Podcasts: Interview with Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang

Discussing the United States, Crypto, and UBI

Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, Mckie and Dee get to talk to their first ever Presidential candidate, Andrew Yang. They discuss his platform running as a Democratic candidate for the U.S. 2020 Presidential election, Universal Basic Income (UBI), and his vision to help America and how it aligns with crypto. This is a very patriotic episode, so go ahead and do your duty and have a listen — Uncle Sam is watching.

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Podcasts: BlockChannel Educational Crypto Digest

In our continued mission to manage our liquid hedge positions — while simultaneously building an extensive early-stage crypto VC portfolio — we strive to keep the greater industry educated on our vision, thesis, and what we’re learning while deploying capital in this ever-evolving landscape.

It is no easy task, but we do this because we believe in maturing the industry together, regardless of the amount of effort it may take.

That said, we’ve collected all the latest episodes of BlockChannel (an educational crypto publication and podcast, run and hosted by Amentum CEO, Steven McKie), so you can learn alongside us.

Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, McKie and Dr. Petty sit down with the crypto twitter famous, Ari Paul. Ari is the head honcho at BlockTower capital, and comes from a background of endowment management at the University of Chicago; Ari is a traditional finance nerd turned crypto nerds. We have a solid discussion on some of his perspectives on investing, and Petty and McKie pick his brain for some new insights you might not have heard elsewhere.

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Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, McKie and Dee have a chat with Pedro Gomez, the Founder and developer behind WalletConnect. As Ethereum based accounts and wallets proliferate, standards surrounding how they’re accessed, and extended interoperability becomes ever more important. Pedro’s effort are to simplify this process for developers of Ethereum wallet’s and services, in order to improve the UX across dApps in the ecosystem.

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Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, McKie and Petty sit down with Petty’s fellow co-worker, Dean Eigenmann, from Status. He’s working on building an improved messaging protocol for Status, and is also working on the side on a Swift implementation of the ETH 2.0 Beacon chain. We learn more about Dean, as we go in deep to understand the mind of a real thot leader.

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Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, McKie and Dr. Petty have a nice long discussion on the future of humanity with Vinay Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder of Mattereum. His firm (after having successfully assisting in launching Ethereum) is building a way to merge legal, real-world contracts, with on-chain smart contracts on Ethereum. His belief is that the digitization of tangible resources will be pivotal in solving some of humanity’s hardest problems — especially those in relation to climate change and resource scarcity. This one is a tad longer than usual, but we couldn’t just tell Vinay to stop talking, his words were too important. It’s a very educational episode — grab a coffee.

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Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, McKie, Dee, and Dr. Petty have a well-rounded chat with Ayo Akinyele of Bolt Labs. His firm is pioneering greater privacy for layer 2 technology (think Lightning) but with a support for multiple different public chains. He imagines an interoperable future of interconnectivity, with a privacy first mindset. We go in-depth on his background and how he got here, and how he sees layer 2 technology to evolve, while building a sustainable business outside of academia. Come check it out, there’s plenty to learn.

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Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, McKie, Dee, and Dr. Petty have a well-rounded chat with Ayo Akinyele of Bolt Labs. His firm is pioneering greater privacy for layer 2 technology (think Lightning) but with a support for multiple different public chains. He imagines an interoperable future of interconnectivity, with a privacy first mindset. We go in-depth on his background and how he got here, and how he sees layer 2 technology to evolve, while building a sustainable business outside of academia. Come check it out, there’s plenty to learn.

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Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, McKie and Dr. Petty have a friendly chat with your favorite neighborhood developer, Austin Griffith. Creator of the burner wallet, Austin is one of the leading developers focused on usability and creating the “aha!” moments necessary to bridge traditional software developers and consumers, over into the bright and bountiful world of crypto. This is of course a technical, and a human-oriented task, and Austin has the chops to speak to developers/users in fun and exciting ways — and his passion for Ethereum is contagious. Come learn what it takes to create new product engineers, as we discuss how Austin plans to tackle that problem on the journey to a million+ Ethereum developers.

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Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, McKie, Dee and Dr. Petty join the founders Cameron Robertson (CEO) and Paul Gerhardt (CTO) to discuss what we believe is an innovation in bridging digital money with physical, secure digital hardware. They present us Kong, their digital cash equivalent: possessing the ability to act as a fungible representation of digital money, with a secure element and programmatic expiry which enables extraction of the funds at a future date. It’s a very futuristic idea, and we’re here for it. Come have a listen.

