It was my pleasure to have recently spoken to Philip Edouard Andreae, aka, 'The Godfather of EMV'. We talked about his work with mobile voting application specialists, Voatz, the Free TON decentralized meritocracy governance model, and a whole lot more.
If you haven't already read part one, check it out when you have five. Otherwise, simply read on. It stands alone in my not-so-humble opinion.
"Going back to the original topic of blockchain. In terms of geographical inequality, do you feel decentralised governance models (such a Free TONs meritocracy model) can address these needs? Especially in this grander quest of ‘loving thy neighbour’..."
"You drag us into the realm of money. And when I wander into the realm of money, this takes us into the space of lifestyle and cost of living, and then we have to wander into the space of pride and greed. And as CNN reported this morning, wealth inequality is 321 to 1 as the pay difference between the CEO and an entry-level employee. This has evolved from 157 to 1 in 2008. I’m sure there is data to take you backwards.
So thinking about money, what forms of money do we have. Barter is the original form of money. If you have wheat and I have goats, and I want wheat and you want milk, what happens? We agree a gallon of milk is equal to a bushel of wheat and a form of money is established. We have an exchange rate between two things.
At some point in time, the Chinese paper system became the conventional means of exchange. But then who stood behind that means of barter? The issuer of the piece of paper.
So what is a bank? You can issue a piece of paper, and if I trusted you, I could take this and pass it along to friends knowing you would make good on the offer."
"I can’t verify this but I’m sure I’ve heard it's in the rights of every US citizen to be able to create their own form of money?"
"I’m not sure if that isn’t true, and not sure if it is true! If true, I'm not surprised. If you go back in history, and you’ll find this in the UK and you could probably pick any other country, a money lender created a currency. And the term ‘money lender’ takes me back. It’s very biblical.
So does the US have buried somewhere in the billions of words of the law, something which allows me to create an IOU?
"Good point. Framed this way, how could they control it?"
"Precisely. So now I create an IOU and it’s the same as a currency. If we think about the US dollar, it’s just an IOU from the Federal reserve. Going back in time, it was once 32 dollars per ounce of gold. Why gold? Gold has value because of its scarcity proposition. There isn’t much of it. It’s the same with diamonds."
"Well, there’s debate about the scarcity of diamonds but I understand what you mean."
"We could get into De Beers and all of that, the point is that the myth still gives value. What’s the value of a diamond? Or the value of uranium? In the end, there is an intrinsic value we’ve attributed to that thing.
Maybe this intrinsic value is imposed by greed and pride. Maybe it’s imposed by my sensory perception of the item. Or maybe it’s created because of this intangible thing called a market. A place where things are traded, like the foreign exchange markets. Now we have the crypto markets, which is really just a foreign exchange market, but instead of denominated nation-state currencies, we’re trading in denominated internet currencies."
"This is an analogy I used to my non-crypto friends frequently as it goes, you’re not so much buying a crypto-coin as exchanging one currency for another, in the same way as they would going on holiday."
"But now add NFTs to it. Or go down the path of an ICO. Tell me the difference between an ICO, the coin in an ICO, and the piece of paper that once was a share, which then became a digital record, which is now a coin, which is, as we know, just a digital record on a distributed ledger. And all because we didn’t trust the DTC!?"
"Tokenised shares through mirror protocols are a whole other rabbit hole we could go down here."
"So the question is, Ben, where are we going?
Part of me is concerned by the fact we are creating new and intangible things. These new things seem to take on material value because I can exchange them for gold or physical dollars, yen, sterling, euro. But where did the value come from?"
"Well using NFTs as the example, and thinking of them as the artist’s signature rather than the artwork itself, doesn’t the value come from the verifiability?"
"Totally agree. I listened to a podcast about a New York Times article talking on the subject of NFTs. This journalist turned the first image of his article into an NFT, and it sold for $750k! But anyone could read the article by going to the NYT or googling it. So why did somebody pay the equivalent to $750k in Ether for it?"
"In one of my recent articles, I spoke to world-famous artists including Sasha Pivovarova and Emmanuel Flipo, and they had some interesting views."
"I actually saw this article of yours, and you’re basically arguing it’s about possession to a degree. And although I’ve not finished yet -- I had other things to do but I will get around to it -- it’s not too far from the conclusion of the podcast I listened to. This journalist went and spoke to those who bid because he’d planned to write a follow-up on his experience. What he found was the people who bought it, it was the notoriety of being able to be a part of the second article."
