Fast and Curious 4: ZKPs 4 Collective Good (from Collective Action)

In the fourth installment of our summer learning series, we talk about how ZKPs can be used for the greater good. 

Below is a transcript of the video:

Welcome back to Fast and Curious.

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about use cases or what positive social impact we can get from things like zero-knowledge proofs. A saying we have at VIA is that “collective good comes from collective action.”  And what we mean by that is, when people work together, they can do incredible things.

National security is an example of that. We collectively gather together to defend our borders. Health is another example. People get vaccinated and we eradicated polio and smallpox by everybody saying, “Hey, the collective good has forced us to do something together. Let’s take the collective action of vaccination.”

Climate change is another one. We can mitigate climate change, if we all do our part.

For us to actually have the collective action yield collective good, we need to be able to trace, “I did this and the outcome actually happened.”

How can I know who did what?

How do I know they did or did not join the army? They did or did not get vaccinated? They did or did not turn down their thermostat or charge their electric vehicle at a certain time? I need to compare the individual and their actions and I need to link them in some way. Zero-knowledge proofs are a mechanism to be able to say, “we mathematically guarantee this action was taken. But, we’re going to keep the identity of the individual private.”

And so, some examples of collective good around this, related to our mission at VIA of cleaner, safer, more equitable communities are that we want to have cleaner air. Our intent is that the action of electrification will yield reduced asthma for children in neighborhoods around the urban cities around the world. How do we link the incidents of hospital visits by children and their asthma related incidents to the action of reducing electricity? Well, I want that linkage, but I want to keep the identities of those children and their health conditions private. ZKPs can deliver that mathematical guarantee of the action or the outcome while keeping the individual identity anonymous.

Another example is around safety. You are going to have a family, maybe for weather conditions or maybe for refugee status, take shelter. How do I know that the individuals showed up and were sheltered at that time and place they were supposed to be while keeping the identities of those individuals safe, secure, private, and anonymous?

And then, there are many examples where equity plays a role. There’s probably a whole video that we could spend just on that. One example here is preventing child labor. I want to verify the age of the workers and make sure that for each and every one, they are above whatever the age statute of limitations is in that jurisdiction.

Those are the examples of cleaner, safer, more equitable community use cases that we think have great social impact, great for the world, and are a good use for zero-knowledge proofs. We’re excited to have the opportunity to support those.

Disclaimer: In the spirit of staying current with the fast moving tech world, these videos are done in one take! The result is they are fresh but may be a little rough around the edges. Enjoy!