Why a Leading Venture Capitalist Is Betting on a Decentralized Internet

decentralization | discourse | Research Notes

And blockchain will bring those better products?

For me, the most interesting part of blockchain technology is that you can provide much richer and more advanced protocols. They have the best features of Web One in that they’re governed in a decentralized way, and in a way that the rules are fixed and people can build on them and invest in them and know that the rules won’t change. But they have more advanced functionality than protocols of the Web One era.

One way to think of a blockchain is as a community-owned database. In Web One, there were no databases. In computer science terminology, there’s no way to keep state. You just look at Ethereum today, you can store any arbitrary code, any arbitrary names, any arbitrary thing. It’s a very rich kind of database, and so you can build much more powerful services that also have those properties of Web One and Web Two. Some people call it Web Three.

Web Two was don’t be evil. Web Three is can’t be evil. You bake it into the code that you can’t be evil.

Source: Why a Leading Venture Capitalist Is Betting on a Decentralized Internet

Cryptoeconomics: Can blockchain reinvent justice systems? | Answers On

applications | blockchain | justice | law | Research Notes

Kleros co-founder and CEO Federico Ast explores the role of blockchain, cryptoeconomics, and collective intelligence in building the future of justice.

Human communities of every era have had to solve the problem of social order. For this, they developed governance and legal systems. They did it with the technologies and systems of belief of their time.

Athenians of the Classical period believed that all citizens had the right to participate in the lawmaking process and as jurors in popular trials. They used a sophisticated piece of civic technology called kleroterion for random selection of jurors and avoiding manipulation of the system. Modern justice systems were created in the 17th and 18th centuries, at a time of consolidation of nation states.

These systems worked fine for many years, providing rule of law for industrial development and economic prosperity. But in early 21st century, they started to reach their complexity limits. The advent of the Internet and the creation of a global, digital, real time economy started to show the cracks in legal systems built in an era of paper contracts, horse transportation and national jurisdictions.

In today’s global economy, a large and increasing number of transactions are conducted online across jurisdictional boundaries. Clients from different countries hire contractors from all over the world for building software and other services. Investors from different countries participate in crowdfunding campaigns from everywhere. In their book Digital Justice (2017), experts Ethan Katsh and Orna Rabinovich-Einy estimate that disputes arise in 3 to 5% of online transactions, totaling over seven hundred million in 2015 alone.

Existing dispute resolution technologies are too slow, too expensive and too unreliable for an online real-time world. Even alternative methods like online dispute resolution (ODR) have failed to address this problem. ODR promised to bring resolution to this new type of disputes, but in the end it just streamlined existing court procedures, without really bringing an innovation.

Cars, not faster horses

Henry Ford famously said (although some people doubt the veracity of this): “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” A better justice system may not come from further streamlining existing processes but from fundamentally rethinking them from a first principles perspective.

In the last decade, we have witnessed how collective intelligence could be leveraged to produce an encyclopedia like Wikipedia, a transport system like Uber, a restaurant rating system like Yelp!, and a hotel system like Airbnb.

These companies innovated by crowdsourcing value creation. Instead of having an in-house team of restaurant critics as the Michelin Guide, Yelp! crowdsourced ratings in users.

Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention of Bitcoin (and the underlying blockchain technology) may be seen as the next step in the rise of the collaborative economy. The Bitcoin Network proved that, given the right incentives, anonymous users could cooperate in creating and updating a distributed ledger which could act as a monetary system. A nationless system, inherently global, and native to the Internet Age.

Cryptoeconomics is a new field of study that leverages cryptography, computer science and game theory to build secure distributed systems. It is the science that underlies the incentive system of open distributed ledgers. But its potential goes well beyond cryptocurrencies.

Kleros is a dispute resolution system which relies on cryptoeconomics. It uses a system of incentives based on “focal points”, a concept developed by game theorist Thomas Schelling, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics 2005. Using a clever mechanism design, it seeks to produce a set of incentives for randomly selected users to adjudicate different types of disputes in a fast, affordable and secure way. Users who adjudicate disputes honestly will make money. Users who try to abuse the system will lose money.