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Show Description: On this episode of BlockChannel, McKie and Dr. Petty become journalists, for just this one time, as we interview a journalist from the industry who’s quickly made a name for herself, Leigh Cuen. Leigh is a reporter from Coindesk and with a colorful past as a journalist with a broad range of focuses. She walks us through her process on how she seeks to provide objective truth and value into her reporting; as well as sharing valuable insights into how you should frame your perspective with crypto media. Sit down and enjoy this one, you’ll definitely appreciate the struggles of objective media by the end of it.

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Disclaimer: This is not investment advice, it is an engaged discussion on new technology; BlockChannel reminds you to always do your own due diligence before investing in any crypto-related project in the industry.

Tokenizing Public Infrastructure Pt 3: Human Needs and Universal Basic Assets

Innovation Through Creative Cryptoeconomic Recombination

With both Parts 1 and Part 2 out of the way, I’ll finally boil down and finish up the final part of this series.

  • Part 1 focused on the general concept of tokenizing the value in public infrastructure projects and why the concept is valuable and worth exploring as long-term.

  • Part 2 went further to analyze the basic cryptoeconomic primitives and concepts that could be used to expand on those ideas once they’re more mature based on currently available technology.

This final essay will discuss why it’s important we get there, and what that may eventually lead into if we can construct and deploy the mechanisms I’ve described.

Distilling It All Down

Previously we explored what value can be created for local citizens if they can become stakeholders in local public infrastructure projects through direct investment. These investments would be coupled with long-term incentives (like subsidized toll access, and other novel programmatic benefits that could be incorporated in tokenized economies) to create a sustainable ecosystem that benefits both the stakeholders, and the local denizens that will eventually utilize and support those plant assets in their communities.

That of course leads us to what could come next when your local government and services are running off of public chain ledgers like Ethereum; utilizing the general extendability and standardized primitives like discount-tokens, token-curated registries, proof-of-location, digital identity and more to do everything from incentivize commerce, to managing city-planning and determining the cities’/states overall futures. The possibilities are endless, and the potential for experimentation is just as abundant.

These ideas are sometimes utopian sounding, erring on the side of techno-futurism more than something realistic — and to some would appear like nerdy sci-fi concepts that sound better on paper and Twitter discourse than being irresponsibly deployed into the real-world. But, we’re maturing as an industry, and many are sobering up to what is a foolish utopian idealists fever dream, and what would actually be a decent iterative improvement capable of being adapted by local economies. Ideas have moved from just technical feasibility, and have now begun considering the social scalability of their ventures and in what ways could co-opting the assistance of regulators and hurdling the major barrier of education that stands in the way of real change and improvement .

Before fully understanding or considering deploying concepts and experiments like these, it’s important to set the stage and understand the complexities of human inequality and why we’re ultimately in this position.

Here’s a nice tweet that sets that stage…

When seeking to create mechanisms that are designed to improve the social standard, you have to understand the incentives and motivations of those that will serve as the majority of your eventual adoptees. They have challenges that are unique, and we’d be irresponsible investors if we thought we could invest confidently in these new technologies without first understanding who we are ultimately aiming to help the most.

Awareness of Strife & Inequality

In constructing these mechanisms, we first have to accept a few things. When seeking to improve the lives of humans, it requires a deep understanding of societal incentives, and the social scalability/feasibility of what we aim to deploy under existing socio-natural environments.

We are going to be deploying these mechanisms into environments riddled with ulterior motives, pushed by the actions of self-interested persons who are seeking to garner greater output, while utilizing far less resource-related inputs (time/labor/materials/etc).

The presence of blockchain-based incentives that utilize game theory and cryptographically assured incentives can create a sustainable market of participants (crypto-economics in a nutshell), allowing us to eradicate many fundamental problems that cause poverty by lowering the cost of last mile interactions, and incentivizing others to be honest participants in those systems [AI Matters].

We already have online platforms that are employing a slew of products utilizing algorithmic designs, and newer technologies like artificial intelligence and big data to drive policy decisions and strategy [AI Matters]. But, what about the wetware decision makers, the people? Fully understanding the scope of what you are about embark on project wise is never complete until you’ve ensured you’ve considered the human elements, too.

Mental Strife

Everyone has personal struggles that play an important role in how they make decisions everyday. Each and every person you meet has personal and interpersonal struggles, too. In a world that stigmatizes mental-illnesses, we often don’t stop to ponder its abundance and considering the possibility of that either it’s a social epidemic, or maybe it was always the norm?

