The government of the Republic of San Marino has embarked on a task to improve its carbon footprint by utilizing an innovative approach and adopting blockchain technology. It is trying to accomplish this through a government-owned company, San Marino Innovation, which focuses on facilitating “open innovation initiatives.” To develop a San Marino Blockchain reward system, the San Marino Innovation Company has now partnered with Vechain, a supply chain management blockchain platform and DNV GL, an international accredited registrar. According to a DNV press release, “the two partners, together with San Marino Innovation, will guide the Republic toward the adoption of the blockchain technology, in order to define models capable of incentivizing sustainable behavior from citizens.”
The project currently dubbed the “San Marino Low Carbon Ecosystem” will form part of the country’s strategy to promote digital transformation and encourage the development of an innovative technological ecosystem.
San Marino Blockchain Combats Climate Change
DNV GL and Vechain originally proposed the creation of the San Marino Blockchain initiative to combat climate change. It seeks to significantly reduce Co2 emissions through a behavior incentive system with plans to adopt circular economic business models. Under this system, San Marino residents will be able to earn money in cryptocurrency by carrying out environment-friendly practices like saving water, and proper management and disposal of waste. The cryptocurrency reward is known as the San Marino Innovation Token. The issuance of the token is directly from the San Marino Innovation. The token will allow its users to access certain services offered within the republic of San Marino.
Speaking on the project, the Republic of San Marino Secretary of State for Industry, Trade, Business, Cooperation and Telecommunications, Andrea Zafferani said that:
“We are particularly proud of this Memorandum of Understanding that certifies the Republic of San Marino as the ideal place to foster a culture of experimentation and bring blockchain to our everyday lives. We’ll give life to a project that will directly engage citizens and reward their sustainable behavior, while also meeting the country’s demands in regards to CO2 emissions reduction, water-saving, and waste disposal and management. Our ambitious goal is to become the first zero-emissions country in the world.”
The Dark Side of Reputation Systems
The San Marino blockchain initiative is a reputation system that seeks to help modify human behavior by providing a reward for completing tasks that the system deems to be good; which in this case are environmental sustainable actions. When it comes to promoting climate-friendly behaviors, this system will be the first of its kind. However, for this system to function, it will have to collect a tremendous amount of data from its participants. This has raised a lot of red flags, especially now that many companies collect and use personal data of individuals for unethical purposes.
Aside from this, the fact that the system modifies human behavior also raises some concerns. This is because there is a similar but much more complex and controversial social engineering system in development in China. The Chinese grid-style policing system is slated to start running in 2020. It will allow the government to track and monitor the behavior of its citizens. Monitoring occurs through the use of mass surveillance and advanced database systems. With this system in place, the Chinese government will be able to penalize citizens that it deems “untrustworthy”. Furthermore, it suppresses dissent and punishes bad behaviors without the use of coercion. As such a system expands, it may eventually erode fundamental human rights like freedom of speech. Anyone with thoughts or opinions contrary to the established norm will face punishment. In turn, they could lose access to essential public services.