Kleros does not seek to compete with governments or traditional arbitration systems, but provide a new method that will leverage the wisdom of the crowd to resolve a large number of disputes of the global digital economy for which existing methods fall short: e-commerce, crowdfunding and many types of small claims are among the early adopters.

Political institutions are the result of trying to solve the practical problems of social coordination. Human communities of all times developed the institutions better suited to their problems, their technologies and beliefs. Athenians of the Classical period built their court system on their belief of citizen participation and the technology of kleroterion for random selection. The founding fathers of the United States built American courts based on the best knowledge of the political theory of their time.

In a time of globalization and digitalization, cryptoeconomics may become the pillar for building the institutions of the Internet Age.


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This article was written by Federico Ast, co-founder and CEO of Kleros. Kleros is a current member of the Thomson Reuters Incubator, part of Thomson Reuters Labs.

Decentralisation: the next big step for the world wide web | Technology | The Guardian

decentralization | discourse | opinion | Research Notes

It is supposed to be like the web you know but without relying on centralised operators. In the early days of the world wide web, which came into existence in 1989, you connected directly with your friends through desktop computers that talked to each other. But from the early 2000s, with the advent of Web 2.0, we began to communicate with each other and share information through centralised services provided by big companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. It is now on Facebook’s platform, in its so called “walled garden”, that you talk to your friends. “Our laptops have become just screens. They cannot do anything useful without the cloud,” says Muneeb Ali, co-founder of Blockstack, a platform for building decentralised apps. The DWeb is about re-decentralising things – so we aren’t reliant on these intermediaries to connect us. Instead users keep control of their data and connect and interact and exchange messages directly with others in their network.

Source: Decentralisation: the next big step for the world wide web | Technology | The Guardian

The perfect storm: building a crypto-utopia in Puerto Rico – video | US news | The Guardian

applications | bitcoin | critique | issues/conflicts | Research Notes

In a time of vulnerability, crypto investors are moving to Puerto Rico, attracted by lucrative tax incentives. They plan to regenerate the island using blockchain technology. But not all of the locals support their bold plans

Source: The perfect storm: building a crypto-utopia in Puerto Rico – video | US news | The Guardian

Is GDPR an immovable block to blockchain? 

bitcoin | blockchain | cryptocurrencies | data protection | EU policy | Uncategorized

A report has claimed that GDPR could hinder innovation in blockchain within Europe. If that is right, then this could be enough to ensure that the technology stars of tomorrow, the next Amazons or Googles, won’t be European. The report did hint at the opportunity, however. Blockchain could be as transformative for business as the internet, at least nine out of ten technology professionals think that, or so found a survey by BTL Group.

Source: Is GDPR an immovable block to blockchain? – GDPR.Report

Cryptocurrency Markets Lost $18 Billion Overnight – Slashdot

bitcoin | ecosystem | opinion | Research Notes

Blockchain exists for ~10 years and still there are no mainstream use cases where it replaced the incumbent tech, other than illegal activity. There is a fundamental reason for that.BCh offers a single unique feature: distributed trusted transaction (DTT). DTT competes with a centralized transaction == transaction with a trusted third party (T3P). DTT is by definition distributed and as such is *always* more expensive than a T3P all other things being equal: reaching consensus with multiple parties is harder than with a single party. In order for DTT to be competitive with the old tech T3P, the distributed nature of DTT must offer some advantage for people to be willing to pay the required premium. So far the only use case where people or willing to pay this premium is circumvention of regulation, when the trusted third party does not exist. This brings us to this list of use cases:1. Circumvention of regulation.This is the only meaningful use of DTT.China has capital flow controls which effectively bar companies and individuals from moving money out of China. To get around these regulations people buy video cards and electricity in China for CNY, mine cryptocoins, sell them in the States for USD. That’s the largest market right now, much bigger than buying drugs on the likes of Silk Road. This use case also includes ICOs and other pump and dump schemes.2. Selling picks and shovels.Derivative of (1). If 1 goes away, 2 will go away too.https://finance.yahoo.com/quot… [yahoo.com]3. Marketing & FMOAdd blockchain to the company name and see your valuation pop.”We must work on blockchain because it’s the future”.All kinds of blockchain projects in banks, etc which are going mainstream “any time now”. All of them can be done easier/cheaper/more reliably with a T3P, no exceptions.Reply to This Share