Today you don’t need bad genes or a rotten childhood to go crazy; living in what journalist Sebastian Junger called “an overfed, malnourished, sedentary, sunlight-deficient, sleep-deprived, competitive, inequitable, and socially-isolating environment” may be enough. Being human may be enough. — Elitsa Dermendzhiyska

We’re in a world where we are connected more than ever online; but many still have to struggle with the pain of being physically lonely in new ways in their ever-connected realities. These feedback loops and pangs of loneliness are forcing us to seek companionship, which creates opportunities for group cooperation and protection [Quanta Magazine]. Sometimes those feedback loops present themselves in the form of — what would appear to most — as combative and hateful groups, as many struggle to find a new narrative and community that will make them feel whole in this world of connected, but often socially disconnected, attention seekers.

This hyper connected, disconnectedness has another name, “hypocognition”.

“To recognize hypocognition requires a departure from the reassuring familiarity of our own culture to gain a grasp of the unknown and the missing”. — Scientific American

Hypocognition derives from the ever-present mental strife we all face everyday. Too comfortable in what makes us feel…well comfortable, to ever bothering to a moment to be cognitive of what we could be, or are, missing. Not being aware of what could bolster us and support us sustainably, mostly because — well we simply aren’t aware there’s even a looming problem at all.

They go on further to say:

Perhaps herein lies the greatest peril of hypocognition. It is facing a concept that captures something we cannot fathom, an exotic emotion we cannot grasp, a certain idea that arouses in others fervor and enthusiasm but strikes us as nothing but foreign and bizarre, a certain principle that must, against our own reason, be unreasonable. — Scientific American

So, before you can even begin to understand how to help people, we have to be aware that most — due to the inherent nature’s of people — will be partisan in their inner wants and needs (personal & political), simply because that’s all we can truly be certain (or uncertain) of.You cannot ignore the presence of these naturally and socially derived cognitive inequalities, because the most dangerous and economically deficient minority will always persist, and not catering to these inequalities would be dangerous long-term when left ignored [Quilette].

Since there will continue to be presence of individuals with mental and cognitive limitations and duress (when compared to the majority), there will continue to be individuals who will constantly feel “stuck” due to their limits as societal outliers on the long-tail of genetically granted misfortune. This is why we will continue to be faced with the lingering moral philosophy on what are socially and morally acceptable levels of selfishness as the twenty percent is embattled with the other eighty.

Financial Inequality & Pecuniary Emulation
The very concept of a capitalist nation will eventually breed inequality. That’s unfortunate yes, but that’s simply the ill-reality of statistics — especially if the above factors we discussed hold true.

As a nation we’ve continued to grow this narrative in the news and media since The Great Recession [The Nation]. No longer do we just discuss economic growth in terms of hard numbers, but also their impact on real people, and more recently, the environment (but it would seem many missed that memo).

When you say you want to create something that is accessible to the poor, and the wealthy, are you really? Did you know that poor people and rich people actually experience buying things differently emotionally? And, that a poor person will often derive the same amount of happiness, on average, buying a material item, to feel for a moment a part of something greater that they aspire to (a concept known as pecuniary emulation, if you’re unfamiliar); but, a rich person would often have to pay for an experience to actually obtain the same level of happiness and connectedness of being a part of something greater — chasing the intrigue of novel discovery to feel accomplished in lieu of material gain (that they’ve become too accustomed to). [BPS]

People want the things they can’t have — things that make them feel like someone they are not, or did not think they could be (the hypocognition at place once more). The natural human drive to belong in tribes looks and feels different depending on where you come from and your background.

What we learn is we can’t just stop at emulating the basic foundational needs for a person to succeed, and allowing people more means to just appear wealthy, but also build real wealth and keep those barriers to entry low to feel socially connected given our unique mental positions.

Humans innately will seek social community and bonds, and for much of humanity, these are pivotal functions in experiencing and truly delineating the human condition. It is however the fault of the labor market that many disregard community bonds and social exchange, to instead harden racial and cultural niches in order to be more competitive in the labor work force.

Even once you have managed to make your way out of one socioeconomic status to another, the anxiety of your upward mobility can often manifests stress, too. The very act of surviving and thriving can pain you as well — because often times garnering success means sacrifice, and eventually you have to recapture that sacrifice.

