Category Archives: Decentralization

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Bitcoin Built to Survive Nuclear War

Bitcoin’s decentralized nature makes it resistant to nuclear war, as cryptographer and computer scientist Nick Szabo points out in a Tweet.

A digital currency that would survive a nuclear war: the full Bitcoin transaction history, all the way back to the genesis block, exists in over 9,000 copies located in over 90 countries — and that’s just counting the copies running live.https://t.co/fbKKtJ6Uay

— Nick Szabo 🔑 (@NickSzabo4) November 22, 2019

Szabo is basing his claims on data from the Bitnodes website that reveals the distribution of Bitcoin full nodes worldwide. A Bitcoin full node maintains a complete record of all of the Bitcoin transactions in history, i.e., the entire blockchain. Technically, only a single Bitcoin full node is enough to keep the network running, or to restart the network if somehow all nodes were turned off.

There are nearly 9,500 Bitcoin full nodes across the globe as of this writing. The greatest concentration of nodes is in the United States, Europe, Indonesia, China, and Japan. However, there are also nodes spread across more remote parts of the globe like Hawaii, various Caribbean islands, Iceland, the Canary Islands off the coast of northwest Africa, Alaska, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, across Siberia, and in Australia and New Zealand.

Considering this, it seems that the chances of all the Bitcoin full nodes being knocked offline are fairly low, even in the event of a really bad nuclear war. Suffice to say, Bitcoin is as close as it gets to being nuclear war proof.

 

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Marriage Unblocked Says “I Do” to Blockchain

Blockchain for marriage.

“If someone loves someone they have a right to marry.” – Mildred Loving

Marriage vows and blockchain – you must be wondering what prominence does technology hold in such a scenario. But the reality is that many people choose to record their sacred matrimony on a decentralized ledger — to do away with societal approval and the traditional extravagant marriages.

An important aspect of blockchain technology is to bring about socioeconomic revolutions and provide sustainable solutions to the obstacles that have shaken the integrity of mankind.

Enshrining the right to marry

As of July 2019, homosexuality is still criminalized in 72 countries with some countries, going to the extent of imposing the death penalty for the same. The Jim Crow South Courts endorsed racial segregation and prohibited interracial marriages. One might argue why the government has to be involved in the union of two consenting adults in the first place. Amid the heated discussion, many people have resorted to the decentralized ledger technology… for an eternal marriage record, literally.

Today, the disruptive technology offers a simple and a rather quick way for contractual verification. Ideally, marriage certificates are issued after 10-15 working days. But smart contracts provide an innovative protocol to etch a digital agreement between two parties — without the need for third party verification. Back in 2014, at a DisneyWorld Bitcoin conference at Coins of the Kingdom, David Mondrus and Joyce Bayo, became the first couple to participate in a blockchain marriage.

David Mondrus said:

“Why should the government have anything to say about who I marry or how?”

In 2018, Bitfury’s Alex and Daria got hitched on the Bitcoin blockchain by attaching their marriage certificate to a Bitcoin transaction. Another couple, Vasily Lifanovsky and Alla Tkachenko, based in Russia, were the first in the home country to take vows on blockchain through the MyWish platform.

Couples can also frame instructions as to what actions must be taken during a divorce or death. Once both the partners agree to the divorce, the funds in their Ethereum wallet and other assets are split among them based on the predefined instructions. Considering the emotional toll and tedious procedures of divorce negotiations, blockchain offers a much faster way to end a marriage while cutting down on excessive legal costs.

Walking down the aisle with Marriage Unblocked

Swedish sport’s apparel brand Björn Borg launched their ‘Marriage Unblocked’ campaign just in time for the opening of the FIFA World Cup with the statement: “Opening up marriage for all via blockchain. Because no state or religion should control love. Just like sports, love is for everyone.”

The digital platform can be used to propose, exchange vows and obtain a digital certificate. The encrypted vows stored on the platform are immutable — eliminating chances of deletion by the government or family. The couple can choose to keep the nuptial records public or completely anonymous.

The initiative links back to Björn Borg’s “Love for all” campaign,  a step up towards recognizing basic human rights and celebrating love regardless of sexuality and race.

The first ever couple to tie knots through Marriage Unblocked was Sybille and Alexandra. The couple lives in Switzerland where same-sex marriages are still banned as of 2019.

Sybille and Alexandra said:

“We’ve been planning on getting married for a while now but since it’s not legal in our home country, we don’t know if or when that will ever happen. But now we are married, and it feels fantastic. We also hope our blockchain marriage pushes societies to recognize a basic human right — marriage equality.”

Digital certificates

The blockchain model offers a quick and cheap alternative to the traditional paper certificates that can get lost or be tampered with.