"Ahh I see, definitely a huge factor. Justin Sun, one of the more ‘interesting’ characters in crypto, and his bidding war marketing campaign on the first ever tweet is a perfect example of this. So of course, when you get to these extreme realms it does seem absurd doesn’t it? But moving away from the extremes, branding and commercial rights, stock photography such as those I use for my articles, these cases make sense, right? And if you then apply this logic to 3D printers, all physical products are piratable (real word?). Where do we go when even Nike can’t protect the copyright on a shoe?"
"Let me take you down my rabbit hole which you just kind of walked into, and it takes me back to the 321 to 1 conversation. So one of my keen interests is superyachts. A while back, I had the opportunity to visit a shipyard where they retrofit superyachts. So I asked one of the men standing on the wharf, 'how much for this 120m long behemoth?' He says '120m euro!' I said, 'what does it cost to maintain?' His answer, 'without fuel 12m euro p/a!' And when I asked, 'how often does it get used?' He shrugs, 'one week out of the year?'
Now, if I had that kind of excess wealth, and I’m excited by Bitcoin or NFTs, or any one of these new things, I bid on them and I’ve created a market. Old or new doesn’t really matter. Say there was a recently discovered Rembrandt which was sitting in a vault from a year after he died, and I’m willing to bid on that. Again, I’ve created a market. What’s the intrinsic value? That you want it. And I can sell it to you for whatever you’re willing to pay for it."
"Supply and demand determines all really. From barter and trade to, well, rounding us back nicely, voting solutions. Without the demand for a service (such as Voatz), then the supply will dwindle away."
"And how do we create demand? What we’ve talked about so far, is that in the end, whatever we do, we create supply and demand. Be it a market for food or a roof over my head, my pride and greed will cause me to demand more if I can afford more.
So, we’ve got this whole economic market and made these interesting digital items and stuff that people can go bid for. They can create some sort of speculative market on one side, and some sort of intrinsic market on the other side. And I’m sure you could come up with a couple more dimensions for that market.
Now, let’s move to voting. Who decides how we vote? Typically those we voted for because they became that which governed. So if I take my Free TON example, a meritocracy will be established with the Free TON community. They will architect a voting mechanism, and define a set of rules which will get voted upon by interested participants and imposed on the rest.
Okay, now let’s go to governments. What exists today around our democratic societies. Even in single party societies, there are votes. Who runs the election? That’s the big question! From the Voatz perspective, Voatz the company, we need to establish demand. Clearly, the overseas military is a party, a collection of voters demanding the ability to participate and cannot participate in the way the system now operates i.e., paper/in person. Add in another group, the disabled. They may be unable to get to the voting place, may not be able to touch or use machinery. They may not be able to use something as simple as a pen to mark their intent on the piece of paper or wherever their intent may be recorded. There’s another community demanding the ability to vote, and they need a new way to do this.
Email and fax, these were both new ways of allowing remote voting. Voatz is just another new way."
"And a more secure option at that. Even trying to be unbiased I can’t see how anyone can argue how it could be less secure than a fax! It comes across as borderline satire to me!"
"Well here you see I disagree with you. Imagine I received an official government printed paper ballot. I’ve marked this with my fountain pen. I’ve signed something, leaving privacy as a separate concern (I gave up the right to privacy because I want the right to vote remotely and made an objective decision), and scanned it into a self-signing fax machine. The machine hashes the image, creates a sort of a token, and then delivers the token plus the image to the LEO."
"Okay! Perhaps I’m being harsh or uneducated about fax machines! I must admit fax passed me by in the same way as pagers did though. But the token analogy makes sense now you put it like that."
"Taking the hash away, I’ve still got a wet signature. In terms of the sliding scale, it’s secure, ish. I mean you and I both agree that with photoshopping and other sorts of things, I could create addresses and we now have issues of privacy. How do I know it is you who sent the fax? Everything has some risk.
But coming back to Voatz, what have we done?
1. As part of the registration process, we ensure you have a good clean device. One that is up to date and malware-free to the best of our ability.
2. We’ve addressed identity issues by asking you to present whatever credentials are required in your jurisdiction. Using a federal election in the United States, a drivers license, or passport or other government ID."
"Forgive my potential ignorance here, but in my chat with John Sebes of OSET, he mentioned there are stipulations that ID must be verified by the LEO, and not by a third party such as Google or an app? Does the Voatz app tick this box?"
"It doesn’t... but it could.
So let’s consider implementation and take John at his word. I doubt his word is all 50 States, the four territories and the District of Columbia. I don’t doubt there are some states in which this is written. So he would have been speaking of some jurisdictions, but not all.
Let’s assume the jurisdiction allows a third-party certified organisation capable of doing counterfeit document management. Or better said document verification. They understand the security features of the document. They are the kind of companies supporting banks and governments who are enrolling people remotely. And I’m including government intelligence agencies.
