Proof Of Humanity

DAO Members Interviewed:

  1. Clement, CTO of Kleros ( the team that developed the POH Protocol)
  2. Federico, Founder and CEO of Kleros
  3. Juanu, Developer, Klero

Interviewer(s): Pauline de Mortain

What is Proof of Humanity

Proof of Humanity (POH) is a proof of human identity protocol, a registry of unique (non-repeatable humans) built on the Ethereum blockchain. The protocol launched in March 2021 and has verified nearly 20,000 users as human to date!

The concept of having a blockchain-based identity for every human has the potential to help solve a multitude of problems, ranging from fair democracy (one person, one vote) to providing the 1.5 billion who currently lack a universally recognized form of identification, and hence cannot access services such as UBI. Other uses include emerging issues, such as the issue of bots on social media platforms and sybil attacks in the cryptosphere.

The first application of the protocol was to provide a means of verifying individuals to receive Universal Basic Income (UBI), and remains the primary focus. The protocol is progressing to other use cases in the web3 ecosystem, for example, countering Sybil attacks.

Gitcoin (the web3 crowdfunding protocol) and Lens Protocol (the web3 decentralized social media protocol) have integrated with Proof Of Humanity to authenticate “Proof of Personhood”. To be verified on Lens, for example, you must be registered with Proof Of Humanity. Proof of Personhood is an important primitive for the blockchain world, above and beyond its application for UBI. It could also be used in verifying decentralized social media profiles, validating token airdrop recipients, etc.

The POH protocol was developed by the engineers of the Kleros Cooperative. Kleros itself is a blockchain protocol, typically described as a “Decentralized Court”. The original concept of a list of “non-repeated” humans came from Ethereum’s founder Vitalik Buterin, who believed that Kleros could be used for curating a list of humans, not just a list of tokens. An important primitive within the crypto ecosystem, it was set up as a community-managed DAO from the outset.

There were originally two distinct schools of thought concerning how Proof Of Humanity should be used. Developers in the crypto space were focused on using it to build a secure population of users to counter problems such as Sybil resistance in blockchain networks. The other group looked further afield, conceiving it as having to potential to facilitate social benefits such as UBI to the underserved 1.5 billion without means of identification. This bifurcation has created tensions within the Proof Of Humanity collective, which if unresolved may eventually lead to a fork in the protocol.

While the open-source Proof of Humanity protocol was built by developers from Kleros, the UBI application of the protocol, together with the UBI token, is developed by Democracy Earth.

UBI depends on Proof Of Humanity but Proof Of Humanity doesn’t depend on UBI. Proof Of Humanity doesn’t emit or mint any tokens at all. Clement, CTO Kleros

How Do They DAO

  • POH’s “one person, one vote” philosophy meant the DAO was decentralized from the beginning. Anyone on the registry automatically became part of the DAO and had a vote on governance matters. This makes it the “most democratic DAO” (according to its members!) as decision-making is wholly vested in the hands of the community

In Proof Of Humanity, you join by registering on our protocol, and then that’s it - your registration is the participation you need to vote, so you don’t need any tokens at all. - Clement, CTO Kleros

  • Changes to the protocol can be proposed by anyone and are discussable by everyone. All registered users take a vote, and if there is a change or an update to the protocol, these are called ‘Humanity Improvement Proposals’.
  • The DAO uses a form of delegated voting style whereby registered users can transfer their vote to a representative to vote on their behalf.
  • Voting within the DAO has always been a contentious issue. The ‘one person, one vote’ model has led many to complain that most voters do not have enough knowledge or interest to vote optimally. Many registered voters came to POH initially for UBI, and hence may lack the full context on the issues being voted upon. The DAO is therefore evolving its voting mechanism and coming up with alternatives that help with the ultimate dual mission of having a registry of proof of personhood and UBI.

For a deeper understanding of Proof of Humanity and the DAO, please refer to the following conversations with POH builders.

Interview with Juanu, Developer, Kleros Interview with Federico, Founder Kleros Interview with Clement, CTO Kleros
POH presentation at DEVCON Bogota Oct 2022 by Santi, Democracy Earth