Blockchain for Creative Industries | Middlesex University London

The Blockchain for Creative Industries cluster comprises staff from the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, as well as from Science and Technology. We explore the disruptive, and enabling potential of blockchain technology for music, photography, art, fashion, film, journalism and gaming. As well as high-quality research outputs, the cluster is committed to teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Areas of interest include new business and economic models; creative entrepreneurship and artistic identity; copyright; visual analytics; and digital forensics. As well as exploring the considerable potential for innovation, we also look at barriers to adoption and possible disadvantages of this new technology – one some have suggested could be as significant as the World Wide Web.

Members of the cluster have been interviewed on behalf of the French Intellectual Property Office, and have taken part in round-table events alongside representatives of the Department of Work & Pensions and the Government Office for Science.

Cluster members have spoken at events organised by Blockchain Storm and the Bitcoin and Blockchain Leadership Forum, and at festivals including the Great Escape and Wilderness. We have also spoken internationally, at events including Distributed: Music in Nashville, USA, and as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week in Bergen, Norway. Cluster members have been interviewed on the BBC and written articles for publications including the Guardian, the Conversation and Distributed magazine.

Our Music on the Blockchain report, published in 2016, received extensive media coverage from publications including Music Week, Music 4.5, International Business Times, Tech City News, Cryptocoin News, City A.M., Fortune magazine, Huffington Post and Record of the Day. The report was launched at Sonos Studios in London, with leading figures in academia and industry.

The cluster is part of the Open Music Initiative, alongside Berklee, MIT, Harvard and UCL.

Unchaining Access to Justice: The Potential of Blockchain | Insights | HiiL

By Dr. Martin Gramatikov, Senior Justice Sector Advisorand Georgi Chisuse, ScalatorCryptocurrencies, and its underlying blockchain technology, are everywhere today. Bitcoin’s revolutionary breakthrough provoked intensive research into the potential adoption of backend technology into a multitude of fields. Essentially, blockchain is a secure digital ledger which can record almost anything which has value – coins and financial transactions, ID documents and ownership titles, votes and shares, property and contractual rights, positive and negative reviews. It is clear that blockchain technology will transform and probably disrupt many areas of the law in the months and years to come.Based on mutual consensus between all participants and automatic authenticity checks, the decentralized blockchain technology has shown tremendous potential for building independent systems. Thus, the autonomy as well as the transparency of those systems would guarantee a broader access to justice to everyone involved.But is it going to remain a technology geared towards the needs of big business such as banks, insurance, the fintech sector and investors? Can blockchain help the billions of people who need the law for protecting their basic justice needs?Throughout the years, HiiL has asked tens of thousands of people around the world about their justice needs and experiences with access to justice. We find that worldwide, large numbers of women and men encounter legal problems that might have a legal solution. At a global level, people most often need accessible and fair justice journeys for: crime, land problems, disputes with neighbors, family problems, employment and money-related disputes. Problems around ID documents (i.e. birth, citizenship, marriage and death certificates) and welfare benefits are common among the most vulnerable groups.The answer to our question is – Yes, blockchain technology has huge promise for the justice needs of the people. Countries like Estonia, Ghana, Honduras, Ukraine, Sweden, the Indian state Andra Pradesh and Georgia already experiment with registering land titles and ownership rights using blockchain. There is a great hope that this will make land transactions more affordable, transparent and secure.In the field of family justice, there are already examples of e-marriage and marriage certificates encoded in public and private blockchains. The fields most likely to be innovated using blockchain are inheritance, dowry, and prenuptial agreements. Benefits of such innovation include smart contracts which can help women to secure and enforce their rights.Employment is about livelihood. Millions of people need protection against exploitative practices, unfair dismissal, unpaid wages and dangerous working conditions. Employment contracts and their clauses can be registered in a blockchain. Complex schemes of intermediaries can be hold accountable through transparency. Data can be exchanged with labour inspectorates and watchdogs. In Brazil, a startup called CreditDream works on decentralized blockchain applications for universal access to credit.Undoubtedly, there is a great potential for blockchain technologies to deliver just and fair solutions to millions and even billions of people who need justice. The creativity of the industry will lead the way. But there is a need for visionary leadership which steers innovation towards people’s most prevalent and pressing justice needs.

