The challenges of identity
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… The fundamentals haven’t changed - nothing China or Singapore or the SEC can can “harm” cryptocurrencies. While I agree that regulation is sorely needed in the space, crypto is not a governmentally-controlled organization. It routes around damage like the Internet and it is literally impossible to stop unless its users stop trading. Smell a little like a Ponzi scheme? Ehhhh… the jury is still out but I support the technology because it is a technology and not a financial instrument. The Internet of Value is probably the first technology of the 21st century to enact global change.
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This week’s quick thought
I’m thinking a lot about identity this week - identity in chatbots and reputation in all of the ICOs focused on paying for advice and knowledge with tokens, identity and reputation in education ICOs that pay based on knowledge and reputation, as well as the bigger problems that UN ID2020 is trying to solve- there are a billion people who don’t have any identification at all, which wouldn’t have been a problem a few centuries ago- people could move about the world freely without passports, without ID, and create trust locally. (Not that things were rosy then, either: poverty was greater, life expectancy was shorter. ID plays a role in that, too, in terms of health service delivery.) Now the world expects ID to establish trust, but that ID has to be based on a trusted authority or system… so how we decentralize identity, while giving the user control over it to share different parts at their discretion, to gain access to services is a big problem. There’s so much more to solve here than just recreating Kloutscores for people - the last 20 years of internet are littered with failed identity solutions, whether it’s just multi-site sign-in (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft), or trying to establish reputation (Klout), or the history of credit agencies (hello, Equifax.) With that in mind, read on about the ICOs I’ve looked at this week, and the news.
Two token sales to watch 👁️
Bottr.me is a smart messaging platform that makes it easy to create a chatbot to share with your followers. You create a bot, save questions as smart replies to give users pre-filled bits to start dialogue off, and people can tip you or pay for priority answers in their token, botcoin. Bottr is really four things: a personal AI powered identity for connection and communication (chat bot), a cryptocurrency to put value on a contribution and act as a medium of exchange (Botcoin), a social reputation measure for trust and governance (Botscore), and a transparent and secure blockchain based infrastructure layer (Botchain). They’re backed by 500Startups. Honestly, it strikes me a little like Reddit Gold, where people pay money to buy ‘gold’ to tip other users. Here, it merges it with a chat platform, adds utility to the coin beyond the first purchase. Bottr states explicitly that the tokens are not an investment, not a security. It’s worth a look. Here’s the link to the whitepaper.
Tutellus.io is one that catches my eye. Here’s why: They’re a learning platform that’s been around since 2013, has over 1M students, more than 1 Billion minutes spent learning, and 10M USD in transactions, across 20 countries. They’re making a new platform, growing to 160 countries, tokenizing it, and want to flip things around so that students get paid for learning. Teachers get instant payments, and earn money through relevence*. They also stand to earn with the best students, and students get paid for learning. The token gets used for payments to students, teachers, and making things affordable for countries with high inflation rates. It also can be used to pay for teacher services and company services for companies who wish to hire out of it. *Relevance is defined as the measure of knowledge and activity in a skill. They’re attempting to solve education problems like availability, affordability, and motivation on both the student and teacher’s part, as well as make for an easy recruiting pool for companies. Read the whitepaper.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 😊😠👹
😊GOOD: Microsoft is working on using blockchain tech to create a scalable digital identity platform. Here, they’re rolling it into their Microsoft Authenticator application, a 2factor auth app. It isn’t the first time that MS has worked on identity, and it’s something Facebook spends a lot of effort on as well. Microsoft and blockchain alliance Hyperledger are both a part of the United Nation's ID2020 project, which aims to achieve a secure and verifiable digital identification system that can scale. When it comes to identity, I always have concerns about the user losing control of what their ID says about them, and how much or little they share based on context. Dick Hardt used to talk about this in his Identity 2.0 deck years ago. Google Plus talked about this with their attempt to segment social into ‘circles.’ Neither solution caught on, but the problem still remains. MS’ blog post by Alex Simons and Ankur Patel does mention "empowering every person to own and control their Digital Identity.”
😠BAD: JP Morgan joins four other banks to ban crypto transactions made with credit and debit cards, saying that they’re just too volatile, and that these transactions would not be honored. At the same time, there’s a report out from JP Morgan suggesting thatcrypto could help diversify portfolios. “CCs are unlikely to disappear completely and could easily survive in varying forms and shapes among players who desire greater decentralization, peer-to-peer networks, and anonymity, even as the latter is under threat.”
👹UGLY: BitConnect lawsuits are mounting in Florida, naming all of the directors as defendants, seeking a jury trial. If they do get the jury trial, then the directors’ personal assets could be at stake.
T-Mobile is quietly working on blockchain using Hyperledger. They’ve been a part of the Sawtooth 1.0 development, and it’s expected that the implementation will solve identity and access management pain points that T-Mobile has as they work to scale up their cloud solutions. T-Mobile has a number of open source software projects, including Keybiner and Jazz which are also focused around cloud and identity. T-Mobile has 69 million subscribers.
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