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Meet the Dad Who Registered His Daughter's Birth on the Blockchain

(@yessi_kbello) | Published on November 14, 2015 at 11:30 GMT
Feature

San Francisco-based entrepreneur Santiago Siri celebrated the arrival of his baby daughter Roma in a rather different way this week – by registering her birth on the bitcoin blockchain.

Doing so seemed like a natural step for Siri, whose interest in decentralisation and blockchain technology is evidenced by his role at democracy.earth where he is working with Pia Mancini, Roma's mother, on upcoming blockchain projects.

Spurred on by a meeting with Ryan Shea, co-founder of identity protocol startup OneName, Siri decided to record Roma's birth on the blockchain – excited by the idea of doing so on a decentralised database that fell outside of any government's control.

Siri told CoinDesk:

"The first database entry done to every single human being born until now has always been on a governmental database. Having Roma be the first exception to that, having her identity registered first in the blockchain [rather] than anywhere else, is a powerful statement that declares her a citizen of Earth rather than an arbitrary piece of territory controlled by central power."

"This was her first birth certificate and as such it's a simple piece of data that can always be proven anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. Politically speaking, that's incredibly powerful if you think about it. While states rely on closed bureaucracies to support their institutional belief system, the world has the Internet and the blockchain," he added.

Registering the birth

Siri's family, perhaps unsurprised by the entrepreneur's ongoing fascination with technology, welcomed the idea to register Roma's arrival on the blockchain.

"Those close to me already know how passionate I am about blockchain and civic technologies in general. My family probably thinks that I am a bit crazy, but when I consulted Pia to do this she gave me her full support," said Siri, adding:

"She's also a firm believer in the revolutionary implications this new wave of the Internet can have for generations to come."

To register the birth, Siri first filmed a video, stating the baby's full name, date and location of birth and hashed it on the blockchain using blockchain verification service Proof of Existence. In so doing, the entrepreneur ensured that the file was notarised and validated by bitcoin's mining network, a global network of computers contributing to the ledger.

To validate the process further, Siri also added his testimony and included that of Roma's mother and her two grandmothers.

Additional proof was provided in the form of the hospital birth certificate, although in the video Siri purposely noted that the birth had taken place in San Francisco and refrained from mentioning a nation state or a specific geographical location or jurisdiction.

He also showed a screenshot which displayed the last mined block on the blockchain.

"No one can challenge that [the] file was shot before Sunday, 8th November or modify its content without altering the proof, making this file a valid certificate of the events it describes," he added.

Love at first sight

Siri also used his interview to speak about his interest in the technology, which began in 2011, and how it could grow to impact the world his daughter grows up in.

"It was love at first sight, specially for someone living in a country like Argentina with high inflation and inability to acquire foreign currency," he told CoinDesk.

These technologies, he said, have an intrinsic emancipating force which help users become independent agents:

"[Bitcoin and blockchain] do not require permission and it immediately connects anyone to a financial system that's not controlled by governments or banks. And in my view, what the web has done for media and culture, the blockchain will do for institutions and human organisations."

Siri speaks from experience, noting how he's seen the extent to which this nascent technology has proved for activists in his native South America.

Similarly to his contemporaries, the entrepreneur explained that he believes blockchain's and bitcoin's biggest potential lies in developing countries where there is an urgent need for alternative systems to transform the status quo.

Siri said he is close to the blockchain and decentralised community in the San Francisco area, but cautioned that there is still a long way to go before this technology fulfills its potential.

"Developing these kind of applications is not trivial, it still feels like [only] a few [are] working on this extremely innovative piece of technology and certainly we are at the early days of the revolution," he concluded.

Identity on the blockchain

The blockchain's potential for identity registration has been highlighted in the past, with various companies in the space working specifically on this use case.

ShoCard – which recently raised $1.5m in funding– is seeking to leverage blockchain technology for identity management.

Open-source identity protocol provider OneName, which received seed funding from investors including Barry Silbert and San Francisco-based investment firm SV Angel, is also working to disrupt the way in which identity is managed online.

Further afield, the possibility of using a decentralised ledger to register identity has also caught the attention of celebrities such as Lucy Liu, who was revealed as a surprising advocate during the private Block Chain Summit held at Richard Branson's private island earlier this year.

Image via Santiago Siri

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