Until recently, the use of blockchain in elections was seen as nothing more than an experiment. However, during the recent US presidential election, some tried to change public opinion about the potential of blockchain technology. For example, the Associated Press, one of the largest American media outlets, published election results on the Ethereum and EOS blockchain.
However, do these results indicate that it is time to use blockchain in elections, and does it make sense to use technology if the source of information is centralized?
Being on the blockchain does not make the data reliable
It might seem odd to criticize the AP as a source of data, given that it has been calling for the US presidential election since 1848. Its reputation spanning nearly 200 years may have been one reason why two decentralized platforms, YieldWars and Polymarket, decided to use the AP oracle in the forecast market for 2020. A spokesperson for YieldWars described the Associated Press as “perhaps the most reliable news agency in the world” however, “without a doubt” indicates that the reliability of the data remains important.
And a lot of people did exactly that – the Oracle hotspot was not considered reliable enough to be used with trusted blockchains. Some Twitter users greeted the news with skepticism and anger.
Juan Aja Aguinaco, co-founder of Shyft Network, a public certification network for context, trust, and data validation, commented on the reliability of this data source, and pointed to an interesting trend: In some cases, some ports performed slightly differently than each other. Additionally, he said, the press is not responsible for this type of conversation, because “it does so because it is the one that drives readers and ratings, but it is not for them to decide who wins in the elections.” He also suggested that the cases raised against the AP deemed Oracle may be valid, with the caveat:
If the purpose of using AP or other informal source of information as an Oracle of prediction market tool is fair play as long as the participants fully understand what it means and the fact that the AP can say one thing, but until the legal process ends, the official results are yet to be determined. ”
However, the potential risk of fraud with media like the Associated Press is minimal, according to Thomas Stubbings, chairman of the Austrian cybersecurity platform. He told Cointelegraph: “There are probably a few people who would argue that the AP is a more reliable source than Breitbart News, for example. Therefore, the reliability and reliability of a source like an Access Point can be taken for granted.”
According to Artyom Kalikhov, product manager at Waves Enterprise, a company whose technology was recently tested during the Russian elections, if you present incorrect data, it will virtually ruin its 100-year reputation as an objective electoral reporter. In an interview with Cointelegraph, he said: “Since the data has an encrypted signature, the oracle node cannot tamper with it, only the access point can slow it down, which is unlikely to happen.”
But what if the media were attacked by fraudsters? While there is potential for media to be hacked and spread fake news, the Sa vacuums will be noticed very quickly:
Breakthroughs of public interest are noticed very quickly. Once there is any reasonable doubt, cybersecurity and forensic experts will intervene to investigate the situation. And if there is burglary or scam, they will find it. Therefore, the possibility of hacking the recognized medium, and spreading the misinformation over a long period of time, is completely impossible. ”
He also indicated that a central media source may be more reliable than social media, which, ironically, appears to be more decentralized. “If you can control such an environment centrally (like Facebook), you can control decentralized opinions from a central location,” said Stubbings, adding that this is exactly what happened with Cambridge Analytica in 2016, when voters were manipulated centrally.
At the same time, Stubbings indicated that any source is valid only to the extent that trust relates to it. To the question “When is the source reliable?” The answer is much more difficult. Does this mean that reputation as a reliable news source really does not guarantee its reliability?
Revelation of decentralization is not the answer
It turns out that even if it’s centralized, a reliable data source can deliver election information to the blockchain. From this point on, the data cannot be deleted or changed. However, the question of how the blockchain validates the information remains open.
The problem is that smart contracts today cannot verify whether a true source of information is reliable and complete. All a smart contract can do is enforce the specific conditions – say, run a job.