THE STARTUP USING BLOCKCHAIN TO CHANGE THE WAY WE VOTE
26 October 2017, Written by David Simmons
MOST media commentary surrounding blockchain technology has centred on its adaptability to the fin-tech sector, and specifically cryptocurrencies like BitCoin and Ethereum.
But the technology is proving to have applications outside of the cryptocurrency sector.
Entities like Horizon State are currently working their way through complicated processes called an Initial Coin Offering (or 'ICO'), which operates similarly to a traditional IPO, however it involves cryptocurrency instead of Australian dollars.
With some funding under his belt, Jamie Skella, co-founder of Horizon State, is aiming to improve the technology behind his voting platform.
Using blockchain to verify votes instead of a human intermediary, Horizon State says it can revolutionise the way we engage with organisations and governments. The platform is already being used by MiVote, a Melbourne based not-for-profit which hopes to transform Australia into more of a direct-democracy. Skella hopes to see the platform taken up by NGOs, Governments, and private organisations around the world, to change the way they conduct votes.
Business News Australia spoke to Skella about the future of blockchain applications, how his platform could have radically changed the same-sex marriage vote, and the future of Horizon State.
What's the future of blockchain? What else apart from money and voting do you think it'll be used for?
This technology is already touching a lot of industries. Finance will be the one that gets the most attention because, effectively, by having this digital currency which requires no intermediaries means the banks have the potential to be made redundant. Other applications are far more interesting though. What we're working on will have a profoundly positive impact on the world by creating an unhackable ballot box, which will mean that we are taking steps towards eradicating corruption in our electoral processes and our democracies.
Will your technology be able to change how our current system of representative democracy works?
The short answer is 'yes, in a way'. We're democratising democracy. But our sole focus is that anybody who will benefit from this technology is welcome to licence the product. This might be used by governments to basically replace the existing electoral processes with one that's cheaper and faster and more secure. It could be for an independent politician wanting to engage with members of the area of the seat that he's challenging. There's a global NGO that we're launching a pilot with next year who wants to utilise it to talk to their global membership of around five million members and poll them on matters of conservation. Where the result is sensitive in nature, or there's a lot of money at stake, then this provides a good opportunity to provide accountability and transparency and trust to the people voting.
Would this technology have been able to make the same-sex marriage postal vote cheaper and easier?
Utilising our tech we would've cut the time down significantly but it also would've been an improvement of expense by a factor of 10 to 15. This isn't to say that we philosophically agree that it's the right vote to have, there are a lot of good arguments for not doing so based on human rights, but I think everybody appreciates that it's been run poorly, it's been too expensive and it's taking way to long.
If the Federal Government wanted to use your technology, is it ready now on that sort of scale?
It is, but there's lots of things that we want to improve of course. The system has been live since February, MiVote has been using it and the system can indeed be replicated and white labelled. What we found is that from most of our conversations with government it's going to be an ad hoc engagement, everybody wants something slightly different and we are making sure that this platform is as modular as possible so we can plug in functions and features as required and we can offer something that's quite flexible.
Business News Australia
Author: David Simmons