🎤 Interviews Katya Michaels

Crypto Art For the Crypto Wealthy: Engaging New Generation of Art Patrons

🎤 Interviews
Digital records of authenticity and unique digital art are certain to change the nature of art collecting
Crypto Art For the Crypto Wealthy: Engaging New Generation of Art Patrons

Just a year ago, fine art was one of the more obscure subjects for Blockchain application, but in recent months discussions about how this new technology can help move the venerable industry forward (and bring in new sources of revenue) have heated up, with major players like Christie’s, Art Basel and Britain’s DACS joining the conversation.

In the world of fine art and other collectibles, the investment potential of a particular piece is largely defined by its provenance and authenticity. The existence of immutable, indestructible records on the Blockchain may encourage more people to see art as a viable and trustworthy long-term investment opportunity.

Perhaps even more intriguingly, Blockchain opens the door for digital art as an investment through the introduction of digital scarcity. A piece of code representing some form of artistic expression can be certified and stored as a unique digital object– an idea which is quite a leap from the “copy-paste” digital world most are accustomed to.

The concept is quite new, and the most profitable sale of a purely digital artwork to date may have been that of an exclusive CryptoKitty auctioned off at the Ethereal conference this summer for a very respectable $140,000. The auction in question was the first practical demonstration of the Codex Protocol, a decentralized registry for assets including not just art, but also fine wines, watches and other collectibles. CryptoComes spoke to Codex CEO Mark Lurie about his impressions from the auction and expectations of the protocol’s development.

Codex– the provenance scrolls

Katya Michaels: What is the main purpose of the Codex protocol? How has this been demonstrated at the Ethereal auction?

Mark Lurie: Codex is a decentralized registry for unique assets focused on art and collectibles in particular. It's really needed because this is the only asset class without a title registry, but a system of record is very important because the value of the piece in art depends on its provenance and history of ownership. Codex is a place where that information is stored and tracked. Once you have the title, you can access insurance, shipping, artists royalties, appraisals.

At Ethereal, we launched our bidding application and gave out the first Codex titles. I think the excitement about the auction proved that the crypto people want to buy and invest in art as an asset class, especially if you give them an easy way to bid and track ownership.

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The CryptoKitty code

KM: Historically, patronage of the arts had been undertaken by contemporary elites. Today’s tech entrepreneurs seem to be in that position, but the question is how the art world can attract their interest. Will crypto and blockchain technologies encourage them to get involved?

ML: Collecting art is human nature. You just need to deliver the kind of art that appeals to the new generation of wealth. In the case of tech, maybe they don't like the same things that the traditional art industry has been selling them, but they clearly like CryptoKitties, they like digital art and they like the idea that digital art can be scarce.

When you can make digital art scarce and when you can prove original ownership of unique art, it becomes an asset class that has value. Digital art is a really exciting new category. At the auction, we sold about $190,000 worth of digital and physical art. For the crypto community, it’s exciting to see a way to buy art that is most convenient for them, as well as a way to be confident about the resale value of what they buy over time.

CryptoKitty by Guilherme Twardovski
CryptoKitty by Guilherme TwardoWski

KM: Out of those $190,000, $140,000 was brought in by the CryptoKitty. Can we consider it a win for art– that the biggest sale of the auction was a digital cat?

ML: I think we can consider it a huge win. It proves that digital art is going to be a big art investment category and that artists are going to be able to make a living producing it. It's a whole new medium. That's very exciting.

A fair share

KM: Do you believe that Blockchain platforms will facilitate not only big auction purchases but also create new revenue streams for less known artists producing smaller works?

ML: Absolutely. This is one of the things Codex hopes to make possible.

KM: Perhaps it could also enable artist “ICOs”– mechanisms through which an artist could raise money for their next project by selling shares in the work.

ML: I think the idea of benefactors or the public commissioning art is something that's as old as time. Artists could certainly do an initial art offering. This can also be done with existing artwork- we have already partnered with a few companies that will sell shares in pieces to be owned collectively. People who have a Codex title be able to easily access fractional ownership clapboards.

Garbage in, garbage out

KM: Though highly secure and immutable, Blockchain is still a database– once the information is in there we can see the chain of events, but what prevents people from putting in fraudulent information originally?

ML: Today, it’s not that fraudulent pieces aren’t out there, but that good pieces have good proof of provenance and evidence of authenticity. I don't think you need to stop the garbage. You need to raise up the high-quality stuff. As long as the buyer can see that there's good evidence about the authenticity of a piece, that the item has been validated by the community and that it was sold by Christie's in the past– that’s what we want to accomplish.

There’s an aspect to the Codex protocol where appraisers, artists, galleries and auction houses get rewarded with tokens for validating pieces. They are rewarded for verifying that the information about a particular piece is correct. I don't think it's necessary to prevent garbage. All that's necessary is to empower people to tell the difference between the good stuff and the garbage.

Beyond provenance

KM: What are some of the other ways, besides rewards for validation, that the token is used on the platform?

ML: The utility token is used to access and change the database. If you want to transfer a title, add a lien to a title, add insurance or request an appraisal, those all require tokens. The fees are used for rewards to validators who make sure that the items in the database are accurate and vetted.

KM: What are some examples of third-party applications that can be built on the Codex platform?

ML: There are several partners who have announced applications already. One is an appraisal application, so you can get an overnight appraisal on your piece. Another is an asset back lending application, so you can get a loan against your piece. As mentioned before, there is a fractional ownership platform, so you can tokenize and sell shares of your piece.

Another is a company called Dust that connects physical items to digital records. They spray inexpensive industrial grade diamond dust on a piece. It's invisible to the naked eye, but you can scan the crystalline fingerprint with an iPhone and prove that the piece is actually the one that's recorded on the Blockchain.

KM: How soon do you think will major players like Christie's and Sotheby’s get onboard with ledgers like Codex and crypto payments?

ML: I can't say exactly, but I think it'll be sooner rather than later. Once they see it in action,  once they see the benefits and that it's stable, they'll get onboard.

Ethereum by Terry Cook
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Portrait of the crypto artist

While traditional galleries and auction houses figure out how their business model will be affected by Blockchain art platforms, it is difficult to say where artists will emerge from the fog of rapid technological change. Undeniably, Blockchain holds a lot of promise for giving creators more control over their art and a greater share of the profits. Cryptograffiti, one of the artists who contributed work to the Codex Ethereal auction, shared some thoughts on the issue with CryptoComes over an e-mail interview.

