Blockchain Applications: Facilitating Democracy in Brazil

The old adage warns us not to witness the production of two things in life: sausage and laws. I prefer bacon myself, but when it comes to the laws that govern our lives, citizens of all nations have an inherent interest in their creation and implementation – regardless of how much they might actually lay eyes upon. Unfortunately, many people don’t enjoy the privilege of civic mechanisms or legal recourse that facilitate the proposal and legislative consideration of ideas conceived by the general public. In the case of Brazil, even when such a mechanism is provided for in the constitution, logistical challenges and government corruption doom the majority of these public petitions before they begin.

Enter the possibilities of blockchain technology, where the fundamentals of a distributed ledger are being harnessed to overcome these hurdles of the past. Brazilians have a constitutional right to have their public petitions heard by Congress if they are endorsed by at least 1% of the electorate. In a diverse nation of 207 million with nearly 150 million voters and variable internet access, gathering and verifying the required signatures has been a monumental task. The results of successful petitions are even more discouraging, yielding the passage of only four laws. Without a modern method for verification, the petitioners rely upon individual legislators to adopt proposals as their own, a risky venture for both parties in a nation with a declining democratic environment. According to The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, Brazil’s democracy index score has fallen since 2014:

Brazil B

One of the primary computing platforms thriving in the current blockchain technology renaissance is Ethereum. Released in 2015, the Ethereum platform is open source, public and blockchain-based with high “smart contract” functionality that utilizes a global infrastructure network to thwart third party interference. Simply put, the Ethereum protocol presents itself as an ideal solution for Brazil’s need to record, preserve and independently verify data (signatures). Two innovative Brazilians recognized this potential and strengthened their collaboration and resolve during the Ethereum Foundation’s annual developers conference in Mexico last November.

Brazil A

Everton Fraga (left, Ethereum software engineer) and Ricardo Fernandes Paixao (right, Professor and Congressional economic advisor) view the use of blockchain technology as a way to finally implement the public petition provision within their nation’s constitution. A government-backed mobile application could transform the signature-gathering process from pickup trucks with crates of physical paper into a digital on-ramp into the Ethereum blockchain. Daily hashing could then attach batches of signatures to encrypted transactions with, perhaps most importantly, one-way capability for verification. At that point, the record of signatures has been permanently recorded on the distributed ledger without the need for third party verification.

The political landscape in Brazil is highly volatile amidst recent scandals that have entangled dozens of top government and business leaders. Leading up to national elections in October, many leaders are trying to establish a forward-looking agenda while considering all kinds of proposals for reform and beneficial progress, including this petition process enhancement. For now, Fraga, Paixao, and the countless Brazilians they represent must eagerly await their government’s decision and the potential impact of Ethereum blockchain technology on the democratic nature of their country.

 


 

Author

About the author: Ryan LaMonica is a management consultant and blockchain enthusiast with a background in engineering, energy, marketing and risk management. The views reflected in this article are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. He currently resides outside of Atlanta, Georgia where he and his wife manage the energy and risk of their four amazing children.

Sources:

  • The Economist: 

https://infographics.economist.com/2017/DemocracyIndex/

  • Bill Purcell Photography via Flikr:
© Bill Purcell Photographry
  • Quartz:

Brazil may write new laws with data stored on the ethereum blockchain

  • Cointelegraph:

https://cointelegraph.com/news/brazilian-government-plans-to-process-petitions-and-write-laws-on-ethereum

(header image: http://www.blockchaintechnologies.com)

 

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Information Overture: Everipedia and Overhauling an Icon

As Wikipedia changed encyclopedic information, Everipedia will shake up the user-generated platform that’s quelled our curiosity since 2001.

Wikipedia has long been a staple of the web. A common top search result when your curiosity is tickled. The place you go to begin research on anything. An obligatory donation at year-end when you’re sick of looking at that obtuse plea box.

Information is what makes the web great and, unlike centralized sources of information from the past, its content is generated by anyone who wants to contribute. Wikipedia has been a stand-up example of this user-generated, diversified curation. However, it’s been slow to adapt to the changing times and depends on a disappearing model of monetization.

Enter Everipedia, the champion of creative commons that’s decentralizing every facet of information gathering, including how it supports itself financially. With a social networking feel and a sharing economy empowerment for contributors, Everipedia has quickly become the largest English encyclopedia, by content volume, in the world. Their modernized approach is poised to change the way we search, source, and cite information from the web.

Why?

While Wikipedia is an amazing resource and has continually become more and more reliable, now often being thought of as a reliable, citable source – it’s also a centralized conglomerate that determines what information is published. Though it laid the foundation for spreading information by enlisting it’s users, it also put a politically correct filter on nearly everything that’s published. As a passionate lover of Wikipedia, yearly supporter, and occasional contributor it feels odd to be saying anything negative about my most frequently visited website – but that’s before I understood how much better it could be. That’s before I realized that the site has looked exactly the same for decades (save for larger donation pop-ups).

