Borderless Citizens™ in the 21st Century
The first article in the 3-part series “Down the Crypto Rabbit Hole”
First articles in a series of 3 by Gabriel Dusil, Co-founder & Board Member, Adel Ecosystem Ltd., Isle of Man
Thanks to the Internet and more recently, blockchain technology, the world is waking up to a political, economic, social and technological renaissance. The next two decades will result in a fundamental shift in human interaction, sharing, and freedom. All aspects of vertical and horizontal markets will be affected, including Finance & Banking, Healthcare, eGovernment, Communications, Information Technology (IT) and the Internet of things (IoT).
This series is presented in three parts and will analyze society’s paradigm shift in behavior and present a vision for the future. In this first article, the creation of virtual communities is explored, fueled by blockchain innovation and explores the evolution of the crypto sphere.
- Defining Borders
- Pandemic Protocols
- State Enforcement
- State vs. Crypto
- Gabriel Dusil, B. Eng.
Some inventions are taken for granted as if destined to be. New paradigms weave into the fabric of our lives so nuanced that we forgo the lineage of its development. The internet is a classic example, where baby boomers *1 and x-generation *2 reflect on a time when the Internet wasn’t even part of their vocabulary. We had questions, but nowhere to find answers. Our queries fade, and we moved on. Millennials now say, “OK Google” “Siri” or “Alexa” and get answers, with a side of dopamine. It has taken a few decades, but the internet broke down the borders to information flow. Now the cyber-generation is taking their next steps in the global dissemination of content.
The introduction of blockchain and cryptocurrency is a culmination of social trends that favor open-source systems over proprietary systems, freedom over suppression, and privacy in place of monitoring. Before discussing blockchain let’s first bring Bitcoin to the forefront. Similar to email being the first application of the Internet, bitcoin was the first application of blockchain. In hindsight, it seems that the two were introduced in the wrong order, but it was rather clever because a useful application was immediately introduced to highlight the resilience of the infrastructure. The alternative would have been creating blockchain first and hoping the world would figure out how to use it. That may have also worked but may have taken longer. The potential of blockchain has now been recognized as transformational in practically every industry. Bitcoin and blockchain have not only brought on an evolutionary but a revolutionary paradigm in how our society behaves.
“What was once extraordinary, soon becomes normal.”
The internet was a disruptive force for many industries over the past few decades. Millennials *3 are oblivious to paying for long-distance phone calls, waiting weeks to get a response to their letter, or the 74 minute limit of CDs. Throughout the ’90s and ’00s, the internet successfully disrupted just about every industry in the world, including entertainment, computing, and communications. But no one dared to disrupt the finance industry until 2008 when the alias known as Satoshi Nakamoto *4 wrote the white paper, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. It may have taken several years for the world to notice, but this challenges, “the religion of money” *5 controlled by centralized powers of a “monetary system [that] has its own intrinsic logic of growth” *6. Bitcoin set in motion a complete disruption of financial markets and introduced what is now known as “virtual currency” *7 or “cryptocurrency” *8. Nakamoto arguably made a significant dent in just ten years of its inception, introducing financial services that are modified to utilize the crypto ideology.
At the Gettysburg address, on November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln closed by saying “- and that government, of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”. It is poignant to reference these words in today’s changing the world. For the first time in history, the world has a virtual currency that was created by the people, for the people, and of the people. A currency not controlled by a central power and lives autonomously and free in cyberspace.
With blockchain considered as the biggest invention since the Internet, what’s next? How is society changing because of bitcoin, and what is expected from its underlying technology? Which areas in our social-economic behavior will change due to this new technology and how will this affect the lives of our children’s children?
Before exploring the evolutionary changes of cyber in our social fabric, let’s first understand how we got here. Let’s begin with society’s tendency to erect borders. Some borders are physical, such as land and sea, but others are less obvious. Governments establish political borders to separate enemies from their allies. They restrict the flow of people through passports, visas, and border controls. States use utilities as borders, restricting the use of gas, water, electricity, or even telecommunications.
While these borders control cross-regional competition they also restrict citizens to fewer options. Less obvious are cultural barriers such as language and religion. There are economic borders limiting the street-use of one country’s fiat currency *9 abroad. There are less tangible examples, such as left vs. right side car steering wheels *10 and metric vs. imperial measurements *11. The commercial industry also chimes in with broadcast signal restrictions (PAL vs. NTSC video standards *12), and 120V vs. 220V *13 electricity. Some of these borders exist due to localized evolution, but it’s hard to ignore the political motivations of their origin.