Source: Unchaining Access to Justice: The Potential of Blockchain | Insights | HiiL

WODC | 2815 – Verkennend onderzoek naar de sociale en ethische gevolgen van de Blockchain en hoe de overheid zich hiertoe zou kunnenmoeten verhouden

Blockchain kan beschouwd worden als een nieuwe vorm van gedistribueerde informatietechnologie. De Blockchain-technologie kent vele toepassingen. Een daarvan is Bitcoin, een virtuele munt waarmee via Internet wereldwijd betalingen kunnen worden verricht. Hoewel niet duidelijk is of alle veronderstelde toepassingsmogelijkheden van blockchaintechnologie realiteit zullen worden, heeft het meerwaarde als de overheid zich verdiept in blockchaintechnologie en de mogelijke gevolgen daarvan voor wetgeving. In dit onderzoek worden de (mogelijke) ethische en sociale gevolgen van de Blockchain-technologie in kaart gebracht. Ook wordt nagegaan in hoeverre de overheid zelf Blockchain-technologie zou kunnen inzetten in uitvoering, toezicht, handhaving etc., onder welke voorwaarden en wat dit zou betekenen voor wet- en regelgeving. Het onderzoek is toegezegd aan de Eerste Kamer (Eerste Kamerstukken, Vergaderjaar 2016-2017, 33009, verslag schriftelijk overleg vastgesteld 22 december 2016).Onderzoekgegevens

Source: WODC | 2815 – Verkennend onderzoek naar de sociale en ethische gevolgen van de Blockchain en hoe de overheid zich hiertoe zou kunnenmoeten verhouden

Anticipating Blockchain for Development: Data, Power and the Future – The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group

Research on anticipated, contingent and imaginary blockchain-enabled ‘aidlands’ (Mosse 2011) is crucial now: much is at stake. What will the role of blockchain be in identity management in global contexts where population control regimes proliferate to the detriment of the many? Through multi-stakeholder ethnographic work with user communities, the development industry, technical, legal, regulatory and governmental communities, I aim to make a practical intervention in public social science, developing best practice principles or ‘infraethics’ (Floridi 2017) from concrete sociotechnical findings about the specific ways in which DLTs can empower communities in global contexts, how, and what new digital inequalities or unintended consequences arise (cf. for example the energy consumption issue with Bitcoin mining, which is currently a ‘hot’ topic). I have a hunch that working on best practice may involve pointing out when a blockchain isn’t really necessary.

Source: Anticipating Blockchain for Development: Data, Power and the Future – The Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality Group

P2Pmodels: Blockchain Orgs for the Collaborative Economy

P2P Models is a large research project to build Blockchain-powered organizations which are decentralized, democratic and distribute their profits, in order to boost a new type of Collaborative Economy. The project has three legs:Infrastructure: Provide a software framework to build decentralized infrastructure for Collaborative Economy organizations that do not depend on central authorities.Governance: Enable democratic-by-design models of governance for communities, whose rules are, at least partially, encoded in the software to ensure higher levels of equality.Economy: Enable value distribution models which are interoperable across organizations, improving the economic sustainability of both contributors and organizations.

Source: P2Pmodels: Blockchain Orgs for the Collaborative Economy

Blockchange

The first phase of Blockchange will seek to test the hypothesis that by applying blockchain attributes to identity management, a trusted digital ID can be created that can benefit, for instance:The estimated 1.1 billion people who are unable to prove their identity to the satisfaction of authorities and other organizations – often excluding them from property ownership, free movement, and social protection as a result;The 1.3 million refugees that are trying to relocate around the world but can’t be identified; andAll the women and girls, who disproportionately struggle to obtain IDs, often the result of barriers related to: freedom of travel, distance, financial costs, time constraints, illiteracy, lack of information and awareness, and lack of support from family members.To become smarter about the application of blockchain technologies for identity, Blockchange will initially seek to:Map, and provide a taxonomy of blockchain technologies that seeks to provide identity;Develop a primer on the potential and challenges of blockchain technologies across the identity life-cycle (such as creation; verification; authentication; and authorization);Map the actual use of identity provided through blockchain technologies for a variety of social good purposes through case studies; andCo-develop a set of (evidence-based) design principles that can guide the further development and use of blockchain for social change.

