In crypto, when all the usual memes and the obsession with gains dies down, do we ever really ask ourselves the most important questions?
Are we ever really honest with ourselves as to the answers?
Why are we here?
Why are we doing this?
We all have a lot of the same answers, namely: money, nice stuff, freedom, charity, learning etc. and others.
But do we ever really step past the token metrics and the projected gains?
Do we peer deeper into the implications of the projects we spend our time on and invest in, and their implications?
Many projects are changing our world for the better, others are cash-grabs, others are duplication/overlap.
There are a plethora of things out there that are the ‘next best thing’ or that will ‘change the world’, but how many REALLY will?
How many have that potential?
In this piece I want to try to lay the ground for a new type of article category here at GH, one that focuses on use-cases and their implications for real positive change on this ‘Pale Blue Dot’ spinning in space, as Carl Sagan famously said:
And the first member project included here is Holochain
The Tech Part:
Since this is about primarily the potential use-cases, this will be brief and to the point.
Basically, Holochain manages consensus in a different way than blockchain; consensus is mostly only agreed upon between the parties involved and this only increases in the rare event of a conflict/dispute, and the same applies for validation and verification.
Effectively this means that every set of interactions exists on its own separate chain – without needing to engage every node in these areas, and additional elements ensure security and integrity.
Therefore in relation to blockchain, the computing and energy requirements are exponentially smaller, which makes holochain infinitely more scalable and faster, whilst providing similar levels of security, immutability and increased efficiency.
Our previous piece on holochain provides more detail here:
Antifragile – How Holochain Is Going To Take Over The World
Also, this video explains in a bit more detail:
Usecases – your imagination defines your boundaries
A platform that has this kind of flexibility, strength and scalability means that the possible usecases are extensive to say the least, and the team has already mapped out some of them. We will start with the ones laid out by the people who are directly involved with the project and see if we can imagine some more of our own on top of those just to give you an idea of the incredible scope and possibilities opened up by holochain.
Shared accommodation/Airbnb for the people:
Can you see the value and the potential here?
This offering is truly peer-to-peer and fully disintermediated.
A set of community Dapps hosted and created by and for the community do the booking, same for the reviews and reputation of the locations etc. and also for the advertising and the remuneration of both parties (if the booker subsequently posts a good review to add to the Jim’s profile and the power of the platform itself; quantity has a power of its own when driven by an engaged community with excellent incentives.
Also note that the Dapps creators and the people hosting the content etc are also incentivised in a fair and equitable manner. Everything is fully engaged and supported by the community at all levels and in all areas.
Medical Records hosting and management
I will share some personal history here to give a bit of context. Medical records integration is a nightmare in healthcare IT – I worked on two large projects in the middle East that attempted to deal with this problem.
The challenge is that all the records need to be collated and matched against each other to determine a complete history and create a current health ‘snapshot’; databases just can’t do this in a centralized environment – you are talking about dozens of records collected at different times and places for each individual; and there are always millions of individuals.
Many countries have failed in this area – e.g. the NHS in the UK – £12 billion down the drain. Making the right records available at the right location and at the right time is an iterative and complex process. Doing this via a centralized structure has proven virtually impossible; a decentralized peer-to-peer option promises to be much more effective.
Holochain’s community-driven peer-to-peer architecture provides an elegant and efficient workaround to enable this at scale. Community participants could provide the apps, the hosting network could host and transport the data and all players would receive direct, disintermediated incentives to participate. A platform could be built that would be tailored to each participant’s needs – as the above image indicates.
A Communications Ecosystem
A grassroots internet redundancy system which cannot be switched off by repressive regimes, which could also serve to fill in ‘gaps’ in internet ground-based infrastructure.
Internet service, as detailed above, could be still be provided by people sharing portions of their cellular bandwidth peer-to-peer, to mitigate against government repression/denial of services, lack of coverage in some locations and/or outages of fixed-line infrastructure at low cost.
It would also greatly serve to reduce bandwidth waste and utilise resources much more efficiently to directly serve community needs.
