The Proof of Personhood Vision

Proof of Personhood enables the transformation of web3 systems from capital-centric protocols to user-centric protocols. This transformation closely aligns with the core user values crypto was built on.

Written by

Josephine Foong

Proof of personhood: A step towards a user-centric Web3

Since the early days of the internet, sybil attacks have plagued the web. With the advent of web3 protocols, developers have taken a proactive approach to combat these attacks by designing sybil resistant protocols with the weapon of choice being the use of capital to build trust.

Capital is sybil-resistant by design. This is demonstrated through PoW and PoS consensus mechanisms where rewards are based on mining power and token holdings, respectively. These approaches make Sybil attacks irrelevant, reinforcing resistance to them without compromising anonymity.

To address the same challenge, many Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) also adopt a capitalist approach in their governance models, where each token corresponds to a a vote. The more tokens you have the more voting power you have.

However, behind the rapid evolution of Web3 protocols, there's a factor that cannot be ignored — the focus on capital is overshadowing the fundamental element of the protocols: the users. The future of Web3 depends on creating solutions that not only safeguard user privacy, but also ensure fair systems. How can we prevent Sybil attacks without sacrificing anonymity? And more importantly, how can we build user-centric protocols that empower people?

Sybil resistance: The missing piece

From a capital to a human centric web3

With a "one token = one vote" system, we mimic the structure of traditional companies, where greater token ownership translates to greater influence. But what about use cases like elections, where a one-person-one-vote system is more democratic? In the crypto world there are many use cases where a more democratic approach would benefit project communities — fair rewards or fairdrops, fair quests or onboarding structures, fair voting or quadratic voting; to name a few.

Web3 protocols have been successful in preventing Sybil attacks by relying on economic power, but this approach may limit community participation and exclude certain groups. A new strategy for resistance that is less dependent on economic power would enable broader participation and innovation in the web3 ecosystem. A radically different paradigm in crypto could emerge, one that values users over capital. Taking a user-centric approach to crypto could make it more accessible and appealing to a broader audience.

A need for a new Sybil resistant method 

Though the ideology might seem appealing, the tech still needs to follow. The use of multiple wallets in crypto can make it difficult to confirm the identity of individuals casting votes. Implementing identification methods like full KYC may not align with the ethos of crypto. Finding a balance between protecting users' privacy and ensuring equal rights can be a challenge in this scenario.

What’s more is that the crypto space is a dark forest, and we can't rely on the assumption that other wallets will act in good faith. The only certainty so far was the capital invested. As we continue to navigate the crypto world, it's important to explore alternative methods of Sybil resistance that may be more suitable for user centric projects and use cases.

Proof of personhood (PoP): the backbone for a user-centric web3

This is where Proof of Personhood (PoP) becomes relevant. PoP is a solution that aims to address the problem of sybil attacks within the framework of a less capital-intensive and more user-centered model. 

PoP ensures that each community member is a human and more importantly unique in the system. This method of identification is meant to overcome the limitations of traditional identification methods: it’s scalable, instant and privacy preserving.

What makes PoP fully privacy preserving is that it does not require users to store personal information or identification documents. This makes it an appealing option for users who are concerned about the security and privacy of their personal data.

A PoP is created by scanning a user's face and extracting a non-biometric encrypted vector graph, which can't recreate the person's face. The process is resistant to deep fakes and scalable, making it suitable for large online systems. This solution enables quick verification of large volumes of users, ensuring a fair and secure future for all web3 users.

Opening new paradigms with PoP

PoP is the backbone of trust in communities. It is more than just a solution to Sybil attacks, it is a key to unlock new possibilities in various industries.

There are alternative approaches to enhance the current crypto ecosystem. We don't consider the current path to be flawed or incorrect, rather we recognize the value in what already exists. Our belief is that no single framework can cater to all use cases, and therefore it is crucial to explore novel options in order to unlock greater value in the field of crypto. For instance, implementing PoP in DAOs would make it easy to implement a one wallet = one vote system, but it also opens up the possibility to explore other intermediary solutions such as quadratic voting.

A new area in crypto has the potential to emerge, one that prioritizes users over capital. This presents a unique opportunity to increase adoption of crypto as people are more likely to be interested in a system that caters to them rather than just focusing on financial gain.