Wednesday Deep Dive: Blockchain in the Realm of Politics
Coin and token prices across the cryptosphere have risen and fallen, often in dramatic fashion, ever since Bitcoin was first introduced as a trustless and decentralized solution to exchanging value and information. However, one of the most important measures of the impact of blockchain technology on the world is what the official stances of the powers-that-be are with respect to distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain-powered projects.
To illustrate this point, consider this report that a US political campaign watchdog has banned bitcoin donations to political campaigns, caps being placed on donations, the public’s fear of elected officials misusing crypto donations, all the way to California and Colorado electing pro-crypto governors, we see a lot of change in how crypto and politics mix (or don’t, depending on where you stand on the issue).
The transformational power of blockchain would suggest that it will continue to bring about changes and developments to this field, so let’s take a look at some of the ways that blockchain — and of course cryptocurrency initiatives — can impact the political realm.
Modern voting systems have faced trust and reliability issues for the longest time. From claims of Russian interference in US elections to vote miscounts, data stored on centralized databases are open to breaches.
Horizon State is a crypto project that is trying to create a manipulation and fraud-free voting system using blockchain. The distributed ledger structure of blockchain allows votes to be stored across many independent nodes, in different locations, making the modification or tampering of votes theoretically impossible. Blockchain voting would require that each voter is assigned a wallet to be used as an identifier and as a store for tokens or coins that can be used for voting coin (that is, a chance to cast a vote), the results of which would be stored in various nodes. Follow My Vote is a project that allows for secure and anonymous voting that is monitored in real time, bringing blockchain-based voting ever closer to being a reality.
VoteUnits is another crypto project seeking to create fairer, tamper-free, fraud-free elections in the mold of ancient Greek democracy, where, simply put, the people decided the vote. VoteUnits holds just the third blockchain patent ever issued in the United States, for its slidechain system, granted in 2014. With a strong team that includes Congressman and U.S. presidential candidate Ron Paul and bestselling author and special advisor to U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Doug Wead, VoteUnits seems well-positioned to follow through on their mission. The company has yet to announce the date of its ICO, but its native token will be called a “TALLY.”
The applications of blockchain in industry and governance are virtually endless. From medical insurance, welfare, census statistics, health records, and insurance provision to digital payments, land use and ownership, and of course voting and other forms of decision-making, blockchain can be used as the gold standard to prevent corruption and as a replacement for otherwise manual, slow, or costly ways of doing things.
rLoop is a decentralized group that has to potential to create governance tools that can exist in large, feature-rich ecosystems, and Boardroom is an application that can be used to deliver successful high-tech projects with decentralized, fluid, reliable, and secure decision-making tools. (We talked a little about Boardroom in our weekly deep dive article on education here).
Yes, it is true that public support for such projects will probably not be enough to convince governments to upgrade their systems to more reliable solutions, many of which are still in the development phase, but the slow yet steady uptick in tools and solutions bodes well for future implementations of tech that is currently bleeding-edge.
Land Titles and National IDs
Storing land titles in traditional systems leaves them open to centralized databases being at risk breached, or paper archives being forged or destroyed. ID documents and record-keeping systems are similar in many ways as well. Although people need to have them, they can be easily lost, and not having them (or becoming the victim of identity theft) can cause a wide range of problems.
Civic is a crypto project that is trying to solve the ID problem by giving everyone their own blockchain ID which can be used to log into select websites, with the intention of eventually enabling people to use their Civic ID for everything from online purchases to sharing their personal data with banks, hospitals, employers, or other service companies. Civic, like the National Agency of Public Registry (NAPR) in Georgia’s implementation of blockchain-based land registries, may take some time to gain popularity and traction, but they are certainly on the right track in terms of delivering solutions that are more secure and efficient as compared to other best-in-class approaches available today.
Prediction markets are a powerful use-case for the blockchain. For example, Gnosis is a crypto project that allows people to be on different outcomes, with consulting fees and betting earnings accruing to those who make the right predictions (or provide other valuable pieces of information) that can then be used by everyone publicly.
By empowering private individuals to earn consulting fees in such a manner, blockchain payments can be used to incentivize people across the board, regardless of location, occupation, or industry, to blow the whistle, share verifiable information on illegal activity, and uncover the truth where it might otherwise remain secret, all for consulting fees, that too in an anonymous fashion. Even a 1% reduction in corruption, whatever the setting, would suffice as just cause for pursuing such corruption-exposing initiatives, and the teams that are leveraging blockchain to address these issues are truly providing a valuable service to the public in doing so.
[Disclaimer: Nick Spanos, who is a co-founder of VoteUnits, is also a co-founder of Cryptos.com]