Minimalist Crypto

Experiments in Ethical Cryptography

Avi Bar-Zeev
6 min readJul 2, 2022

We’ve heard the inflated claims that crypto will change everything, someday. And we’ve seen how deflated those claims can be in the near-term, with scams, speculation, and some terrible implementations. For at least 20 years now, I’ve wanted to find a way to apply cryptography toward content creation and monetization (not from the POV of artificial scarcity like NFTs, but for building for abundance). I have so far been deterred by the complexities of trying to “change everything” all at once.

But I’m happy to build simpler systems to solve simpler problems, hopefully avoiding the downsides of artificial scarcity, complexity, fraud and scams.

For background, in addition to my consulting work, I’m currently President of The XR Guild, which is a non-profit (501c3) dedicated to the ethical evolution of XR, The Metaverse, Spatial Computing and Web3. Our members are all professionals in this space, at all levels of experience. The key idea behind the Guild is that if enough professionals sign on to a common set of principles, we will think about ethics more than today, collectively make better decisions, better products, and our bosses and customers will be happier because the overall results will be better for everyone.

Now, the Guild unsurprisingly has some members who are very Pro-Crypto and some who have become allergic to the anything NFT or Blockchain. Our shared principles already oppose all scams, UX, or business models that are exploitive. But we’ve never said “crypto itself is bad.” Crypto is just math and code, so it’s a question of who uses it and for what ends?

So as an experiment, we’ve set up a very simple cryptographic system for the XR Guild to help meet our near-term organizational needs. No blockchain. No speculation or monetization at all. So, hopefully, low risk. In fact, the biggest risk is that I just do something stupid.

What needs do we have?

  1. Secure web-forms for entering and updating our personal data.
  2. Validated public web forms that deter bots and other abuse without requiring everyone’s email addresses or persistent log-ins to register.
  3. Secure voting systems for membership activities (near future…

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Avi Bar-Zeev

XR Pioneer (30+ years), started/helped projects at Microsoft (HoloLens), Apple, Amazon, Keyhole (Google Earth), Linden Lab (Second Life), Disney (VR), XR Guild