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Author Topic: Blockchain Usecase: Accountability & Transparency for Elected Officials  (Read 255 times)
gdavis024
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June 01, 2015, 01:20:13 AM
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Greetings all!

I'm not sure if this is the right/best place to post this but I would love to get others' opinions. I was having a discussion with someone regarding applying blockchain technologies towards growing efforts to promote accountability and transparency among our elected officials, of which my original post is the paragraph below. I provided a follow-up response after their initial question (which is bolded and italicized). Everything I wrote is simply an idea based on my own opinions and assumptions, but I believe that some people in the US would be interested in a such a project. Hopefully it's not too lengthy, but feel free to give it a read, ask any questions, and let me know what you think Smiley

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Original Post:
I believe one of the bigger issues with California elected officials, as well as other federal and state elected officials, has to do with their accountability and transparency. It is a common feeling amongst young adults, which is the demographic i fall into, that the government is something that we have no say in or influence towards policies passed. It'd be hard pressed to provide an example to show otherwise. Our version of democracy, primarily designed by John Madison and others in the "Federalist Papers" describe a representational government, in which the American People elect officials who will represent their best interests in Washington. It is assumed with this process that a certain level of transparency and accountability must by evident between the elected official and their constituents. However, many of these elected officials fall prey to the current environment, and while many may have good intentions to follow through on what they promised to provide/support, overtime they primarily either become victim to larger party plays or pressure from financial donors. My idea is simple in nature, as the technology already exists, however the application and acceptance is what remains the biggest challenge. My idea is to develop a decentralized ledger, based on existing blockchain technologies that will increase transparency and accountability between elected officials and their constituents. It would essentially be a ledger tracking the positions, policies, and legislative voting history of each candidate and current elected official. This will allow the American electorate to become more educated and able to make better decisions on who they elect. The ledger will be bipartisan in nature and allow for unbiased information to reach the American public. An informed electorate is an essential part of representational democracy. It will also provide a platform where elected officials will be held responsible for the promises made to their constituents.

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As you stated, the biggest problem is application and acceptance. Who's acceptance are you seeking? You will have a difficult time with the Representatives. Do you have any ideas?


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I'd be more than happy clarifying what I believe the biggest obstacles for my idea to succeed. I agree that seeking acceptance by these elected officials would be next to impossible, without at least some pressure from the general public. If elected officials were willing to adopt a solution similar to the one I discussed, then we wouldn't be in the situation we are in now.

I rather meant acceptance or usage by the American public. All decentralized applications rely heavily on the strength of the network of which it is comprised, because without support from a central institution or organization, a strong network is essential in order to be less susceptible from attacks or from being manipulated.

Simply from a technological standpoint, in order for this ledger to exist and serve it's original purpose, the network would need to consist of an extensive community of miners to verify entries on the ledger, as well as the commitment from individuals who pledge to connect their computers as nodes for the network. However, this is more of a Bitcoin issue than one specific to my idea.

Building the ledger on top of the bitcoin blockchain would make the ledger susceptible to all the risk and issues currently faced by bitcoin. While the alternative of creating a new separate alternative blockchain, separate from the bitcoin blockchain, would allow us to fix upon some of the issues currently existing within bitcoin's protocol as wells edit specifications of the code to tailor our needs. But the issues of network strength and security, are much more prevalent in alternative blockchains, as most of these new networks lack the miners needed to keep the network stable.

There are technologies, specifically referring to BlockStream's "Side Chains" concept, that are currently in development and will actually allow the best of both worlds. It would allow us to take advantage of strength of bitcoin's network, while still creating a separate network and blockchain, tied to bitcoin's network that would allow us to still edit the bitcoin codebase to better fit our needs. Further information on BlockStream's "Side Chains" can be found here http://www.blockstream.com/sidechains.pdf.

In addition to technological acceptance, there needs to be a certain level of usage by the American public for the idea to succeed. Just as network strength is important from a technological standpoint, the strength of the information and dissemination (or sharing) network is equally as important. Even if the technology is sound, if the information being captured on the ledger is not being widely accessed or shared by a large portion of the American people, the idea as a whole would fail. Centralized ledgers, or any centralized information hub, have the benefit of being able to disseminate the information in a “top-down” fashion, essentially pushing which/whatever information they deem important to the public. Social media would be an example of a technological centralized ledger or information hub with a decentralized dissemination method. A social media platform could have great technology, but if no one is using it, then the information being shared on the network is pointless. Both my idea and social media platforms require a similar sort of acceptance by the American people. Meaning while information always has some degree of value, under examples in which the dissemination of the information is decentralized, it is more important than ever for the information to be accessed by a large enough population as possible. Even though the decentralized ledger would always be accessible to the public and contain the same information, if people are not accessing the information, then the information becomes useless.

In sum the acceptance of, or the larger the network of people accessing, using, and inevitably sharing the information to others provides the ledger with the only opportunity to truly live up to its intentions.
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