This is an obstacle a person that comes from wealth often gets to avoid, but many fail to realize the struggle of the struggle, AND the struggle of becoming a success, can often be just as hard. A double tax-rate for your socioeconomic/mental condition — especially when you spend your life working harder than others, doing jobs you only choose to do for the money, to get the life you only think will bring you satisfaction.

I’ll close this section with another good tweet:

Something to think about.

Dynamic Human Threat Models

But, who is our opposition? Who stands in the way of making this harsh societal reality and ushering in a replacement system, something at the very least marginally better? Well, you’ll be not surprised to learn our greatest threats are ourselves.

They come politically in the form of partisan group think that disallows and ignores the plea for freedom of expression, or potentially educated feedback from the “opposition”. These threats are derived from fear of the unknown, and only believe in our known-truths instead of seeking to upgrade our mental models for the present-day circumstances. That’s taxing, and remember some are already being double-taxed, they’ll be even harder to reach — and sometimes we’re already overly exhausted mentally from threats that aren’t even really there.

But, who has the energy, resources, and drive to oppose it? Most would say, “Not me.”

Nothing is more scary, or more abundant than, the threats that humans impose on ourselves everyday. These inherent humanistic threats models are the scariest, especially when the malicious party can do things like profit off of your increased lack of productivity [JWWeatherman], forcing you into other profitable models designed for the lower-income wealth earners, like fast-food and addictive sugary energy drinks to make your output (tragically, poetically) lesser overtime (diabetes and heart disease).

Avoidance of political dictatorship, further fueled by economic condition, will need to be an active effort, and will continue as a threat model we are forced to endure everyday. Governance (especially when coupled with immutable databases and systems) could go awry if not maintained appropriately (See: The Crypto Governance Manifesto)

Using Society to Rebuild Society

We’re caught in a constant tug-of-war happening between the financially rich and poor, and the mentally well and unwell; both caught in up in their own mental realities to truly engage and consider each-other effectively without some incentive. The said, the intellectual assets and the physical assets of a localized populace are some of its greatest forms of wealth, and they are utilized and built by both the wealthy and the poor. For instance: though the wealthy subsidize the bulk of the tax-funding to build public infrastructure, it’s still the physical labor of the common that brings it into existence.

It’s easier to extract economic activity when you have a sound foundation or a stable economic base to build on; and if that stable base is both programmatically extendable and flexible, we start to realize what options we actually have that will work, if and only if we work together of course.

Public Infrastructure as a Basic Asset

Regardless of financial and social class, humans that have access to public infrastructure and assets can then self-actualize in order to gain more economic efficiency. The greater access to these sorts of assets, the more productive a populace can be (think of how much economic activity is loss when the NY Transit has delays or goes offline, and how much would be gained if it was more robust and efficient).

The tokenization and digitization of wealth using crypto isn’t going anywhere, we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface on what can be done. But universally accessible and investible basic assets could very well be the foundation that we all need to construct the egalitarian and equitable society we all swear is our motive when shilling this technology, sometimes to the point of ad nauseum. It may often appear we’ve lost our way, but really it’s just the endgame has been muddled or lost in the noise; but know that it’s there and going nowhere because the potential upside for all is just too great to pass up.

The Public Becomes the New Authority

If we can imagine only a fraction of our enlightened ideals, we’ll be that much better off as a global community. If we can realize the vision of changing personal data to work for consumers, rather than against them as a form of labor, we could improve many peoples economic circumstance — an increasingly important task as automation takes a foothold on our ability to create output ourselves.

If we can reimagine the concepts of property; perhaps with new, radical ideas that might at first seem foreign and new, we just may take back control. We believe sound money can be made with software; that Web3 is about owning your data, getting paid for it, because we’ve realize just how valuable it is; sticking to the narrative that financial software should be open, and free.

When we can do all that, while building, and dreaming of how to better help each-other while considering why we even need help in the first place, we just might become the new authority that has enraptured and encapsulated us this whole time — we just weren’t aware who we were and what was happening.

We’re very close to wrestling back our freedom, and more equally distributing opportunity for those that want to make our collective condition, better.

