Recently, Crypto NYC, which describes themselves as a “community, coworking space, and studio based in downtown Brooklyn” presented an event with Democracy Earth: Blockchain for Good. Members of the Crypto NYC community have extensive knowledge on blockchain, but they want to use their knowledge to foster and enhance humanity and society.
Blockchain, in its simplest form, is an electronic ledger that stores information across personal computers, so anyone with an Internet connection can access it. It records every transaction on a public, transparent ledger, and it is a decentralized database, which makes it extremely difficult to hack.
One of the most famous examples of blockchain is Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a cyrptocurrency created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi’s real identity has remained a secret, and nobody knows if Satoshi is an actual individual person or a group of people responsible for the creation of Bitcoin. Regardless, Bitcoin was created after the 2008 economic crisis, and as keynote speaker Santiago Siri points out, Satoshi encoded headlines about the banks bailouts in his first Bitcoin block, thus Bitcoin has a geopolitical past.
Santiago Siri is an Argentinian entrepreneur and coder who founded Democracy Earth. Siri created Democracy Earth in hopes to disrupt the way current democracies operate. He wants to make sure that everyone is involved in the government, and he believes that the decentralized and transparent power of blockchain will make that possible.
Siri started Democracy Earth during the Hacking Governance in 2012. Siri was inspired by the Internet’s broad reach- Facebook reaches 2.6 billion people, while the Islamic religion has 1.6 billion people- and the fact that blockchain can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection.
Siri states that our minds exist in the “world of the cloud” meaning companies such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon influence our thoughts, feelings, and actions based on their content. 97% of Google and Facebook’s revenue derive from advertising. Siri also points out that we don’t own our own data; all of it is centralized.
Blockchain is the perfect technology to combat these issues of centralization in all aspects of society. Siri identifies the three main regions that Blockchain technology can be implemented in: Identity, Representation, and Voting. Identity can be defined as passwords, passports, etc, which currently resides in the land of the cloud. The next issue is representation; the president is chosen by the party authorities, and this gets legitimized by our current voting approach. The next area that needs improvement is voting. In the traditional method, authorities count votes, thus individual voter do not have clarity on where his or her vote went. Blockchain technology provides an alternative solution to these three problems.
Blockchain combats the issue of identity by creating a decentralized index of identity. Siri and his team are still figuring out a simple approach to this issue, but basically the proof of identity will be in the form of video. Video processing still requires the human brain because it takes a lot of computational power for AI to match up to the human level of video processing.
With regards to the issue of representation, Blockchain can provide a liquid democracy. A liquid democracy allows voters to directly vote on an issue or delegate his or her vote to someone who is more certified and knowledgeable about the subject. The interesting part about this delegation process is that you can retrieve a vote you gave to someone else and use it for yourself.
Lastly, blockchain is a great solution to current issues regarding voting. Since information in a blockchain is stored in a public, shared ledger every person acts as an “auditor” in the election. Therefore, individuals can understand with complete transparency where where his or her votes went.
Santiago and his team at Democracy Earth are developing Sovereign: a cryptocurrency that can be used for voting with a democratic purpose. It has been in development for around two years and it is currently in its alpha phase. The idea is that Sovereign will be a token based liquid democracy that has the potential to work with any blockchain.
Santiago Siri has innovative and exciting views and ideas about the prospects that blockchain can play in completely transforming how democracy and governments function.
Here’s a video from the event: