Wisdom of the Crowd in the Service of the State
On July 14, 2005, Wired published an article from Beth Noveck, Professor with New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, which covered the Peer-to-Patent project. That same day, the writer got a call from the Aide to the General Counsel at IBM, who wanted to talk more about the ideas postulated in the article. After a short while, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Red Hat and General Electric were seeking to join in on the conversation about the project’s future. The endeavor officially kicked off in just 23 months from the publication date of the article and won the blessing of the US Government.
Peer-to-Patent, which quickly captured the attention of the major tech companies, offers a new way to lighten the workload burdening the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is constantly buried under a huge number of applications. It does this by delegating the duties of patent inspection and validation to the collegiate review process, engaging the general public, enabled through utilizing social reputation technology and collaboration-driven filtration.
To attest to the value that this approach may potentially bring, Peer-to-Patent was nominated for an award in the field of digital communication at Prix Ars Electronica, an international contest in cyberarts, as well as the award for technical contributions to the development of humanity by the Tech Museum of Silicon Valley. While making a speech at the New America Foundation, Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, said “There’s no way where their patent examiners can fundamentally get all the insight that the wisdom of crowds can do. Why is that not true of every branch of government? It makes perfect sense, use all those people who care so passionately, and who have a lot of free time, to help you.”
Peer-to Patent clearly shows the ways in which we can capture the synergies between hive mind and modern tech, enabling us to efficiently process tasks that were previously viewed as the sole domain of governmental agencies.
Revolution in Trust
While Eric Schmidt was saying those words, elsewhere work was busily going on to give birth to the Bitcoin payment system. The technology for continuous distributed ledger, which is now known as “blockchain” and became the foundation for Bitcoin ecosystem, set the groundwork for truly revolutionary changes in the ways people interact. Blockchains, acting as the main remedy against intermediaries and centralization, blew up fundraising markets, while ICO (Initial Coin Offering) caps grew 2,200 times, topping 3.5 billion USD. And all this action has happened without any regulations whatsoever. The exponential growth and lack of any clear rules made this market an ideal setting for a glut of scam. As Bloomberg reported, scammers might have ended up with over 10% of the overall funds raised here.
The reaction by regulators seems more like a panic attack: while some countries (read “China”) grounded ICOs with a blanket ban, nipping in the bud any chance for development, others have been lingering as to what actions should be taken, thus creating ample grounds for scams to fester.
Just like the cobbler’s kids that always go barefoot, blockchains, created to bring trust between people, seem more and more like a bubble, ready to burst with venom resulting from greed and theft.
First Decentralized Police
However, blockchains might still come back strong. Created to sustain a fairer economy without middlemen, they can clean themselves. This is demonstrated by the advent of CryptoPolice platform, being the first policing force that is powered by blockchains and driven by the community.
Arturs Rasnacis, CEO at CryptoPolice, says that CryptoPolice is “a system, which is based on ideas, pioneered by Peer-to-Patent, and set to deliver on the main values promised by blockchains: transparency and immutability. Bringing together advanced tech and the wisdom of the crowd, CryptoPolice empowers the community to get hands on with the fight against scam. In the platform, the crowd is represented by the Officers – a community of expert users that have been trained and certified at the CryptoPolice Academy”.
At the core of the platform, the multi-level verification system powers joint investigations by community members and collegiate decision-making on potential cases of scam. The underlying algorithm enables any user to furnish an application to the CryptoPolice platform. Following the receipt of the information to be processed, Officers review the same and deliver their verdicts, which go through a complex verification procedure by other members of the community. As a result, the community delivers the final decision that is approved by the maximum number of verifying Officers and, consequently, offers the most objective view on the subject.
The main advantage of the algorithm is that it is driven by blockchains, enabling direct interactions between community members with no the need for a central regulator. In this way, the system becomes fully self-governed and decentralized. This ensures that the verdicts of the CryptoPolice platform are completely free of any external influence and fully negates any risk of collusion and corruption.
In addition, in contrast to Peer-to-Patent, CryptoPolice will sustain its own internal economy, circulating the OfficerCoin token and enabling each user to earn rewards for their contributions.
Bringing together all of these ingredients, CryptoPolice delivers the answer to the question posited by Eric Schmidt in 2008, acting as one of the first decentralized systems of the new type. These structures can transform hierarchical governmental systems into autonomous heterarchical ecosystems, powered by shared knowledge, which radically differ from the culture of state governance based on the centralization of knowledge.
As a result, the unique algorithm for multi-level verification can sustain systems that deliver decisions in any sector, even decentralized courts. Interestingly, this very scenario was envisioned by Vitalik Buterin, Founder of Ethereum, when he postulated potential operating principles for a decentralized court, saying that “a multi-stage scheme where only a few randomly selected judges look at each question by default, and are incentivized by the threat of a larger “supreme court” contradicting them, is probably optimal.”
The creation of CryptoPolice is a logical next step in the journey to digitize public institutions, which opens up a new read for the development of decentralized organizations. It’s hard to imagine what changes could await society, should this trend be sustained. Perhaps the day is close when society has transitioned from hierarchical to heterarchical governance systems, enabling each of us to take decisions impacting the future of society overall.