Even though society tends to erect borders, many actors want to break them down. Initiatives across multiple disciplines are driven by a goal to unify the world. It’s hard to ignore that many of these entries were established in the aftermath of World War I or II, in an effort to learn from the tragedies of our past. Regardless, the effort is ongoing:
- In 1993 the European Union *14 (EU) was established to unify the economic zones of member states. A global initiative has yet to be attempted.
- The Schengen agreement *15 came into effect in 1995 (named after the city where it was signed), allowing citizens to freely cross certain borders in Europe.
- North American Free Trade Agreement *16 (NAFTA, est. 1994) created a trilateral trade bloc in North America.
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization *17 (NATO) was formed in 1949, establishing a “collective defense” to ensure the atrocities of World War I and II would not be repeated.
- The United Nations (UN) was formed in 1945 “to promote international cooperation and to create and maintain international order”. *18
- International Court of Justice *19 (ICJ, est. 1945) settles legal disputes between member states.
- International Monetary Fund *20 (IMF, est. 1945) was established to facilitate international trade, sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world
- European Space Agency *21 (ESA, est. 1975) consists of twenty-two-member states dedicated to the exploration of space.
- Various cross-border humanitarian initiatives were established throughout the 20th century, such as:
- The World Health Organization (WHO, est. 1948) mandates the “attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health” *22
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, est. 1945) “is charged with collecting, evaluating, and disseminating information relating to nutrition” *23
- Unicef *24 (est. 1946) mandated by the United Nations General Assembly for the protection of children’s rights
- The International Labour Organization (est. 1919) is “devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights”. *25
- The borderless movement is also part of international standards initiatives, such as:
- International Telecommunication Union *26 (ITU, est. 1865), is one of the oldest intergovernmental organizations in the world. The ITU allocates global radio spectrum, satellite orbits and ratifies international technical standards.
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers *27 (IEEE, est. 1963), directed toward the advancement of the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications, and computing.
- Internet Engineering Task Force *28 (IETF, est. 1986) defines Internet operating protocol standards.
- General Public License *29 (GPL, or GNU GPL, GNU’s Not Unix! GPL, written by Richard Stallman in 1989) is intended to ensure the freedom to share and improve software for all users.
- International Organization for Standardization *30 (ISO, est. 1947), with a mission to promote worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards.
- Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN *31, est. 1998) is a non-profit organization with a goal to ensure a smooth functioning Internet.
Borders are integral to our lives. Technology has helped remove many of them, but some will perpetually exist, such as culture and religion. One of the main catalysts of the borderless movement has been technology and the Internet in particular. The internet brought transparency to the world, and this has led to an awareness of various social, political, and economic levels.
The borderless movement may be technology-led, but not all initiatives are thanks to cyber. For example, Global Positioning System *32 (GPS) technology was deployed by the USA military in 1973 to overcome limitations of navigation systems. This network was opened to citizens in 1980 and has since been integrated into virtually every communication device. Iridium was developed by Motorola and began deployment in 1993 *33. It was designed to provide voice and data coverage over the Earth’s entire surface. These technologies are borderless, but they are centralized in the sense that they are either state or private-owned, with restricted rights of usage and geographical limitations. Meaning, they could be shut down at any minute, leaving every GPS device or Iridium phone in the dark.
It was just a matter of time before such vulnerabilities were overcome. Throughout the 1980s the internet was conceived, notably with the adoption of TCP/IP *34 in 1983. The Internet was different from preceding communication services, in that its foundation was to create a network that could not be brought down by an enemy force. The TCP/IP protocol was first implemented in the Advanced Research Projects Administration *35 (ARPANET). The controversy lies in the origins of ARPANET as a means to survive a nuclear attack. Its goals were apparently much broader, in “robustness and survivability, including the capability to withstand losses of large portions of the underlying networks” *36. In hindsight, TCP/IP can be considered the first inception of the Pandemic Protocol era; Protocols that are persistent, pervasive and omnipresent; Protocols that are incredibly resilient from the shutdown, due to their decentralized nature, even by the creators themselves.
“Iteration Overcomes Limitations of Its Predecessor.”