HODL by Cryptograffiti
HODL by Cryptograffiti

KM: Do you think today’s tech elite can become the new generation of art patrons, supporting not just particular pieces but the art industry in general?

Cryptograffiti: Absolutely, however, I think to some extent it's cultural.  For example, my hometown of San Francisco is not known for being at the forefront of the art scene because people don't display their wealth as much as other cities like New York. Many of the SF/Silicon Valley tech elite have made their money while sharing a room with two other developers and another one who sleeps on the couch.  

KM: Is there a particular kind of art the crypto-wealthy audience responds to? Is crypto art more compelling for them?

Stealing the Contents by Kevin Abosch
 Stealing The Contents Of This Wallet Is A Crime by Kevin Abosch

C: I think crypto art has proved to be compelling for a number of reasons. With the subject matter being intangible, it provides identity and emotion to something people are very passionate about. Many are proud of their involvement in crypto and what it stands for and want to put that on display. Artwork, and especially limited-edition artwork, is an investment that overlaps well with the controlled supply of cryptocurrency's beginnings.

KM: What is the most important way that Blockchain changes the art industry?  Establishment of provenance? Protection from theft?  

C: These are huge. Also, democratizing investment in artwork and providing additional revenue streams for artists. And the ones we don't know about yet!

KM: Cryptographic technology makes digital scarcity possible- are you excited about the reality of unique digital artworks? What are some specific applications that you are looking forward to?

C: Yes, however, we have a ways to go.  For instance, right now if you own a digitally rare item like a CryptoKitty and the parent company goes under, what you really own are just lines of code...not the cute cat to which you've grown attached. This will change as the various platforms upon which these projects are based scale.

KM: Does Blockchain open doors to new revenue sources for artists? How about for less well-known artists, who are not participating in the big auctions and multi-million sales?

C: New revenue sources for artists were one of the reasons I was initially drawn to the space.  Several years ago, I started attaching QR codes to street art to experiment with receiving instant patronage from passersby.

While micropayments haven't yet lived up to the hype, they will be game-changing. Poets can charge by the poem, journalists by the article, musicians by the listen. People will tip a driver that lets them merge– any situation where a positive experience warrants a tiny show of appreciation.

Smart contracts will also mean artists don't have to die to earn a living wage. Right now if I want to secure royalties on future sales of one of my works, it is prohibitively expensive due time, contracts and lawyers involved.  

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KM: What would be your advice to fellow artists in terms of joining Blockchain art platforms and accepting cryptocurrency?

C: My advice to fellow artists is to jump in and experiment. Recognize that much like the cryptocurrencies themselves, many of the blockchain art platforms will not survive.  Thus, do some research about the people involved and what they stand for. It's a really exciting time for art + crypto.

Punk #754 by Larva Labs
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Redefining collectibles

Amidst the excitement generated by Blockchain applications, it’s important to keep in mind that the same principle applies as to any other database or ledger– garbage in, garbage out. An immutable record of an artwork’s provenance is of little use if the record is fraudulent or erroneous to begin with. Undoubtedly, as Blockchain protocols for art records become more commonplace, mechanisms will develop to address such challenges.

Digital records of authenticity and unique digital art are certain to change the nature of art collecting. With an increased focus on art as capital and some collectibles, such as CryptoKitties, existing without any physical manifestation, the relationship between the personal experience of art and its perceived value is likely to be redefined. At any rate, Blockchain art startups are carving out a niche in the global art market, already valued at over $60 bln– something certainly worth considering for the artful investor.

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How Swiss Government Helps Launch ICOs Legally: Exclusive Interview

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Matthias Michel, head of regional business development of Canton Zug, on challenges and possibilities for ICOs in Switzerland
How Swiss Government Helps Launch ICOs Legally: Exclusive Interview

The "Cryptovalley" located in Swiss Canton Zug has become famous internationally as the place where citizens can pay for government services in digital currencies including Bitcoin. Long-term vision, strategy, infrastructure and government support are the factors which attract many entrepreneurs to Zug. Generally, Switzerland with its strong focus on innovation now attracts those who invest into new financial technologies including Blockchain.

We met Matthias Michel, Head of Department of Economic Affairs of Canton Zug at the Blockchain Leadership Summit in Zurich. Mr Michel agreed to talk to us about the challenges and possibilities for ICOs and Blockchain-based businesses in Switzerland

Cyril Gilson: Is it easy to launch an ICO based on the legal framework developed in Canton Zug with your authorities?

Matthias Michel: This question you should ask lawyers or members of the crypto association because they have done it and they can tell you. But it seems it’s possible because a lot of ICOs with big volumes have been created in Switzerland and especially in Zug. There’s a lot of lawyers, of fintech people in Zug and in Zurich, and a lot of knowledge on the subject.

CG: What seem to be the main problems, the main challenges, main hurdles in doing it?

MM: They say the main problem is working with traditional banks. You get a bank account and here banks hopefully want to be very compliant with regulations, and at the moment not every regulation is clear because it’s a dynamic evolution going on.

With the whole crypto technology, not every regulation is clear yet, so the banks will wait for clear regulations to have relationships with ICOs, to accept them and so on. It seems that’s the main challenge.

CG: Almost every day we hear some banker or representative of the banking community saying that cryptocurrencies are essentially a bubble and that Bitcoin is a bubble. In Switzerland what is the attitude of the banks and the government? How would you describe the attitude of the government and the banks in Switzerland?

MM: I cannot speak for the banks as I speak for our government. First, we think that Blockchain technology is just a part of the digital revolution, digital development. It’s a technology that can be used for good things and bad things, but you have to approach it.

Let’s take the example of the city of Zug. They thought — okay, we are eager to know what’s going on and you can only know a technology when you apply it. So they apply it to their own administration. So let’s say you can pay some expenses in Bitcoin in the city of Zug.

In my register of commerce, within my governmental department they say — okay let’s accept a company to be founded with Bitcoin, so it’s not in cash but a deposit of Bitcoin evaluated in Swiss francs, so let’s try it out because if you try it out you’ll learn. That’s maybe a symbol of our open access to the technology to learn, and after learning only if you know how it functions you can create the goods and the right regulation.

We as Cantonal government are not a regulator. The regulation is done on the federal level but we help the federal government find the appropriate solution.

We work in the task force together with the industry on how to approach this technology and how to do it in a smart and smooth way. Our aim is not to forbid it, but to enable it, giving clear regulation on what’s possible and what’s not.

