Susanne Tarkowski-Tempelhof, a founder of Bitnation and Pangea projects, one of the most talented and respected developers in blockchain community gave an exclusive interview to Bitnovosti and shared her prognoses on the future of national governments, virtual nations and jurisdictions.
Bitnation is a blockchain-based citizenship system established in 2014.
The Pangea jurisdiction is a decentralized opt-in platform built for Bitnation citizens. Citizens of Bitnation can use Pangea to conduct peer-to-peer arbitration and create their own nations. Pangea uses the Panthalassa mesh, which is built using Secure Scuttlebutt (SSB) and Interplanetary File System (IPFS) protocols.
Bitnovosti: Thank you very much, Susanne, for finding time to answer my questions. How big, you think, Pangea may grow with time? Can it embrace the whole world one day? In what time do you think the national governments will be eliminated?
Susanne: I think it can grow infinitely, and obviously, the more it grows, the more it has value in terms of gaining peer-to-peer acceptance for Pangea as a Jurisdiction. The change in governments will be gradual, I’m not sure if “eliminated” is the best word to employ. Rather, I think smaller and smarter nations will adapt to the changing environment, and start competing on a free market for governance services. We have already seen this starting in places like Estonia, Switzerland, Singapore, Netherlands, Lichtenstein, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Hong Kong and elsewhere. More inflexible large nations will probably tighten their rules further, and that might lead to political chaos when people increasingly can’t stand the oppression anymore. Over time, like roughly over the next 50 years, I don’t think governments will go away, but I think they’ll be made largely redundant and symbolic, sort of like royal families in Europe, or postal offices around the world after the mass adoption of email. They’re still there, but for the most part they don’t have any power. I think nation state governments will end up like that as well, kind of like high level debating clubs. That would be the ideal outcome.
Bitnovosti: Why did you choose Ethereum blockchain as a base for Pangea platform? How many developers are working on the project? At what stage of realization the platform is?
Susanne: The Pangea backend is a quantum resistant mesh network. It’s blockchain agnostic by default. We choose to integrate the Ethereum chain first, because it has the furthest evolved smart contract ecosystem. However, we’ll soon add Bitcoin as well, through the Rootstock protocol. In the future we can add other chains, like EOS, Tezos, Bitlattice or others.
The dev team, including people doing things like design, project management, security and documentation, is about 10 persons currently. We need to grow our development capacity, particularly on the frontend development side to build more efficiently, which the token sale will allow us to do. Besides the development team we also have an experienced management team, a worldwide ambassador network, high profile advisors including people like Rick Falkvinge, Vinay Gupta and Vit Jedlicka, and over 2000 volunteer contributors on our Slack channel, and more than 10 thousand citizens.
The 0.3 version of Pangea will be released in December. It has changed fundamentally since we first started developing it in 2015. The 0.3 version has a mobile chat interface as the frontend to ensure user friendliness and market adoption, while the backend is a mesh network which can’t be censored or shut down, and works in areas with low connectivity as well, and the entire system is powered by our AI Lucy who distributes tokenised reputation based on people’s ability to create contracts, fulfil contracts, or resolve disputes attached to contracts. The 0.3 version will still be early and experimental, but from around Q2-Q3 in 2018 it should start to be a really user-friendly full stack jurisdiction, including for people who are not at all familiar with crypto.
We’ve learned a lot from the Public Notary we setup in cooperation with the Estonian e-Residency Program in 2015, which thousands of people have used for things like recording marriage contracts, wills, birth certificates, land records, freelance agreements, loan agreements, and more. We’ve learned that the demand is clearly there, but to be effective it needs to be more sophisticated, in terms of both having self-executing contracts, as well as a reputation and dispute resolution mechanism, which is what we are building now with Pangea.
Bitnovosti: How will the disputes be resolved in the frame of Pangea jurisdiction?
Susanne: If a contract is not completed to mutual satisfaction by all participants, arbitration can be called upon. You’ll able to choose from a list of arbitrators that has listed themselves, based on their price, specialty, availability and reputation. You can also call on witnesses to participate. Evidence bundles will be encrypted and stored on IPFS. The plaintiff and the defendant both have a certain number of words to formulate the case, for instance 200 or 500 words, depending on the complexity of the situation. Each witness can, after having reviewed both statements, make a short statement of for instance 100 words. Based on this, the arbitrator will try to negotiate a peaceful resolution between all parties involved, or ask for further input from all parties. If such attempts fail, neither participants nor the arbitrator will gain reputation points, and funds may be held in escrow. Plaintiff and defendant can in such case choose to restart another dispute resolution process.
