The government of the future will be built on blockchain
Everyone is excited about defi and crypto price increases, but a considerable area in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space will be worldwide government services moving on-chain for public good.

Published almost 4 years ago.

The Boomers control the government

Today, the average age if you're a member of the U.S. Senate is ~63 years old. Studies show that roughly 1 in 3 people between 55 and 65 are not digitally literate. Telling the congressman and senators - who are supposed to represent the entirety of the U.S. population - anything about digital infrastructure improvement falls on deaf ears. They may not even be able to remember their e-mail password, let alone understand what it means to digitize driver licenses.

When you mention cryptocurrency or the underlying technology, blockchain, to someone in that age group, there is a 30% chance they will have no idea what you're talking about. If they're in the 70% that are digitally literate, they will likely dismiss you as a kook, fraud, or explain how they got burned "buying the bitcoin" in 2017.

The cocktail above leads to a government run by people inept or barely able to improve our lives along a dimension that matters very much today. 

Friction removal as a service

If you want to accomplish anything that involves working with the government in an easy to use, affordable manner - you're forced to pay a corporation for this convenience. I know this because I've built and used the software I'm talking about.

At RushMyPassport.com - I helped build out the software that allows U.S. citizens to expedite their passport renewal with online access to the current status and customer support.

I built JINXD - an app that automatically pays your parking tickets. We wanted to remove the hassle of waiting 7-10 days for a parking ticket to show up on the online database that doubles your fine if you forget to pay it.

When working to secure my wife's visa status here in the U.S. we were faced with three options; Learn all about the immigration process and law, pay a lawyer $5000+ for their knowledge or use SimpleCitizen, which provides a superior experience to both. 

I could go on, talking about renewing your car registration, filing unemployment, etc. but I will not. To me, it appears our tax dollars are not being effectively allocated. I'm not sure if the U.S. government is unwilling to pay market rates for the software engineers, product managers, and designers needed to make these processes smooth or what. Still, I would not be opposed to the U.S. government acquiring (bka nationalizing) companies, or even better, paying them on behalf of the people to make this friction go away.

With that said, I've seen some exciting projects that have made me think about how we can remove friction while incentivizing private companies or individuals to compete to make government more accountable and government services easier to use at a cost that approaches zero over the long term.

Police Brutality and open databases

In the wake of the despicable and irresponsible police brutality that led to the murder of George Floyd, I found a few citizen-driven accountability initiatives for police misconduct in America: Raheem and Settling for Misconduct. I realized that these endeavors are actually a public service that citizens should receive for the tax burden they bear. Raheem allows anyone to report police misconduct anywhere in the U.S., and it's published for all to see. Settling for misconduct helps understand the dollar value of all of this police misconduct in terms of cost to taxpayers, specifically in Chicago. Both are great, and I think they should merge.

However, it was not until I saw this story that I realized our future could be open, trustless, uncensorable, and low cost or free. Police Accountability Now is an evolution of the above projects that allow people to report police misconduct using Ethereum and IPFS anonymously. Seeing this project made me ask questions like:

  1. Why isn't every police officer hired available in a public database?
  2. How come we don't have a public ledger of every meeting our senators have with lobbyists?
  3. How come parking tickets aren't put on the blockchain?
  4. Why don't we allow digital signatures for things like filing taxes with private keys?
  5. Why don't we have a national blockchain that distributes an ETH-like token monthly to all citizens to run department-specific apps?

The above are all things that blockchains with smart contracts are designed for and capable of doing.

China looking forward

As much as I do not identify with China on a philosophical level - a free press, democracy, and basic human rights are pretty important to me. It appears China is aware that some form of blockchain can be used for governing - Xi Jinping declared his intent to make China a world leader in blockchain last December.

China is starting to make good on this declaration with the launch of BSN. From the conversations I've had with people living in mainland China working in the blockchain space - the goal is to make everything run on blockchain over the next 5-10 years. Train tickets? Blockchain. Property taxes and titles? Blockchain. Crimes? Blockchain. 

China will likely make great strides that will allow its citizens to interact with the government in a very low friction manner way before the U.S.

The U.S. will play catch up

Using this as our backdrop, I believe that sooner or later - preferably sooner - elected officials will understand just how vital digital infrastructure is to daily life for U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens will expect more open and accountable governing and government services. Civic hacking groups like Code For America will eventually have made enough progress that many services will be low friction / easy to use. 

With all of that said, I think the biggest thing we can do for American government services is run a version of Ethereum or some other trust-less computing blockchain. We should be putting everything from parking tickets to unemployment benefits on the blockchain. The core benefit we would get is that anyone could now build improved access to government services, not to mention the ability to audit every transaction in a public manner. The government could even run it's own dApp Store. We could distribute the tokens that are used for gas every month, for free, to every American citizen. There may be a way to only allow nodes in U.S. borders to act as peers for the network, and only government-run miners would be able to create new blocks.

If you're a candidate with these sorts of things in mind - please reach out - I'd love to talk to you and potentially donate to your campaign.

The world will follow

I think once we see a big push from the U.S. on this front, other countries will likely follow suit.

This is actually one of the biggest reasons I am so bullish on blockchain, and why I'm building QuikNode in my free time. I believe cryptocurrency and blockchains are fundamental building blocks for freedom in the 21st century.

If you learned from this, you should book me on Intro.

I help founders, product managers and engineers with their most pressing problems on Intro. I'm lucky enough to have built things used by millions of people, and raised $100m+. You can book me on intro.co