tl;dr: Anyone can claim to be a Navy SEAL. But not everyone is. On personal reputation systems and a zero trust world.
I receive an unsolicited email from a recruiter the other day. He was inquiring as to whether NSM was hiring and, if so, were we looking for qualified veterans to work for us?
The recruiter from www.7Eagle.com claimed that he is an ex-Navy Seal and that he only places vets from elite units into companies.
On the surface, it’s a feel good pitch. Sure, why wouldn’t we want to support veterans? Particularly those who have performed at high levels.
But then the crypto-skeptic in me arose.
How do I KNOW that the recruiter is an ex-Navy Seal? How do I KNOW that the vets he might send over are as well?
As far as I know, there’s no Navy Seal alumni blockchain out there for me to inspect and verify.
And that’s the issue.
Hurtling Towards Zero Trust
The erosion of trust in institutions isn’t a moment in time. It’s not a stark event like a 9/11 or a George Floyd. It’s gradual.
Erosion is the right word.
A few weeks ago, the high profile hack of big name Twitter accounts raised some alarms. In my opinion, it didn’t raise enough or loud enough.
While the usual noise came about “Bitcoin is for criminals” given what the hackers asked for, I think they missed the point in a big way.
In this scenario, who the hell really cares about Bitcoin? Why not focus on the fact that the blue check/verified accounts of some of the world’s most influential people was under the control of anonymous 3rd parties.
The turmoil that could have been caused with almost any other tweet would have been imaginable.
We should be thankful that all they asked for was Bitcoin.
The real lesson of this hack should have been “holy crap, these massive, centralized social media platforms are vulnerable and represent a meaningful threat to the stability of democracy and markets.”
But the meta-lesson is that we are heading full force and at light speed to a world where each of can literally and very sadly trust nothing (or almost nothing) at first glance.
Don’t Trust, Verify
A potential investor in the Crypto Futura Fund asked me the other day about how we thought the global macro environment might impact the adoption of crypto assets.
On our deck, I had written that “remote workforces” were one accelerator.
She wanted to understand why.
In a world of zero trust as the basis and relationships that initiate via the Internet (and stay that way), an emerging market need is a way for people to verify the claims of potential business partners.
There will be a “former Navy Seal” blockchain with a crypto asset that is a “Service Token.” Each alum will have one and that will be the irrevocable proof of service.
By no means am I diminishing the service of SEALs. In fact, I am interested in safeguarding it so that others can’t make a claim. Open verification protects the rightful SEALs and enhances the value of the “brand.” It also serves as a barrier to entry for charlatans.
I’m not saying that the recruiter was a scammer. I have no idea. All I know is that I asked him “how do I verify the claim that you are an ex-Navy Seal?”
His answer was “I don’t care if you believe me or not.”
That’s great for him and I could easily see how that works…today.
But that won’t work in the future.
Our past achievements and relationships are our legacy. They are proof of our commitment, service, dedication, and relationship.
If we don’t own them, it means someone else does. Which means that they are vulnerable.
One tweet can ruin a reputation. Ask anyone who has been “cancelled” recently.
An unverifiable claim will become a question mark.
I don’t love the descent to zero-based trust because of all of the pain and dislocation that will happen along the way. However, I am cautiously optimistic that a self-sovereign identity and reputation ecosystem will emerge on the other side, giving each of us more agency over our histories and life stories.
In a zero trust world, our personal history blockchains will be one way that will happen.
When I was growing up, my mom used to say “act as if everything you do will be on the front page of the New York Times.”
Today, she would say, “act as if everything you do will be on a public blockchain.”