We ask the consumer to take a picture of the document, front and back. Send the document to the verification service provider. They come back and tell us whether it is a uniquely generated document, I.E, it’s not counterfeit (to a level of certainty). False accept/reject of course. Okay, now I capture the data on the document. There’s a bar code, text images etc. So I take the text and the barcode, compare them to the records held by the agency. If they’re equal, I ask you to take a picture of yourself holding the ID so we can compare this with the likeness of your image on (or in) the document."
"KYC then? A process most crypto users will be more than familiar with by this point."
"Exactly, it is KYC. Or in this case, it’s KYV, know your voter."
"KYV, you should coin that phrase."
"Or we could use ‘know your citizen’ and stick with KYC! I like that better. Either way, now we have a valid voter. We register the device to the voter, and we use classic face ID, Touch ID, biometric mechanisms to assure us the device is registered to the person who was present at the origin verification.
Now, when I come back a second time I see, on the screen, a ballot. You mark it. When you’ve finished we run all the rules: Under and over-voting, supporting all the different variants of voting mechanisms,
random choice voting, etc. We tell you if there are any mistakes. We ask you if you would like to correct them (unless the law says over, in which case you MUST correct it, of course).
If you and it agree all is well, you hit submit, present your biometrics, and the ballot is signed.
Once all this has happened, the data which represents the ballot is signed with a key that associates with an anonymous identifier which only you know. That anonymous identifier will be printed on a paper ballot at the appointed time. The anonymous identifier is again recorded on a distributed ledger, with the ballot data, and it’s recorded again on the receipt before being emailed back to you in an encrypted format. You can confirm for yourself, as a citizen, by looking at the pdf that's been posted and was recorded on the blockchain. A third-party auditor can randomly select anonymous IDs and confirm the data is all correct. And then you have these new auditing mechanisms which have algorithms for random sampling to assure integrity. So all that practice still exists. There are three copies, the print, the blockchain and the bulletin board."
"Essentially another layer of armour in the defensive capabilities then? And, like you say, it’s enabling voting for those who otherwise might not be able to have their say due to circumstances beyond their control."
"Yes, and now I’ve got a device which is yours, which you’ve attached details of your capabilities and circumstances to. Imagine, say, Stephen Hawking, the well respected British scientist, who wrote his papers with a puffer."
"If we take this train of thought one step further then you could hypothesise about the potential for combining these tools with Elon Musk’s Neural link research. Apparently it allows faster use of smartphone devices than another person using their hands."
"I had no idea it had come that far, definitely not to the point of implementing it. And going back to constituents. We’ve identified the UOCAVA and their struggles. We’ve added those with disabilities, who struggle with certain types of voting mechanisms and need one which is comfortable for them.
But, now I ask you, 'Ben, what about me?' What about me?!
I’m technically literate! I don’t want to drive to the voting place! I sure as hell don’t want to stand in a line in the hot summer sun!"
"You’re preaching to the choir here, buddy!"
"And what about people who can’t afford to miss work so they can stand in line to vote? I’m a gig worker, and gig workers who don't work don’t get paid."
"You also enter into class divide issues here. The poorest in society are excluded from having their say in matters affecting their lives."
"If we were recording this as a video interview, I would bring up the Voatz app and show you how we can really take this one step further! Anyone can select an election from the list of elections they’re registered to vote in. That’s Voatz. Now what if we do the same thing for everyday parliament? My daughter is a citizen of three different countries, she has issues and activities she must participate in, referendums and such, which need to be voted on, today. What if she received a push notification? ‘Parliament bill 66: Gay adoption rights’ just as an example, are up for discussion, today. She can give her opinion with a couple of clicks."
"Something like this might have tipped the balance of Brexit here if it had been possible then!"
"Exactly! The young people who didn’t vote could have voted, and the old generation who had the time might not have had the controlling say!"
"I couldn’t sum it up better. I still have nightmares about the ‘Take back control’ propaganda!"
"Another step further takes us to a point where on my phone I see a once a day post informing me what’s going on in the houses of parliament and the Senet etc, with a link to unbiased information about these issues. This way the voter doesn’t get swayed by opinion pages, and truth propagates through standard media.
Well, then why not give more and more say to the voters in this way? Opinion polls on important matters as often as make sense. Daily at 3pm, for example, printed the next day on newspapers for all to see.
If we evolve in this direction, I no longer have a meritocracy or even a representative government. We have a government who respond to the opinion of the people.
Why do we need a DAO, or Skynet anymore? I have a community I belong to, and if I want to join more organisations I can always join the rotary club, or the Free TON community, of course!"