Digital marriage certificates are a hit in the Washoe County of northern Nevada. Marriage certificates are securely stored on the Ethereum blockchain and the certificates are received typically by 24 hours after the ceremony having been written to the blockchain as “Proof of Marriage”. In 2018, Nevada witnessed over 950 blockchain marriages.

Titan Seal is a startup involved in making digital certificates a reality. Hunter Halcomb, Department Systems Technician at Washoe County, said that Nevada records about 7,000 marriage certificates per year. The record archive is a whopping 17 billion pages of information. He further stated that the Titan Seal technology will be implemented to seal all the document archives. This will come as a savior in emergencies in case the documents are not accessible due to some reason. In such situations, the tamper-proof documents stored on blockchain come in handy.

In 2015, Edurne Lolnaz and Mayel de Bornio tied knots on blockchain and received their digital marriage certificate notarized by Bitnation in Estonia’s e-residency program.

On 1 July 2018, Nichole Zhu and Daniel Onggunhao sealed their bond beyond the country marriage registries through the Dapp Forevermore to inscribe their digital marriage certificate on the Ethereum blockchain. The couple got married in two continents and three countries during their travel, but virtually, their marriage was witnessed by over 16,000 Ethereum nodes across the world.

One might raise questions if the blockchain-based marriages are ethical, and will a shift of power and dominance from authoritarianism — although well-intended — really turn out to be the panacea of all the societal issues, or just give birth to new challenges. Regardless, it could certainly provide an approach towards the upliftment of gay and interracial couples – at least until they are accepted to be of the same norms as the other couples and till governments across the world embrace LGBTQ equality because even a single country criminalizing homosexuality is a huge obstacle in the way of humanity and love.

 

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Can Decentralization Transform the Music Industry?

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Music can be a go-to activity during leisure hours for some but for the music nuts, it is so much more than passion while for others still, it is the ultimate survival therapy. However, what goes unnoticed are the deep-rooted challenges faced by the industry and the artists who depend on this art form for a living.

The recorded music market saw a 9.7% annual growth with a total revenue of USD 19.1 billion in 2018. Even amid the industry’s buoyancy, there remain some hurdles along its way.

Beethoven may be decomposing but composers and artists have been suffering from a loss of royalties since the decline of traditional records. From global piracy hitting 190 billion visits in 2018 to legitimate streaming services such as Spotify receiving serious backlash for their treatment of artists, the industry is still in dire straits. Terry Matthew, Managing Editor, 5 Magazine stated:

“Spotify’s obsession with squeezing every penny of profit from a product that is already nearly free has turned it into one of the most overtly anti-musician companies out there.”

Flashback to 1999, the music industry hit rock bottom after the launch of the controversial music service, Napster. The platform dispensed the luxury of free streaming and downloading of music. However, a few months later, the company was sued by RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) along with the then superstars for lack of supervision over transfer of copyrighted material. Following this, Napster shut down in 2001 but another acquisition, Rhapsody gave momentum to the service by acquiring its subscribers and assets. In 2016, Rhapsody re-branded internationally as Napster.

While some believe that Napster is an integral part of transformation of the music industry into what it is now, others are of the opinion that it gave birth to long-term fiscal challenges due to the increased piracy during its era, the symptoms of which have been endured by the industry till date. Amid the need for a new model, Apple launched its media player, iTunes which reaped financial benefits for the industry through the sale of digital media. Followed by this, other streaming services such as YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal were launched which continue to proliferate even today. Undoubtedly, these platforms benefited the consumers to a great extent. However, despite the turning points in the industry, distribution still remains a challenge and the authority dispensed to the intermediaries has withheld power from the creatives (artists and producers) who painstakingly produce music and yet somehow are the last ones to reap royalty credits.

Benefits of Decentralization

Although centralized intermediaries add value to the supply chain through promotions, they have disturbed the balance between musicians and the end-consumers. The middlemen in most cases end up garnering more profits than the artists.

Generally, a single project involves contributions of writers, producers, sound engineers and a technical team. It becomes important to recognize the contributions and reward the stakeholders accordingly. As easy as it might sound, this is very challenging due to the lack of a verified global registry of music creatives and their works.

So where does blockchain come into the picture? For starters, this decentralized technology can be used to manage ownership rights and offer quick and efficient royalty distribution. Smart contracts allow credible royalty payments to the artists and other stakeholders, addressing the fact that many artists are severely underpaid or just not paid on time.

The transparency offered by the technology has proven to serve as a close tie between the artists and the consumers. As reported by BitcoinNews.com, a blockchain-based model rolled out by a social entertainment company to connect K-pop artists with their fans across the globe turned out to be a hit with both artists, fans and producers. This exemplary model showcases the vast potential of blockchain in the music realm.

The real idea is not the complete elimination of the middlemen but confining their power to marketing support and technical assistance. This can be achieved through a transparent network to keep a check on the intermediate shares and royalty payments.

