Build Fair Crypto Reputation Systems

January 19, 2021

In crypto, all of our identities are tied to strings of random numbers. Reputation is how we infer meanings about the personalities and behaviors of these otherwise anonymous addresses. Your on-chain behavior can be used to construct a picture of who you are in real life and how you'll behave in the future.

Based on your reputation, you will receive perks and punishments. This idea is quite similar to the social credit system employed in China.

The government tracks all kinds of individual behaviors from traffic violations to blood donations, and uses that information to determine whether you get preferred treatment or can't send your kids to private school.

In the West, this system is universally panned as dystopian, though we have our own lightweight version in the form of a credit score.

How can we prevent crypto reputation systems from becoming similarly dystopian?

Crypto reputation systems must be decentralized. No single party can have sole authority over who is allowed to participate in society.

Your reputation can't deny you basic rights. Everyone, no matter how poor they are or what mistakes they've made deserves access to basic public services.

Allow people to start over. It's ok to diminish someone's reputation for bad behavior, but give them a chance to atone without being ruined forever. New identities should not be punished by default.

Primarily incentivize and reward good behavior. Rewards are more ethical and motivating than punishments.

These reputation system cannot be excuses to exclude certain groups from society.


© 2020 Connor Daly