Government and the Blockchain


It’s a peaceful day and you’re looking to spend a few cryptocoin on an ice cream at your local McDonalds. Hoping that the ice-cream machines will work this time around, you think that maybe today’s your lucky day. But these hopes don’t last long. As you walk up to the counter to complete your purchase, the door you just entered through bursts open once again, and a man with a machine gun in murderous rage riddles the room with bullets. He then promptly passes out from a heart attack, but not before putting a couple bullets into your thigh.

As you are breathing one of your last breaths, in through the doors burst members of the blue coalition. Your coalition. These last breaths turn into sighs of relief, as three citipolice deal with the gunner and three citimedics rush to your aid.

As odd as this situation may sound, a decentralized society in which everything is run by normal citizens with absolute equality, regulated on a blockchain, will likely become a very real possibility in the next two decades, if not sooner. It very well may be true that anything can be decentralized, one way or another.

Even today, centralized power structures (such as our government, but also banks) are already under threat. One of our government’s favorite abilities, or the ability to print money, is now on the wane. As soon as a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin becomes widely accepted, the government’s business in economics is essentially over. With such a currency, regulations and taxes become harder to enforce, and the government looses all control. It’s economic power is then done for.

But this isn’t the government’s only worry (and the reverse: not our only hope). Using the same blockchain technology currently used to securely transfer our private information and assets, we can design a theoretically perfect digital voting system (as dystopian as that may sound). I’m no expert on blockchain technology, but even if we were to simply send around votes like we do Bitcoin, the system can be replaced via a new, revolutionary standard.

Such a voting system would force honest governments into the perfect, free, and fair democratic election. This election could be audited by the common man with a laptop and some spare time and would be extremely hard to tamper with given a sufficient amount of honest nodes.

And once we begin replacing a government, why stop there? Practically all public services can be replaced with a decentralized version, incentivized by crypto payments. (This is what is illustrated in my slightly-ridiculous introduction.) Policing, for example, can be replaced by a system that notifies nearby civilians of a problem and offers a monetary compensation for the help provided. A similar system could be implemented for maintenance jobs and other civil services. Freelancing and having a stable job can both be options, though freelancing may be better since the changes of supply and demand may make remaining in one career less beneficial, though I can’t imagine that this would always be the case, as having people specialize in careers is extremely important.

But it’s likely I’m wrong about the design of the system I just laid out. It’s quite likely, as all I’m here to do is provide ideas. Nevertheless, it is quite clear to me that all of this is very well within human capabilities. I’m actually quite shocked that this topic isn’t more widely discussed because of how revolutionary the technology is. The success of this essay depends on if people smarter than me read it and are inspired by it.

Some would also argue that no matter what, a central authority will emerge. But this is the entire reason a blockchain exists: to end central authorities. The blockchain is the authority, making all the necessary decisions for the community based on the predefined rules.

Perhaps by these rules we will eventually achieve a Utopia. Just kidding, there’s no way. People suck and always will. But perhaps, just maybe, through this technology we can make governments that much better.