The truth is, Wikipedia needs competition in order to remain relevant. Everipedia intends to do this and more. Not only competing directly with Wikipedia but subverting their model of information gathering/curating as well as their support system. Everipedia’s founders Sam Kazemian and Theodor Forselius are setting out to encourage a different way forward, a world where those who consume and provide the information share in the value of it. This model intends to bring the money to the surface and make it an integral part of everyday use of the platform, instead of an afterthought.

Print isn’t dead, it’s just a lot different

Everipedia embraces the changes publishing has experienced in recent decades. Look around at the rest of the web – anyone can post anything they want. No doubt the downside is ‘fake news’ but the upside is collective collaboration that forces transparency. Kind of the same way cryptocurrencies and ICO’s are subverting institutions that control who, when, and how people can invest their money.

With a clean, non-technical editing system that allows structural changes along with content and a tokenized system to reward contributors and editors coming soon – Everipedia is ushering a new wave of authority that is completely decentralized. Shucking the negatives of publishing gatekeepers and giving control back to the contributors will revolutionize information gathering, prioritizing, and consumption.

But wait, what about those trolls?

Turns out not everything you read online is true. While this might come as a shock, some people want you to believe their agenda and they are willing to lie to make that a reality. Of course Everipedia has thought about this and is simply applying a collaborative approach to subvert false information. And hopefully you’re thinking blockchain at this point because that’s exactly what the founders thought. Why not leverage blockchain to secure and solidify information with verifications from the community?

“Without context, a piece of information is just a dot. It floats in your brain with a lot of other dots and doesn’t mean a damn thing. Knowledge is information-in-context…connecting the dots.”  -Michael Ventura

As they move their entire editing and information storage system to the EOS blockchain, they are developing tokenized governance alluded to earlier. While I’d love to dig deeper into how this will work, we don’t know just yet how that will look. Once we do, so will you – as this project is near and dear to the Crypto 101 family’s heart. Really anyone in cryptoland should be interested in this because it is true to the core values of what many of us believe. Free and open access with free and open contribution; blockchain for a better world.

Save us from the tabbit hole

The tabbit hole is the endless string of new tabs opened when learning about a new topic. The ones that help with the jargon and background necessary to feel conversational about something. On Everipedia, simple pop-outs on each hyperlink, when scrolled over, give a brief overview of the referenced item, providing a better learning (and user) experience. It might seem simple, or nominal, but the curious learners among us will greatly appreciate this – to the point that using Wikipedia has instantly become an experience, and preference, of the past.

 

Everipedia is taking the wide world of information by storm, garnering support from Wikipedia co-founder Dr. Larry Sanger who now serves as Chief Information Officer for Everipedia. If that’s not enough to believe in this project and change your information-gathering browsing habits, then perhaps you’re a beneficiary of Wikipedia – oh wait, you can’t be – yet another reason to love Everipedia.

Vote from Your Phone: Decentralizing Decisions for the Betterment of Democracy

Massive population growth makes individual participation difficult to manage and has become dangerously close to discouraged at times. Blockchain has the potential to rapidly reverse this anti-democratic trend and pave a better way forward.

Ancient democracies were, in many ways, more true to the individual empowerment ideals that the form of government is originally modeled upon. Massive population growth makes individual participation difficult to manage and has become dangerously close to discouraged at times. Blockchain has the potential to rapidly reverse this anti-democratic trend and pave a better way forward.Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 7.33.14 AM.png

In many governments, and organizations, representative democracies create a buffer between decisions that directly impact the population and the people whom they affect. Boulé intends to bring the power back to the people and provide a secure voting platform, leveraging innovations in the blockchain.

Boulé is a decentralized voting platform built on the blockchain to retain accuracy through unique identities. Named after a Greek system of representation – an advisory group of people selected, or appointed, in ancient times who helped local authorities make decisions for their communities – fitting in its ancient understanding of democratic ideals, i.e. participation of the population.

“We are living a second age of the internet and we are able to create any kind of application using [the consensus] of the blockchain, which will encourage more people to take action.” ~Claudio Perlini, CEO of Boulé

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 7.36.07 AMAs participation is crucial to a healthy democracy, this technology has the ability to facilitate involvement through incredible convenience. Imagine avoiding the polls completely and voting from your mobile phone. Imagine being able to participate in decisions from Presidential elections down to whether your road will be paved and how much of your tax money will be allocated to it.

Secure and accurate voting is essential to this process. Moreover making it easy for the individual to put in their opinion on a rolling basis with unparalleled convenience will completely transform large-scale decision making. Not only decentralizing the ways democratic decisions are made, but decentralizing the way the decisions are collected. Truly creating a new way forward for governments and organizations around the world.

Moving closer to the participatory democratic ideals of the past with innovative approaches in the digital space will likely change the way elections and decisions are made. Whether a single-voter system for governmental decisions or fractional, percentage-based systems for companies, decentralized voting gives the power back to the people. Be a part of the change and voice your opinion through the blockchain!

Ross Ruffing, lead writer @ Crypto 101