Peer-Reviewed Academic Journal Article and Dissemination - Digital Inheritance in Web3: A Case Study of Soulbound Tokens and Social Recovery Pallets within the Polkadot and Kusama Ecosystems
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See the Grants Program Process on how to submit a proposal.
- Team Name: SydTek
- Payment Address: 0xDB47B39e2fe61bA6a0f82aBf07daa38D358134c5 (USDC - Ethereum Mainnet)
- Level: 2
⚠️ The combination of your GitHub account submitting the application and the payment address above will be your unique identifier during the program. Please keep them safe.
Project Overview 📄
If this application is in response to an RFP, please indicate this on the first line of this section.
If this is an application for a follow-up grant (the continuation of an earlier, successful W3F grant), please provide name and/or pull request of said grant on the first line of this section.
- A brief description of your project.
This proposal is to create a peer-reviewed academic case study for applying soulbound tokens within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems by leveraging the Social Recovery pallet and soulbound token use cases developed by the Phala Network and RMRK for digital inheritance. This will be a qualitative case study where we will conduct a literature review of soulbound tokens, interview team members and developers of Phala - Marvin Tong, Joshua Waller, and Wenfeng Wang - as well as team members from RMRK. In addition to the research on soulbound tokens, we will also interview Parity Technologies members who are familiar with the development of the Social Recovery pallet to investigate how it can be applied to digital inheritance.
- An indication of how your project relates to / integrates into Substrate / Polkadot / Kusama.
This project relates to Substrate / Polkadot / Kusama in that all users within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems could implement this digital inheritance model to secure their assets. Futhermore, by leveraging the Social Recovery pallet, users can leverage the Social Recovery Wallet from RFP #1024 to act as a digital executor of user's digital assets. Through this academic research, not only will developers and academic researchers be exposed to the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems, but we will also benefit from the further development and use cases for soulbound tokens, NFTs, and the Social Recovery pallet within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems.
- An indication of why your team is interested in creating this project.
SydTek is looking to reinvent higher education through the democratization of education and research. After team members have published peer-reviewed academic case studies on Acala (https://bit.ly/3D55XGh) and Bit.Country (https://bit.ly/3wZaHt4) within the Polkadot ecosystem, we look to expand on a theoretical study of soulbound tokens (https://bit.ly/3RnCmMy) that will be published in the Journal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability on October of 2022 with a practical case study within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems.
The following excerpt is from SydTek's study on Bit.Country entitled "The Metaverse as the Digital Leviathan: A Case Study of Bit. Country". This provides a primer to the proposed study.
Older Americans have stockpiled nearly $35 trillion USD over the last few decades and, as a result, contribute up to 27% of all wealth in the United States. Researchers have argued that the time may have come to give this wealth away to the next generation, thereby marking the beginning of “The Great Wealth Transfer.” Kraken, a United States-based cryptocurrency exchange and bank, estimates that Millennials (ages 24 to 39) and Generation Xers (ages 40 to 55) could drive over $1 trillion USD of wealth into cryptocurrencies over the next 25 years as both generations embrace the inherent value of the emerging blockchain technology. While many cryptocurrency enthusiasts have recognized this monetary revolution throughout the past decade, far less have discussed the crucial economic factor that sustains wealth over generations: inheritance, or, in this case, digital inheritance.
Digital inheritance emerged from the convergence of three previously separate worlds: wealth management, estate planning, and digital assets. Here, a digital asset is stored digitally, is uniquely identifiable, and has some value, such as cryptocurrencies and NFTs. So naturally, one of the central questions surrounding an individual’s digital assets will relate to digital inheritance: How will individuals pass their cryptocurrencies and NFTs onto their beneficiaries once they pass away? This brings us to a foreseeable rise in digital asset executors, who will be responsible for administering an individual’s last will and testament once they pass away and ensure that their digital assets are appropriately distributed to the relevant beneficiaries through, for example, smart contracts on the blockchain.
