Tackling Real World Issues: Hackers at ETH New York Build Apps Geared Towards Social Change

If building decentralized financial applications was the motto topic of Ethereal, the ethereum hackathon ETH New York was all about discussing the social impact of such applications.

Speaking to a group of high school students at ETH New York, Mariano Conti – head of smart contracts at the MakerDAO Foundation – asked foundational questions surrounding decentralized financial applications like, How do you protect your money? and What if banks decided you do not own your money?

This whole movement is called decentralized finance, said Conti. Were going to see a lot of projects being created around that. Itll hopefully be what my kids are going to use.

Specifically targeted towards a younger generation, Conti and the MakerDAO teamed up with childrens non-profit UNICEF and ethereum startup Bounties Network to create the Surge track at ETH New York.

The Surge track features talks and bounties geared towards educating high-school students about the basic of blockchain. The program runs through topics like What is a smart contract? and How to set up a [crypto] wallet.

Whats more the bounties associated with these sessions were not primarily of a technical nature but rather a creative one. The Surge session hosted by MakerDAO awarded students 5 DAI or about $5 for creating a MakerDAO or DAI internet meme, writing a short rap verse about using DAI, or making a fun hashtag about the application.

MakerDAO presentation at ETH New York. Image taken by Christine Kim.The teams and sponsors

Creating conversations about decentralized finance and blockchain more generally was not only the focus of programming at ETH New York but also the primary focus of several hacking teams this year.

Will Shahda – a self-employed consultant in dapps and smart contracts – along with four other developers hacked together a decentralized application (dapp) to support life insurance on the ethereum blockchain.

Their application, while leveraging blockchain technology, was really about highlighting what Shahda called the present dystopian level of capitalism where theres an insane invasion of privacy.

The best use case for blockchain is privacy. What were building calls attention to the permanent immutability of a blockchain and the storage of sensitive and private data on it, said Shahda. Its about creating a conversation.

Freelance developer Tal Zisckind put together an ethereum wallet application for the visually impaired in order to spark conversation around application accessibility.

My dad, he cant use a wallet. Hes cut off from those services, said Zisckind. Hes not a stupid person. Its about building applications to be inclusive for everyone.

Hacking teams at ETH New York. Image by Christine Kim.

ETH New York sponsors awarded those teams that had a strong focus on social impact and the greater ...

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Tags: application, Oskar Paolini, MakerDAO, Reality, Smart contract, Ethereum, turnover, Bounties Network, Will Shahda, ETH Zurich