For the industry, it’s important to have stability and to know what right and what’s wrong - that’s why the regulation is needed. We are working in a dynamic way. I mentioned these examples to show that we are open to this technology, which will be important for the future in any case. As the Chinese say, ‘You had better build windmills than walls.’

CG: Switzerland is a very decentralized country. How decentralized is it in terms of financial regulation?

MM: Our financial regulation is centralized. The country is quite decentralized in taxes, tax laws, in other areas. As different cantons and cities, we compete with each other as locations. We can handle a lot of key factors ourselves: taxes, universities on the cantonal level, transportation, infrastructure. We have a lot of factors, which we shape in our small states. Therefore, we want to be the best within our country to be able to compete with other cantons. We try out to attract industries of the future to get them based in Zug. That gives us a sort of competition within the country and competition leads to the best solutions.

So let’s say the register of commerce in Geneva will apply a Blockchain-based solution, then we apply one. That’s the advantage of decentralization that different states, 26 states, compete with each other for the best solutions.

CG: But what about competition with places like Singapore or Puerto Rico with its special taxation regime?  

MM: This global competition — that’s not a new thing. It’s now applied to the Blockchain community, but we lived for decades with global competition before and that’s not new.

And finally our thinking is that you cannot compete only with one factor at hand. If you have a business that needs a lot of natural spaces to build big plants — you won’t come to Zug or to Switzerland because we don’t have that much space. If you want to build a solar plant you will build it better in a desert, not in green Switzerland.

Maybe there are places in the world where you don’t pay any taxes at all, but if you go there you won’t find any talents. You need to have a combination of a moderate tax system, reliable politics, stability, good infrastructure, good schools, good universities — it’s always the combination, which can attract companies and people.

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Excavating the Crypto Truth: Interview with the Trade's Top Gun, Eugene Loza aka EXCAVO

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On Becoming a Trader

U.Today: You are the top trader on TradingView and a big expert in the field. Can you please give us your backstory? How did you find yourself trading cryptocurrencies?

EXCAVO: It all started when I got to attend one of Bill Hubbard’s lectures, which made me very interested. After that, I started working at a brokerage firm where I was able to formulate more questions, and my desire to learn how the whole industry works multiplied. I left the company two years later and―having promised myself to spend at least half my life learning the market inside out―entered the Kiev Institute of International Relations.

By then, I already knew quite a bit and started to publish graphs on gold and oil trade, as well as on some American and European indices. At one point, when I was working as a portfolio manager for one Canadian client, he paid my commision using Bitcoin. This is how I first got acquainted with the world of cryptocurrencies and subsequently started to delve into it, which led to where I am right now: running my own analytics company and crypto academy.

EXCAVO
Excavating the Crypto Truth: Interview with the Trade's Top Gun, Eugene Loza aka EXCAVO

U.Today: What should one keep in mind in order to stay sane and not lose one’s earnings in the process? Basically, what are the do’s and the don’ts of cryptocurrency trading?

EXCAVO:

You have to be disciplined and self-organized. Sticking to your own trading plan no matter what is an absolute must. The worst thing one can do is start jumping on a bandwagon following market trends. You need to always stay cool-headed and think twice before acting.

U.Today: What is your advice for anyone wishing to enter the market in the capacity of a crypto trader?

EXCAVO: The most important thing is how you treat the whole process: you must be serious and diligent. And, of course, experience is vital. You need to spend at least 10 000 hours learning the trade before starting to approach an expert like level.

There is such a thing as the “pickle effect”, as it is known where I come from. Everyone is born a fresh cucumber, so to speak, but if a cucumber is put into a jar with pickles and left marinating there, sooner or later, that cucumber will, too, become a pickle. Like the others in the jar. The question is how good of a pickle you are going to be. Find a decent fund or a trading company, roll up your sleeves, and soak in as much juice as you can.

Interpretations of Price and Market Cap Values

U.Today: We have recently covered a research study published by computer scientists from University College London who concluded that Reddit markers could be used to predict cryptocurrency rates. As someone whose very job is to predict crypto movements, can you share your thoughts on this?

EXCAVO: First of all, the market is comprised of people with different emotions and goals, and certainly each one with their own strategy. The crucial thing here is not to let the ground slide from under your feet in the times of hype.

In terms of Reddit, it can definitely be used to predict crypto rates. To my mind, the obvious reason is that shared information is prone to influencing one’s decision making. When large chunks of data are thrown at those involved in the crypto trade, it is bound to affect what is happening in the market.

Consequently, not only can Reddit be used to predict prices, but it can be used to actually change prices. And this is indeed what some individuals do in order that their agendas be pushed forward.

Normally, calendars are used to structure such targeted news―in case of Reddit, the so called sub-reddits―which come out at certain times to meet certain outcomes, including changes in rates, quite similar to, say, how my graphs may influence the others on TradingView.

U.Today: A seemingly trivial question, yet the one many do ask. Why is there often such a big divide between market cap and price values of cryptocurrencies? Some coins occupy virtually the same positions market cap- and unit price- wise, e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, etc. But this isn’t the case with all altcoins. For instance, Maker is currently second only to Bitcoin in terms if its unit value, but it’s not even in the top twenty by market cap. In contrast, some companies like Ripple or IOTA are among global leaders by market cap, yet the coins are valued at around 50 US cents a pop. Why so?

EXCAVO: Well, first of all, we need to understand that most of these statistics are very subjective. Arguably one of the most popular sources is CoinMarketCap, and it is a very one-sided source.

Huge sums of money that flow outside the “official” market, for example Bitcoin to local fiat exchanges on LocalBitcoins, which are often humongous amounts, are not even taken into consideration by CoinMarketCap, since these transactions are not performed by professional traders. So, official stats may not be a good indicator of how things really are.

In terms of why there is such a big divide, well, we are dealing with different parameters. Market cap figures essentially show how much has been invested into a particular currency, how much trust is in it. Price, on the other hand, reflects a) how many coins of a particular brand there are on the market, and b) how it relates to that coin’s market cap representation.

In other words, Bitcoin and Ethereum have high market cap values and high prices because much has been invested into them, and there are not too many of these coins around, comparatively speaking. With Maker, there are also not many coins around, but simultaneously not that much has been invested, hence the high price but the low market cap. With Ripple, it’s the other way around: a lot has been put into the coin by investors, hence its very high market cap figure, but at the same time there are very many coins around (100 billion in total), so the price is not high, nor was it ever planned to be.