Despite the rise of digital asset executors, it would appear that, from a legal point of view, various challenges remain in the way of digital inheritance as being a reliable form of transmitting wealth across generations. For example, in the absence of a private key to an ancestor’s digital wallet, it is neither feasible nor productive to attempt to prove the existence of digital rights through tracing of electronic correspondences, analyses of banking operations, or entries in the registry of rights that reflect transactions with objects certified by tokens. This is where the exploration of the application of soulbound tokens (SBTs) and the Social Recovery Pallet within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems may be a proposed solution.
In a 2020 study by the Cremation Institute, 89% of crypto investors worry about dying with their assets, while only 23% of those have a documented plan. Of that percentage, only 7% have created a will that includes cryptocurrencies. In another survey, roughly 60% of Americans and over 65% of Canadians do not have a will. It was also noted that these numbers could be higher in other parts of the world. This can be attributed to the terror management theory (TMT) and people's fear of dying. We conducted a theoretical case study on soulbound tokens and TMT that can be found here https://bit.ly/3RnCmMy that investigates the possibility of how the introduction of SBTs could alleviate the anxiety and fear of death. Although this use case may be unconventional, it is one that all Web3 users may have to face in their lives.
This proposal is for the creation of a peer-reviewed academic case study for the application of soulbound tokens within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems by leveraging the Social Recovery pallet and soulbound token use cases developed by the Phala Network and RMRK for digital inheritance. This will be a qualitative case study where we will conduct a literature review of soulbound tokens, as well as interview team members and developers of Phala - Marvin Tong, Joshua Waller, and Wenfeng Wang - as well as team members from RMRK. In addition to the research on soulbound tokens, we will also interview Parity Technologies members who are familiar with the development of the Social Recovery pallet to investigate how it can be applied to digital inheritance.
Help us locate your project in the Polkadot/Substrate/Kusama landscape and what problems it tries to solve by answering each of these questions:
- Where and how does your project fit into the ecosystem?
As of September of 2022, there are 1.05 million holders of DOT tokens and over 267,000 holders of KSM tokens. In addition to these numbers, many others hold tokens from projects throughout the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems. With these numbers, users throughout the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems could benefit from this study as not only will this study bring awareness to the importance of digital inheritance and the Social Recovery Pallet, but this study could also create cross-chain solutions that would bring users from other ecosystems to leverage this offering.
- Who is your target audience (parachain/dapp/wallet/UI developers, designers, your own user base, some dapp's userbase, yourself)?
The target audience for this study would be developers to create a solution for digital inheritance through the use of the Social Recovery Pallet, as well as dapp users. We are in initial discussions with Intentionally Designed Solutions - https://ids.company/ - an organization we have worked with in the post to create a proof of concept in a future proposal if this proposal is accepted. Additionally, as highlighted in the Future Plans section below, a follow-up study is planned with Law Professors to investigate the legal components of digital inheritance within the Web3 space.
- What need(s) does your project meet?
As the number will grow exponentially in the coming years, this project meets the current need of 320 million identity-verified crypto and Web3 users globally. With the issue of verifiable proof of assets such as land in emerging economies such as Africa, there is also a social impact component to this study where NFTs could provide verifiable ownership of physical assets.
- Are there any other projects similar to yours in the Substrate / Polkadot / Kusama ecosystem?
Although there are research-based projects that have received grants from the Web3 Foundation, after a quick search, the team was unable to find a study focused on digital inheritance and the Social Recovery Pallet within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems.
- If so, how is your project different?
- If not, are there similar projects in related ecosystems?
Two projects outside the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems offer digital inheritance solutions - Vault12 and Safe Haven. For Vault12, although users can store crypto and NFTs, at the current state, the Vault12 solution is only for Ethereum-based assets. For SafeHaven's Inheriti product, the website notes only 350+ users, which leads to the question of can this solution support ecosystems the size of Polkadot and Kusama?
