Is the world getting better or worse? A look at the numbers

Was 2017 really the “worst year ever,” as some would have us believe? In his analysis of recent data on homicide, war, poverty, pollution and more, psychologist Steven Pinker finds that we’re doing better now in every one of them when compared with 30 years ago. But progress isn’t inevitable, and it doesn’t mean everything gets better for everyone all the time, Pinker says. Instead, progress is problem-solving, and we should look at things like climate change and nuclear war as problems to be solved, not apocalypses in waiting. “We will never have a perfect world, and it would be dangerous to seek one,” he says. “But there’s no limit to the betterments we can attain if we continue to apply knowledge to enhance human flourishing.”

Blockchain as the New Architecture of Trust

Kevin Werbach, professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, joined Mozilla’s Director of Public Policy, Chris Riley, in a discussion of decentralization and trust online, to explore Kevin’s recent work on the blockchain as a trust architecture.

Werbach notes that blockchain is represented as an ultimate form of decentralized trust. In other words, you can trust the system without trusting specific actors. That concept is underscored by the fact that no one has the power to change a distributed ledger once transactions are recorded. And interested parties can see the same information, which provides a standard of transparency.

Werbach notes that too much trust in the system is unwarrented. He notes that for a given blockchain to succeed, all parties need to trust the system, so some amount trust is inherently required. Yet, he notes examples of the system failing, in terms of fraud and illegal activity, which have exposed flaws in the system. Hence, Werbach advocates for proper governance and regulation.

The discussion touches upon the realities of scalability re blockchain, citing that current technologies are adequate for many real-world scenarios, but not in others.

Werback is also the author of, The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust.