Namecoin's motto is "Bitcoin frees money – Namecoin frees DNS, identities, and other technologies." biolizard89
has done fantastic work on the DNS part, but let's focus on the identity use case here. Recent events have convinced me that digital identity on the internet is broken. Consider:
- Twitter hack. Twitter's internal admin tool was compromised by hackers to commandeer ~130 top verified users including Biden, Obama, Buffet, Musk, Bezos, Apple, Uber, etc. to tweet out crypto scams on these users accounts.
- GPT-3 is ready for release and will allow bad actors to AstroTurf and control the narrative on social networks for monetary and political gain at massive scale. Also take a peek at /SubSimulatorGPT2/ which is solely populated by GPT bots to get a taste.
- ARTBreeder can create user profile images that are indistinguishable from real users.
- Deepfakes can twist reality and manipulate faces and voices to turn real actors into puppets promoting false narratives.
What was true in 1993 when cartoonist Peter Steiner
wrote "On the internet, nobody knows you are a dog
" is still true today. The only difference is that identity is increasingly being weaponized using AI/ML so "On the internet, nobody knows you are a bot
" would perhaps be more apt.
I read the following comment
from a user on slashdot yesterday:
For the time being, you can assume that this comment was written by a human being. You can click on my username, look back at my history of posts, and go, "OK, here's a bunch of posts, by a person, going back more than a decade, to the TIME BEFORE BOTS." That is, before the first year of 2020.
Since humans are likely to adopt the majority opinion
, bad actors find real value in being able to control the narrative online by surrounding the reader with manufactured opinions by bots that due to advances in ML/AI are quickly becoming indistinguishable from real users. This amounts to a Sybil attack on the minds of digital content consumers and poses major threat to the integrity of our social fabric.
Apart from the recent twitter incident used for scamming, nation states have been known to create massive bot armies of fake and hijacked user accounts to try and shift the narratives regarding the Hong Kong independence protests
as well as national elections
. This will only increase.
Currently, our digital identity is fragmented into silo's largely controlled by government institutions and mega corporations (FAANG) based on a "Trust us
" model. As recent events have proven, this is a bad model and in dire need of improvement/replacement. IMHO we need to move from "Trust us
" to a "Trust but verify
" model where the user is in full control of their digital identity.
Namecoin can and should play an important role in building this 'web of trust composed of self-sovereign identities
" as it is neutral (no owner), permissionless and secure (merge-mined). Daniel already developed a proof of concept with NameID
but what can we do to take this further?
Personally I'd like to see users create Namecoin identities and link them to their social identities (e.g. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc). Then whenever they create content, they sign it with their private keys. This would allow a reader to verify the content was created by the user. Content verification would have stopped the recent twitter hack, because even if the hackers would have access to internal admin tools they would not have the private keys that the users produce valid content with. "Not your keys, not your content
Content verification is only one part. Ideally a user would like to verify the integrity of the content creator as well. E.g. has this user passed human verification in any of the linked platforms? Does a trusted linked entity vouch for the reputation or integrity of this user (e.g. a government entity, financial entity or non-governmental organization?). This would require those platforms to allow linking of Namecoin ID with their Platform ID and allow lookup and signing of metadata provided by these platforms. (e.g. UserID Y is linked to PlatformID X and completed human verification on date Z, signed Twitter).
I image users could install an extension similar to uBlock or Privacy Badger that contains human curated blacklists and heuristics that operate on Namecoin entities to perform these checks and flag or filter content and users that fail integrity checks. This would allow a users to automatically weed out potential bots and trolls but keep full control of this process themselves, avoiding potential censorship if this task would fall on the platform owners themselves (something governments are pushing for).
We could take this even further and integrate Namecoin ID's in software and hardware devices as well. This could create chains of trust to verify the entire chain of content creation and manipulation to the final content posted on a social platform. Where every entity signs the resulting content. (E.g. camera -> photoshop -> twitter post)
Apart from signing content/messages (PGP style). Namecoin could perhaps also be used for managing identity tokens in a users 'Identity wallet'. Looking into my physical wallet this could include things like credit cards, insurance cards, government issued IDs, membership cards, transportation cards, key cards, etc. This could be done similar to 'colored coins' on Bitcoin. But would have to support some type of smart contract functionality to be useful (e.g. expiring tokens, etc).
I'm not a developer nor a technical writer, but I do think we need to think long and hard about how we can solve digital identity in a way that empowers users to trust and verify the content and identities of the peers we interact with online while also respecting privacy and preventing censorship by external parties. Namecoin could be the better path to building this web of trust, but given the current pace of AI/ML and the willingness by bad actors to weaponize it at scale against users interests we might not have much time. (Apologies for the rant!)
These day it seems most policy-makers around the world are Keynesians. They say ‘in times of crisis one must expand the money supply to stimulate the economy’, but monetary stimulus during a crisis is not the only Keynesian idea. People tend to forget that Keynes also recommended how government should act during a period of growth. When things were booming, how often did we hear 'in times of growth we should raise taxes, lower spending'.
Keynes proposed a dynamic system in which the government would use policy to counterbalance the business cycle. Keynes believed that central banks can act in a way that stabilizes the economy & improves our lives. He believed the economy could be tamed with thoughtful, dynamic government policy. Our government’s current actions work against the theory: Epic monetary expansion and fiscal contraction, simultaneously. Policy from 2000-2008 was also not Keynesian.
Keynes ideas are powerful because the tools at his disposal are powerful. Controlling the money of a civilization is extreme power. To be able to put ink onto a piece of paper and have every other human on the planet willing to work for that paper: It is immense power, immense control & it is being abused. Keynesian thought is being manipulated to promote excessive policies that benefit the wealthy & powerful. It is destabilizing and immoral.
Our banking system was so highly leveraged on US personal housing assets (a market artificially inflated with easy credit by…guess who?) that when the market corrected all of the major Banks were at risk of collapse. Businesses, loans, international trade: economists feared it would all collapse. Understanding systemic risk is difficult because it is so irrational. How did our system become so fragile? The “solution” to the recent financial crisis was to create new money on a scale that is unprecedented. Governments all over the world have been buying their own debt to ‘inject capital’ into (give money to
) the banks. The USA alone has purchased three trillion+ of its own debt. Very rarely is it discussed that slowing economic growth in the US could be a product of ailing infrastructure, poor education, increasing global competitiveness, or God-forbid a natural plateau of exponential growth in developed countries. No, it is a financial problem that will be solved if the banks had more cash.
Our government somehow got the notion that it is omnipotent. That they can somehow print growth. It is a malicious misinterpretation of Keynesian ideas, and it simply isn’t going to work. Simply hasn’t been working for six years. When the price of assets increase because of an increase in money supply; it’s called inflation. The government has caused inflation in equities, bonds, housing, art, etc. and points to it as evidence that we are in an economic recovery. Official looking men in suits congratulate each other on a job well done.
Underneath the surface of our ‘recovery’, we face the same structural problems that we had before the crisis. Partisan political stalemate, immense private & public debt, trade imbalances, global competition squeezing the middle class, currency volatility due to capital flows, & on top of all that political violence is escalating and spreading. There is a growing mismatch between the skills employers are looking for and the skills entering the labour market. To ignore these problems and believe that more money in the economy will guarantee a better future is not Keynesian.
The G20 has been meeting regularly to solve our problems. Foreign Affairs summarizes the progress of the last six years: “There have been many signs of promise. The group has agreed on a new framework for regulatory standards for each country’s most important financial institutions and tasked a Financial Stability Board with monitoring adherence to them.” - http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140972/karel-lannoo/g-20-plus-five
I have no doubt that the regulators really are trying to reduce the risks of our financial institutions. Am I naive to believe that our financial system is several steps ahead of the regulators? Our bankers sit on government inquiries, apologize for knowingly committing fraud, then retire to their private planes and million dollar villas. So many debt instruments exist and they all are correlated to Libor. If you can control Libor it is possible to arbitrage profits from the debt market: • Mohideen: “What’s the call on the Libor?” • Trader 2: “Where would you like it, Libor that is?” • Trader 3: “Mixed feelings, but mostly I’d like it all lower so the world starts to make a little sense.” • Trader 4: “The whole HF [hedge fund] world will be kissing you instead of calling me if Libor move lower.” • Trader 2: “OK, I will move the curve down 1 basis point, maybe more if I can.” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libor_scandal
The government proved that Libor was being fixed, and who went to jail? Some fall guy, maybe? Our financial system is out of control. Bank executives believe they deserve millions every year for going to work. The big banks have institutionalized arbitrage through fraud, banks have little to no respect for depositors (shareholders (my bonuses) are much more important!), billions trade in murky derivative assets, and when the bets fail our government bails them out? With my income tax? Are you kidding? Why do I care about Bitcoin? It is a possibility: one day I will be able to take responsibility of my finances. No third party.
Last century there was an ideological battle between communism & capitalism. Marx’s ideas failed because of the reality of corruption and self-interest. The centralization of the economy bred corruption that is still a major part of former communist societies. As capitalism has adapted to globalization, it has become much more centralized. US economic influence has penetrated every economy on the planet. The oligopoly of international banks control so much wealth that the decisions they make affect our lives. Keynes ideas have failed because of moral hazard between the government, the banking sector, and the public. A centralized point cannot have too much power because power corrupts. Centralization is showing its inadequacy, again. Bitcoin is a platform to decentralize an international financial system. It is badly needed.
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