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Social media giants must decentralize the internet… Now!

Republished by Plato

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Big Tech has been in the news a lot over the last decade. Initially, the coverage focused on the new possibilities that were created around communication and information sharing and the benefits that these would bring. New tech networks offered unprecedented tools, offering everything from reuniting families separated by emigration to assisting in the overthrow of autocratic regimes and restoring power to the people. 

Next, we heard about the tremendous value Big Tech was creating, bringing billions of dollars to founders and workers, as well as the pension funds that invested in them. We knew they were a force for good in the world, not least because they never missed an opportunity to tell us this fact.

The sentiment toward Big tech changed near the end of 2016, fuelled by an unexpected result in the United States presidential election. Big Tech platforms were no longer tools to promote individuality and self-expression; they had swiftly become enablers of hatred and lies. Seemingly overnight, these companies went from darlings to pariahs, from bastions of free speech to being weaponized by malicious interests and rogue states to sway elections, planting false narratives. Individuals in control of the platforms went from defenders of freedom to being likened to dictators. Journalists wrote that Big Tech now had more capital than many governments and greater control of speech than any media outlet — without any democratic checks and balances or regulation to curb their worst impulses.

These events brought to the fore the amount of power that currently resides within Big Tech companies, along with the need to consider how we define speech in the modern world and how it should be amplified and regulated. That, in turn, touches on how the platforms that determine modern speech should be governed.

From decentralization to streaming

To address this, we should examine how the early internet unleashed so much creativity in its early days. Back then, the web was decentralized in its own way, with each website representing its own space, resulting in a vast network of nodes threaded together by hyperlinks. Some nodes were bigger than others, but none so big that they would distort the landscape or require specific regulation. The internet could be viewed as a vast garden, being added to with each additional website.

As both the network and the number of users grew, there was increasing demand for this network to be organized and made more efficient. Google capitalized on this by building an algorithm that searched the web and returned results and, in the process, kicked off a new internet that was defined by algorithms. Content was suddenly being recommended and defined by algorithms across music (Spotify), news (Facebook and Twitter) and entertainment (Netflix). The garden became a stream, and suddenly, we were all being influenced and directed by black-box algorithms that we knew very little about.

It is this new stream model of the internet that has caused such vitriol to be directed toward Big Tech. Big Tech companies dictate what content is acceptable to share and what should be promoted often by considering what is most beneficial to their bottom lines. Content controls are described as moderation for those who approve of them and censorship by those who disagree. The loudest voices dominate the conversation, often disproportionately favoring the Big Tech workforce and the traditional media — a small group with identifiable biases.

Back to the decentralized internet

What is the correct way to govern these massive platforms? Centralizing the power of founders is far too limiting, and outsourcing it to Californian employees and western media is only slightly better. Instead, we should look back to the decentralized internet of the past and see how we could recreate the period many older heads look back on with such nostalgia. Many claim that it is impossible to put this genie back in the box, given the enormous economic value that derived specifically from centralizing digital content and making it more accessible.

Blockchain has enabled decentralized governance of companies, allowing a form of democratic decision-making that is weighted toward those with skin in the game. Individuals buy governance tokens in a network, such as decentralized finance product suite Yearn.finance, which provides them with votes on the governance of that ecosystem while also holding independent value and/or providing dividends. Companies can be natively decentralized like Yearn, or transition to this model over time, like DeFi lender Aave. This model provides returns, aligns strategy with ownership, and removes the principal-agent problem that is rife in public and private organizations. Companies can use it to distribute admin fees to owners as well as make strategic decisions.

Public discourse on content moderation often draws from legal and philosophical concepts, with a liberal sprinkle of America’s first amendment, to construct a top-down solution. This presumes that a small number of people knows what is best for millions, even billions, of users. But decentralized governance, proven effective by the booming DeFi industry, may allow for a bottom-up solution that puts the power in the hands of users. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even announced his interest in such an approach at the end of 2019.