Welcome to Pandemic Protocols. In 1999 Peer to Peer *37 (P2P networks) were introduced. This evolved the notion of client-server architectures with more emphasis on client-to-client communications. But the first interactions of P2P, such as Napster still involved a server. Shutting down this device at the center of the entire system meant that all nodes were disconnected for each other. This vulnerability was soon overcome by Bram Cohen in 2001, through the introduction of BitTorrent *38. Cohen took the resilience of P2P to a new level, by removing the vulnerability of the server. The concept of Pandemic Protocols took on new resilience because torrents were now pervasive and omnipresent. Clients could swarm to a torrent, and maintain a presence, as long as there were seeders and leeches exceeding a single copy of the content.
Today’s Pandemic Protocol trend consists of technologies that are resilient to any centralized interference, meaning they cannot be shut down without considerable effort. In fact, they are so pervasive that to shutting down these protocols means a complete shutdown the internet — which itself is pandemic.
With the proliferation of Pandemic Protocols, what is the recourse for states to enforce their laws? Can actors in these spheres be subjected to controls, restrictions or shutdowns dictated by a state authority? In other words, how can a state enforce their laws in cyber? This is a very complicated issue in view of the borderless phenomena contravening traditional world order. Enforcement has been traditionally based on the juxtaposition of sovereign State territories. In cyber, there is no juxtaposition because there are no borders.
In the persisting absence of unified global rules, the courts are witnessing ongoing chaos where States wildly apply their territorial, personal and extraterritorial jurisdictions to subject the actions of perpetrators to their laws. This leads to diverse conflicts of laws between States. In legal proceedings, the reality is much more complex and continues to be challenged by various states and institutions. In an attempt to simplify, there are the three main considerations used by the States to target perpetrators in cyberspace:
- Infrastructure • States can enforce their authority when information technology and communication equipment reside in their country. This could mean complete shutdown, confiscation, or subpoena of equipment. In some countries, this means nation-wide censorship or other controls.
- Corporations • States have recourse against corporations or other legally registered in their jurisdiction.
- Individuals • Lawsuits may target citizens, whether they are resident in the country, or aboard, it could lead to extradition or deportation for legal proceedings.
State vs. Crypto
State control in crypto continues to be overwhelming. To disseminate this challenge let’s begin with a definition of a Sovereign state. According to Wikipedia *39, Sovereign states can be defined as:
A defined territory
- Having a permanent population
- The capacity to enter relations with other states, and
- Consisting of an effective government.
- In cyberspace, the notion of sovereignty is more abstract. In the era of Pandemic Protocols, state enforcement presents significant challenges to lawmakers because:
- There is no defined territory. The entire infrastructure in the cybersphere is virtual.
- Within cyberspace, blockchain has created a new virtual layer called the crypto sphere. Within this space, actors can behave with impunity under the guise of anonymity. Despite the potential for privacy, this capability has also sparked new forms of fraud that have been orders of magnitude higher than in the real world. Anonymity has led to abuse, misappropriation, and a complete disregard for accountability.
- The parallel to a state’s international relations is blockchain’s communities. They maintain their virtual debate and commentary on public forums such as Reddit *40 or social networks such as Slack *41 and Telegram *42.
- Governance is the most controversial in cyber; Techno-libertarians advocate minimizing the oversight of central control whereby Cyber-anarchists want complete removal of government oversight. This leads to the assumption that blockchain achieves self-governance through programmatic means — or “code-based governance”. In other words, the underlying programming code is designed to eliminate the need for human intervention. Crypto popularized this approach by implementing programmatic rules to completely govern the system. With Bitcoin Nakamoto solved the double-spending *43 dilemmas and this has since evolved into Smart Contract *44 applications. Code-based governance has not been a silver-bullet *45 in solving crypto fraud. In the following sections, we explain why.
Before we proceed further, it’s worth defining several poignant terms integral to this discussion:
- Blockchain ideologist is often associated with Techno-libertarians and Cyber-anarchists in the context of freedom and autonomy. They represent a strong undercurrent that resists centralized control, big brother surveillance, and authoritarian enforcement. Techno-libertarians and Cyber-anarchists may be split on whether crypto has a utopian or dystopian destiny. In the meantime, the-powers-that-be view cryptocurrency as a foe and blockchain as a friend. For this reason, there is a broader movement to support blockchain as a viable evolution to global information sharing.
- Meanwhile, Governance and Sovereign State control bring a sour taste to those who resist central control. The cyber movement advocates self-governance and self-sustaining ecosystems. While this plays out, states are trying to appropriate their control. To Cyber-anarchists this is like a bully entering a playground. But the playground is full of geeks, and they are no longer afraid of the bully.
