China, Russia, US elections, disinformation campaigns, state sponsored trolls, social bots and cyber mobbing have forcefully dismantled the romantic early notions held for the Internet. The Internet does not care for what it amplifies, human interests are not always aligned, and truth needs champions that either have nothing to lose, or put the needs of society above their own.
But romance is not dead. It just moved on to the Blockchain.
Many of the claims made about the Blockchain and cryptocurrencies echo the romantic notions once held for the Internet. Radical decentralisation, governments a thing of the past, a better, fairer, more egalitarian, grassroots society brought about by the powers of technology. This is the ideology and expectation built into Bitcoin, Etherium and much of the cryptocurrency world. Attempting to solve social issues by technology is a classic. And when it fails, the answer lies in more technology. But does it?
Blockchain and the token economy hold enormous promise. The ability to redistribute power away from gatekeepers and intermediaries, empower economic activity with greatly reduced barriers to entry and transaction, and to give control over data and identity back to the people themselves provide the basis for profound social change. But what that change will end up being will depend largely on the power structures built into its underlying infrastructure.
The supposedly radically decentralised systems already show dramatic signs of concentration of power in the hands of a few parties that are neither accountable to anyone, nor, in some cases, known. Relying on their eternal benevolence seems naive at best. The corporate answer of private systems on the other hand is about as convincing as their early attempts at building proprietary, vendor specific “Internets.”
That is why Vereign has chosen to build the technology and platform for a third path.
Switzerland is often hailed as the most stable country in the world. Many people attribute that to a lack of economic pressures tearing apart other countries. What they forget is that Switzerland was bitterly impoverished for the longest time. So how did a country that was extremely poor for the vast majority of its existence, with different cultures, religions, four different languages and surrounded by much larger, occasionally aggressive neighbours achieve such stability? The answer lies in balance. Balance of languages, religions, opinions, cultures, none of which should be allowed to dominate entirely about another.
Maintaining such balance requires those who have more power to exert less of it, while giving disproportionate power to those that have little. That can be frustrating to the individuals at times, and caution wins over change more often in such a system. The reward is one of the most secure, egalitarian, free and stable societies in the world.
This stability allows entrepreneurs, individuals and large companies to flourish, especially when combined with social values that incorporate liberty and self responsibility, two guiding principles in Swiss society.
There is an organisational counterpart to the values of the Swiss political system to protect due process, resistance against corruption, and checks and balances for the powerful. It is extremely popular in Switzerland, is the legal form of the two dominant supermarkets as well as the third largest bank with millions of customers and one of the largest insurances. All of them are organised as cooperatives, of which there were more than 9,600 in Switzerland in 2012.
Cooperatives are democratic, based on the principle of one member, one vote. They do not offer shares, but rather serve a purpose. Because they offer no shares they cannot be bought, and are much harder to corrupt or subvert. Without shares, they are typically not profit oriented. Their return for their members is the deliver of a function.
This makes them an ideal form of association for basic infrastructures, such as a blockchain platform that provides a robust, reliable, neutral platform for all its users, without danger of any party realising undue profits at the expense of everyone else.
Which is why Vereign was founded to create the building blocks ideally suited to the needs of businesses, governments and individuals alike to come together in cooperatives that guarantee the legal, organisational and technical robustness of what will be an essential infrastructure to all of them.
The result is nothing less than blockchain as a public resource much like the Internet. It will be democratically run, inclusive and an ideal platform for future innovation. Which creates the necessary infrastructure for innovation and solutions incorporating blockchain technologies.
Everything from the hardware over the software and the organisational structures governing the individual networks will be empowering its users.
Which is where our name originates: Verified + Sovereign = Vereign.