Presenting our most recent work under the light of the recent events in Catalunya.
On Sunday October 1st the world watched in disbelief as the smart phone video footage streamed in from Catalonia, showing us Spanish national police outfitted like the military detail for an earthbound Darth Vader with faces hooded and helmeted and masked attempting, through the use of truncheons, rubber bullets and heavy body armor, to prevent Catalans from voting in a referendum the Spanish Prime Minister called illegal.
Groups of ordinary people standing in line to vote can be seen cowering back against the walls as military-looking police smash their way into a voting precinct located in a school. They grab ballot boxes, using their truncheons liberally on men and women, young and old alike who stand or sit with their arms raised high in the air — many of them singing — in attestation that they are peaceful.
The Democracy Earth Foundation was created in 2015 with the goal of creating a borderless, peer-to-peer democracy. It enables mobile, personally sovereign, incorruptible voting in situations just like Catalan, among many others. For the past two years we have been developing our open-source liquid democracy app Sovereign, launched pilots in Colombia and Hong Kong, researched the role of the internet in our geopolitical system, and took our digital democracy message to more than a dozen countries.
The Social Smart Contract is the culmination of this work, an open-source document created by an international team of programmers, activists and researchers. In it, we present our Manifesto, Paper and Execution plan for a transnational network of liquid democracy, incorruptible blockchain-based voting, individual sovereignty, and cryptographically-induced equality.
The Democracy earth mission has already been featured in New Scientist, Futurism, The Huffington Post and the World Economic Forum; now, under the light of Catalonia’s events, we think it’s a good timing for you to hear about it from us.
In our Manifesto we covered the global political context with the internet becoming a dominant force and power being divided between The Land(national territories) and The Cloud (global corporations that monopolize access to user data), with citizens trapped in between. Our Paper describes the basic building blocks for a liquid governance system that can be implemented by anyone, anywhere. Finally, in Execution we specify how this system tackles the historical tension between money and power.
The Land vs. The Cloud
According to the Catalan government 90% of the 2.26 million Catalans voted in favour of independence. The region has 5.3 million voters, and officials said 770,000 votes were lost due to the disruptions of polling stations being raided by Spanish police.
Democracy is in recession. The events in Catalonia are only the most recent in a string of similar events in Kenya, Venezuela, South Korea, Brazil and other countries. We observably have a large gap between societal demands and what actually happens in our institutional politics, and as a result of that participation levels are at an all-time low.
Our communication channels, led by algorithms that are aimed at money-making, create and foster polarization. Our existing voting systems are vulnerable to all kinds exploitations, from cyber-attacks, to gerrymandering, violence and coercion disrupting the results and its legitimacies.
Incredibly, in 2017 the technology that makes voting and democracy itself most vulnerable is the pen and paper. The tactics being used to subvert democracy in Catalonia include physically taking away the paper and pens, and plastic bins acting as ballot boxes. The Spanish interior ministry said police had closed 79 of the 2,315 polling stations set up for the referendum.National police raided the offices of the .cat internet registry entering the headquarters in Barcelona and seizing all of its computers as well as making six staff arrests — several of whom were jailed for 4+ days.
The deep state spies on citizens, and adding to this context, Artificial Intelligence is now being used towards military-grade technology, which poses a further threat and the urgent call to define who is in charge: humans or machines?
Similarly to the issue of unregulated AI development, many of the other major pressing challenges we face as a planet (climate change, inequality, migrations, terrorism) trace back to one basic asymmetry: while our economies are globalized, political rights are still limited to national territories — all of them individually unfit to address the global issues impacting them.
In this context, individuals of the 21st century are powerless and trapped between unregulated global corporations that control data, knowledge and information flows (the Cloud), and Nation-States that control our bodies and political rights (the Land).
“Because they want to be regular people with rights.”