Decentralized governance could be achieved by providing tokens to users, as described above, which, in turn, would allow them to vote on principles of moderation. This could even be calibrated to the issue at hand — members of minority groups might have a greater weighting in issues related to discrimination or religious groups on freedom of religion. Power users might have greater weighting to their votes than casual ones. By trusting the broader issue of moderation to the wider community, users are engaging in a social contract that will make them far more likely to buy into principles that are adopted. As well as making moderation more efficient, this would likely repair some of the reputational harm suffered by social media companies, creating a clear distinction between censorship and moderation.

The biggest tech platforms have user populations bigger than the world’s largest countries, but none of them have the equivalent democratic checks and balances that we look for in governance. Identifying complex pain points, such as censorship and moderation, and finding ways to empower users to own these processes gives them skin in the game and access to create a flexible policy mechanism to help heal the bruised reputations of Big Tech. It is in the companies’ best interests, too, as the reputational hit of poor content policies has led to antitrust speculation and calls to break up Facebook, for example.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Luis Cuende is a co-founder of Aragon, a platform for building and running DAOs. Luis started his first open-source project at age 12. He got into Bitcoin in 2011, having been inspired by how crypto can bring freedom. In 2014, aged 18, he co-founded the blockchain timestamping startup Stampery. He holds multiple recognitions, including Forbes 30 under 30, MIT TR35, and best underage hacker of Europe by HackFwd.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/social-media-giants-must-decentralize-the-internet-now

Blockchain

After Cardano: Wolfram Blockchain Labs Teams Up With Tezos

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A few months following a Cardano integration, the DLT project Wolfram Blockchain Labs (WBL) has done the same with Tezos. As a result, developers working on blockchain analytics and computational contracts will be able to employ the Tezos network.

WBL Integrates Tezos

WBL is a provider of distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions that support the development of a wide variety of smart contracts and decentralized applications. It’s the blockchain subsidiary of Wolfram Research – the creator of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha, and the Wolfram Language.

The project announced its latest blockchain partnership in a press release shared with CryptoPotato. It informed that the popular blockchain project Tezos has become the latest to be fully-integrated into WBL’s DLT ecosystem.

Apart from enabling developers working on analytics and computational contracts to utilize the Tezos blockchain, the partnership has also led to the establishment of a designated oracle providing Wolfram Alpha data to smart contract developers.

Furthermore, Tezos has utilized Nomadic Labs’ Mi-Cho-Coq formal verification framework to ensure that the oracle displays the same predictable behavior every time.

The statement also highlighted that products employing the Tezos blockchain will be “much more secure” because of the formal verification. It’s a process that “proves the correctness of properties of a smart contract to help mitigate the risks of bugs and other vulnerabilities.”

“Tezos is an exciting third-generation blockchain that features a number of services and functions that will expand what’s available to our developers. We’re thrilled to work with TQ Tezos on bringing the WBL ecosystem of tools to the Tezos blockchain.” – commented WBL CTO Johan Veerman.

Following Cardano’s Steps

Prior to the Tezos integration, WBL partnered with another popular blockchain project – Cardano. Back in late December 2020, the two parties announced the collaboration, which operates in a somewhat similar way.

WBL began implementing Cardano’s DLT data into Wolfram Alpha, thus enabling developers to integrate external data into smart contracts on the Charles Hoskinson-founded project.

Further plans included the development of dApps to enable blockchain-based commerce and business model transformation and using some Cardano-specific content in an educational course material published by WBL.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/after-cardano-wolfram-blockchain-labs-also-teams-up-with-tezos/

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Blockchain

Twitter to Pull a MicroStrategy and Buy Bitcoin? The Firm Plans a $1.25 Billion Convertible Notes Offering

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The giant social media platform Twitter has announced plans to raise $1.25 billion through a convertible senior notes offering. Although the company breached “corporate purposes” as the main reason, cryptocurrency proponents speculated if the firm could pull a MicroStrategy and allocate the funds in BTC.

Twitter to Raise $1.25B

According to a press release from earlier today, Twitter will offer a $1.25 billion aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes due in 2026. The endeavor will take place in a private placement to qualified institutional buyers.