Adoption and Latest Developments

U.Today: Are cryptocurrencies going to be widely traded for anything other than fiat currencies any time soon, e.g. gold, oil, bonds, etc? Also, when will mainstream adoption be seen outside the trading circles, as far as readily available crypto payment systems go in public places like hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, etc?

EXCAVO: In terms of trading, yes, it is possible, of course. But the real question is whether the people who are trading gold and oil need it right now. First of all, it’s not even gold, let’s not forget, it’s gold futures, i.e. future prices of gold, that’s how much confidence and capital these folks have. And they are not likely to move away from what they are comfortable with and leap into something unfamiliar and volatile unless they see that there is more opportunity for them in cryptocurrencies. When they see it for a fact, they will surely move in for the kill.

As for oil, it’s a different story altogether. These business sharks―namely Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and City Bank―also trade futures, and they are all working under the Federal Reserve system. And, of course, oil trade is based on the USD and USD alone, by its very definition, thanks to Henry Kissinger. So this is a political issue.

The US government simply won't allow any other, non-USD type, exchanges unless these exchanges begin to serve the government’s own interests. So, yes, crypto traders are ready to incorporate other commodities, be it metals or oil, into their exchanges, but it’s mainly the other side that has to reciprocate at this point. Sooner or later, it will probably happen, but not just yet.

As for adoption of crypto payments all across the board, this will absolutely happen, and it is happening already as we speak, as more places are offering crypto payment options in Europe and Asia. Similar to how we all use credit cards and mobile banking, crypto wallets are being incorporated into our lives as well. It is as easy and convenient as traditional banking, but it’s also much safer. In the centralized banking sector, you are likely one day to be told that you cannot withdraw your funds, for one reason or another, as it happened in Greece during their last big financial crisis when you could not take out more that 300 USD of your own money in one go.

With decentralized banking and crypto options, no one can ever tell you how much you can or cannot withdraw, or indeed what you do with your money and how you do it.  This is crypto’s main advantage by far.

U.Today: Can you single out any strong newcomers to the market, be it cryptocurrencies or platforms? Anyone or anything to watch out for?

EXCAVO: I am reluctant to name any particular players, as I am not here to advertise, but I can tell you that security tokens will go a long away. With most altcoins, there is no auditing and hence no dependability, while most big players, understandably, do not want to roll the dice and invest into a black hole.

With a security token, there is much more stability, and it is much more stringently regulated. It is essentially a more secure version of your regular altcoin. As a result, the business is a lot more transparent, and your chances of being swindled are minimized greatly. One platform that specializes in security tokens that I can single out is Polymath, but that’s as far as I am willing to go with dropping names and brands.

To this I can add that information waves are always at play. Right now not too many people know about these security tokens, but as soon as enough people learn about their existence, there will be a rush, surely.

U.Today: You have recently attended the Blockchain Life Forum in St Petersburg, Russia. Were there any memorable moments for you during the event, any highlights?

EXCAVO: Generally speaking, I was very pleased to attend the forum and speak there. I must note that the standard was very high, both the official part and the unofficial after party. There were many decent speakers and experts. One panel I was on voiced an array of different opinions and methods, all with a very high level of professionalism.

Networking was ever present at the forum, which was great, of course. I, for one, even ran into one of my subscribers from TradingView―a fellow Brazilian trader from a Swiss fund―entirely by accident. This just shows how international both the forum and the crypto community at large have grown.

Insights into the Ongoing Bitcoin Crisis

U.Today: What are your predictions as we’re starting to slowly approach the New Year? We are currently going through a crypto crisis with Bitcoin’s price way down. What’s going to happen next?

EXCAVO: I was actually expecting the crisis, to tell you the truth, so to me this didn’t come as a shock. The technical analysis I do and other market pointers were good indicators that this was coming. The cycle was nearing its end.

Make no mistake, this crisis was man-made, like any other one. Certain individuals and companies with vested interests wanted the price of Bitcoin to plummet. When the price is down, you buy cheap and later sell for more when the price climbs back up, which it will at some point. For a big player all that matters is the long term, three to five years, sometimes even ten. As Rockefeller once said: “The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets”.

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As for other cryptocurrencies, before the end of this year other, somewhat smaller players will emerge victorious, and mini bubbles will probably pop up. Those that have proven themselves on the market already, especially the ones with their own blockchains, are more likely to succeed, followed by the previously mentioned security tokens a little ways down the road.

Ripple will grow, surely. So will Japanese NEM. Ethereum is currently down but for reasons very different from Bitcoin’s collapse: they are restructuring and cutting out the unneeded players on its massive platform. Once it’s done, the company will recover briskly.

Bitcoin Cash is in a state of utter mess: this second fork has made the company lose all its claim to the “real Bitcoin” ambition it had previously laid out. It’s still unclear what’s going to happen next, as it is not a financial issue anymore. One thing is clear to me though: Roger Ver must be kicking himself right now.

The Future of Blockchain and DLT

U.Today: What is the future of Blockchain in general? Whereas initially Blockchain was realized in terms of finance mostly, first Bitcoin and then other altcoins, now the tendency has partially shifted toward decentralized social networking sites? What do you think the future will bring?

EXCAVO: Blockchain and DLT will appear in many parts of our lives, from politics to medicine. Imagine, I have to go to a hospital in another country, for argument’s sake. There, they have no idea who I am, what my medical history is, my state of health as a child, etc. All that information is somewhere on the other side of the world, and in another language, with no access to it, let alone instant access. With the Blockchain technology today, this problem is no more. My medical history, universally available, can be accessed and made use of as easily as ordering a cab on your phone.

Of course, the other side of it is privacy, which we will see less and less of. Ironically enough, Blockchain’s decentralized nature from the technical standpoint is more centralized than anything else from the social standpoint, as everything about you is floating there in public space. But that’s the price we have to pay for progress, and it’s pretty much inevitable.

You get an iPhone, let’s say. It’s flashy and new, and you can unlock your screen with a finger tip. Great. But folks at Apple now have your fingerprint along with all your other personal information. We surrender our privacy for the sake of convenience. There are no two ways about it. So, where we ultimately end up is up to whoever is at the steering wheel, be it policy makers or company directors.

On the plus side, once again, it is making and will continue to make our lives easier. Companies like Mars, which are Blockchain’s patent bureaus, are gaining in strength, so the whole game is becoming better organized, more comprehensible to a non-geek, clearer and fairer.