The Catalan Department of Public Health reports that more than 850 people were injured as they attempted to vote in the independence referendum. Officially, under the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the first Rule of the Covenant on Political Rights, a sovereignty vote is never illegal, and there is an absolute prohibition on using violence to try to stop such a vote. Article Seven of the European Union Treaty promises suspension of any member state that uses military force on its own population.
In the United States, the right to gather, vote and petition the government with grievances is part of the 1st Amendment and The Bill of Rights.
In The Social Smart Contract we propose a solution that will tackle both the political and technical issues currently weakening the prospects of democracy in the world. Our alternative is to create a planetary jurisdiction with the transnational technology that is blockchain, and apply that technology to a cryptographically secure voting app that can be adopted directly by citizens and implemented using peer to peer networks. Global governance is the next logical step in a world already connected over the Internet. Permission from established Nation-States is not required: citizens anywhere in the world can embrace this change using sovereign networks.
Blockchains bring the possibility to create a framework in which not only individuals can finally have sovereignty, but institutions can be re-designed to have transparency and participation as it’s core features — all of that while creating one connected planetary jurisdiction that has liquid democracy as its default mode of operation.
Liquid governance for everyone
A liquid democracy is based on a dynamic representation model that works with a bottom-up approach: citizens are able to freely elect within their social graph (friends, colleagues, family) who they want to have as representatives on a specific set of topics. It is the most flexible form of democratic governance that can be constructed with digital technology, operating as a hybrid that enables direct or delegated voting at any time.
In order to operate in this liquid democracy we offer a token called vote, that will grant participation rights to every human being, with decision making as its main function. The inherent characteristics of blockchain technology allow this voting system to have an ideal set of features, which are unable to coexist in our current systems:
- Secrecy: voter will be able to cast vote in secret.
- Verifiability: voter will be able to verify tallied vote.
- Integrity: system will be able to verify correct vote tally.
- Resistance: voter will be able to override own vote if necessary.
Our technology is organization-centered. Its means that our app is designed to enable liquid governance for organizations of all kinds, from the smallest ones formed by 2 people, to the largest global ones, involving all of us. Sovereign will work to establish the constitutional building blocks that can enable an organization to work in a decentralized manner, with an elasticity that allows for diverse institutional models. Another core feature is accountability: with smart contracts strictly protected by cryptography that no single third party can corrupt we can connect transparent decision-making to budgets allocated by the organizations utilizing our system.
Balancing Money and Power
Although politics and economics are often perceived as different realms, history teaches us that money means power and power means votes. So in order to effectively promote democracy it is essential to address both.
Our proposal introduces cryptographically induced equality: as long as any person is able to validate his or her self-sovereign identity, they will receive a corresponding share of votes that is equal to the share of every active participant in the network.
In order to achieve that we define a Proof of Identity process that avoids central authority by introducing the concept of attention mining which incentivizes participants to strengthen the trust of votes by performing simple tests aimed at detecting replicants (duplicate identities).
Finally votes will get dripped to valid participants under a Universal Basic Income mechanism with a goal of finding a proper equilibrium in the historical tension between money and politics. Our dripping will be based on time, so we will turn something that is equally possessed by everyone on earth into a liquid instrument.
Watching the violence of voter suppression all around him, a Catalan voter, an engineer and father of two young children, calls the chaos “a major failure of politics, clearly.” The alternative? “I do not know,” the man admits. He raises a hand to his eyes, wipes away tears. “My emotional relationship with the country we call Spain is very damaged now, “ he says. “It is a sad day for me, my family, the rest of us” and turns away from the camera, weeping.
Today as Catalans pour into the streets by the millions to protest the violent suppression their vote has been met with, amid the calls for democracy-supporting dialogue, the timing is auspicious to release our paper to the wider world.
At Democracy Earth we seek nothing less than true democratic governance for the Internet age, one of the foundational building blocks of an achievable global peace and prosperity, arising from an arc of technological innovations that will change what it means to be human on Earth.