A favorite theme of any good science fiction writer is the multiple universe concept. Bridging similar universes, either by a freak accident or a deliberate high-tech attempt, has led to many interesting stories. One of the common plot twists in these stories is how to get characters in one universe to play nice with their counterparts in the alternate reality. One of the typical challenges is where things seem the same at first, but later are seen to be very different. This situation is very similar to the one popping up now as the world of cryptocurrencies attempt to interact with national governments.
Although alternate physical realties are still quite theoretical, the similarities and differences between blockchain-based systems and modern political states are quite pronounced. Both systems have a way of determining identity of their citizens/users, organizing fees for use of their systems, and maintaining law and order. However, each system has a very different approach to how these goals are to be accomplished.
Blockchain vs. National Governments
- Government-issued Tax ID numbers vs. User-created wallet addresses
- Tax on government-issued money vs. transactions fees on token transfers
- Justice system punishes infractions vs. blockchain prevents double spending/counterfeiting
Cryptocurrencies and Societies in the Multi-Verse
Although it might not have been intended from the beginning, blockchain-based cryptocurrencies actually create very simple societies. To become a member of the community and interact with others, all one needs to do is install a particular currency’s wallet on their computer and create an address. This address is like a “citizen” and has the “rights” to interact with any other participant according to the protocol set down by the digital currency’s core code. Each one of these interactions is called a transaction and has a fee that goes with it. Enforcement of the core code is done by the blockchain which simply refuses to validate any transaction that does not follow the rules.
Governance in the Alternate Universe
The blockchain is the coordination of the community, and it enables the community to identify and reject any attempt to break the rules or change the past. In this way, the community becomes self-policing and identity, private property, and a stable future environment can be secured. In the very strange alternate universe of cryptocurrencies, the blockchain is the god of its own system, but only of its own system. This ultimate but limited nature of blockchains is the reason that cryptocurrencies can be self-policing. The blockchain takes no responsibility for that which it cannot directly control. While it is the ultimate last word on which of its “citizens” owns which of its tokens, it remains completely limited to its own sphere. In other words, global warming, traffic violations, and child seat safety regulations are of no concern whatsoever to a cryptocurrency blockchain.
Meanwhile, Back in the Real World
Contrast this with the governance structure that we are used to. Conventional societies are organized by those entities we have come to call governments. These entities assign us tax identification numbers at birth to form citizen identities, and they enact laws for those identities to follow. They then tax the transactions between their citizens to pay for their operations. With the money from taxation, they operate an enforcement system to deter and punish lawbreakers thereby providing for a relatively stable present and future. These systems operate fairly well in the physical universe we are familiar with and have become the norm in developed countries around the world. However, these systems pose no inherent limits like blockchains do. Conventional governments can and do legislate on everything under the sun. They are limited only by who and what they can afford to coerce.
The Force Rules in our Universe
This is probably the greatest difference between the two realities. When push comes to shove, coercion, and the money to pay for it is the ultimate arbiter in the modern societies that we are familiar with. If a citizen injures their neighbor, practices medicine without a license, or simply doesn’t pay their taxes, the only recourse the conventional governmental authorities have is to send out someone with gun. There is no physical equivalent of a blockchain that simply rejects those unlawful actions and sends the citizen back to start over.
Crossing the Void
Although each universe strives to achieve a basic stable society, they go about it vastly differently. As a result, many people have seen the two as mutually exclusive. Questions about whether cryptocurrencies will remain legal into the future abound as taxation legislation tries to sort out how to handle these new creatures from an alternate reality.
Can these realities be bridged in any practical way? Chinese entrepreneur Catherine Li is heading up a project that plans to do just that. TheKey (Crypto: TKY), a project based on the NEO (Crypto: NEO) blockchain, has the goal of being an identity verification tool using blockchain technology coupled with government identification data. At its core, the project seeks to provide a completely secure and verifiable way of helping people in the physical world migrate to the online world. There are ways to do this now, but because of the inherent gap between the two universes, things like fingerprints and retinal scans do not enter well into the world of online business. TheKey project seeks to use the security and immutability of blockchain technology coupled with national government identification data to form a key of sorts that any user can forge. This key can then be used to allow them to securely and accurately identify themselves on the blockchain and also perform other tasks such as security checks, medical treatments, and access permissions.
- Operates on the Turing Complete NEO blockchain
- Gathers and validates data in real time
- Enables users to avoid having to validate data by multiple agencies
- Users can operate more efficiently in the global economy via blockchain technology
Do We Want to Play Nice?
Many cryptocurrency enthusiasts might take a dim view of this proposal. The privacy that some cryptocurrencies offer is often their biggest attractions. However, the developers behind the NEO project, the blockchain that TheKey operates on, have made interaction between the two universes a priority. This necessitates merging two different types of identities. While it is certainly not the only way for two very different worlds to interact, TheKey project is offering a quite interesting option.
At the end of every good story the characters, through loss and victory, resolve the situation and generally go home happy. In the still churning world of cryptocurrency politics, however, the story is not yet over. We are still discovering new aspects of this virtual world of blockchains and tokens, digital currencies, and robots that want paid. If we take a lesson from some of the great science fiction tales, however, we can understand that all of the people and structures we encounter are part of this great and amazing universe. This place is bigger than we can possibly imagine, and the problem ought not to be solved by exiling those we do not understand, but perhaps by creating and discovering new ways for productive interaction.
To learn more about the TheKey, visit https://www.thekey.vip/
Contributed by: Josh Justice Follow @josh0mattoc
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