Community News

This Week in Blockchain 11.02.18

Wisdom of the Crowds

On her Medium page, Michele Leppard of Proof Media wites that we need better mechanisms for monitoring intentionally misleading information online—and blockchain can help. She cites a timely quote from Princeton University:

Democratic methods, however, tend to favor the most popular information, not necessarily the most correct. The ignorance of the masses can cancel out a knowledgeable minority with specialized information of a topic, resulting in the wrong answer becoming the most accepted.

Proof is incentivizing readers to sort through news on its upcoming platform. The company is alpha-launching its test net next month. By signing up on their homepage you can help be being among the first thousand people to source truthful information. I signed up immediately following my conversation with Proof co-founder Chris Young. I look forward to fighting the good fight with you.

Way More Than Just Car Insurance

Driving is expensive in California. Gas is over $4 a gallon, my registration fees seem to go up yearly, and the fact that my zip code factors into what I pay for car insurance is simply ludicrous. Auto insurance is one of those markets everyone I know generally throws their hands into the air and shrugs about. While it’s not a monopoly—there are many providers to choose from—we’re effectively stuck in an antiquated system of measurement that doesn’t properly reflect how we drive.
For example, I didn’t step inside my car for three days this week. A combination of walking, the Metro, and a Lyft took care of all of my travel needs. Should I be billed for that stretch? Our friends over at Augmate don’t think so. Installing IoT sensors into glove compartments can transform the entire industry.

The sensors can track everything, from customer speed, stop frequency and turn motions, to frequency of maintenance and other specific driving habits. This produced volumes of driving data that allowed car insurance companies to move from pricing based on the likely behavior of the risk category to the actual behavior of individuals. Known as usage-based insurance, these new technologies showed the power of combining smart IoT sensors and AI analytics.


Secure at Home

Think Siri is always listening? How about Alexa? As we invite more voice-controlled instruments into our lives, we have to consider whose listening at the other end. This post by Rubica might be Halloween-themed, but the implications of digital privacy extend far beyond any single day. Sure, tailormade advertising sounds appealing in a world flooded by useless data, but do you really want your refrigerator picking up on your shopping habits?
Appliances are one thing—what about ones that mine your children’s and pet’s names to guess passwords? Yes, that’s a reality:

Cyber criminals know that we are lazy about passwords and often reuse them between sites or use easily discoverable personal information as part of our passwords (ex: DOB, kids name, pets name, address). This makes your passwords easy to crack, and if you use similar versions of the same password on multiple sites once one is cracked, they have them all. Never use personal info, or info that can be obtained from social media, in your passwords.


Secure Shopping

EVERY has gone in the opposite direction, tokenizing loyalty rewards in a secure manner. As CEO John Wantz writes,

I believe that the future of blockchain lies in humanized interfaces and token incentivized experiences. For us and our wallet, this means consumers being able to exchange their data for discounts and rewards, and being able to utilize those discounts and rewards in real time.


Desert Dreams

Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach, met Blockchain Desert. Cryptocurrency millionaire Jeffrey Berns has spent $300 million purchasing 67,000 acres of undeveloped desert near Reno, Nevada, to build a blockchain-based university and gaming center—basically, an entire new town dedicated to blockchains. As the NY Times reports,

Just as Bitcoin made it possible to transfer money without using a bank, blockchain believers like Mr. Berns think the technology will make it possible for ordinary people to control their own data — the lifeblood of the digital economy — without relying on big companies or governments.

Berns is not betting on bitcoin, but Ethereum, which he believes can empower people without the need for centralized power structures. There is certain to be more grand visions in blockchain coming. Many will not succeed, though some will. Nevada might just be the next destination beyond the Strip and Burning Man.