Mueller Report Could Reveal Urgent Need for Blockchain
Most people seem to think the much-heralded and -derided Mueller report is all about Trump.
But there’s a good chance they’ll be proven wrong: The Attorney General’s four-page letter to Congress summarizing the report tells us that it could also contain some of the most definitive conclusions about Moscow’s interference in U.S. elections.
What the report will not cover is ways to protect against similar episodes in the future.
Nor does that goal appear to be very high on the agenda of warring parties in Washington.
What’s even more unfortunate is that very few people in high places recognize the potential for blockchain to help plug some of the biggest holes.
The Mueller report will discuss one of the vulnerable areas: social media platforms.
Plus, there’s a second, which is the elephant in the room: Voting systems.
But in our just-released 18-page review of the crypto space, “Dark Shadows with a Bright Future,” we kick off the debate about killer Decentralized Applications (“killer dApps”) that can help address both.
Decentralized Social Media
Start with Facebook, one of the primary vehicles used by foreign operatives.
Facebook will never have the staff or artificial intelligence to censor their 1.5 billion users who log on daily, almost 76% from mobile devices.
Facebook will never be able to prevent users from posting content about massacres in New Zealand or genocide in Myanmar — let alone malicious posts by highly trained professionals financed by a major government.
There’s only one force that could possibly have the bandwidth to deal with such a large and diverse global community: The community itself.
And that can only happen with decentralized social media, which is largely controlled by users — not a central authority.
Instead of a business or governance model that starts at the top, the model would be more akin to neighborhood associations or even agricultural cooperatives: Users own and control the data. They are empowered to vote down content they don’t like. And they are the best defense against manipulation or subversion of their own data.
The blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) that could help achieve that goal is already in development. Too bad it wasn’t in place during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
How would that have changed the outcome? We can only speculate on the answers. But this scenario is an educated guess:
Foreign operatives still post their incendiary content. Nothing stops them from doing so. But they can’t gain access to vast user databases like Facebook’s. They can’t use Facebook’s powerful analytic tools to target audiences that might be the most receptive. They can’t spend money to boost their posts. And it’s next to impossible to buy, sell, steal or manipulate user data.
In the end, the foreign operatives get little visibility. They’re unable to propagate their propaganda broadly. They get lost in a vast sea of content.
An impossible dream? Not really. Social media platforms, built from the ground up with Distributed Ledger Technology, have the potential to make this possible.
Steem and Kin are good examples. They still have a long way to go in order to provide a fluid and friendly user experience. But they already stand as evidence that, all else being equal, many people will prefer social media sites they can control directly and benefit from financially.
In contrast, centralized social media platforms like Facebook are, and always will be, sitting ducks for abuse, both from the inside and the outside.
Fair and Accurate Elections
Given how essential elections are for modern democracies, it’s often surprising how vulnerable they can be to domestic or foreign intrusions and manipulations.
We once thought that such was only the case in emerging democracies. That’s where dominant foreign powers could easily manipulate results. That’s where everything from voter eligibility to final vote counts were often controlled by corrupt officials behind closed doors.
Now, however, it has become apparent that elections are vulnerable to such intrusions even in advanced countries.
Distributed Ledger Technology, in conjunction with other technologies, has the potential to help resolve some of these problems most of the time:
Voting occurs with a decentralized internet protocol where no actor is able to manipulate the vote tally. All aspects of the process are secure from hacking. The results are accurate, transparent and known to everyone as soon as polls are closed. High-level mathematics are deployed to validate each vote and guarantee election results. Intrusions and manipulations are reduced to a small fraction of what is possible today.
Combined, these two kinds of killer dApps can probably protect open democracies more efficiently and less expensively than virtually any other solution.
They can also emerge as major new pathways for blockchain and cryptocurrencies to go mainstream.