In terms of decentralized social networks, yes, they may be on the rise. Any business works via crests (highs) and troughs (lows). If there is a trough with centralized networks, it can lead to a crest with decentralized ones. Binance, for instance, has come a long way, because at the time it had no real competitors as such. Everyone else was in a downward spiral, so people came to Binance to find a feasible alternative. Likewise, if users find themselves dissatisfied with, say, Facebook, and there is another, decentralized option on the table, they will surely give it a try, and if the new platform lives up to their expectations, they will stick to it, naturally.

All in all, financially, socially, and politically, we are at a crossroads, and more signs point to the fact that, one way or the other, we are going to take the Blockchain/DLT route, or at the very least we aren’t going to drive in the opposite direction, nor head for an early exit.

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Blockchain Video Streaming as Ecosystem of Value Exchange: CryptoComes talks to Verasity

As euphoric ideas about possible Blockchain applications proliferate, many startups hope to become the ones to replace major, lucrative platforms - the Googles, Amazons and Facebooks of today’s reality - with something more transparent, fair, decentralized and community based. The race for the next “Youtube” is heating up as well, with many players entering the field. CryptoComes spoke to Verasity co-founders David Orman and David Simmons about the not-so-distant future of Blockchain powered video streaming.

Katya Michaels: How did you arrive at the application of Blockchain technology to video streaming? How does Blockchain help achieve your goals with the platform?

David Orman: Our team has a deep research and technical background in the video space. We've been building a white-label video player, which needs advanced technology to be able to scale with high quality, low buffering and low latency.

We initially approached Blockchain to account and record individual views on a video platform - what we are calling Proof of View. In doing so, we realized we could change the value exchange within the ecosystem.

A viewer can come onto the platform, choose what advertising to watch and get paid for that in coin. Content creators can decide how they get paid for their content - whether it’s donations, pay-per-view or subscriptions.

We're also doing some developments around microtransactions, because a video platform could scale and go global very quickly. We are able to do up to 100,000 transactions per second on our own Delegated Proof of Stake Blockchain, which is absolutely immense and gives us a real competitive advantage. But we are not a peer-to-peer platform, which a lot of other platforms are, because that allows us to provide a higher quality user experience for viewers anywhere in the world, on any device.

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Challenges of P2P for video streaming

KM: Could you elaborate on why P2P was not the best choice for Verasity?

Adam Simmons: We've done a lot of research and our technology significantly reduces the cost of distribution, as well as problems for viewers on global basis, such as being able to view on weaker connections.

In order to get adoption of the platform from viewers and creators, you've got to have a good viewing experience. If I went to a new video platform and the video didn't load, there was lots of buffering, the quality was bad - I'm never coming back. If there are no viewers - creators won't come over.

With P2P, you've got to have a huge amount of seeds for people to be able to view the content. That works great if the content is already popular and there a lot of people seeding it. But if you're trying to watch a video in California and the only seed for this video is in Asia, you're going to have a terrible viewing experience. It just doesn't scale. If it did, and if it was this wonderful thing that was so cheap and easy to use, then Google, Facebook, Vimeo, or these major platforms would have already utilized it.

The other challenge with P2P is the cost. Looking at it from a Blockchain perspective, as a free system, it's basically using tokens to incentivize people to use their resources to see the content. That may not cost the operating company anything, but it costs the token economy a huge amount to incentivize enough seeds to be even able to make a small amount of content have a good viewer experience.

The third aspect is that if you have a truly decentralized approach, moderation can be exceptionally difficult. In Verasity, our moderation policy for content is simple - is it legal? Having no moderation and no censorship is great from the point of view of freedom of the press. The trouble is, if you have a true no moderation environment, it doesn't take very long for people to upload highly illegal content. That's something that's going to get the entire platform taken offline and blocked on the national level by governments.

So, there are three major problems with P2P that are potentially catastrophic to a video sharing platform and we haven’t seen any good solutions.

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A different advertisement model

KM: On Verasity, advertisers interact with viewers directly. Some decentralized video platforms aim to cut out the advertising aspect entirely, leaving just the transaction between creators and viewers. Do you think that's unrealistic or sub-optimal?

AS: It’s all about where the advertisers are in the value exchange. In a traditional platform like Youtube, the viewer watches the advert, the advertiser pays the platform, the platform takes their costs to pay shareholders, and then some revenue gets back to the creator. The creator doesn't have any options about the kind of advertising, the viewer doesn't have a choice of whether they want to watch ads or support the creator in other ways.

We haven't removed the advertising from the system entirely because it offers a lot of value to people who want to engage with it. What we've done is move that advertiser from standing between the viewer and the creator.

The advertising market for online videos is billions and billions of dollars, so there's a huge amount of potential revenue there. Why should we as a platform make that decision? It's up to our users and our community to choose how they want to engage with advertising and be paid for their attention in our coin, Vera. We provide the facility for the advertiser to have a direct value exchange with the viewer.

Direct creator compensation

KM: What are some factors for getting the public to transition from platforms like Youtube toward the model of direct artist compensation? Is it the financial incentives of watching the advertising, or being part of that community, or the opportunity to invest in a creator directly?

DO: If we can bring the content community into the platform, enabling people to find what they want to watch when they want to watch it, and give them a good viewing experience, then the advertising model fits around that.

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We want to be able to say at some point in the future that we are giving far greater value than just the price they're paying has more value represented.

What we're doing with our Proof of View concept is ensuring that the platform can't be gamed. Therefore, we can create better accountability across the platform that will give true value to the advertisers, the content community and the viewers.

AS: Paying directly for content is actually a mechanism that is already used quite often. If you look at free-to-play mobile games, there are options of watching advert for gems or buying gems. Even within online video, paying directly for content is something that a lot of viewers are open to.

The challenge for creators on a purely ad funded platform is that the money you get per ad served is incredibly small. The only way to monetize effectively on those platforms is to get billions of views. Now that works great if you've got a funny cat video that was cheap to make, but that's only one type of content.

What about premium content, like TV shows or film? The value that content has needs to have either a pay-per-view model or subscription model. There is also niche or educational content, that may only be interesting to a few thousand of people in the world, but to those people the value of that video is incredibly high. If you put that video on an ad funded platform, it would make a couple of dollars. It wouldn't justify creating it and putting it online. When a creator has more options for monetization, audiences have access to a greater range of both genres and types of content.

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Eliminating content manipulation

KM: Given that there's no third party interference, how will content discovery be handled on the platform?