Source: Blockchange

BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE DECENTRALIZED WEB

We offer case studies of the following decentralized publishing projects:

  • Freedom Box, a system for personal publishing
  • Diaspora, a federated social network
  • Mastodon, a federated Twitter-like service
  • Blockstack, a distributed system for online identity services
  • IPFS (Interplanetary File System), a distributed storage service with a proposed mechanism to incentivize resource sharing
  • Solid (Social Linked Data), a linked-data protocol that could act as a back-end for data sharing between social media networks
  • Appcoins, a digital currency framework that enables users to financially participate in ownership of platforms and protocols
  • Steemit, an online community that uses an appcoin to incentivize development and community participation in a social network

BlockSci: a platform for blockchain science and exploration

The Bitcoin blockchain — currently 140GB and growing — contains a massive amount of data that can give us insights into the Bitcoin ecosystem, including how users, businesses, and miners operate. Today we’re announcing BlockSci, an open-source software tool that enables fast and expressive analysis of Bitcoin’s and many other blockchains, and an accompanying working paper that explains its design and applications. Our Jupyter notebook demonstrates some of BlockSci’s capabilities.Current tools for blockchain analysis depend on general-purpose databases that have full support for transactions. But that’s unnecessary for blockchain analysis where the data structures are append-only. We take advantage of this observation in the design of our custom in-memory blockchain database as well as an analysis library.BlockSci’s core infrastructure is written in C++ and optimized for speed. (For example, traversing every transaction input and output on the Bitcoin blockchain takes only 10.3 seconds on our r4.2xlarge EC2 machine.) To make analysis more convenient, we provide Python bindings and a Jupyter notebook interface. This interface is slower, but is ideal for exploratory analyses and allows users to quickly iterate when developing new queries.The code below shows the convenience of traversing the blockchain using straightforward Python idioms, built-in currency conversion using historical exchange-rate data, and the use of pandas DataFrames for analysis and visualization..fees = [sum(block.fees) for block in chain.range(‘2017’)]times = [block.time for block in chain.range(‘2017’)]converter = blocksci.CurrencyConverter()df = pandas.DataFrame({“Fee”:fees}, index=times)df = converter.satoshi_to_currency_df(df, chain)When plotted, it results in the following graph showing the average transaction fee per block:BlockSci uses a custom data format; it comes with a parser that generates this data from the serialized blockchain format recorded by cryptocurrency nodes such as bitcoind. The parser supports incremental updates when new blocks are received, and making it easy to stay up to date with the latest version of the blockchain. We’ve used BlockSci to analyze Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Namecoin, Dash, and ZCash; many other cryptocurrencies make no changes to the blockchain format, and so should be supported with no changes to BlockSci.In our working paper, we present four analyses that show BlockSci’s usefulness for answering research questions. We show how multisignatures unfortunately weaken privacy and confidentiality; we apply the cluster intersection attack to Dash, a privacy-focused altcoin; we analyze inefficiencies in the usage of block space; and we present improved methods for estimating of how often coins change possession as opposed to just being shuffled around.Here’s an illustrative example. Exploratory graph analysis using BlockSci allowed us to discover a behavioral pattern in the usage of multisignatures that weakens security. Multisignatures are a security-enhancing mechanism that distribute control of an address over a number of different public keys. Surprisingly, we found that users often negate this security by moving their funds from a multisig address to a regular address and then back again after a period of a few hours to days. We think this happens when users are changing the access control policy on their wallet, although it is unclear why they transfer their funds to a regular address in the interim, and not directly to the new multisig address. This pattern of behavior has led over $12 million dollars to be left insecure over the course of  over 22,000 transactions. What users may not appreciate is that the temporary weakening of security is advertised to potential attackers on the blockchain.There’s far more to explore on public blockchains. BlockSci is publicly available now, and we hope you’ll find it useful. It is easy to get started using the EC2 image we’ve released, which includes the Bitcoin blockchain data in addition to the tool. BlockSci is open-source, and we welcome contributions. This is an alpha release; we’re continuing to improve it and the interface may change a bit in future releases. We look forward to working with the community and to hearing about other creative uses of the data and the to

Source: BlockSci: a platform for blockchain science and exploration

Paolo Tasca – UCL Blockchain

Paolo Tasca is a Digital economist specialising in P2P financial systems. An advisor on blockchain technologies for different international organisations including the EU Parliament and the United Nations. Paolo is founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Blockchain Technologies (UCL CBT) at University College London. Prior to this, he was Lead Economist on digital currencies and P2P financial systems at Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt working on digital currencies and P2P lending.