Blockchain music models

As discussed earlier, blockchain has a massive impact on the music ecosystem thanks to its decentralized infrastructure. The emerging technology is being tapped by several platforms to revolutionize digital services. Many cryptocurrency projects have been launched in recent years to combat the issues faced by the music industry from decentralized music platforms to music-specific tokens to pay royalties.

Accenture Consulting stated, “With blockchain on the horizon, every company of every industry must re-evaluate their role in the value chain—where once again, the music industry is leading the pack.”

Some revolutionary platforms incorporating blockchain technology:

  • VOISE is a cryptocurrency-powered platform that provides a P2P network hosting feature. VOISE tokens based on Ethereum’s smart contract technology is the primary medium of value exchange over the VOISE music infrastructure. The website claims that artists earn nearly 100% of the profits without intermediary leakages.
  • Ujo Music offers a decentralized ecosystem to build “resilient, sustainable and accessible infrastructure for artists, supporters, and developers”.
  • Viberate is the world’s biggest live music database with 460,000 musicians and 100,000 venues at the time of writing. The platform uses blockchain to put emerging stars and hot venues into the spotlight; with real-time rankings and profiles. It also runs a rewarding system for its participants in the form of VIB tokens.
  • Musicoin is a platform endorsed by a majority of the audience to create a true sense of revolution in the industry. The website states: “95% of internet users don’t have access to music online, unless they subscribe to an expensive and closed streaming service. With the power of MUSIC blockchain, they can now stream independent music for free, from a constantly growing catalog of labels and artists. There’s no ads, it is free, easy to share, and artists get paid instantly.”

General audience endoring blockchain-based music platforms

The music industry has reaped the burgeoning tech’s benefits at a plethora of occasions. Singer Imogen Heap acknowledged the upper hand offered by cryptocurrencies in her recent projects, particularly with the song Tiny Human on the Ethereum blockchain in 2015, allowing people to download the song in exchange for Ether.

In 2017, Islandic singer, Bjork collaborated with London-based Blockpool, allowing her fans to exchange Litecoin, Dashcoin, and AudioCoin for her album Utopia. Moreover, the far-famed American singer and visionary change-maker, Akon, launched his own cryptocurrency dubbed AKoin while building a crypto city in Africa.

Ashton Kutcher, a blockchain enthusiast, co-founded A-Grade Investments, which financed BitPay. His company has been closely involved with several blockchain platforms. He said:

“The bigger thing with bitcoin is: what can that decentralized technology really do? […] Imagine if we could decentralize that issue of security, and if we can decentralize security. The notion that we could civically monitor each other in an anonymous way actually keeps the anonymity of the Internet, we don’t have to worry about Big Brother and that same infrastructure that built out Bitcoin could be used in the security industry for mass good.”

Although the paradigm shift to blockchain technology is enormous, it is anticipated to remold the world of finance and make significant changes in every other industry it can extend its applications to. Perhaps someday with the right research and resources, it can be a panacea for the music world, releasing artists from the unfair hold of the current system. Worst case scenario, it can provide momentum for better innovations in that direction. Either way, given the current state of the industry, a successful transition to a better paradigm is indispensable.

“Blockchain will not be a perfect answer to all the problems that the music industry is facing. But at the very least, it will level the playing field to some degree.” – Ben Dickson, TechCrunch. 

 

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Kiss Frontman Gene Simmons: Bitcoin Not Dead

Kiss Frontman Gene Simmons: Bitcoin Not Dead

Bitcoin isn’t dead, according to Kiss frontman Gene Simmons, enigmatic 1970s glam metal band bassist. Simmons, known to be a dabbler in investments, was attending a crypto event for wealthy investors alongside Anthony Pompliano, co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital Assets.

Well known for their face paint and stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid-to-late 1970s with their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, and pyrotechnics.

It would be hardly surprising to see the likes of the Kiss frontman at such an event, with an approximate net worth of USD 300 million, particularly as he once touted the possibility of launching his own Kiss Coin. Decentralization is clearly his thing based on comments he’s made in the past once stating:

“I believe in supply and demand. I don’t believe the government should stick their noses into the rise and fall of the economy.”

Before Bitcoin rocketed in 2017 Simmons claimed that Bitcoin was “a piece of the [investment] puzzle”, referring to the numerous investments out there which had potential to make substantial profits for investors, which clearly the hallmark cryptocurrency went on to do in later that year.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain have attracted others from the music world. Another rocker, Matt Sorum, the former drummer of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver surprised the music world at the end of last year when he announced a blockchain-powered live concert hosting platform and payment solution for artists suggesting that it was time to cut out the middleman, suggesting “That’s been something on artists’ minds for years. There’s all these people you got to pay along the way.”

 

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