AS: Our recommendation engines are quite advanced, built up by viewer behavior - what videos you are watching, what you're interacting or engaging with. The big piece to how recommendation engines surface content is based on how the content performed globally. The problem with that today on social media or other video sharing platforms is that data could be manipulated.

A really topical issue at the moment is fake news. It shows up in people’s feeds because it gets seeded first through buying fake views, likes and comments which trick the algorithms into thinking that video or piece of content is really popular.

Our Proof of View technology eliminates that, and it means that the recommendations are a lot more accurate. In turn, that means the viewer experience and the content surfacing for creators is better.

Investment and exchange of value

KM: Viewers can support creators through the Spark Marketplace, by investing in their channel - that almost seems like an ICO inside an ICO.

AS: We like to think of it as crowdfunding plus one. Crowdfunding is mostly support for products - you give them some money, you get something back. There have been people trying to crowdfund for content, like a documentary. But it's very difficult to get people to put a lot of money into that sort of thing because all you can offer them back is a thank you or a line in the credits.

In the Spark Marketplace, because all the content is distributed through Verasity and all transactions are done on the Blockchain, we can actually create a small contract which automatically distributes a portion of channel earnings to people who backed that channel.

It could be as simple as a typical Youtuber buying a new camera, all the way to funding an entire TV series. When viewers stake some Vera into channels, creators can produce better quality content, grow the channel, grow the audience and in exchange viewers can share in the success that they helped create. This gives a real incentive for people to back channels and they become bigger advocates as well. They aren't just sharing creator content because they like it, but because they've got a stake in it.

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KM: When there is talk of stakes and returns, though, it makes me think of investor expectations and regulations. Do you foresee any issues with that?

AS: For everything we are doing with Sparks, we've got a big team of seasoned professionals and legal counsel. We're building a platform that we want to see succeed, so we’re really making sure that everything we're doing is by the book to meet global regulation guidelines in terms of how users interact with it.

This is another aspect where Proof of View comes in - it enables us to add that extra degree of scrutiny. All the transaction data, performance analytics and guidelines will be available to viewers who are looking into buying channel Sparksl. It’s something creators can share freely with their viewers.

DO: It's about building a community within a community. Our platform is being delivered with robust accountability and high-quality technology. On the basis of that, we are hoping to encourage pockets of communities surrounding content channels, and we will work with content creators to make sure that they can promote and monetize their content more transparently and efficiently.

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Trust Arms Race in the Age of Cryptography: Max Borders Interview

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Future can be viewed as a positive-sum game if brain creativity is accommodated by smart contracts and greed is leveraged by prosocial ends: Max Borders
Trust Arms Race in the Age of Cryptography: Max Borders Interview

Cyril Gilson, Evgeny Konstantinov.

Futurist Max Borders is author of The Social Singularity: A Decentralist Manifesto. He is also Executive Director of Social Evolution, a non-profit dedicated to solving social problems through innovation, a widely published writer and co-founder of the event experience Voice & Exit.

UToday discusses with Max Borders the future of communities in the age of the coming technological singularity, a new big thing after the attention economy, the failures and hopes of the US as a project, decentralization, FAGMA and the crypto market as a non-zero sum game.

UToday: Could trust economy be the next big thing, after the attention economy?

Max Borders: That is the optimistic vision of The Social Singularity, I think, though I did not put it specifically in those terms. If we can program incentive systems and networks that give rise to trust, people will almost always prefer those and will migrate to them where possible. I don’t want to overstate my optimism, however.

This is a long game. Big companies and big governments have lots of sticks and carrots at their disposal. And they will use them.

Many people have a deep inner urge not only to believe in the promises of central authority but to submit to it. So whatever the alternatives are, they must be robust and far more attractive than the status-quo system. Migrating between systems must be a simple, low-cost proposition on the part of the defectors or those who are ready to move out onto the frontiers of the network age.

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Incentivizing trust

UToday:  Do you think trust can be monopolized by the Leviathan (state/corporations) as it almost happened with attention?

Max Borders: Certainly not. Trust is more or less the product of repeated positive interaction among people. In the former Soviet bloc, people developed clever and systematic ways to evade the state’s panopticon, relying heavily on bonds of trust that amounted to winks, nods and robust black markets. Paradoxically, people in the former Soviet bloc also developed cheater's mores, but I’ll leave that for now. But people imagine they can trust central authorities, and some generally regard the state as generally trustworthy, as they are under the spell of thinking that angels are meant to be in power.

So, in the age of cryptography and connection, I worry there will be a trust arms race between central hierarchies and prosocial networks. But I hope trustful networks will prevail over attempts to create third-party leviathans that promise trust.

The hypothesis is that if positive interactions are rewarded and negative interactions are not, then trust will be more likely to be a happy by-product. But that hypothesis could be wrong.

UToday: Game theory says that trust (as in trust between people) can only evolve in a non-zero sum game. Do you agree?

Max Borders: This strikes me as at least intuitive (unless the game is a negative sum of course). It’s certainly a good heuristic for designing incentive systems. But those systems will compete in a kind of evolutionary fitness landscape, which we hope will generate the most prosocial systems while the anti-social systems die off.

That said, I don’t want to give the impression that all systems should be “trustless” in the way that some distributed ledgers are designed to disintermediate. I think some systems can and should hypermediate, which means that they involve more participants with different perspectives and subjective points-of-view.

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Subversive innovation USA

UToday: The US pretty much started as a utopia attempt (and a voice & exit thing). What place do you think the US has in this subversive innovation that's currently happening?

Max Borders: The US project, a constitutional order, was a valuable and instructive one. But it is essentially dead. The processes of institutional corruption, like power in collusion with money (obscured as it is by the spectacle of electoral politics), has created a system that basically trundles along but has lost its way. So it’s time for an upgrade.

That upgrade won’t happen by the reflection of legislators in deliberative bodies. It will happen by entrepreneurs and innovators offering alternatives that are just too tempting to pass up.

Such is not to say that there are no subversive innovators here in the US. We are everywhere. It is rather to say that the US’s social operating system is getting buggy. And that is true for most of the Westphalian nation states whose people are temporarily trapped in old nationalisms, and whose leaders aren’t coming to grips with the decentralization that is now unfolding before our very eyes. The days of central power are numbered. The forces of change can only be stopped if the world’s leaders agree to be way more totalitarian than they are. But even totalitarianism can only work for a time.

UToday: Is voting based on Blockchain (as in presidential elections) outside of the scope of change?