Source: Cryptocurrency Markets Lost $18 Billion Overnight – Slashdot

Brock Pierce: The Hippie King of Cryptocurrency – Rolling Stone

bitcoin | blockchain | discourse | identity | issues/conflicts | nonsense | people | politics | Research Notes

Pierce, meanwhile, was about to try to repeat his success in e-sports when people began mentioning cryptocurrency to him roughly a year after the first Bitcoins were mined. Pierce was shocked that he’d never heard of it. “There were no storytellers who knew how to convey the information in simple insights, so it required a lot of real heavy lifting to figure out,” he says. “I didn’t have the time to appreciate the power of decentralization at first. The day I got it, I knew that was it.”Bannon recently took a leap into cryptocurrency as well, not just because of its financial implications, but because of its political ones. “This whole populist revolt is going to come down to this concept of currency,” he says. “You can see the forces that are aligned to take advantage of it. Every smart person that I admire in the world, and those I semi-fear, is focused on this concept of crypto for a reason. They understand that this is the driving force of the fourth industrial revolution: steam engine, electricity, then the microchip – blockchain and crypto is the fourth. There’s going to be a war for control for this.”Once Pierce caught on to the potential of this new digital cash, he became an evangelist, giving away Bitcoins to everyone he could, whether to an influencer or to the audience at one of his talks. He eventually stopped giving the money away because “no one appreciated it, then they lost it, and it was a waste of my fucking time. I get messages all the time from people saying, ‘I think of how much I lost because I didn’t take it seriously.’ ”

Source: Brock Pierce: The Hippie King of Cryptocurrency – Rolling Stone

The Blockchain Stack – Mechanism Labs – Medium

algorithms | blockchain | ecosystem | hardware | Research Notes

At a fundamental level, blockchains are composed of multiple distinct layers, similar to other technology protocols like the internet paradigm (Link, Network, Internet, Transport, Application). Here, we present a framework of the layers that compose blockchains. The layers are defined such that each layer depends on the one(s) below it. Here, we discuss what each layer provides as opposed to how each layer is implemented.

Source: The Blockchain Stack – Mechanism Labs – Medium

Crypto Tokens: A Breakthrough in Open Network Design

applications | decentralization | discourse | governance | justice | opinion | Research Notes

The cryptocurrency movement is the spiritual heir to previous open computing movements, including the open source software movement led most visibly by Linux, and the open information movement led most visibly by Wikipedia.1991: Linus Torvalds’ forum post announcing Linux; 2001: the first Wikipedia pageBoth of these movements were once niche and controversial. Today Linux is the dominant worldwide operating system, and Wikipedia is the most popular informational website in the world.Crypto tokens are currently niche and controversial. If present trends continue, they will soon be seen as a breakthrough in the design and development of open networks, combining the societal benefits of open protocols with the financial and architectural benefits of proprietary networks. They are also an extremely promising development for those hoping to keep the internet accessible to entrepreneurs, developers, and other independent creators.

Source: Crypto Tokens: A Breakthrough in Open Network Design

Algorithmic regulation and rule of law | Mireille Hildebrandt

algorithms | law | papers | Research Notes

In this brief contribution, I distinguish between code-driven and data-driven regulation as novel instantiations of legal regulation. Before moving deeper into data-driven regulation, I explain the difference between law and regulation, and the relevance of such a difference for the rule of law. I discuss artificial legal intelligence (ALI) as a means to enable quantified legal prediction and argumentation mining which are both based on machine learning. This raises the question of whether the implementation of such technologies should count as law or as regulation, and what this means for their further development. Finally, I propose the concept of ‘agonistic machine learning’ as a means to bring data-driven regulation under the rule of law. This entails obligating developers, lawyers and those subject to the decisions of ALI to re-introduce adversarial interrogation at the level of its computational architecture.

Source: Algorithmic regulation and rule of law | Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences