Over the past few years, there has been increasingly more interest in NFT, otherwise known as non-fungible tokens. The NFT uses blockchain technology to identify digital objects by code and metadata, and an encrypted identification is embedded within it (Chisholm et al., 2021). The token would be recognized by the identification marker if duplicated or distributed through another channel, so only one copy would circulate (Chisholm et al., 2021). It has been discussed extensively how the further application of this nuanced technology can protect individuals’ privacy and safety across many other fields, such as voter information and fraud prevention, law, and health care (Rean et al., 2021).
For patients’ records, an NFT ledger will ensure the confidentiality of their personal data and prevent tampering (Rean et al., 2021). This is because NFT transactions are built on the very principle of security and transparency – transactions are verified by multiple computers before they are added to the blockchain permanently, ensuring that the records are accurate and secure from data manipulation attempts (Rean et al., 2021). When genetic data are minted as NFTs, the passing of information can be tracked (NFT in healthcare: How patients could monetise their health data). This would allow the individual, who is the sole owner of the data, to see where the information is being passed on and the individual can decide whether to give permission to third parties in exchange for profit (NFT in healthcare: How patients could monetise their health data). This would encourage patients to share their data with third-party companies and participate in developing new products tailored to their needs (NFT in healthcare: How patients could monetise their health data). The ultimate goal is for patients to have control over their sensitive data and make decisions about its use. It is possible to record all critical patient information in one place – a patient medical “passport” that is accurate and secure (Elyashiv, 2021).
The NFT technology may also be applied in the field of intellectual property ownership. It is rarely possible to prove ownership of an IP; however, with NFT tokens, this is possible (Chisholm et al., 2021). The NFT chain would be immutable, so the NFT owner would be able to prove its authenticity and ownership (Chisholm et al., 2021). Likewise, NFTs can also serve as a means of protecting and certifying ownership of inventions and innovations (Staffer, 2021). Patent transactions using NFTs would be documented in a public ledger, providing the necessary information for validation (Staffer, 2021). Furthermore, tokenizing intellectual property (IP) will make patents easier to sell, trade, commercialize, or otherwise monetize, thus bringing new liquidity to this asset class for investors and innovators (Staffer, 2021).
The use of NFT technology in preventing voter fraud is another application. It could be a powerful tool in restoring power to the voters. Voters in many countries must present a photo ID and proof of residence when going to the polls to vote (Rean et al., 2021). Yet, many people are being disenfranchised since they lack copies of their IDs proving where they reside or if they are registered to vote (Rean et al., 2021). NFTs can help solve this problem since they offer a digital identity that certifies a person’s identity and location within a country without the need for physical documentation (Rean et al., 2021). Additionally, NFTs will serve as an official record of who voted and who they voted for, thus eliminating cheating and voter fraud (Liebkind, 2021). This would encourage voter turnout and perhaps encourage people to participate in democracy. In addition to a transparent election outcome, NFT technology would pave the way for a direct democracy with voters controlling the course of government policies.
There are many possibilities for improving health care, the law, and voting systems with the NFT and blockchain technologies. It is worth mentioning, however, that this technology has a massive environmental impact. Most NFTs (crypto arts) are currently distributed on the Ethereum platform, which uses 48.14 kilowatt hours of energy per transaction, which is more than enough to power a refrigerator for a month (How much energy do NFTs take up?: The Renewable Energy Hub). As a technology, it is still at an infancy stage, and there is much to look forward to in terms of how it can change the lives of many in the future.
Chisholm, A. D. H., Dewan, R., & Gebert, J. P. (2021, August 17). NFTs and implications under Canadian securities law. McMillan LLP. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://mcmillan.ca/insights/nfts-and-implications-under-canadian-securities-law/
Elyashiv, T. (2021, November 30). Healthcare is the newest frontier for nfts. DeFi on TheStreet. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.thestreet.com/defi/digital-finance-investing/healthcare-is-the-newest-frontier-for-nfts
IBM Newsroom. (2021, April 20). IPwe and IBM seek to transform corporate patents with next generation nfts using IBM Blockchain. IBM Newsroom. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://newsroom.ibm.com/2021-04-20-IPwe-and-IBM-Seek-to-Transform-Corporate-Patents-With-Next-Generation-NFTs-Using-IBM-Blockchain
Liebkind, J. (2021, May 19). How blockchain technology can prevent voter fraud. Investopedia. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.investopedia.com/news/how-blockchain-technology-can-prevent-voter-fraud/
The Medical Futurist . (2022, January 12). NFT in healthcare: How patients could monetise their health data. The Medical Futurist. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://medicalfuturist.com/nfts-an-health-data/
Rean, Lim, H., Mirza, A., Hongkiat.com, Young, N., KS, A., Nikita, & Firdaus, T. (2021, November 3). 10 practical NFT use cases beyond digital artworks. Hongkiat. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/nft-use-cases/
The Renewable Energy Hub . (2021, August 17). How much energy do nfts take up?: The Renewable Energy Hub. The Renewable Energy Hub . Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.renewableenergyhub.co.uk/blog/how-much-energy-do-nfts-take-up/
Staffer, L. E. (2021, November 16). What lawyers need to know about nfts. The Legal Examiner. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.legalexaminer.com/technology/crypto/what-lawyers-need-to-know-about-nfts/