​Blockchains should be more than Trust-less

The blockchain community has been built with an idea that no one party has to be trusted​. This was the breakthrough that blockchain allowed to happen digitally and it is revolutionary. Now blockchain can be utilized to create financial systems where there is no central control where the users can interact with others without the fear of putting trust in an entity.
But there is an issue with only being trustless: the real world. A delivery driver drops off a delivery while no one is around. Who could be the source for that besides the delivery driver? A lot of things in the real world have to be based on trust otherwise not much could be done at all.

How does information in the real world get sourced in a trustless way? 

With blockchains, consensus between thousands of sources can be used to not trust any one source, but that isn't always possible. The foundation can be trustless, but in order to be useful for many things, trust has to be involved.

Trust is used everywhere in every day life and many of those things can utilize blockchain to remove a lot of archaic infrastructure we take for granted today.

​Trust Use Cases:

​Reputation is essential for everyday life. It goes in many decisions from 'Do I lend my friend $5?' to 'What store has the best quality items?', it all depends on reputation. The hard thing with reputation is defining it. Reputation can't be simplified to 'trust' or 'don't trust' but rather a multi dimensional spectrum. A friend could be the nicest person in the world, but also very bad with money. That can't be boiled down to a true or false, but rather can be utilized to weigh decisions. Depending on many factors such as how much risk is tolerable and the level of kindness a friend has, it will change the decision.
The same ideas can translate over to blockchain. Trust can exist and be used digitally like we do in the real world, but trust has to be re-built from scratch.

​Building Reputation

​This is the big area that is ripe for innovation in the blockchain space. How to build reputation and utilize in the blockchain space?


​Every entity needs to have an identity. That identity can be used to tie actions to one entity over time. If everything that is done is anonymous, all the decisions and actions taken by the entity can't be used to build a reputation.


​If we have the identity of an entity, then we need to see data around it to build a reputation. If the all the different data that would be useful for building reputation is isolated or opaque, then a reputation is hard to create. Blockchain transparency allows for a public source of data around an identity.


​Having a reputation system is useless unless there is data. Data is created over time representing actions an entity took. Reputation takes that history and weighs those actions. Even purely existing for a long period of time can be good for reputation. If time wasn't a factor, it would be much easier for an entity to create a brand new identity and spam or misbehave in a system.


Identities can have a good past, but it doesn't always mean they will act good in the future. An identity can​ improve their reputation for something if they put something on the line. If someone sets aside money with the risk of having it taken away if they misbehave, they are more likely to behave. Proof of Stake works like this where money will be taken away if someone tries to cheat the system, thus improving trust in the system.


​Since blockchain is a public database, by default anyone can view what an identity has done across the blockchain. This is good for transparency but allows any entity to know behaviors and actions without an identity's consent. For a lot of people this would be worse than the current Web2 model of large companies compiling all their data, now anyone can do it.
One potential solution is to encrypt​ all stored data in the blockchain. This can hide stored data from prying eyes but has its own disadvantages, only that identity can access and validate the information. So if any service needs to validate something on the blockchain about your data, it can't since its under lock and key. Also though your data is encrypted, your actions aren't. Any individual could see the actions of storing that data or any money that moves from account to account. A transaction can't be simply encrypted, otherwise it couldn't be validated by blockchain nodes.
​Another potential solution is using Zero-Knowledge (ZK) Proofs. ZK proofs use cryptography to hide all information about an action or data, except for what is exactly needed. This would allow an identity to do actions privately but at the same time prove that those actions were done. ZK seems to be a popular approach to fix privacy issues, but still needs maturity and adoption. ZK explainers may come in a later blog post due to their complexity. For more information check out some of these links:
- ZK Proof Explainer
- Spinner Cash​ - A service using ZK to allow for private transfer of funds from one identity to another on the IC

​Who picks the reputation algorithm(s)?

​Though all of the data may exist out there to identify who did what and when, there is a problem of an everyday person choosing who to trust. Most people will use the default because most people don't care or understand. This default may be picked by a company or government, giving them power over who is trustworthy or not. This can be problematic depending on the company or government.
Another bad scenario that is likely, due to human nature​, is trusting those in your echo chamber. It's common these days to see individuals pick sides and shutout anything but their own side. This can lead to things such as one side thinking they won an election and another thinking the same. Rather than trusting someone based on merit, they are chosen based off of sides.
The blockchain world right now is not close to replacing the systems of trust we have in the real world, but has the potential. We have relied on these old systems for thousands of years and it will probably be that way for years to come, but blockchain technology can change that. Instead of having the foundation as government bureaucracy and trust, we can have a foundation of trust-less math. With a strong foundation, we can build anything on top and still have the option of going with a trust-less option. We can't have Web3 take over the world if its purely trustless, there are too many use cases​ that couldn't be solved for. Reputation is hard but it will be worth it.
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