Net neutrality policies, including the introduction of ‘fast-lanes’ for corporate services at the expense of the rest of us could also be disintermediated and negated completely wherever it was developed and deployed.
Incentivisation and the inherent strengths of the platform would be strong drivers for this.
Immutable data records for individuals are a truly priceless commodity when they are controlled by that individual – especially if the people in question are from vulnerable socio-demographic groups, such as minorities, refugees, unaccompanied minors etc.
First steps in interaction with immigration processing, medical records, academic records (with progress, achievements and transcripts etc.) are all vital when negotiating government bureaucracies in any countries. These things are difficult enough for native-born or naturalised citizens in any country, so you can imagine how much more byzantine and tricky they are for unaccompanied minors and refugees – who also require these things to access aid programs to serve immediate and pressing needs.
The development of dApps by the community which would then be disseminated by Holochain’s peer-to-peer architecture and could then be tweaked to serve specific case-by-case needs based on circumstance would be invaluable in facilitating an already pretty intractable problem.
It is important to note that other proposed solutions to problems in this area do not even remotely come close to addressing these needs with the level of depth, detail and ubiquity that Holochain can provide to fix these problems – on every level.
In order to give an idea of the scope and emphasis of this discussion and ho Holochain can ameliorate things here, I would like to quote from the overview of Jean Russell’s excellent articles on this subject, namely that democracy:
“involves citizen engagement in governmental decision-making, organizing civil society groups, having feedback loops between governmental agents such as politicians with their constituents, the election process for representatives, and the civic dialogue that keeps it alive. Widely agreed upon challenges to democracy include: voting security, compromises in civic dialogue through digital media, accountability of politicians, corruption, and now the emotional and psychological manipulation of people to influence politics.
Some of the solutions Holochain creates use existing applications and websites and then add the benefit of distributed networks not owned and operated by a single organization. This increases their resilience and their trustworthiness. Other ways that Holochain can save democracy are uniquely created by the architecture by shifting to an agent-centric structure.”
A link to the original medium articles for each area in this 5-part series is provided at the end of each section.
Part 1:- Owning our own information
People like more negative news, in the sense that they are more likely to click on it and read it. The media know this and shamelessly manipulate this for their own ends in terms of driving their mediated business models and narratives.
This functions on a primal level – in the shameless stimulation of our limbic systems for monetary gain – resulting in social atomisation, alienation, depression and illness – the results of which we can see all around us – no matter where in the world you live..
The corporations do not care, since the business model/bottom line always trumps any moral considerations – such is the nature of the media corporate beast.
Depression and mental illness due to this and due to endless spam and clickbait driven by mainstream media and social media platforms is already at epidemic levels – high time we wrested control back from these organisations – a profoundly amoral bunch to say the least.
Disintermediation of this will enable people at the grassroots level to drive a reputation metric based on the value of information in a peer-to-peer manner to, over time, disable this poison in our public infosphere permanently. This would also do the same thing for excessive advertising, and I think none of us would shed any tears over that.
A concomitant benefit of this, when combined with the inbuilt incentive structure built into Holochain would enable journalists to be paid directly by the community based on the quality of the information they provide and what value their submissions add. Bad actors and manipulators would be disincentivised, good actors would be incentivised – over time and with the growth of the platform.
Part 2:- Tackling Corruption and Enabling Self-Regulating Systems
Corruption, lack of transparency, lobbying and plain bribery are problems faced by every country in the world to varying degrees. Although transparency sites and services exist to combat this they sit on a centralised network which can be attacked, interfered with or just plain shut down.
A decentralised peer-to-peer which can be augmented by individual pieces of people’s personal cellular bandwidth provides significantly more resilience, and information can be verified by peers on the network. This enables verification of information and prevents censorship, especially when reinforced by a peer-based reputational system.
This could also involve the reporting of bribery, corruption, lobbying and censorship.
Part 3:- Digital Public Space
Communal space is something is rapidly being extinguished in the digital world. All of our information is exposed and mined, media is under surveillance everywhere, societies are atomised and local communities are disappearing.