- Justin Goldston, PhD
- Justyna Osowska
- Jordi Chaffer
- Suyeon Han
- Assune Cotlage
- Joshua Waller
- Charles von Goins II
- Contact Name: Justin Goldston, PhD
- Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://sydtek.ai/
- Registered Legal Entity: SydTek is a registered LLC in the state of Maryland in the United States
Dr. Justin Goldston - Justin Goldston is a Professor at Penn State University, as well as a Visiting Professor and Graduate Advisory Board Member at Georgetown University and the University of Southern California. His research is focused on blockchain, social impact, and the metaverse, and is a five-time TEDx speaker on blockchain. Please see some of his journal articles below.
Justyna Osowska - Justyna is the CEO of Women in Blockchain Canada, and has lectured on blockchain at a number of universities in Canada and Cyprus. With a passion to bring more women into the blockchain and Web3 spaces, Justyna brings the angle of inclusivity to the team’s research.
Tomer Jordi Chaffer - Jordi is a graduate researcher at McGill University in Canada and is also the co-author of The Metaverse as the Digital Leviathan: A Case Study of Bit.Country (please see the link below). As an international speaker on blockchain, Jordi’s research is focused on blockchain within the healthcare sector.
Assune Cotlage - Assune is a Substrate Certified Developer and the co-founder of SydTek DAO and is also the Chief Information Security Officer for a fintech company in the United States. With his experience, Assune has developed protocols on Ethereum, Avalanche, and Fantom, and continues to collaborate and educate developers within the Polkadot ecosystem.
Joshua Waller - Joshua is a Substrate Certified Developer for the Phala Network where he develops core protocols/applications on Phala's blockchain system and helps build relationships with community developers and project teams in the ecosystem. Joshua has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Austin. As a blockchain enthusiast, Joshua has helped contribute to initiatives to educate the next wave of blockchain devs with SydTek. Before becoming a Blockchain Developer, he worked as a software engineer in converged/hyperconverged IT infrastructure for enterprise businesses.
This is the first peer-reviewed academic case study on the metaverse written by Justin Goldston, Jordi Chaffer, and George Martinez. https://bit.ly/3wZaHt4
This is the first peer-reviewed academic case study on hybrid finance (HyFi) written by Justin Goldston and Anoop V.S. https://bit.ly/3D55XGh
This will be one of the first academic peer-reviewed journal articles on soulbound tokens once it is published in October of 2022 https://bit.ly/3RnCmMy
This is the TEDx page of Justin Goldston that highlights his talks on blockchain and Web3. https://www.ted.com/search?q=justin%20goldston
This is the Google Scholar profile for Justin Goldston https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=trlWfAQAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao
This is the Google Scholar profile of Jordi Chaffer. https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ztttWoYAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao
This is the link to Goldston's forthcoming book published by Taylor and Francis entitled "Blockchain for Industry 4.0: Emergence, Challenges and Opportunities" https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/edit/10.1201/9781003282914/blockchain-industry-4-0-anoop-asharaf-justin-goldston-samson-williams
Team Code Repos
Please also provide the GitHub accounts of all team members. If they contain no activity, references to projects hosted elsewhere or live are also fine.
Team LinkedIn Profiles
Development Status 📖
academic publications relevant to the problem we wrote that will be published in October of 2020: https://bit.ly/3RnCmMy
References to conversations you might have had related to this project with anyone from the Web3 Foundation, A message from David Hawig on 6/7/22.
Sorry for the late reply. Regarding souldbound tokens and social recovery, that’s actually something we already have in our ecosystem with rmrk (see
https://twitter.com/bitfalls/status/152929818658155725) and the social recovery pallet on kusama (https://github.com/paritytech/substrate/tree/master/frame/recovery). But it would be interesting for someone to actually look into it and explore it in more detail and potential future applications. Also most people are probably not aware that this already exists on kusama.
Development Roadmap 🔩
- Total Estimated Duration: 4 months
- Full-Time Equivalent (FTE): 5FTE, the listed members would contribute to different deliverables based on their skill-set.