Source: Paolo Tasca – UCL Blockchain

The blockchain paradox: Why distributed ledger technologies may do little to transform the economy — Oxford Internet Institute

Bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain, is widely expected to find applications far beyond digital payments. It is celebrated as a “paradigm shift in the very idea of economic organization”. But the OII’s Professor Vili Lehdonvirta contends that such revolutionary potentials may be undermined by a fundamental paradox that has to do with the governance of the technology. I recently gave a talk at the Alan Turing Institute (ATI) under the title The Problem of Governance in Distributed Ledger Technologies. The starting point of my talk was that it is frequently posited that blockchain technologies will “revolutionize industries that rely on digital record keeping”, such as financial services and government. In the talk I applied elementary institutional economics to examine what blockchain technologies really do in terms of economic organization, and what problems this gives rise to. In this essay I present an abbreviated version of the argument. Alternatively you can watch a video of the talk below.  First, it is necessary to note that there is quite a bit of confusion as to what exactly is meant by a blockchain. When people talk about “the” blockchain, they often refer to the Bitcoin blockchain, an ongoing ledger of transactions started in 2009 and maintained by the approximately 5,000 computers that form the Bitcoin peer-to-peer network. The term blockchain can also be used to refer to other instances or forks of the same technology (“a” blockchain). The term “distributed ledger technology” (DLT) has also gained currency recently as a more general label for related technologies.In each case, I think it is fair to say that the reason that so many people are so excited about blockchain today is not the technical features as such. In terms of performance metrics like transactions per second, existing blockchain technologies are in many ways inferior to more conventional technologies. This is frequently illustrated with the point that the Bitcoin network is limited by design to process at most approximately seven transactions per second, whereas the Visa payment network has a peak capacity of 56,000 transactions per second. Other implementations may have better performance, and on some other metrics blockchain technologies can perhaps beat more conventional technologies. But technical performance is not why so many people think blockchain is revolutionary and paradigm-shifting.The reason that blockchain is making waves is that it promises to change the very way economies are organized: to eliminate centralized third parties. Let me explain what this means in theoretical terms. Many economic transactions, such as long-distance trade, can be modeled as a game of Prisoners’ Dilemma. The buyer and the seller can either cooperate (send the shipment/payment as promised) or defect (not send the shipment/payment). If the buyer and the seller don’t trust each other, then the equilibrium solution is that neither player cooperates and no trade takes place. This is known as the fundamental problem of cooperation.There are several classic solutions to the problem of cooperation. One is reputation. In a community of traders where members repeatedly engage in exchange, any trader who defects (fails to deliver on a promise) will gain a negative reputation, and other traders will refuse to trade with them out of self-interest. This threat of exclusion from the community acts as a deterrent against defection, and the equilibrium under certain conditions becomes that everyone will cooperate.Reputation is only a limited solution, however. It only works within communities where reputational information spreads effectively, and traders may still defect if the payoff from doing so is greater than the loss of future trade. Modern large-scale market economies where people trade with strangers on a daily basis are only possible because of another solution: third-party enforcement. In particular, this means state-enforced contracts and bills of exchange enforced by banks. These third parties in essence force parties to cooperate and to follow through with their promises.Besides trade, another example of the problem of cooperation is currency. Currency can be modeled as a multiplayer game of Prisoners’ Dilemma. Traders collectively have an interest in maintaining a stable currency, because it acts as a lubricant to trade. But each trader individually has an interest in debasing the currency, in the sense of paying with fake money (what in blockchain-speak is referred to as double spending). Again the classic solution to this dilemma is third-party enforcement: the state polices metal currencies and punishes counterfeiters, and banks control ledgers and prevent people from spending money they don’t have.So third-party enforcement is the dominant model of economic organization in today’s market economies. But it’s not without its problems. The enforcer is in a powerful position in relation to the enforced: banks could extract exor

Source: The blockchain paradox: Why distributed ledger technologies may do little to transform the economy — Oxford Internet Institute