It’s also possible to use a 3rd Party Application for instance like a Crowdjury, or randomised anonymous arbitrators, as proposed by for instance Kleros and others.
Bitnovosti: What existing legal frame did you use as a base for the Pangea if you used any? Did you collaborate with legal advisers while working on the concept?
Susanne: We believe in Panarchy – meaning competing codes of laws. People can choose any code of law on Pangea – like Common Law, Civil Law, UNIDROIT, Sharia Law, or whichever other code of law you prefer. When we do contracts internally we generally use Common Law, because it tends to be the most user friendly one. If you create a Nation on Pangea you can choose to have one or multiple codes of laws within your nation (or none at all).
We have two full-time legal advisors who are working on testing smart contracts in legacy Jurisdictions, and working on how to improve the dispute resolution and contract standards overall on Pangea. They’ve years of experience working with “startup nations” to test political and juridical waters in sensitive situations.
Bitnovosti: Do you expect national governments to resist the new types of distributed nations-formations? Are you prepared for it?
Susanne: The more nation state governments expand the burden of surveillance and regulations on citizens, the harder the crypto community works to create decentralised alternatives that can’t be shut down to uphold people’s right and freedoms. It’s indeed a bit of a race against time. But we’re eliminating all central point of failures one by one, as quickly as we can. And as I said earlier, some governments are indeed increasingly heavy handed on crypto currencies and encryption at large, but others are progressive and embrace it. Far from all governments are hostile towards it, hence it’s our interest to seek closer cooperation with smart, forward thinking governments.
Bitnovosti: Are you going to implement an escrow mechanism in Pangea model? If so will you involve human escrow agents or implement other solution?
Susanne: The escrow is embedded in the contract through a multisig where the tokens get released upon mutually satisfied contract completion. You can add in additional persons to the multisig if you feel the need for it, like witnesses, lawyers and arbitrators, for instance.
Bitnovosti: Can people somehow reach the services of Pangea without holding any tokens?
Susanne: Of course, PAT is in no way a barrier to entry to Pangea. You can access a lot of functions without PAT. The only time you need either ETH or PAT is when you execute a contract on chain, because then you have to pay miners fees.
Further on, we’ll have an open system which allows anyone to add their ERC20 tokens to our wallet, and trade it freely peer-to-peer on Pangea. In the future, we hope to add in other currencies as well, particularly privacy centric ones, like Monero, DASH and ZCash.
Bitnovosti: Can you tell more about Lucy? How does she calculate the reputation of the participants? How does the reputation affect the outcome of the disputes? Are there any possible ways to control or affect Lucy’s actions?
Susanne: No, there’s no way to control or affect Lucy’s action. The first iteration of Lucy is an Ethereum smart contract bot that communicates with an Oracle to gather contract data that is sent to files on IPFS, and then rewards people with non-tradable reputation tokens when they have created a contract, completed a contract, or resolve a dispute attached to a contract. Once people collect enough non-tradable reputation token they get rewarded with PAT, by Lucy. This prevents reputation from being bought and sold, or earned through attention or popularity, and the entry cost of the contract prevents sybil attacks.
Bitnovosti: How is it possible to guarantee that the participants of the distributed system will follow the resolutions of Pangea arbitration?
Susanne: There are so called “hard enforcements” for instance having the escrow release pending on satisfactory contract completion, or dispute resolution, and “soft enforcements” meaning you don’t get reputation tokens if you fail to complete the contract. In addition, you can choose 3rd Party methods for contract enforcement, including solving disputes in a legacy jurisdiction, or private security providers, like the peer-to-peer security DApp B-Umbrella being developed on Pangea, for instance.
Bitnovosti: What are your long run perspectives?
Susanne: To end the geographical apartheid upheld by the nation states and supranational entities like UN and similar organizations oligopoly on governance services enforced through violence. Every person in the world should have sovereignty and agency, regardless where they were born, where they live, or what passport they hold.
Bitnovosti: How much are you planning to raise? How are you planning to execute the raised funds?
Susanne: We’re raising $30M in total. A big chunk of it is obviously for core software development, but we also want to have funds to power the 3rd Party Decentralized Applications (dApps), Smart Contracts (cᐃpps) and Smart Bot (sBot) ecosystem, as well as our worldwide Ambassador and Embassy infrastructure.