- Total Costs: 29,600 USDC
Milestone 1 — State of the Industry on soulbound tokens and digital inheritance
- Estimated duration: 1 month
- FTE: 5
- Costs: 15,600 USDC - link to budget details outlined in the Additional Information Section
|0.||Rights||All developed materials and raw data will be publicly accessible and public domain via a GitHub repository. Milestone 1 is research oriented and as such there is no code to test.|
|1.||Overview of SBTs||We will provide an overview of the current state of the soulbound tokens throughout a number of blockchain ecosystems, along with service providers of Web3 digital inheritance offerings such as Safe Haven’s Inheriti solution.|
|1a.||Specific Coverage||Coverage will span historical information regarding soulbound tokens, information regarding the theoretical application of the Social Recovery Pallet for digital inheretance, academic sources, and recent developments.|
Milestone 2 — Interviews and Data Collection with Phala Network, RMRK, and Parity Technologies
- Estimated Duration: 1 month
- FTE: 5
- Costs: 14,000 USDC - link to budget details outlined in the Additional Information Section
|0.||Rights||All developed materials and raw data will be publicly accessible and public domain via a GitHub repository. Milestone 2 is research oriented and as such there is no code to test.|
|1.||Interviews||The SydTek team will interview members of Phala Network, RMRK and Parity Technologies to identify ways users can leverage SBTs and the Social Recovery pallet within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems for digital inheritance.|
|1a.||Specific Coverage||Specific deep dives will propose models and approaches users can leverage to develop proposed solutions of SBT wallets, as well as additional use cases for the Social Recovery pallet.|
Milestone 3 — Peer Reviewed Academic Journal Article Publication
- Estimated Duration: 2 months
- FTE: 3
- Costs: 1,150 USDC - link to budget details outlined in the Additional Information Section
|0.||Rights||All developed materials and raw data will be publicly accessible and public domain via a GitHub repository. Milestone 3 is research oriented and as such there is no code to test.|
|1.||Submit to OA journal||The SydTek team submit the completed journal article for publication in a peer-reviewed open access journal to ensure the research is available for everyone.|
|1a.||Specific Coverage||The team will hold virtual sessions for univerisities such as Georgetown University in Washington, DC in the United States, McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and at the Kings College School of Law in London, UK to share the findings of the study. These events will also be recorded and held in the metaverse.|
Upon completion of the journal article, the team will look to apply for a grant from the Treasury to promote the article in-person at academic conferences and at universities. After the dissemination of the foundational case study for soulbound tokens and the Social Recovery pallet at institutions and university blockchain clubs globally, we have plans to conduct follow-up research with law students and academic researchers in the field of Law on the potential legal impacts of soulbound tokens on estate law. As Justin Goldston is an Graduate Advisory Board Member at Georgetown University, Law Professors at Georgetown are curious about the impact of NFTs within the legal practice. Additionally, after a presentation for faculty members from the Smeal College of Business and the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University, which can be seen here https://bit.ly/3AQiH0C on sustainable impacts of the metaverse, Professors from the Dickinson School of Law are also looking to conduct research on NFTs, the metaverse, and law. After the completion and publishing of the original article, the team looks to conduct a follow-up study of the legal impacts of soulbound tokens. Next, we also look to continue to work with the team at Phala to build out a proof of concept with Intentionally Designed Solutions for the Kusama ecosystem with hope that this concept could be moved to Polkadot once the Social Recovery pallet is available on Polkadot. To continue the awareness of the Social Recovery pallet and the proposed digital inheritance tool, we mentioned the concept to Ray Lu - the Founder of Bit.Country - and we hope to introduce this tool within the Bit.Country metaverse within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems. Finally, with the recent annoucement that the Klaytn blockchain has developed a strategic partnership with Parity, in an effort to demonstrate the interoperability of Substrate, we will also work with Neo Yiu and Dr. Sangmin Seo on integrating the proposed solution into the Klaytn metaverse.
Additional Information ➕
How did you hear about the Grants Program? Webinar by David Hawig and David suggested we look into the Social Recovery pallet and SBTs within the Kusama ecosystems via email.
Milestone budget breakdown Please refer to the following link for a description of the budget for each milestone.