Project CICADA: Making Decentralized Direct Democracy Possible Through Blockchain! Utopian Dream or Wishful Thinking?

Cicada Smartwatch Image

Imagine casting a vote on your phone, computer, or even smartwatch. Local, State, and Federal elections all at the touch of your finger tip and completely fraud proof. Imagine an immutable and confidential record of every vote cast recorded for all of history. A voting ledger that is error free, transparent, easily audited, and a top of the line bio-metric security system to defend it. Security that protects the users private information, detects intrusion attempts, and auto resolves DDoS attacks making them a worry of the past.

Just think of what it would be like to be able to make your own government regulation or law proposal that could get circulated on your behalf to the people in your community. Then imagine your proposal getting popular support and moving on to city, state and maybe even federal levels for people to vote on it. Eventually becoming law and enacted by an automated legislative platform designed to serve the people.

What would it be like to cut out the corrupt middle men we call our Senators and Representatives who are bought and sold by corporate lobbyist's? Instead of getting cheated in back room deals, imagine getting paid for participating and contributing to your democratic nation!

Cicada Title Image

I would like to introduce everyone to one of the most interesting projects I have seen in a very long time. CICADA is a new project I found by accident when I following up leads for other articles I have posted earlier. Since finding the project I couldn't get it out of my head to I just had to post about it and share it with the world.

What is CICADA?

... a revolutionary, open source, decentralized application platform (DAPP) along with its first major application, a distributed direct democracy (DDD).

-Cicada white paper

This is a new decentralized platform being developed for the purpose of running a Distributed Direct Democracy. A system designed from the ground up to serve the people. Eliminate voting related fraud, decentralize the government itself by removing elected representatives, and provide a Universal Basic Income for all citizens. Built on privacy and anonymity concepts perfected in the cryptocurrency world.

CICADA will also be capable of running other DAPPS and work with multiple blockchains at the same time. The platform will be very scalable and is being designed to be run by any nation or the world as a whole.

People Blockchain Image

This is not a new idea and many attempts have been made to make it a reality, but as always corruption is the problem in the end. Let's face it, even the most altruistic and honorable of us can be swayed into selfish acts when entrusted with absolute power. As the old saying goes: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely!

In the ancient Greek city states and early Roman Republic Direct Democracy was tested, but with limited success and was ultimately replaced. Modern day technology has finally progressed to give us the ability to build decentralized platforms and blockchains. This new technological development has opened the door to achieving the truest meaning of Direct Democracy. The only way to make Direct Democracy work without the taint of corruption is to set up a completely trust-less system. Decentralize it!

A Direct Democracy absolutely requires mass communication and digitization. It almost certainly requires Artificial Intelligence.

In its idealized state, a Direct Democracy is self organizing, self-booting, self-replicating system that provides, instantiates, or automates all functions of government. It is able to sustain itself indefinitely, provided sufficient communications infrastructure still exists within the country or sufficient client devices still exist to power a mesh network.

-Cicada white paper

CICADA Panopticon Image

How is this possible?

The CICADA team is taking a very clever approach to this formidable project. To make this project a reality and to build a fully decentralized system the team is taking some of the best concepts seen in the most successful cryptocurrencies and applying them to CICADA. So, in a way, they are learning from the successes of the best entrepreneurs of the cryptoverse and putting their ideas into one super massive project.

The two key technologies that will make it all possible:

1] A decentralized, privacy guaranteeing Human Unique Identifier (HUID) unique to every person on the planet that returns control of personally identifying information (PII) back to individuals, allowing for revocable role based access control to that data.

2] A new Distributed Proof of Work (DPoW) backed blockchain that is immune to centralization because of a unified client/miner with only one miner allowed per person, linked anonymously to a HUID. Miners are randomly drafted into built-in pools, meaning everyone contributes yet nobody dominates. The system provides a workable UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME (UBI), i.e., it pays users to participate, since everyone is drafted to secure the network. It is incredibly energy efficient because it does not mine all the time and it is also storage efficient because it uses a Distributed Hash Table (DHT) of historical blockchain transactions, allowing it to fit and run on a cell phone.

-Cicada white paper

They are building a platform that will enable people to register their identity to a HUID and use its functions to keep your private information private and secure while still offering immutable identification when necessary. Kind of like giving out your public wallet address while keeping your private key to yourself. Because they are using the DPoW method to secure the network, all users/citizens can earn money for securing the network and the DHT method allows the blockchain to be distributed avoiding centralization.

HUID (a new Social Security Number?)

Iris Scan Image

One of the key's to this type of system working is being able to keep Personally Identifying Information private, while still offering a 100% accurate system of identification. CICADA is creating the Human Unique Identifier (HUID) system to offer a revocable type of biometric identification. Instead of trying to use a variety of authentication methods like verifying your most sensitive information like your SSN or using 2FA, the team has opted to use something even more secure: both of your irises!

