Today, more and more people live online lives that leaves a digital trail that is difficult to clean up if they were to suddenly die. Services like Gmail and Facebook makes it hard, if not impossible, to gain access after a person's death. This is just one of the many reasons why we should have a plan to help loved ones deal with our unexpected tragic events.

fun fact: both Julian Assange (wikileaks) and Edward Snowden have a dead man switch to release secret documents in case something happens to them.

What it does

Dead Man's Block is a decentralized fail-safe trigger (aka dead men switch) to release digital wills to the right beneficiary. There are multiple layers built in to accurately detect when the owner has passed away. First, the owner checks in occasionally based on set duration via alerts to affirm living status. If a set duration has passed without a response, the second layer requires at least 3 validators (family, friends, lawyer) to affirm death status. After successful validation, the third and final layer requires at least 2 public notaries to affirm death status. At any given time, the owner has the flexibility to customize any settings and add as many beneficiaries and validators as they wish.

How we built it

Since this is highly sensitive data, the public Ethereum network is used with IPFS to store the encrypted data. Metamask on Chrome is used as the wallet to sign transactions on the test network.

Challenges we ran into

Choosing the minimum required account fields to ensure a smooth verification process after death is tricky. Then figuring out which authority to affirm the death took some digging.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Storing documents in IPFS.

What I learned

Blockchain presents an exciting opportunity to empower each individual to manage their personal wishes when they die on their own terms. When it comes to legal processes, government can be slow to adopt new efficient methods. This is a low hanging fruit to solve right away.

What's next for Dead Mans Block

  • encryption using PGP
  • get Notary Public involved
  • more files released to more people eg. personal notes, regrets, other private matters
  • DNA data for estate protection, life insurance, inheritance claims

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