OpenUBI Berlin: Second GoodDollar-Facilitated Event Shows Encouraging Progress For Pioneering Ecosystem

OpenUBI Berlin
OpenUBI Berlin: Encouraging Progress

In Late 2018 GoodDollar Helped To Launch An Ecosystem Designed To Forge New Universal Basic Income Solutions – The Second Event, OpenUBI Berlin In Early 2019, Was A Success

The second meetup of the OpenUBI community in Berlin, held on January 28 at ThoughtWorks in the German capital, underlined the great progress the ecosystem is making — and also highlighted the next steps required to achieve greater collaboration and, ultimately, meaningful solutions.

It was great timing, given that earlier in January, the largest experiment with UBI was announced: every one of over 600,000 residents of Indian state Sikkim have been promised a basic salary when the scheme is implemented in 2022. Momentum for UBI solutions is certainly building — and quickly.

In November, GoodDollar — a research hub that explores how decentralised cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology may enable models based on universal basic income (UBI) with the central aim of reducing wealth inequality — helped launch the OpenUBI community, in Berlin, a fortnight after we officially introduced our project at Web Summit in Lisbon.

As we wrote after that first meetup: “The OpenUBI community has been formed to encourage collaboration and discussion around UBI and its technological implementation. Anyone can join, because we are building a decentralised community.”

At this latest event, titled OpenUBI Roundtable, Part 2: Synergies, Differences and Philosophies of Money — and part of the AraCon conference — a number of UBI projects presented. Alongside GoodDollar, these included Value InstrumentCircles UBIDuniter G1Project GreshmSwiftDemandBrightIDUBICTrustlines and members of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN).

We were delighted to see more projects answering the call to come and tell their stories. Some organisations travelled to Berlin from around the globe, such as from France, America and India.

There was a vast number of blockchain enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, social activists, and UBI people of both genders and all ages — and so many attendees that we were scrambling around for more chairs so everyone could have a seat.

This was a good problem to have. In total, there were almost 100 people in the room, which was significantly more than the first meetup, showing how this community is expanding at speed.

For GoodDollar, it was especially important to see how the OpenUBI ecosystem we have helped to facilitate is growing; already it has a life of its own, and that is great.

Captive audience: Attendees included blockchain enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, social activists, and UBI people of both genders and all ages (photograph credit: Shai Levy)

Making Progress To Tackle Identity Problem

There was much discussion about the great need to solve the problem about identity — specifically how to prove that users of a UBI scheme are who they say they, and unique.

Progress is being made in this area, however, as evidenced by the news announced at the meetup that BrightID’s application has recently launched in beta. It was thrilling to see the beginning of a real-life, decentralised identity solution that could open up the path to other projects and use cases in the UBI space.

“For OpenUBI to work … we need a way to ensure people exist only once in the UBI system,” Adam Stallard from BrightID told the GoodDollar team. “It is critical that UBI is trusted, that people know that when they are receiving their income … [and] that there are not other people who have figured out how to trick the system.

“To be able to do that digitally, which is what we want for all our different cryptocurrency experiments, we need some way to prove that someone is a unique person in the system. That is what I am trying to solve with BrightID. It is a problem every UBI project is going to need to solve, one way or another.”

Next Steps: Collaboration Key

There were visible similarities between the projects, underlining how in the collective mission to reduce wealth inequality there should be much greater collaboration. It should be pointed out that there is a great willingness to collaborate within the OpenUBI community.

GoodDollar wants to lead by example, and by establishing the OpenUBI ecosystem and gathering together like-minded individuals and projects we have tried to help to raise awareness and triggered dialogue between parties. GoodDollar has an active Telegram group.

Now — together — we need to determine a platform or system to exchange ideas, particularly around identity and governance of UBI projects. Additionally, we must scale the OpenUBI activity, and would like meetups to happen all over the world on a regular basis.

We would like to see projects joining forces as they work towards more advanced versions of their software — first with research papers and then properly collaborating, using one another’s protocols (for example for an identity system).

Aleeza Howitt, an independent researcher and one of the event organizers, summed things up well when she told GoodDollar: “It is wonderful to see so many creative and inspiring individuals in the same room; this [blockchain and cryptocurrency-enabled UBI] is still a fringe idea and it is great to be able to talk about it with people who are on the same page. In some ways this is a historic event.

“Communication is key [for projects to work together]. There are a lot of ideas right now that are more or less similar but only a handful of projects that are active. New initiatives should be building on or learning from those that are active, and should concentrate resources where it makes sense, for example on the topic of identity.”

The next step is delivering UBI solutions for recipients. If we all work together, pool our resources and share learnings, we could limit duplication and overlap, making the whole much greater than the sum of its OpenUBI parts.

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