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Can blockchain wipe out shady academic pasts?

Can blockchain wipe out shady academic pasts?

A recent survey showed that 21% of job applicants’ resumes in the USA stated fraudulent degrees. So a fifth of job applicants say they have a degree when they in fact haven’t. How can this be happening in 2017?

Recruiters can dig into their applicants’ pasts to ascertain the truth, but this is made difficult by the fact that education records are still in the dark ages. Often a letter to the HE institution in question is required before the information will be released, and colleges tend to charge a fee for academic transcripts. This takes too long, which leaves employers with little option but to trust their interviewees’ resumes and rely on their own interrogation techniques to gauge the individual’s suitability for the job.

Recruiters would dance for joy if only there were an indelible, unchangeable, easily-accessible, centralised database of student records. One guesses that falsifications on resumes would quickly dry up once such a system came on the scene. Recruiters could look interviewees in the eye more openly, and interviewees could feel less nervous about being believed.

Sony has finished development in a collaboration with IBM to apply blockchain technology to the student record. Using the utterly reliable blockchain technology most widely used in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, it aims to ‘Make mutual use of educational achievements and activity records in an open and safe way’. The new system records information in a difficult to falsify way and controls access to recorded information, making it possible to reliably disclose information to authorized third parties.

The system aggregates student data from a variety of student information systems across many learning institutions and makes it available via a centralised ledger. All data from this service has been recorded previously and cannot be altered.  

Sony is looking to commercialise their system. Their press release contains this rather breathless blue-sky sentence:

‘This newly developed system is also extremely versatile, with the potential for wider applications outside of the field of education including device control and data management in the IoT field, contract management of value chains in the field of logistics and distribution, rights and distribution management in the digital contents field, property rights and usage management in the sharing economy, and currency/point tracking in the field of cryptocurrencies.’

But surely a no-brainer for this new system is a student record subscription service for employers? So far the product has yet to make it to market, and when it does there hopefully will be such a service, which will make job interviews a whole lot more transparent.