lives and is transforming various industries.
Decentralizing technologies are not limited to Bitcoin and Blockchain, although decentralization of financial system has been a subject of many discussions.
Jason King, who has done a tremendous amount of work in the charity space using Bitcoin, suggested taking a look at how we can leverage decentralizing technologies to help the least privileged ones.
“I am sort of obsessed with the idea that everybody needs to eat. If you don’t have access to food it might be rather difficult to get anywhere in this life. There are a lot of charities, a lot of state welfare programs that are fighting the hunger and food waste problems but all these programs collect and spend tremendous amounts of money and are not always as efficient as they should be.”
Believing that it can be done is a lot easier, King has founded Unsung, an app-based service, which allows businesses to arrange pickup of food that could go to waste, but instead is being delivered to those who need it the most.
“The problem of hunger is huge in the United States. Around 49 mln people there live in hunger, they are men, women and children who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. At the same time, restaurants, bakeries, caterers often get rid of the excess food at the end of the day and that amounts for over $500 bln dollars every year.”
The Unsung app gives the community the tools to redistribute existing abundance to those who need it the most. Restaurants, bakeries, caterers or basically anyone who have extra food simply log into the app and informs what food they have available, volunteers who are available then come to pick the food up and deliver it to a local charity or to an individual in need.
Unsung actually creates a win-win situation for all involved. Instead of throwing the excess food in the garbage bin, this food can actually be used to feed someone. And restaurants, cafes, bakeries, do not have to pay anyone to dispose of it, someone comes to pick it up and they get tax benefits for donating food. Everyone gets extra points to their karma.
Developers have gamified their app to make it both fun and rewarding. Thus, volunteer delivery people actually compete with each other to gain points on the app leaderboard.
This is just one of the many awesome examples of how decentralized sharing economy ideas and technologies help to streamline complicated systems. Just like Airbnb helps connect those in need of a room and those who have a bedroom or an apartment available, Unsung helps getting food to those in need by eliminating further waste and time to collect and hand it over, while also making it easier and more flexible to those who want to help.
The service originated in Baltimore, but continued to grow and is now helping feed people in six cities in the US. Last year the idea was presented in Amsterdam, with a couple of dozens of meals being donated.
However, the Unsung team was astonished seeing this number growing to a couple of hundreds of meals and then a couple of thousands of meals. This year, they are aiming to a couple of hundreds of thousands of meals to be delivered.
“We have shown people how they can step up to make the community better. What we are proving with this project is that we don’t really need to have a central organization to fight with such issues as hunger and food waste. It basically takes only one individual taking responsibility and having a will to go and pick up the meal and take it to someone in need. Decentralizing technology is not something that could work, it is something that is working already now.”
Besides, the Unsung service puts transparency to the fore. Speaking of centralized charity and welfare programs it might be difficult to trace how donations were used. For every food donated to Unsung, there is a live feed broadcasting, so everyone can see where who actually go the food.
It not only helps to trace the donations but also allows measuring the impact that is being done.
“If you have a teenager or a pre-teen you might have noticed that there is this obsession with taking selfies and documenting life that they have on Snapchat. So basically we borrowed this concept of transparency and integrated it to our project, letting everyone to show to their friends that they care about other people. And this kind of behavior is contagious, as was demonstrated by the speed with which we are expanding.”
We talk a lot about how decentralization can change the world, how it will change the world, while it is already here and it is already making an impact. It helps us solving issues as big as hunger and food waste.
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