Max Borders: If it’s not, it should be. Blockchain-based voting rather misses the point of what’s possible with these new systems. And to be fair, I don’t care a jot about voting in the sense of majoritarian rule. The worship of democracy that is so pronounced in Western nations like the US strikes me as a failure of imagination coupled with an implicit bias to vote oneself goodies or to express one’s values without having to do the hard work. The hard work is to build participatory communities that attract and retain members.

My hypothesis is that this new market in governance forms will challenge all of these older ideas about the relationship between the government and the governed- not to mention they’ll challenge the idea that jurisdictions should be attached to terra firma.

Let us, therefore, pluck our governance from the cloud. Let a thousand experiments bloom. Then let 80 percent of those experiments die or evolve- over and over, ceaselessly. There will be no end of history. There will only be new governance systems that emerge victorious for a time until something better comes along- where “better” is in the eye of the beholder.

UToday:  During your 2017 Burning Man speech, you said: "Bitcoiners are extremely ultra left-brained." Could you expand on this?

Max Borders: ”Left-brained” is shorthand for logical, rational- with a tendency to view the world through a systems lens. Many of the early adopters of Bitcoin were geeks and coders, for example. This is a good thing on the net.

We need armies of Vitaliks rewriting humanity’s source codes.

But the next phase will be how to accommodate the creatives, the artists, and those with insights that are not always translatable into stark on/off binary thinking exemplified by smart contracts.

UToday: Any ideas on how right brain creativity can work with Blockchain algorithms? Would you say that Steemit does it in a way?

Max Borders: This is a hard question, particularly for me because I am not a software developer. Tentatively, I would suggest that it depends on which level of description you’re talking about. So on the one hand, you might get very left-brained systems at the protocol level, but these systems can give rise to forms of interaction that are a lot fuzzier and distinctively human.

On the other hand, it’s a bigger challenge to think about how one builds fuzziness in at the protocol level. Such questions are admittedly beyond my ability to answer. However, I think creatives and coders will discover new ways to interact in complementary ways that will generate amazing opportunities for human flourishing.

Steemit is an interesting early effort, but I think there is a lot more to come. A simple current example might be improved UX/UI, guided by more intuitive minds. So much of what we have to deal with now is neither simple nor terribly secure (such as keeping up with goddamn private keys, or a thousand passwords).

I would like to see society’s most vulnerable people using cryptocurrencies, for example. But that will happen only to the extent that we can make interfaces for human beings instead of just Vulcans.

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Prosocial greed

UToday:  The crypto market has some characteristics of a non-zero sum game. With more money flowing into crypto, more people are going to get rich. So greed, in a way, is fuelling the move to decentralization. Do you agree?

Max Borders: Yes. Greed, or at least self-interest, will almost always be the primary driver of progress. My organization, Social Evolution, is currently working on a system of mutual aid that attempts to harnesses both self-interest and altruism within a single system. I hope this will become a “killer app” because we are both greedy and altruistic creatures by shades. But I’m under no illusions: you have to get the incentives right. The very idea of incentives imbeds the idea of our basic self-interest. It’s in our bones as a species. Greed cannot be jettisoned. It must be leveraged. But hopefully, we can leverage it to prosocial ends.

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FAGMA

UToday: But generally, isn’t it too much hype about decentralization? Is it becoming a myth, with FAGMA (Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon) putting whole industries out of business?

Max Borders: We shall see. FAGMA has massive network effects, which will be hard to overcome. But they’ll only be able to stick around if they are able to match the powerful incentives these new systems will soon offer potential defectors. Whether or not decentralization is or is not a myth will turn on whether the innovations A) reduce transition costs and B) offer benefits to the degree that the value of the old systems can be replaced as people defect.

To be honest, I am currently a slave to FAGMA. And I derive a lot of value from those relationships. I wrote The Social Singularity using a Mac, on Google docs, promoted on Facebook and sold via Amazon. I guess that makes me a shitty decentralist, despite having written the book.

That fact notwithstanding, we’re still in the DNA and single-cell stages of what will become a Great Barrier Reef of technological change. When the developers get the products right, we might just get to a tipping point.

AI beating humanity?

UToday:  Could AIs beat the humanity in decentralization, growing their own Mycelial Network?

Max Borders: Egad! It makes my head hurt to consider this possibility. But it is a possibility. My hope is that we are able in some sense to merge with AI before it comes to regard us as a competitor or a cancer. I hope it thinks of us as a companion or a continuation of its being. Can AI evolve empathy? Love? Will it feel at all? Or will it evolve into something more insidious and unstoppable?

My hope is that as we upgrade our collective intelligence (CI) we will co-evolve with AI and form common “mycelial” networks that give rise to something far greater than we can currently imagine.

And I gather that such wild predictions loop back to the first question above about life on earth viewed as a positive-sum game. We really don’t have a choice but to be optimistic. Because CI and AI are going to push us into a future that is not really of our choosing. And as CI and AI weave together, we will be as demigods operating in the form of expanded consciousness and intelligence that is right now the stuff of dreams.

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Future of Crypto is Selective Transparency: Rob Viglione of ZenCash on Privacy Protocols

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As concern about government grows, privacy coins are attracting more attention. But are they a promising investment or a haven for criminals?
Future of Crypto is Selective Transparency: Rob Viglione of ZenCash on Privacy Protocols

 

In the past few months, the news on cryptocurrency regulation has brought uncertainty and skepticism to the cryptocurrency market. The reality of impending regulation runs contradictory to the principles of decentralized cryptocurrencies, putting privacy focused coins in the spotlight.

However, privacy coins, even more so than Bitcoin itself, are perceived by many regulators and consumers as vehicles for facilitation of criminal activities. CryptoComes spoke to Rob Viglione, co-founder of ZenCash, for a more nuanced look at what privacy coins are today and what they could become in the future.

How privacy coins work

Katya Michaels: What makes a privacy focused coin different from “regular coins”? Are transactions handled in a different way?

Rob Viglione: One issue with Bitcoin that we started realizing early on was that it’s really not that private. All of the transactions are linked, which is the whole point of the Blockchain, and everything is public in the ledger where anyone can look at it.

As soon as you link one transaction to an identity, you can backtrack the entire chain to figure out every single transaction. This is a big deal because there are a lot of people who just don't want what they're doing to be publicly broadcast to the world.

Initially, transactions were mixed to obfuscate who is doing what. Then, there was the realization that individual transactions could be adapted for mixing, and also that mixing could be done at the protocol level. We could mix every transaction that ever, ever happened with other transactions.

