As unprecedented charges of rigging have loomed over the U.S. presidential election, much attention has focused on the capability of blockchain technology to make voting more transparent.
Joseph Lubin, the founder of ConsenSys and the co-founder of Ethereum, observed in an article in Futurism that decentralizing technologies have important implications for not only improving elections, but in empowering individuals overall.
In addition to charges of rigging, this year’s U.S. election featured the emergence of foreign and non-state actors wielding the power to influence the election’s outcome. Decentralized actors form Wikileaks to Anonymous have exerted influence over the race.
A foreign controller of a big botnet can create major confusion which can affect events from a distance, Lubin noted. Where the United States has historically sought to police the world, the world has since become capable of exerting checks and balances on the U.S. political system.
Chinese and Russian hacks, meanwhile, are exerting information-based influence on foreign shores. Stuxnet and similar cyber weapons have delivered millions of dollars’ worth of damage.
Blockchain technology’s decentralizing power will deliver tools that can not only disrupt existing systems, but also provide solutions to enable more transparent, predictable and fairer outcomes.
Governance Through Code
When organizations such as rLoop form on the Internet using blockchain-based tools like Boardroom, they are providing successful high-tech projects that support robust, decentralized, real-time decision-making capabilities. Such capabilities include quadratic voting, liquid democracy and wisdom/prediction markets.
Public support for blockchain-enabled solutions might not convince governments to change traditional voting systems, but technology players could still effect change. Some companies already have the ability to find interested jurisdictions and engage in “jurisdictional arbitrage.” Some countries will welcome these initiatives.
National Identity Will Diminish
When the planet’s 7.4 billion citizens can establish blockchain-based, self-sovereign or user-centric identity along with a portable and persistent reputation, each citizen will have the ability to enfranchise themselves into the growing digital economy.
There is a mobile app called uPort that enables people to register their identity on the blockchain, providing an anchor for their digital transactions. This identity serves as a universal login for digital services and a signature for digital transactions. The information is stored in a user-controlled environment and does not rely on legacy institutions.
A blockchain-based reputation can enable an individual to get a microloan from an organization such as EtherLoan.
Legacy Voting To Be Taken To Task
When online voting systems hold legacy voting systems to account, the White House and Main Street become more transparent to one another. It will be possible to view the average citizen’s benefits against the policies pursued by politicians and lobbyists.
ConsenSys is working on an anti-spoof element that, along with portable reputation and self-sovereign identity, can solve the Sybil Attack problem, which allows fake identities to be established on the Internet.
Solving this problem will overcome a major obstacle to provably fair and decentralized voting.
Incentives Will Expose Corruption
Platforms enabling people to bet on the outcome of any decidable event, known as prediction markets or wisdom markets, present a strong use case for blockchain technology. Gnosis, for instance, is a wisdom market built on Ethereum, in which individuals seeking the truth in certain situations post a consulting fee to find information that could impact a business or political activity.
When people put more value behind the quest for truth, those who were previously not motivated to seek such information could become “wisdom consultants.” Such individuals could earn a consulting fee for finding information.
Accepted fact and actual truth could come closer together, leaving behind the infrastructure that supports systemic corruption.
The prospect of having less corrupt elections could be sufficient to excite 99% of the world’s citizenry.