I ended up skeptically following it to the whitepaper and it’s, well…
The core idea is storing everybody’s biometric data in a way that 1) nobody can steal your identity, and 2) you can’t create duplicate identities. The problem is that this system has to be open by design: there’s no way to a priori determine whether an unknown iris print belongs to a new person or nobody. This means the system is trivially attackable: I can generate contact lenses that create arbitrary deviations from my standard iris print. I don’t need to match somebody else, I just need to generate enough difference that it assigns the print to a new person as opposed to connecting it to me. Now I am legally ten people and get ten votes in elections.
There’s a lot of other problems with the idea (what if a person’s biometrics change? Just how many iris readers do we have to buy, anyway), but they’re handwaved away as “we’ll figure it out later.” But there’s no way around the duplication problem without reintroducing a centralized authority.
The print read like an advertisement to me. It also said something about biometric authentication that was decentralized. Biometric is pretty probabilistic and unreliable for cheapest versions. You also can’t change it if it’s compromised. There was also a mention of a blockchain. These collectively made me discard the article when I was thinking about pushing it to front page of HN earlier today.
That doesn’t mean it’s valueless or anything. Just set off way too many red flags for me before I even got into the details.
Not just regular blockchain! It also claims to be immune to 51% attacks, solve the scaling issues, and also provide everybody a universal basic income through mining rewards. Most of both whitepapers is “this is how we want to it work, but we haven’t actually tried it yet.”
provide everybody a universal basic income through mining rewards
Oh yeah, I forgot about that one. I remember I nearly busted out laughing on that one when on lunch break. I’ll be happy to admit I was wrong about “universal, basic income” + “blockchain” being too good to be true when they make it happen. Seriously.
And there is advertising at the end, asking to push the heart button, then presenting its other works.
In the Cicada website, a list of promises, and a big bold all caps message in flashy wellow on a black background:
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
Why does this have to look like advertising so much the whole way? This is an interesting concern, do not screw it with self-promotion.
I don’t want a centralized authority with the ability to track everyone from birth to death. Such authorities tend to increase the number of deaths.
Before we talk about crypto or blockchain or basic income, we need a precise definition of identity. Then we must ask about the cost to fake these identities. The CIA wants fake identities. Spammers and Scammers want fake identities. These attackers have a lot of resources.
related project: https://bitnation.co/world-citizenship-id/