I want to share some thoughts around the 90 day “dead man switch” - the reason behind it and some issues and potential solutions.
First of all:
A Circles Account continuously generates (personal) Circles. However those are not credited in real time but instead at any time you can “claim” the Circles you should get since the last time you claimed. If you e.g. claim after 24h you should get ~8 Circles. But in principal is is even possible to claim again after 1 sec and you then would get a tiny fraction of a Circle.
If this claim function is not called for a 90 days - it can not be called anymore. The account becomes passive. Note - that all the Circles that this accounts holds (their own or others) are still valid, can still be transferred and spend. Also trust connections are not effected - people would still trust your (stale) Circles account and thus accept all the Circles that used to be generated by this account.
It should be noted that it is also possible for the user to actively put the Circles account into the passive state.
a) A lost key
Suppose you lost access to your key/ your Circles account. At the end of the day there will be nothing you can do to recover it. (We might add options for social recovery at some point but that is another story)
So the only thing you can do in this situation is to create a new account and ask all your friends to trust this new account. However - there is no way for you to prove that you really lost access to your old account. You might even accidentally find it after e.g. 5 years. This would lead to the problematic situation
that you received double the UBI which could fundamentally hurt the trust in the system.
An alternative could be that people before they trust your new account “untrust” your old account. However - that would hurt people (e.g. a business) that previously accepted your Circles. Those where perfectly valid Circles and suddently everyone would untrust them and those holding them would be screwed.
The solution to those 2 problamatic paths should have been the “dead man switch”. The idea is that if you loose your key your account will fall into the “passive” mode and can never again mint Circles. At this point you could now create a new Circles account, all your friends could trust it and keep trusting the old account.
b) A person becoming inactive
More generally, a minimum amount of activity (logging in once every 3 month) might be useful to try to keep the system free from completely inactive accounts.
c) Actual death
For similar reasons as in the “lost key” scenario - people should ideally keep trusting the Circles of the dead person - but should at the same time have the assurance that no more new Circles are minted that can e.g. be used by their heir.
a) Trigger by anyone
Right now the “claim your UBI” function can be called by anyone - this means that someone with a small script can make the mechanism obsolete by just triggering every Circles account every 90 days.
We are currently not explaining this mechanism enough in the UI. And ideally for the process of creating a new account that is a “sucessor” of a passive account there would be a process that might even explicitly link the new account to the old. Though alternatively we could spend resources account recovery options to make that use-case much less needed.
Ironically Problem a) can be a short term solution to problem b). Currently a script is being executed to trigger all accounts and this buy us another 90 day of time.
Midterm/longterm Why a) might be primarily addressed via recovery options and thus make this case very rare. For Why c) it would help to switch to a model that requires the account itself to trigger the mint function. In this case after a person death an account should either be actively put in passive mode or passively after e.g. 3 month.