Then, this other class of cryptography evolved, called zero-knowledge cryptography. This transformed the entire aspect of the transaction, so you can't even see who is sending money, to whom or for what amount.

What we are doing at ZenCash now is not just currency transactions, but an encrypted chat protocol where you can’t see any aspect of the communication. That’s a bit of the evolution of where we've come as an industry and where we are right now.

KM: There are other coins, ZCash specifically, that use the zk-SNARKS protocol. But you feel there is a way to build on and improve that technology for increased privacy and safety?

RV: I think that what ZCash did with zero-knowledge cryptography and zk-SNARKs is groundbreaking, so that technology itself is probably sufficient for most privacy use cases. What we are doing is building not just a cryptocurrency, but an entire platform based on zk-SNARKs technology.

So, basically, if you go to “https” on the web, you are creating a secure communication tunnel. We've done the same thing on our protocols with secure nodes - you can have a secure tunnel between the client and the node, or node to node, creating a secure encrypted network over which zk-SNARKs transactions occur. Our goal is a privacy oriented ecosystem, and this is just the infrastructure that runs the ecosystem.

Race for the TCP/IP of crypto

KM: On that subject, what do you think are the major components of crypto infrastructure that are defining the industry now and for the next few years?

RV: What might be different today versus the 1990s when TCP/IP started proliferating, is that we are actually starting to build standards that can make interoperability a reality. For instance, our R&D partner IOHK is actually building out an interoperability standard that cryptocurrencies like ourselves could adopt and use to speak to other protocols.

Right now it's a race to see who is going to be the TCP/IP of the cryptocurrency and Blockchain world, who is going to have this standard on top of which others are going to build a whole bunch of useful services.

Now, you don't have to have one protocol to rule them all, like The Lord of the Rings. What we should be doing is building out the infrastructure which could be interoperable with protocols that have different functions and niches.

Ultimately, what we want to do is to build some sort of mesh net or network of interconnected of services that do different things, but in aggregate can do a lot more together.

KM: Would you say that these kind of projects that are building the infrastructure to support Blockchains in the future are the best options for investment because they will have more longevity?

RV: There are two ways to look at it - either you are buying into an infrastructure play or you are investing into some company building some specific product. I personally gravitate toward the infrastructure plays because the ecosystem itself is much more valuable than any particular project. Of course, you can always find an amazing project that you can invest in directly. But there are more idiosyncratic factors when you do something like that.

Reconciling privacy and transparency

KM: Interestingly, both the transparency of the public ledger and the privacy of use have been praised as qualities of cryptocurrency that will revolutionize the financial industry. But those two qualities seem contradictory - or can they be reconciled?

RV: That's a really good question. The way that we look at it, we give the user the option. We have a system where an individual has a choice whether to make the transaction either transparent or private.

There is a whole class of privacy coins that are based on using ring signatures, like Monero, that force every single transaction to be private. When you do that, you're doing a great job of security and privacy, but you bump up against use cases in the real world where a lot of businesses are accountable to shareholders or to the government for taxes and a lot of things that we do on a day to day basis actually have to be transparent.

That’s why I think that when we talk about this technology going mainstream, we have to have the option to be selectively transparent.

This technology could almost be bifurcated into the privacy coins that are exclusively anonymous, and privacy coins that give you a choice to be anonymous but also allow you to do transparent stuff.

Regulations and future of privacy coins

KM: It seems that the trajectory of the U.S. government on regulations and tax regimes is encouraging investors and consumers to turn their attention to privacy focused coins. Do you think that’s a justified reaction?

RV: If you're looking at this from the perspective of a trader, I think you're absolutely right - in the near term there will probably be a shift in the market towards privacy coins.

From a technology perspective, in the long run probably all coins will be privacy coins. Even Ethereum is looking to integrate zk-SNARKs into their protocol. There is a huge need for privacy, a huge set of economic and social justifications for why individuals should have some data that is just private, period.

Sure, there will probably be some projects that don't offer you privacy because they're catering specifically to a government or a bank, but overall I think the option of privacy will be ubiquitous across the industry. That’s the real sweet spot - when you have a technology that gives you the option of selective transparency and control over your own data.

KM: In other news, the Coincheck exchange stopped support for Monero, Dash and ZCash. Do you think this is a reasonable decision? In general, what do you think about privacy coins being associated with illegal activities?

RV: Technology will always be available for criminals - I mean, cell phone technology has done wonders for crime. But there is also a massive socio-economic impact that comes with it.

I think the same thing is true of privacy coins. The initial backlash is a little bit overdone, and I don't think ZCash can be put in the same category as Monero. It doesn’t make sense for exchanges to ban zero knowledge cryptography coins like ours, because only transparent transactions are listed on the exchange. In that context we are no different than Bitcoin.

KM: Perhaps few people take the time or have the background to distinguish between different privacy coins. In general, the industry is always evolving, and technical aspects may not be fully examined before making regulatory decisions. Could that be part of the problem?

RV: Yes, I think it’s the lack of education. My background is in science, and I think a lot of the time people do a good job on the engineering side, but there is a huge gap in the industry in terms of stepping back and bringing actual scientists into the market to think about the deeper problems.

It’s one of the jobs that I see ahead for myself - to educate the general population. We are not drug dealers, we are not criminals, we just think that technology has a lot more potential for social good than for bad applications by bad people.

Instead of pursuing technologists that want to build something that could bring social benefit, law enforcement should focus on the criminals who might take advantage of those innovations.

Bringing back the cypherpunks spirit

KM: You mentioned in some of your talks that you want to carry forward the spirit of the original cypherpunks. How do you define that spirit for yourself and how do you think the crypto industry is departing from those principles?

RV: In the spirit of full transparency, I'm not old enough to be an original cypherpunk. I was a late generation cypherpunk. Really, it’s just that cryptocurrency came about when people realized we could use technology for social good, to empower the individual, saying individuals have a right to privacy. That's the core of what we do.

What I like to say is we are standing on the shoulders of giants. The biggest giant was Satoshi, who gave us an amazing technology for free. I think now we have an obligation to give back socially to the community and the ecosystem.

Cypherpunks are a very small minority of human beings out there. The technology has grown so much, and of course it's going to change. The use cases are going to change, the consumer base is going to change, and that's fine.

But we want to preserve the fundamental attributes where we're first and foremost a values based, community driven project.  Doing social good is probably the most important thing, and if we can create some economic value in the process, that's awesome.

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