What is badly needed more than ever is the creation of a digital public space or commons, a place where corporations have no visibility, where we are free to speak our minds without feeling the need for self-censorship. Without a free place in which to be ourselves and to exchange ideas without pressure any society ultimately suffocates and dies.
Civic, municipal, community and local discussions could take place in this public space – without our date being mined and monetised to be used against us. People could also be educated on the importance of owning and taking control of their own data and educated on ways of using that to empower themselves as communities.
This is only possible with a peer-to-peer decentralised architecture which can be defended and protected.
Any incentives can be realised on a peer-to-peer basis directly, without any interference or mediation from corporate actors.
Holochain has immense potential for the development of dApps to drive the creation and realisation of this – and it is something that is urgently needed.
Part 4:- Tech for Election Integrity
Amazon offers various services for checking plebiscites and integrity in the polling process, and other mechanisms for verified voting also exist – both online and offline.
One fundamental problem is baked into these offerings however:
They are not actually owned and controlled by the voters themselves as they should be. In time, scandals will no doubt come to light as they inevitably do in these areas, and something as important as this should definitely NOT be something that can be left in the hands of governments and corporations – they should be in the hands of the communities that actually exercise the plebiscite, i.e. THE VOTERS.
Of the people, By the people, For the people – FOR REAL.
Community-driven verification services, driven by immutable smart contracts and owned by communities at the level of the plebiscite are the only really foolproof way to ensure electoral integrity; driven by the people and verified and enforced by the code itself.
Again, holochain offers strong possibilities here – possibly unique ones for grassroots empowerment.
Part 5:- The Evolution of Democracy itself
Plebiscite-driven representative democracy is only one form of democracy; the technology on offer today, combined with future developments could eventually offer the possibility of combinations of empowerment for direct democracy that are only glimpsed now.
All of the first 4 areas detailed above, combined in novel ways with popular voting and discussion in an empowered digital public space could enable direct participation in governance by an empowered and informed populace – without the need for representatives.
Imagination is the only real restriction here.
The use-cases detailed here make for a powerful glimpse of the potentials of the Holochain project, and this is only the start. Never forget that this is a project that is just as old as Bitcoin – 10 years, with a slightly different emphasis and approach and much more about people and communities.
What I have outlined here are merely some of the use-cases which have already been identified and explored; there are potentially MANY more.
Here are a few off-the-cuff ones we came up with ourselves:
- Community Dapps marketplace – peer-to-peer.
- Ride-sharing – disintermediated; community members are incentivised to help each other in this area – within and between communities; some of the benefits could be used to help communities directly (mediated by community consensus of course).
- Intra and inter-community resource capacity sharing – for energy, raw materials, 3D-printing, research and many other areas – a TRUE sharing economy.
- Grassroots media and culture growth – by and for the people with no middlemen.
- Crowdfunding community projects.
- Global community outreach – and sharing and empowering people with some of the opportunities enabled in other areas by Holochain.
- Decentralisation of local, community and municipal space and local funding of community projects in this area.
- Community-driven provisioning of community infrastructure – with direct funding and directly aligned incentivisation.
When you think about ALL of the use-cases and potentialities detailed in this and other articles, always keep the following words in your head as you think of them:
Immutable, secure, disintermediated, resilient, fairly incentivised, hugely scalable, community-driven, energy/computation-efficient, and barely-explored in terms of potential.
We hope you have enjoyed this, the first in our ‘Pale Blue Dot’ series on projects that we feel really do have to change things for the better, in terms of their potential and vision.
And, in time, we hope to bring you many more. But only the ‘best’ with the most exciting potentials will get this seal of approval:
Yes, I hold a nice bag of HOT, no I am not ashamed, yes this is an amazing project and I would say the same even if I DIDN’T hold that lovely bag – some of which will be deployed to buy Holoports, so there!
Anyone who claims total impartiality in these areas usually has a nose that is getting longer by the day – ‘nuff said.