Our Commitment to Sybil Resistance: Proof of Existence Update & Roadmap

  • January 11, 2023

Sybil Resistance shines bright as the ultimate panacea across the digital world, from governance to gaming to Twitter and everything in between. Our mission is to deliver it to the world.

In October, we shared an announcement outlining what a “Proof of Existence v2” might look like. We are pleased to share more granular updates regarding our work pursuing POE v2 and our enthusiasm surrounding our Sybil resistance work.

Additionally, with lessons learned along the way, we intend to update our messaging to reflect the current state of Proof of Existence today.

One Human Authentication to Rule them All

Today, Vitalik shares his grievances against token-weighted governance while Elon laments about the bots. Politicians on both sides cry for election integrity while internet celebrities navigate an endless stream of sockpuppet death threats. John Ray deciphers 130 FTX shell companies while ape animators steal monkey jpegs.

If there were a widespread, consensus approach to Sybil resistance, none of these issues exist. But unfortunately, the approach of Sybil resistance remains a divisive issue. European officials recommend KYC-the-world, big tech argues  that check marks are sufficient, and most of the world assumes there is no proper solution.

We believe our approach, which utilizes existing biometrics technology (the same technology that exists in your phone and at self-checkout), can offer the solution that is accessible to everyone in a manner that is 100% anonymous, transparent, and privacy-preserving. We believe that no other approach to Sybil resistance can achieve the same benchmarks in an accessible manner.

However, we aren’t the only entity that engages with biometrics, and more unscrupulous counterparts instead seek to leverage sensitive human input for ill intent.

With that, we are committed to unlocking a solution that adheres to the core pillars of what we believe to be necessary for a sufficiently universal approach to Sybil resistance:

  • Accessibility: Everyone in the world can authenticate under the same solution, and every entity that needs Sybil resistance can tap in permissionlessly, at any scale.
  • Privacy: 100% anonymous, 100% of the time. No exceptions. No disclaimers.
  • Trust-Minimized: Security throughout so that no compromised individual(s) could de-anonymize or otherwise harm participants, in a transparent manner that users and integrators can verify for themselves.
  • Reliability: Lastly, the solution needs to just work. No headaches for users or projects, with enough flexibility for Sybil resistance needs of varying stakes and sensitivity to feel accounted for.

Our ability to deliver an end-to-end Sybil resistance solution that adheres to these standards is the maximal use of our energy to driving public good. Proof of Existence today is almost there, but not quite. Proof of Existence v2 will be.

Evolving our Approach

Proof of Existence today is tied to our selected biometrics provider, Finnovant. This engagement enforces a reliance on a lone third party, protected by legal agreements and good faith. It is by no means a bulletproof approach:

  • Users have no agency over the biometrics they provide and how they are processed.
  • Users are unable to verify the biometrics encryption is done honestly.
  • No API is 100% effective, and edge cases are occasionally preventing new individuals from successfully enrolling.
  • Users are only able to engage on select devices and browsers.
  • Users lack permission to verify security practices, biometrics standards, server management, etc.

While the solution is effective, with over 1,000 individuals signed up and roughly a dozen production integrations to date, it’s not perfect. Understanding everything above, anything less than perfect is insufficient.

Alas, while we still offer POE today, we will be doing so, moving forward, in an MVP capacity. This allows us to focus our efforts on v2 rather than grind through iterative improvements on v1.

POE v2 in Depth

For users, the most striking change in v2 will be the inclusion of multiple biometrics providers. We have already spoken with over two dozen biometrics providers representing some of the most potent and widespread solutions in the space. You likely already interface with these solutions today when interacting with your bank account, using personal devices, and traveling.

POE v2 will feature  a passport-style experience, with several  biometrics providers to authenticate through. From our initial outreach, we’ve already pinpointed the select providers that offer the same Sybil resistance (one-to-many encryption) as Finnovant today.

Several improvements are immediately unlocked with multiple providers supported:

  • Users can opt-in to the provider most accessible to their device/capabilities.
  • Users have agency to choose the provider(s) they are most comfortable with and/or the specific biometric inputs they are most comfortable utilizing.
  • Users can independently vet providers per the standards they adhere to elsewhere as a provider.

Zooming out, there are several longer-term upgrades this encapsulates:

  • Tiered Sybil resistance system, the more authentications a user performs ⇒ higher score ⇒ better Sybil confidence. Low-stakes  integrations can use a highly accessible Sybil secure approach of just one authentication. In contrast a higher-stakes integration could require 2-of-3 or 3-of-5 enrollments (depending on how many providers are supported).
  • Dynamic approach to providers. There will always be some redundancy with multiple providers supported, so if individual providers are deemed insufficient, they may be removed/replaced.
  • Decentralized and open approach to Sybil resistance, with individual providers potentially able to build out the integration/adapter themselves and pass through DAO proceedings in a manner that is not dependent on a centralized team.

Lastly, a full-fledged approach to POE v2 allows us to potentially fundraise, which we are actively exploring and was initially outlined in October. With resources supporting a full-stack solution, our ability to develop, market, and integrate our Proof of Existence improves by magnitudes in a way that does not subtract from the rest of the Governor DAO umbrella.

The team has already simulated the POE flow through a separate provider, and have immense confidence in the capabilities provided as well as the level of security and transparency conveyed.

Unlocking Digital Frontiers

In closing, our approach to Sybil resistance truly offers the most comprehensive and powerful unlocker in “human-centric” digital coordination since the inception of cryptocurrency. The sky truly is the limit. Not only does a universal Sybil resistance protocol extend far beyond web3, but it also enables new potential in DAO governance, decentralized ownership, community coordination, gaming, and so much more. Understand that we’ve built this to the best of our abilities thus far and will continue to do so. Sybil resistance is too essential to leave unsolved.