A group of anarchist coders is preparing to launch a next-generation crypto software that they say will “present a graver threat to governments than other internet advances of the past 20 years,” reports Politico.
The group, which calls itself ‘DarkFi,’ claims that its new blockchain project “is not a corporate startup,” rather it’s “a democratic economic experiment, an operating system for society.”
Specifically, the group, which describes itself as “a community and a movement,” says that its new project will allow users to write zero-knowledge smart contracts that “unlock an entirely unexplored design space of anonymous applications.”
“Previously if you wanted to create an anonymous application you had to think how to combine several existing cryptographic schemes,” reads the team’s website.
“Users can interact with DAOs and markets where they use credentials. You attach a proof which says that a statement is correct. Nothing else about your identity is leaked. Services are operated in this manner.”
In layman’s terms, such software would potentially allow users to send money, create groups, and form financial contracts, all with more privacy than existing networks — including Bitcoin.
DarkFi also takes a definitely anti-government stance, peppering its promo blurb with phrases like, “The regulators are coming for us,” and “The corporate state seeks to monopolize economic life.”
Despite the sales pitch, the project may not be all that different
According to experts quoted by Politico, the proposed new system is “technically sophisticated.”
“They seem like they’re actually putting a lot of engineering effort into it. It’s not a small project, they are aiming to do something very, very powerful,” said Matthew Green, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University (via Politico).
However, some say that the DarkFi project may not, technically speaking, differ all that much from more conventional, venture-backed commercial concerns. Indeed, one expert who holds this view, Mina Foundation CEO Evan Shapiro, believes that it may actually be lagging behind.
Unsurprisingly, news of the project has also sparked yet more debate about the levels of regulation and role of lawmakers in crypto.
Speaking to Politico, former DEA agent Bill Callahan claimed that “the potential for advanced encryption to cloak crime is troubling.” He argues that in the name of public safety, any new encryption tools need to find the sweet spot between personal freedom and government intervention.
However, it may be a while before we need to worry about such things in this particular case, with Green doubting the ability of DarkFi to build a system that will offer something we haven’t seen before and that can effectively evade existing or new government safety measures.
“Building private blockchains that can do things like Ethereum is really hard,” said Green. He added that while new technology is moving network design and encryption forward, governments have a track record of being able to disrupt those used for illicit activity.