By using both of your eyes to create public/private key pairs CICADA is able to create a perfectly unique ID for every user on the platform. It is not a perfect system, but trying to fake it will be next to impossible. Not only will the system use the double iris scan type authentication, it will also have an intelligent system for setting up and recovering passwords based on biometric verification and a blockchain driven challenge/response system. Smart algorithms will assist people to prevent weak new passwords and prevent the people from setting up a commonly used passwords.

As the technology improves further, micro scale DNA testing may be considered in the future to further increase security of the HUID.

Peer to Peer Network

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CICADA is looking to create a new Kademlia type peer to peer network. This network will enable using a users HUID to generate Node ID's in the network. This is implemented to eliminate Sybil attacks because if each network identity is backed up by a HUID (which is secured with your biometrics), then the Sybil attacks are a thing of the past.

Using this new network with the conjunction of the HUID allows CICADA to create an anonymous voting system that is still accurate, secure, and verifiable. All the while eliminating corruption and fraud.

Distributed Proof of Work

The combination of the previous two systems outlined on the white paper brings us to how the Distributed Proof of Work (DPoW) concept. The overall goal of the DPoW system is to eliminate waste, equalize the mining playing field, and create Universal Basic Income. In this system each user is allowed just one client, which will also serve as the miner for the network.

Proof of Work Image

The system will automatically draft miners (all users are miners in this system) into randomly assembled mining pools to help secure the network. Since everyone is drafted to participate regardless of their personal preference, the system is capable of creating a Universal Basic Income as a reward for participation in the system.

The best part is that since there will be hundreds of millions (if not billions) of people constantly securing the network, it will be possible for each user to have such a small mining share that it could be done on a phone. When you have 300 million users worth of mining power, they only need to contribute tiny amounts of processing and storage space to maintain the whole thing.

Because there will be so many activities constantly taking place on the network (voting, shopping, banking, education, and even social media like Steemit may migrate to the platform one day), the mining all us will be doing will actually generate a substantial profit. So much so that it can become a substantial Universal Basic Income.

Universal Basic Income Image

To make sure the blockchain does not get out of control in size, it may only contain the last few months or years worth of transactions, which will be broken into tiny pieces using the Distributed Hash Table (DHT) system, that will then be spread across all the miners of the system in various ways to increase security and redundancy. Theoretically these pieces will be so small that people will not notice any impact on the storage capacity of their devices.

Voting and Citizen Proposals

The CICADA team wants to gamify voting. That's just a fun way of saying they want to incentivize voting. Offering awards and prizes (including cryptos/money) and creating leaderboards. The more you vote and participate in your national government, the more you are rewarded. However, not all activities will get rewards. Some issues are too important to treat lightly.

Vote Image

As a part of the voting system, a new citizen proposal and filtration system is being created. The CICADA platform will have a place for citizens to make proposals ranging from local neighborhood ordinances to national laws and regulations. Based on the type of proposal, once it is submitted it will go to a random group of people (that may be effected by the proposal) for evaluation and voting. If the idea is popular and receives support, it will move on to the next, larger group of people for further evaluation and voting. If the idea is unpopular, or people perceive it negatively, it will simply die long before making it to the national stage.

Proposal Image

National Legislation and Expert Panels

Before you think that the system plans to just let any idiot vote on financial regulations or environment protection, let me describe the Expert Panels. CICADA is working on creating Expert Panels for major national laws and regulations. This will allow scientists, educators, engineers, finance professionals, and other types of specialists to draft major legislation for the people to vote on.

The details on how these pools of experts will be put together is not clear yet, but seems to hint at a voting mechanism behind the scenes. This concept is still under development and I am not sure how much different this part of the system is than just electing representatives for this job...

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To help reduce the strain on the courts to have to always set precedents and contradict each other in unforeseen ways, the CICADA platform will use XML based law. That is a programming language that will have conflict resolution algorithms built in. Issues like how to resolve conflicting laws or when a new law infringes on the liberties granter by another. This is another concept still under development and the white paper is brief on this subject.

Action Tokens and Currency

There is no official currency created for the platform yet. The reason for this is because the development team has opted for building up the platform before creating any kind of token or currency to use on it. This is different from most other projects because typically most of them try to raise money for development before doing much work or having anything to show.

Vote Image

The CICADA team believes that some actions on the platform should be free, but may still require some sort of token to use (like voting). This is why they are going to create an action token for basic, cost free, actions on the platform. These tokens will be generated dynamically based on use.

There is little information about any actual currency coin to be created for the platform. I am assuming they will either create a new coin and hold an ICO or build gateways for other currencies to be used in CICADA.

Survivable Mesh Network Fallback

Mesh Network Fallback Image

CICADA is already shaping up to look like a very powerful and secure platform from its paranoia level security, but wait until you hear their plans for the end of the Internet. That's right! They have a fall back plan just in case the Internet dies one day. Why or how this could happen is up to anyone to guess, but CICADA is building a back up Mesh Network that can function if/when the internet goes down. As long as people hold on to their primary devices running CICADA, the network will survive.

