What is Democracy in the Internet Age?

An interview with Santiago Siri, founder of Democracy Earth, about blockchain-based voting technology, and becoming a “gatekeeper” of the voting process.

Santiago Siri - Built on Blockchain - Udacity - 2As we continue to explore blockchain’s potential impact on the world, we are paying particular attention during this election season to those individuals and organizations who are using this technology to address issues such as security, transparency, sovereignty, and identity.

One such organization is the Democracy Earth Foundation, founded by Santiago Siri.

When the MIT Technology Review included Santiago on their 2017 “Innovators Under 35” list, they described him as “using blockchain to devolve political decision-making power to citizens.” Wired Magazine, in a recent profile, offered an even more dramatic summary:

A new movement says that crypto-voting can purify democracy—and eventually eliminate the need for governments altogether.

We recently spoke with Santiago for our Built on Blockchain documentary series, and the more we learned about, and from, Santiago, the more clear it became why he has so quickly emerged as such a compelling voice in the blockchain space.

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Bringing Votes Home Safely, with Blockchain

West Virginia’s embrace of blockchain-powered mobile voting technology is the latest in a long line of pioneering achievements for the state.

Donald Kersey - Built on Blockchain

It’s no coincidence that as we approach election day, we find ourselves talking about election technology, and it’s no surprise that we’re talking about blockchain. For its advocates, blockchain is virtually synonymous with trust and security, and that’s what successful elections are all about.

In our most recent Built on Blockchain interview, we talked with Nimit Sawhney, the Co-Founder and CEO of Voatz. Voatz is pioneering the use of blockchain technology to help overseas military personnel vote securely in West Virginia, and in our interview below, we check in with the West Virginia side of this remarkable partnership, as we talk with Donald Kersey, the Director of Elections in West Virginia.

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Securing Democracy With Blockchain

Nimit Sawhney’s company Voatz is pioneering the use of blockchain technology to help overseas military personnel vote securely in West Virginia.


Udacity - Built on Blockchain - NimitFor some, career choice seems like a foregone conclusion, as if they were born to it. For others, a career is something one ends up in as the result of choices made along an uncertain path. For still others, a career is a way to make a living doing something you believe in. For Nimit Sawhney, it’s all three, and then some. His career journey began in 1984, the moment the Prime Minister of India was assassinated. He was just a child, and couldn’t have known then the influence this terrible event would have on his life, but today, he credits that experience for motivating him to pursue the work he is now engaged in.

“Some of the things I saw then as a little kid were shocking—just the image of someone forcing you to vote at gunpoint. It was scary at the time and the image really stuck in my head, though I didn’t understand the magnitude of it until I grew older.”

Nimit is the co-founder of a company called Voatz, which is pioneering the use of blockchain technology to secure modern voting platforms.

In creating our new documentary series Built on Blockchain, our goal was to seek out and engage with the most innovative thinkers, the most passionate practitioners, and the most ardent evangelists of this powerful emerging technology. We spoke with Nimit to learn more about his history, his company, and his embrace of blockchain technology.

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Trust, Trustlessness, and the Superpower of Blockchain: An Interview with Galia Benartzi

In our conversation, we discuss the impact of software on monetary tools, the nature of trust as it pertains to cryptocurrency, the Bancor protocol, blockchain and immutability, and the decentralization of value creation.

Galia - Built on Blockchain - Udacity - 2


The world of blockchain attracts an amazing array of thinkers, creators, and innovators, and in the process of creating our Built on Blockchain documentary series, we’ve been extremely fortunate to connect with some truly remarkable individuals—from utopiasts and decentralization evangelists, to developers and cryptocurrency influencers, to hackers, activists, academics, and more.

One such individual is Galia Benartzi, a co-founder of the Bancor protocol. As described on her organization’s website, “The Bancor Protocol is a new standard for cryptocurrencies called Smart Tokens, which are autonomously and continuously convertible to other tokens in the network at algorithmically calculated rates.”

Galia was recently profiled in a Forbes article entitled Five Female Rock Stars Leading the Crypto Scene in 2018, in which the author notes that, “Bancor held one of the most successful ICOs (at the time it was a world record), raising more than $153 million from 10,000 participants in less than three hours. Bancor allows anyone to create their own cryptocurrency and operate it independently of a third party exchange.”

Needless to say, we were thrilled at the opportunity to speak with Galia, and we covered a lot of ground over the course of our conversation, including topics such as the impact of software on monetary tools, the nature of trust (and trustlessness!) as it pertains to cryptocurrency, the decentralization of value creation, and more.

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Money IS Trust: An interview with Bill Maurer about the history and future of currency

In an extensive interview, we speak with Bill Maurer about money, trust, and the emergence of crypto and blockchain technologies.

Bill Maurer - Built on Blockchain - Udacity

In the process of developing and advancing the curriculum for Udacity’s Blockchain Developer Nanodegree program, and creating the new Built on Blockchain documentary series, we’ve been fortunate to collaborate with some of the most innovative thinkers in the field, and with new students now entering the classroom, the energy in and around this program is truly awe-inspiring.

One of the many visionary experts we’ve been able to speak with is Bill Maurer. He is the Dean of the School of Social Sciences, and a Professor of Anthropology, Law, and Criminology, at the University of California, Irvine. He is also the Director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, and his most recent books include “Paid: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff” and “How Would You Like to Pay?: How Technology Is Changing the Future of Money.”

We spoke with Bill recently about the history of currency, the ways currency represents responsibilities and obligations, the emergence of record-keeping, and the critical role of trust. We also explore the ways in which cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are a logical next step in currency’s evolution, and what the future holds in terms of how these innovations and technologies will be applied.

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