Our second clr spotlight is on a super unique project that continues to be pivotal to the clr.fund mission: BrightID. We were stoked to have the opportunity to dive in with BrightID founder Adam Stallard who happens to be a very multifaceted human in the web3 space.
Why did you leave the web2 world?
Basically I had "made it" in the web2 software industry in many senses, making good money and stuff like that. But the problem was, I felt like this disconnect between what I was building and who it was going to reach and how it's not doing anything to help solve poverty. So I took a leap of faith and the side project that was interesting to me. I decided to go all out on it and quit my job.
What was the genesis point for BrightID?
So I started talking to people on Reddit on the UBI (universal basic income) threads and realized that proof of uniqueness was this missing piece that was really important. That was the start of BrightID. Then what was consuming me was the idea of how wouldn't it be cool if you could give to public goods / charities and then track how the money was used from start to end. That's what led me to Giveth and Griff Green 😇 and a bunch of other really cool people. That's when I also found out about Aragon and that's when we got the nesting grant to kick it all off and we launched the first version of BrightID at AraCon in Berlin.
How did you meet your co-founder Philip?
I created a group called the open UBI and was trying to pull in a bunch of different projects just to talk together about UBI and, and, and how it could be done in the crypto sphere. I read one of Philip's articles, had a phone call 4th July 2018 and he was similarly passionate about UBI. So we decided to do this together and became pretty much inseparable after that!
How bright is the future of UBI?
We don't just want to try to choose the winner of the UBI movement. Actually my thoughts on this have evolved significantly. And I think that there will be a global UBI from thousands of different sources. I don't think it's just going to be one like UBI provider. I think that there's going to be all kinds of companies/organizations all chipping in little bits to send UBI to everybody. So we just need a platform that allows the the distribution of that. And then empower people to work out their own economics of how the UBI is going to work.
Why does identity matter so much?
There's all kinds of rights and benefits that are waiting to be distributed to all of humanity. And we need to make sure that these rights and benefits are not going to be taken over by bots. So BrightID is like the decentralized bot filter. Things like Captcha exist but they're not going to cut it. This problem has existed since the beginning of the internet. People tried to take technologies that were used for identifying individuals and worked just fine like in the physical world, but they tried to bring them over into the internet and they just failed.
Social Security Numbers case in point. We still use them online. It's a terrible, horrible misuse of an identifier. We should not be sharing our social security numbers online, but we do it all the time because we just don't have anything like BrightID or at least it's not big enough to be able to replace it.
What triggered BrightID to become a clr round recipient?
Auryn approached us and said it could be a great use of BrightID and at the same time I told him about MACI, as I'd been talking to Vitalik about MACI and looking more into it. So at EthDenver 2019 we met the creators of MACI, and realized they were all really great compliments to each other.
What made BrightID want to work with clr.fund?
It’s really important that you can be an anonymous donor. There's a high level of privacy there. You can potentially, because of this level of decentralization and level of anonymity, have sources of funding that you couldn't have from something like Gitcoin.
I think it’s cool how you can have funding that for example, comes from block rewards. So you can tie it directly into the Ethereum blockchain.
And it enables donors, who would for whatever reason don't want to go through KYC, to still donate. It just opens a lot of doors. And so we really liked that.
ELI5: why does clr.fund need BrightID or vice versa?
We want to make sure that when you're donating to any project that you can't just split up your votes into tiny little votes to maximize the matching pool and game the system. So clr.fund needs to solve that, and solve it in an anonymous way.
We need clr.fund in the public goods + fundraising arena because we need to cut out as many of these middling organizations that are getting in the way. We need to be at a place where we say, here's a source of funding...here's a project that needs funds. Let's just link it up. Clr.fund is the most direct path to do that.
What other applications of clr.fund are you excited about?
I think it could also fund other initiatives. For instance, choosing winners of a hackathon. Or indicating preferences and funding of speakers for an event. For instance, we could have people weigh in on who the speakers should be and also add some money and then have that potentially matched. Or in relation to COVID relief in India and enabling someone to fund that anonymously for whatever reason if they could. And a new project I'm working on now, Hivemind, is trying to be like this broad decision economy where you can fund all types of decisions, not just projects. We've only begun to tap the sources of funding that we can have.
Well, if you could change one, more high-level thing about the space right now, what would it be?
I want broader participation. I want to see this go beyond the more privileged demographic of people who have the toys. I think everyone should have toys! I like building technologies for people to play with and I got tired of building technology and finding out this is just gonna make the rich richer. So if I could wave a magic wand, I would say, you know, let's have Ethereum block rewards go towards funding a UBI so that everyone can come onto Ethereum and use it to manage their finances, use it to transact with each other instead of you know, the situation that we have now. So I hope that we get there and I see UBI as a fundamental component to financial inclusion.
Thanks for joining us in conversation, Adam!