Bitnation, the blockchain-based system of notarisation and personal sovereignty, has launched its Decentralised Borderless Voluntary Nation (DBVN) Constitution using Ethereum.
Ethereum offers anyone the chance to establish their own democratic autonomous organisation (DAO), making it a good match for Bitnation, which is taking that idea to another level yet.
A DAO exists entirely on the blockchain and is governed by a cluster of parties which can decide on moving assets around, contracting people to do work, if it's a business, or apportioning shares. Examples of companies of this sort are Slock.it and the DigixDAO project recently mentioned in a blog posting.
Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, founder of BitNation was joined by Alex Van de Sande, a lead designer for Ethereum to make the live broadcast which announced the Decentralised Borderless Voluntary Nation (DBVN) Constitution.
Asked what Bitnation is trying to achieve, Tempelhof said: "What we are trying to accomplish is to get rid of geographical apartheid that nation states provide, and we try to do that by offering better and cheaper governance services."
Tempelhof said Bitnation's DIY governance platform is currently focused on dispute resolution and security. "To power this we are going to use the incredible blockchain technology and in particular we are going to use the Ethereum blockchain." She added this was thanks to the tremendous progress being made in the area of smart contracts, which plays an integral part, "it all comes down to agreements between consenting individuals".
By way of setting the correct mindset, Van de Sande and Tempelhof cited the opening passage of "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace" written by John Perry Barlow some 20 years ago.
"Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.
"We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear."
"Cyberspace grows by itself," said Van de Sande, "it's everywhere and nowhere. Facebook and Twitter are in a place; somewhere in California. So what went wrong with the internet? At Ethereum we think the internet should be a decentralised, distributed system.
"Email, for instance, should be a decentralised system – anyone should be able to run an email server. Instead we all have gmail, right. When the NSA wants to spy on you they only have to go and talk to one guy. When you run a smart contract on Ethereum, it's running everywhere and nowhere," he said.
Tempelhof said that seven years working as a government contractor in places like Afghanistan furnished her with an understanding that a polyphony of laws and customs function better than a scenario when Western-style democracy is delivered down the barrel of a gun.
"I have been outspoken against democracy. I see how fundamentally flawed this concept is. It's a top-down rule; a government gives you choices to vote on. I say f**k democracy – democracy is a scam."
But DAO's arguably take democracy in a new direction when the idea becomes woven into a more peer-to-peer future. Van de Sande counterbalanced Tempelhof's teardown of democracy. He said: "I'm more code-oriented, where there are multiple problems and multiple solutions. Democracy is one such solution, and it's silly to criticise it without defining what is the problem you are trying to solve.
"If I'm on a plane I surely hope the pilot doesn't ask passengers to vote on how to deal with a turbulence but in many other issues that deal with public goods and tragedy of the commons, voting is often one of the best ways to find a solution. That's what excites me about Ethereum, that it allows everyone to codify their own organisations to fit their politics, be it voting, anarchy, hierarchy or some new approach like liquid democracy and these can be tried out in the real world."
Tempelhof added that the Bitnation model will follow a radical interpretation of reputation where not just people, but also laws will have reputation. "We think this is an interesting services proposition."
She said the words "decentralised borderless voluntary nation" are important: "decentralised" means there is no single point of failure, "like there is no central bank. If you look at Uber for example, they have got into trouble in Europe, they have been banned in France – but if Uber had been a DAO there would have been no bank accounts to freeze, nothing for regulators to ban".
"Decentralised also means personal autonomy. We decide what we do. Nobody tells us. And being borderless means that we are not confined by a passport to live in an area of war or famine. That's as wrong as judging people on the colour of their skin or sexual preference."