Muqadma: crowd-forcing judicial oversight of kleptocratic institutions

Title

muqadma

Team Member Names

  • Faez Shakil
  • TBD hunting down the right person here (hyperlocally) to help with this

Short Summary

muqadma is a pipeline for class-action lawsuits in Quetta, Pakistan. Simply put, everyone takes pictures of their overflowing sewage or newly-paved roads that washed away from very little rain etc, we timestamp and location-stamp and cryptographically verify that the pictures are not AI generated and were in fact taken by a camera, and AI compile the class action lawsuit with the help of local lawyers and file it and fight it.

Q&A

What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance?

Public Interest Litigation

What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

That the cost can be brought down by AI legal aid and the coordination managed by a mobile app. Also that the weight of evidence is best wielded by a protocol.

What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol?

The current state is encoded by the legislation that exists for the relevant bureaucratic bodies and the statutes concerning public interest litigation. We’ve interviewed the legal community, the bureaucracy, and former and current members of the judiciary. Of course, the public (as plaintiffs) already have loud voices about the things that matter to them but crowdsourcing evidence and wrapping it up as a plaint is the ultimate form of discovery.

In what form will you prototype your improvement idea?

We will release an open-source app and an executable specification of the protocol as backend that will be shared with legal experts to ensure that it enables the cases to be as water-tight as possible by construction. We will also construct a mechanism to determine what threshold of evidence entails its wrapping up into a case.

How will you field-test your improvement idea?

We wish to sue at least one egregious display of kleptocratic incompetence.

Who will be able to judge the quality of your output? Ideally name a few suitable judges.

In a way, we are asking the judiciary of Pakistan to judge that.

How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea?

We will do all of these! In the sense that the Provincial Bar Council is a stand-in for the standards body, our app shall be open source and we will make this go viral on Pakistan twitter.

What is the success vision for your idea?

The road or the sewage pipeline gets fixed and in a way that gives us a legal precedent to scale this to more things and more jurisdictions.

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Very interesting! Do you already have a preferred method to secure timestamp + instrument + observational record (photo and location data) or is developing the right method for your use case part of the proposal?

Thank you! So we have an app that can guarantee that a given picture or video is coming straight from the camera, this is an API that both iOS and Android expose so it’s not really an issue. As far as time stamping and location data are concerned we are also dependent on mobile APIs. For the cryptographic verification, we plan to implement technology from a chain of papers that inspired Nakamoto’s design of Bitcoin culminating in

Which is a distributed protocol for a blockchain style ledger that doesn’t depend on computational hardness but is much less overhead than a true blockchain.
We’d like to do it properly perhaps using an ethereum L2 with ZKPs of the code but for the limited scope of the experiment the technical costs are kind of scary and technologies like ZKPs overkill because media timestamping just requires a hash function. Situations where ZKPs would be more useful involve things like audit requirements for contractors and some such but that’s a different scale of problem.

The interesting part really is how to extend existing legal protocols with technologies like this in a way that provides utility to the public and so much visibility into moloch that action becomes contingent upon participants that are by the nature of the work very weasely

I had a sense that was going to be your approach. I definitely agree that the “interesting part really is how to extend existing legal protocols with technologies like this…” It is the imagined social uses of securing trust in observational data that make the effort worthwhile. Of course, once money can be gained by establishing these guarantees money can also be gained by attacking them, so it has to be “more than pretty good” all the way down. I think the specificity of your use case, with approximate times being sufficient, helps you a lot. You aren’t expecting these infrastructure issues to change in seconds, minutes, or even hours. That gives you really generous boundaries for your timestamps.

Reading what you wrote, I found myself extending the scenario to the high volume cases; for instance, drone/flyover imagery, in which a needle in the haystack observation may be dispositive. Also, just a detail: you probably know that Leica announced a C2PA chipset in their $9000 camera over the winter that signs its “assertions,” so that seems like a good sign. The price tag that appeared in all the reports is misleading, considering SparkFun will sell you a co-processor for $5.00 the price is about the camera features not the trust features.

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You’re right in that the money gain via calculated destruction of property attack vector is a real issue if this takes off, especially since currently the graft is always in the awarding of contracts for doing the work - which presumably would apply to repairs as much as it would to new contracts. The mitigation that we’ve thought of is to force inclusion of penalties and quality control via crowd-sourcing for all new contracts and try to plead in a way that puts the penalty on the contractor for retrospective engagements.

But the core issue is that of the universal feedback mechanism. One funny story related to us by a career bureaucrat was of a 13 crore rupee road-imaging machine, (the only one in the entire province) ripped out and discarded for three years because someone high-ranking wasn’t allotted a car by the govt dept and they just took the one that housed the imaging machine. In that sense even when feedback mechanisms are utilised by govt depts they’re generally dependent on some fancy german technology that costs a lot and the procurement of which is an opportunity for graft in itself and very often the next person responsible for that department discards it.
All this to say that the technical attacks on the ledger infrastructure are a couple of steps away from where we expect the protocol to be attacked, which is primarily via offering money to the judiciary or applying political pressure on the participants.

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I find this use case super interesting. If you document your work outside this forum I’d like to follow it.

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