The statement described the notes as “unsecured, senior obligations of Twitter,” whose interest will be “payable semi-annually in arrears.” The company will be able to convert the notes into cash, shares of its common stock, or a combination of the two options. Upon the pricing of the offering, the firm will determine the interest rate, initial conversion rate, and “other terms of the notes.”

The company said that it would use this considerable amount for “general corporate purposes, including capital expenditures, working capital, and potential acquisitions.”

Maybe Bitcoin?

Although Twitter hasn’t revealed anything specific in connection to bitcoin, the ever-vigilant crypto community saw an opportunity to debate whether the firm might allocate some, if not all, of that amount into BTC.

Proponents, such as Anthony Pompliano, were quick to react and draw a comparison between a similar endeavor undertaken on two occasions by the business intelligence giant – MicroStrategy. Michael Saylor’s company raised over $1.6 billion in total from convertible senior notes offerings and allocated all funds in the primary cryptocurrency.

Keeping in mind that Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, is a long-time BTC proponent with multiple pro-bitcoin-related projects, similarly to Saylor, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the social media giant indeed heads down that road. The other firm that Dorsey runs as CEO, Square, has already made two investments in BTC as the second one, worth $170 million, came less than a month ago.

Moreover, Twitter’s CFO, Ned Segal, hinted recently that the company could be looking into putting the cryptocurrency on its balance sheet.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/twitter-to-pull-a-microstrategy-and-buy-bitcoin-the-firm-plans-a-1-25-billion-convertible-notes-offering/

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Horizen to integrate IOTA Oracles on its sidechain protocol Zendoo

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Horizen, a technology platform that enables businesses and developers to create their own public or private blockchains, today announced a partnership with IOTA, an open-sourced, feeless data and value transfer protocol. This partnership will extend the functionality of the newly launched IOTA Oracles and introduce oracle capabilities to the Horizen sidechain and scaling protocol, Zendoo.

Oracles

IOTA Oracles bring off-chain data to decentralized applications and smart contracts on the IOTA network. They are designed to securely bridge the digital and the physical worlds in a decentralized and permissionless way.

The initial goal of this partnership is to introduce the IOTA Oracles functionality to Zendoo, Horizen’s completely decentralized and fully customizable sidechain protocol.

This integration will happen in two phases: first, Zendoo will incorporate the IOTA Oracles feed into its sidechain POC; and second, the IOTA Oracles feed will be directly integrated into the Zendoo SDK. This will make IOTA Oracles available for any blockchain or decentralized applications built on Horizen.

“Integrating off-chain data securely and accurately from the real world is vital to the functionality of decentralized applications that rely on external information. IOTA Oracles will act as a bridge between our two ecosystems by supplying verifiable data to decentralized applications built on Zendoo in a secure, fast, and affordable way. This partnership is another significant step towards our mission of building the most secure, inclusive, and interoperable ecosystem.”
– Rob Viglione, Co-Founder of Horizen

With the successful development of Chrysalis, a large network upgrade scheduled for March, IOTA is now focusing on bridging different ecosystems with unique value propositions and valuable use-cases. Horizen’s Zendoo SDK allows businesses and developers to spin-up their own customizable blockchain.

IOTA Oracles are designed in a way that focuses on data integrity for enterprise use cases, which adds a unique value to Horizen’s roadmap as it continues expanding its services to the industry. Horizen is the first public blockchain to leverage IOTA Oracles for the purposes of real-world, industrial use cases.

“The purpose of this partnership is to leverage the expertise of one another to expand into areas that are mutually beneficial to both ecosystems. IOTA’s goal from day one has been to expand blockchain functionality into real-world use cases, and I believe that bringing IOTA’s Oracle solution to Horizen Zendoo sidechains is a perfect example. We look forward to sharing progress in the coming months, and we encourage the IOTA and Horizen communities to interact and build on the network developed by our teams.”
– Dominik Schiener, Co-Founder of The IOTA Foundation

Source: https://www.cryptoninjas.net/2021/03/01/horizen-to-integrate-iota-oracles-on-its-sidechain-protocol-zendoo/

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