- To cope with the bureaucracy of the real-world, Geeks are motivated to create an entirely new playground and flip the power hierarchy of society on its head. When it comes to virtual currencies maybe it is true that “the geeks have inherited the world” *46.
“What may be tolerated today,
may become illegal in the future.”
Gabriel Dusil, B. Eng.
Gabriel is the co-Founder and General Manager at Adel Ecosystem Ltd. He is a seasoned sales and marketing expert with over 25 years in senior positions at Motorola, VeriSign (acquired by Symantec in 2010), and SecureWorks (acquired by Dell in 2011), and Cognitive Security (acquired by Cisco in 2013). He is a blockchain entrepreneur, with strengths in international business strategy. Gabriel has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and expert knowledge in blockchain incubation, cloud computing, IT security, and video streaming, and Over the Top Content (OTT). Gabriel also runs his own company, Euro Tech Startups s.r.o, and manages a professional blog.
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- Blockchain, Borderless Citizen, Borderless Citizen™, crypto, Cryptocurrency, cybersphere, cryptoversification, Cybersification, Decentralization, decentralized, Ethereum, Gabriel Dusil, dusil.com, Governance, incubator, Innovation, Multi-Stakeholder, Multi-Stakeholder Governance, MultiStakeholder, virtual currency, Virtual State, Virtual State™, UNESCO
1: “Baby Boomers” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_boomers
2: ”Generation_X” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_X
3: ”Millennials” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennials
4: ”Satoshi Nakamoto” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satoshi_Nakamoto
5: Stratford Caldecott, “The Religion of Money” (March 26, 2012, http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2012/03/religion-of-money.html)
6: Philip Goodchild, “On his book Theology of Money” (Rorotoko, November 30, 2009, http://rorotoko.com/interview/20091130_goodchiled_philip_on_theology_of_money/?page=2)
7: “Virtual Currency” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_currency)
8: “Crypto Currency (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptocurrency)
9: “Fiat Money” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_money)
10: ” Trivia about driving on the left” (World Standards, https://www.worldstandards.eu/cars/trivia-about-driving-left/)
11: ”Imperial vs. Metric System” (Interchange, https://www.interexchange.org/articles/career-training-usa/2012/05/24/imperial-vs-metric-system/
12: ”NTSC vs. PAL” (Diffen, https://www.diffen.com/difference/NTSC_vs_PAL
13: Dhawal D, “Why does UK/USA use 110/120V and others use 220/240V” (The DNetworks, http://thednetworks.com/2012/06/10/why-does-ukusa-use-110120v-and-others-use-220240v/)
14: ”History of the European Union” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_European_Union
15: ”Schengen Agreement” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Agreement
16: ”North American Free Trade Agreement” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Free_Trade_Agreement
17: ”NATO” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO
18: ”United Nations” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations)
19: “International Court of Justice” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Court_of_Justice)
20: ”International Monetary Fund” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Monetary_Fund)
21: ”European Space Agency” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Space_Agency)
22: ”World Health Organization” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Organization)
23: ”Food and Agriculture Organization” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_and_Agriculture_Organization)
24: ”UNICEF” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNICEF)
25: ”International Labour Organization” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Labour_Organization)
26: ”International Telecommunication Union” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Telecommunication_Union)
27: ”Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_of_Electrical_and_Electronics_Engineers)
28: ”Internet Engineering Task Force” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Engineering_Task_Force)
29: ”GNU General Public License” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License)
30: ”International Organization for Standardization” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Organization_for_Standardization)
31: ”ICANN” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICANN)
32: ”Global Positioning System” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System)
33: ”Iridium Satellite Constellation” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium_satellite_constellation)
34: ”Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_protocol_suite)
35: “ARPANET” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET)
36: Barry M. Leiner, Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch, Jon Postel, Larry G. Roberts, Stephen Wolff, “Brief History of the Internet” (Internet Society, 1997, https://www.internetsociety.org/internet/history-internet/brief-history-internet/#f5)
37: ”Peer to Peer” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer-to-peer)
38: ”BitTorrent” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitTorrent)
39: Wikipedia, https://www.wikipedia.org/
40: Reddit, https://www.reddit.com/
41: Slack, https://slack.com/
42: Telegram, https://telegram.org/
43: “Double Spending” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-spending)
44: “Smart Contract“ (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_contract)
45: “Silver Bullet” (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_bullet)
46: “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth” (2009, Alexandra Robbins)