Welcome To the “idea” of Trust Online!

The Internet — being online — as we know is broken in so many ways! Looking a lot like an Adult who having experienced so many traumas as a child, grows up losing trust for others. The web in the state of web2.0 where data is controlled by central authorities is rife with mistrust. It is also very easy to manipulate and delete records. Governments and large organizations are mostly guilty of this kind of behavior.

The issue of trust on the Internet is one which affects our daily lives. It is now enough to say that a large population of the world has need of the internet as some sort of extra human limb to get things done. This represents shopping, security, making reservations, remote controlling appliances just to mention a few examples where doing things using the internet has ensured that humanity has entered into that place of ease of doing a whole lot more. Nonetheless, with this ease is an attendant level of unrest! Why is there this unrest? There is no Trust on the Internet as we know it!

To be clear, trust basically is the firm reliability or ability of someone or something. These are keywords that we can very well relate with: firm and reliability! Trust is idealistically meant to be unshakable. Take for instance an activity as simple as shopping. A customer understands that once they walk into the shop of a merchant to carry out a simple exchange, such a customer can trust that once they have agreed with the merchant as to the terms of the exchange, the Merchant is trusted not to break the terms of such an agreement. This idea of exchange is the premise for all human interaction. One thing is often given up for another, with an underlying “trust” that the parties involved will not breach the terms of the agreement.

Just as with every human advancement across the ages, a new way of carrying out processes is always meant to bring ease to man. Machines were invented to optimize human processes. One of the many reasons the internet was invented is to facilitate human exchange. Such exchange could be words, contracts and control. Across the Internet there’s billions of interactions happening everyday between man, man and machines, machines and machines. It is all an exchange based on “trust”. There’ s a fundamental flaw with an exchange such as this where one or more of the participants exercises control in a way and manner that makes everyone else in the system ultimately reliable on them. More often than not, this is made possible where there is a central repository of control. A lot like the classical case of: “He who pays the piper dictates the tune”. How then can the attendant problems with trust be fixed?

To be crystal clear: The issue with Trust here is that it is placed in the hands of just the ONE entity (human, machine, government and corporate). As a result such as entity can then be able to alter and manipulate records given that it is just the one entity that is privy to all such information. Again, how can the issue of trust be fixed?

Thus we need to design a new system of exchange between humans that is: OPEN, TRANSPARENT, IMMUTABLE, TRACEABLE and SELF EXECUTING (where possible).

Trust as has been said is broken in some many ways given that the one participant in a system can deceive another. Given where there are many more participants in the system and all participants are available to hold each other accountable for all exchanges that happen in the system, there will be no incidents of “he said, she said, who said?”.

A system of exchange which is OPEN, TRANSPARENT, IMMUTABLE, TRACEABLE and SELF EXECUTING has one requirement at the premise thus: Records MUST never be kept in the hands of the one entity. Rather it should be distributed in a way and manner that everyone operating in the system can verify and validate all exchanges that place in the system.

OPEN means that such a system must be accessible to all who make exchanges in the system, this will in turn ensure TRANSPARENCY in all activities that happen in the system.

IMMUTABILITY is the irreversibly nature of an exchange. When you give something it is recorded and entered into the system and can never be edited or deleted. A new record will be made if there are any changes, but all past records are kept as is. This way no one entity can update and tamper with records. This make every activity in the system TRACEABLE and thus records are tamper proof.

Designing a system with the requirements listed above and making it SELF EXECUTING will be akin to landing a man on the moon! Just for a minute, visualize making an exchange and when you want to retrieve a record of your contract, you need no witnesses to provide a signature for you as the larger people involved in the system are all monitoring, verifying and validating your contract transaction!

All of this seems idealistic! For what it is worth, systems are fundamentally flawed where under the control of the one entity. Not so when there are more participants in the system all of whom are involved in the verification and validation of exchanges. There is a system which has been designed to ensure trust in the way and manner as has been described above. It is also meant to run on the internet and widely heralded as the web3.0

It is called the BLOCKCHAIN.

Yes, you may or may not have heard about this new groundbreaking way to ensure trust in exchanges between man, man and machines, machines and machines.

“A Blockchain is, in the simplest of terms, a time-stamped series of immutable records of data that is managed by a cluster of computers not owned by any single entity. By design, a Blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”

“Trust, but verify.” — Ronald Reagan

JS | Solidity | DevC Community Co-Lead @DevCommsLagos