Darkening Programmable Donations

Chris Elsden, Ludwig Trotter, John Vines, Chris Speed

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Around 2019, a group of researchers working with a large international charity, developed an innovative system for ‘programmable donations’. Riding a wave of hype related to blockchain technologies, they envisaged a way to support conditional and data-driven giving. The researchers realised that they could use ‘smart contracts’ to create digital escrows that could securely hold an individual donation, and only release when they received data about specified real-world conditions. While a number of commercial players were looking at means to use similar technologies to hold charities to account, and make funding conditional on detailed impact reporting from the 'last mile', this project had sought to flip attention to the 'first-mile' of giving, and donors own motivations and triggers for giving to charity. Although the system was developed carefully, with good intentions, this paper provides a speculative account of series of unfortunate events taking place years later, as the technology evolved and became misguided in various ways.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2019
EventCHI 2019 conference on Creative Speculation on the Negative Effects of HCI Research - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 May 20199 May 2019


ConferenceCHI 2019 conference on Creative Speculation on the Negative Effects of HCI Research
Abbreviated titleCHI4EVIL
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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