The white paper is not very clear about how this will be achieved, but I am assuming they will use the devices' internal transmitters (WiFi, GPS, Cellular, 3G/4G) to connect to other CICADA network devices to set up a fallback network. This is clever, but maybe a little over the top... But then again, they are trying to create a Decentralized Direct Democracy and there is no such thing as too much security when it comes to creating a new political and economic platform for an entire nation to use.

Let's Recap and Digest All This.

Wallet Image
  • Blockchain based Decentralized Direct Democracy
  • Representativeless Government
  • A Transparent and Easily Verifiable Voting System
  • Citizen Proposal System
  • XML Laws
  • Expert Panels
  • HUID's Are Impossible to Forge/Duplicate
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  • Biometric Security for HUID's
  • Guarantee's User Privacy
  • Anonymous Messaging System
  • Open Source Platform
  • Scalable Enough for Billions of People
  • One Client/Miner - One HUID per person
  • Ends the ASIC race
  • Universal Basic Income!
  • Cryptocurrency Support
Security  Image
  • Action Tokens
  • Capable of Self-Defense Against DDoS Attacks
  • HUID Can Eliminate Sybil Attacks Completely
  • Highly Redundant
  • Energy Efficient
  • Eliminates the 51% Problem
  • Can Run on a Cell Phone
  • DHT Optimization
  • Can Survive Even if the Entire Internet Crashes!

My thoughts and observations

This is an amazing project being put together by a small group of talented and very driven programmers. It is very much a Utopian Project with unbelievable ambition. The concepts are rough in some places (like XML Laws and Expert Panels), but nothing is set in stone and there is a lot of room to work with. I am skeptical of some of the concepts in the project, but I am not an economist or a politician so I will keep my doubts to myself. The idea is a dream and it is a beautiful one (if you are a progressive). But there is more to this idea than just hopes and dreams, there is a real possibility this could work some day.

With some real funding and additional development support this platform could be built within a few years. This is achievable and I hope they find the support they need to make this project a reality. However, even if this platform could be built, it still would need real world testing. This idea will likely need to be revised many times over to find the proper balance of freedom and security while maintaining a high standard of living.

I would love to see this Decentralized Direct Democracy tested out in a modern day city state like Singapore or a small country like Netherlands. This would be a massive social experiment and the ultimate test to the theory of Direct Democracy. I know many people crave this idea, but there are always unforeseen consequences with Utopian project's.

And let's not forget our national political parties and corporate interests. Convincing the most powerful groups of people to just give up their power and influence is the most daunting task of all time and maybe impossible! How do you ask a president of a western nation (freely elected by the people... sort of) to give up their power? Or convince the CEO's of major financial institutions that there needs to be a new financial system put in place. A system designed for the purpose of taking away their power and ability to control the world through money and buying influence in governments and giving it to the people.

Will it take a revolution? A war?

I have been to Walmart and I watch Youtube Fails when I need to feel better about myself... can we really trust the people to make the right decisions? What about the tyranny of the majority?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please don't be shy to post what you think of this project. Is this the best shot at a Utopian government type? A fools dream? Wishful thinking? The ultimate application of blockchain? The future of voting?

All Images on this page are from

Please visit their project website and take a look for yourself what they are trying to accomplish.

Read their white paper to get more details on project specifics.

If you like this article please upvote and resteem! I know I always say that, but I really would love to see the idea behind this project spread like wildfire!

"United We Stand, Divided We Fall"


this is awesome since I have been learning about the blockchain and becoming part of this cryptoworld I have been thinking somenthing like that why things so normal like the democracy doesnt get part of this world? the answer is easy in blockchain the corruption doesnt work !

Spread the word and maybe one day this will become a reality!

Great content!
Thanks for sharing!

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Agreed, I'm not sure all your parameters but see what I talk about on my channel too. Let's collaborate. I have some vision to share with you on how we can use Steemit and other third party blockchain opportunities to make this possible sooner than later. I'm working to find the right people to launch our own collaborative project with other social media, e-democracy on blockchain like Horizon State and Democracy Earth, and so much more, like Cicada. Let's talk!

I'm not just saying this because I'm running for Congress (NY19) on a blockchain Direct Democracy platform, but I think we will still need Representatives if we have a Direct Democracy. Someone needs to sponsor the bills that come up for a vote. Someone needs to make sure the bills don't violate the Constitution or conflict with other existing laws. But with Direct Democracy, Representatives will not be able to sell their vote and the kind of people who end up representing us will be less corrupt. If we had a Direct Democracy we could vote no to every bill Congress brings to the floor until they start bringing bills that make sense. You ask above about the possible problem of the tyranny of the majority. Having a government that includes a (very limited) role for Representatives helps avoid this problem. I also think that the majority view is more of a problem when people vote only on Representatives, not issues. They end up voting for or against a personality without taking the time to understand the issues. You won't have that with a Direct Democracy.