A few months ago, The Kuwa Foundation partnered with the University of Massachusetts Center for Data Science to develop The Crypto UBI Project (TCUP). I’m excited to say that we just published the TCUP source code on GitHub under an MIT open source license. We also deployed a demo on our development server. TCUP distributes a cryptocurrency basic income payment to people who have Kuwa IDs, which are “smart contracts” that live on an Ethereum blockchain. The two coolest things about TCUP are: (1) it uses the Kuwa ID system, which provides economic incentives that encourage multiple independent, rational and selfish entities to maintain a decentralized ID system that’s independent of governments, Google, Facebook or anyone else; and (2) TCUP takes a “faucet approach” in that it’s designed to distribute any cryptocurrency (e.g., bitcoin, bitcoin cash, etc.). We haven’t solved all the challenges that a crypto UBI faces, but TCUP is a substantial first step.
As soon as we began discussing the concept of a crypto-based universal basic income, we realized that the most significant challenge is creating a reliable identity system. If you’re giving away money, and you can’t identify individuals, then people will sign up for multiple accounts, which will make the system collapse. So we started The Kuwa Foundation to develop a blockchain-based ID system that will work for everyone, including people who live in poor countries, or even failed states. “Kuwa” means “to be” in Swahili. The name is appropriate, since one of Kuwa’s fundamental principles is that every living human can get a Kuwa ID, not just people rich enough to have passports or drivers licenses. The other Kuwa principles are that it must be self-sovereign (everyone owns their IDs and data), minimally intrusive to privacy, voluntary, and corruption-resistant, which is why it’s blockchain-based.
The software that we developed tracks very closely with the functionality that I laid out in the original Kuwa white paper. For the demo, however, we disabled a few features, such as face and voice recognition, and social graphs. Although we had that functionality working in our lab, the demo needs a more convenient user experience. We also implemented the first version of the Kuwa Poker Protocol, which is designed to enable multiple independent “Kuwa Registrar” nodes to compete with each other to identify valid and invalid registrations. Acurate registrars will be profitale. Bad registrars will lose money.
I was lucky to recruit an awesome team of software engineers for TCUP. Here is the crew:
From left to right: Deh-Jun Tzou (a.k.a. Jun), Manush Gupta, Carlos Daniel Mondragon Chapa (wearing a red shirt), Priyadarshi Rath (a.k.a. Darshi), me, and Hrishikesh Kashyap (a.k.a. Rishi). I could write blog posts to praise each of these guys. I’ll just summarize my feelings by stating that these smart, well-rounded and hard-working twenty-somethings have given me hope for the future. I’m thankful for that. Team members not shown include Phillip Silva and Stuart Tempkin, two superb humans who were essential to getting things going. All of the folks at the UMass Amherst Center for Data Science, and especially Brant Cheikes, also deserve praise for helping to sponsor and organize our efforts.
The purpose of Kuwa is to benefit humanity. So if you can contribute to the open source project, we’d be grateful. Alternatively, you could fork Kuwa and do something separately from us. That would be awesome, too. We’d be happy just to be a small part of something that can do so much good. We don’t know if Kuwa will be successful. But a sure way to fail is to do nothing. So we did something.
In closing, this:
“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”