Imagine you are an Emperor Penguin wanting to catch some fish. The evil Leopard Seal might be lurking in the waters below, ready to gobble you up. If only one of your friends would jump in first you would be able to see if it's safe to go for a swim. Naturally nobody wants to jump in first, so everyone waits around until someone else takes the plunge. Sometimes penguins even try to push each other in. Humans behave in similar ways when confronted with social risk.
When risks are distributed, individual liability is reduced. For instance, we currently use insurance to socialize some forms of risk (eg. car accidents, house fires). By doing this we all support one another in case the worst happens to one of us. The group only incurs a small loss relative to what the individual would bear had the risk not been spread.
How can we use anonymous p2p currency and cryptosystems to mitigate threats in ways which the current financial system does not allow?
Here is one idea:
Drugs are criminalized throughout the world despite their popularity. A large number of adults responsibly use substances such as marijuana and are able to evade prosecution. The subject remains taboo not only due to decades of propaganda, but because of the threat of legal repercussion. As such, people are hesitant to openly discuss the issue, and will certainly not come out publicly to announce that they are violating state and federal law. However, as we have seen recently, people will vote in large numbers anonymously inside polling booths to voice their support for legalization.
Could we do the following --
1) People wishing to voice their public support for an issue send a message encrypted with their public key to a centralized location
2) They also send BTC into an account to verify that they are not gaming the system with false information in order to inflate the numbers
3) After a threshold of encrypted messages are sent, everyone is asked to send in their private keys
4) Messages are decrypted and published -- now 500,000 people can simultaneously publicly declare their support for certain issues which they would otherwise be afraid to speak out about as lone voices
5) BTC can be returned if the message is verified as real? Or used to support the system or future endeavor? Or possibly used as a legal defense fund in case individuals are targeted for prosecution as a result of disclosing their support for a certain idea? Or a combination of the above as conditions warrant?
The message could contain the person's real name, address, etc., to show that average members of the public believe the current system to be oppressive and in need of reform. Basically, the purpose of this system is to override Noelle-Neumann's "spiral of silence" - and allow individual opinion and action to escape from the restrictions of *perceived* public opinion.https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Spiral_of_silence
Could this also be used within social groups to work around the pitfalls of group psychology such as pseudoconsensus / Abilene paradox type situations? For instance - after September 11th it was very unpopular to speak out against the upcoming war. Many people were probably against it, but they likely feared disapproval if they were to come out alone. Those who did come out were attacked and served to reinforce the fears of those who remained silent. In hindsight, more public debate would have been a good thing.
I would love to hear critical comments and ideas on methods to improve/attack/implement this system.