Keynote Speech at eDemocracy 2019
I had the honor to give the keynote speech “Proof of Witness Presence: Blockchain Consensus for Augmented Democracy in Smart Cities” at the 8th International Conference of eDemocracy 2019 in Athens, Greece. My keynote speech was based on my recent awarded work and can be downloaded here.
In my talk, I elaborate on how well democracy is working nowadays and I explain the scientific ground of the particular vulnerabilities that democracy faces in the digital era. I identify why democratic reform is in principle so challenging and often unrealistic to realize. Nevertheless, I introduce a modest practical approach to make it more manageable by localizing the scope of collective decision-making and empowering self-governance of citizens and communities using the augmented democracy approach of proving witness presence: a participation process in which decision-making is subject of securely verifying the location, time and situation awareness of citizens when they make choices. In simple words, this process aspires to bring citizens’ solutions to problems instead of problems to citizens, which is often the case nowadays. Proving witness presence is the missing value in our nowadays democracies: turning choices to responsible and informed testimonies, to interventions for evidence-based solutions. I argue that proving witness presence is a complex techno-socio-economic problem of an inter-disciplinary nature and I show how the verification complexity of such a system can be managed within the blockchain. I also introduce a fully-fleshed augmented democracy system designed to perform crowd-sensing and collective measurements based on proving witness presence. I finally illustrate evaluation results and the practicality of this new approach in Smart City uses cases such as measuring the sustainability in transport use and assessing how well the actual cycling risk matches witnessed cycling risk. The talk concludes with a future outlook on the role of responsible AI in augmented democracy.