Resource and References

Voluntary Disclosure and Personalized Pricing [Harvard]: https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/vasserman/files/alv_slides.pdf

Mechanism Design for Social Good: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1810.09832v1.pdf

Normal Does Not Exist: https://medium.com/@Ellie_/the-myth-of-normal-babc5c536513

New Evidence For the Necessity of Loneliness [Quanta Magazine]: https://www.quantamagazine.org/new-evidence-for-the-necessity-of-loneliness-20160510/

Unknown Unknowns: The Problem of Hypercognition [Scientific American]: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/unknown-unknowns-the-problem-of-hypocognition/?sf195704926=1

The Dangers of Ignoring Cognitive Inequality [Quillette]: https://quillette.com/2018/08/25/the-dangers-of-ignoring-cognitive-inequality/

Foundations for Agile Governance: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299578743_Foundations_for_an_Agile_Governance_Manifesto_a_bridge_for_business_agility

The Rise of the Inequality Industry [The Nation]: https://www.thenation.com/article/the-inequality-industry/

The Experiential Advantage is Not Universal: https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/09/04/the-experiential-advantage-is-not-universal-the-less-well-off-get-equal-or-more-happiness-from-buying-things/





Tokenizing Public Infrastructure Pt 2: Standing the Test of Time

Innovation Through Creative Cryptoeconomic Recombination

I’m continually thinking a lot about America and how we can improve our country while things socially and politically continue to trudge forward in a state of apparent dysfunction. This is the same statement I made when I published Part 1; months later, that doubt has not receded from my mind, it has worsened. So, I share my thoughts in hopes of an epiphany, an answer. I think as a nation we are close to something truly breath-taking innovation wise. Below I expound my thoughts further, in hopes to spur a similar mindset in others.

The tokenization of public infrastructure is a relatively new thought; one bearing vast implications on the mobilization of society as cryptoeconomic primitives (more on this, here) and mechanism design finally approach center stage.. Something that I am proud to continue to expound on more thoroughly following part 1 of this series.

Since that post was published, things have gotten pretty exciting. The city of Berkeley in California is considering issuing token-assets backed by city bonds to fund new housing development; even the country of Venezuela has attempted to launch its own token, the “Petro”, which they state is “backed” by the countries’ oil reserves (and they were even sanctioned by the Trump administration further for their digital currency launch, a world-first). I was even personally contacted by a small city in Louisiana, and a major city in California to discuss these ideas further after my first post — cities are looking for sustainable solutions

It’s becoming increasingly clear that we’ve reached an inflection point as a species. We know that we are inherently bound by the political and financial interests of those with more power than ourselves. Whether you’re the city of Berkeley, CA trying to fund further improvements in its city by leveraging new tech as the political climate clamps down on sanctuary cities; or whether you’re an impoverished nation with a volatile power struggle and exponential inflation like Venezuela, it’s clear these technologies offer new avenues of acquiring wealth for various, or nefarious purposes.

The creation of tokenized assets for cities, countries, has many benefits. But, the most important of all is their ability to allow States and Cities the chance to experiment with new economic and social models, ones that could eventually find their way to being implemented by the U.S. Federal government (if we can work the kinks out). This ability to remix order, incentives, and structure is a very special component unique to cryptoeconomics — I like to call it creative cryptoeconomic recombination.

Creative Cryptoeconomic Recombination

With the implementation of tokenized assets with embedded micro and macro rewards, you can create economically unique solutions to gamify and create sustainable ecosystems that reward positive social order and behavior. These unique individual systems then become puzzle pieces, that when placed in the right unique combination, creates a picture worth saving. Or said in other terms: With the right economic modeling and incentives, your systems become fixture assets in a local economy, beholden to and empowered by the unique needs of the skilled individuals residing in that particular area.

As this point, tokenized city and state assets begin deriving their value monetarily, socially, and politically, based on the contributions of that localized economy (learn more on blockchain-based governance, here). That value is then further compounded and speculated upon when viewed from a national, or international lens depending on the type of economic outputs they enable regionally.

The greatest impact of tokenized publicly accessible goods and infrastructure is that they enable swift shifts in the political and economic influence of incumbents; thereby creating power where there exists inequity, or citizens financially uninspired and disenfranchised. This is in essence a grapple with authority, wrestling it firmly into the hands of those best suited to manage it economically.

By creatively recombining cryptoeconomic primitives, public utilities, services, local business, and community development, we can condition the state to be reinvigorated for the 21st century. These would be enlightened, technical systems that have no obligations to ill-authority, only the stability and support of the people.

The great thing about systems like these are their forward-extendability. If the redundant state of them is fairness and equity, then the propensity of future modular improvements and replacements of these systems are more apt to be continuously more efficient, stable and fair.

Cryptoeconomic Remixes

Just in the last year we’ve seen the evolution and proliferation of Token Curated Registries, Non-Fungible Tokens, ERC-20 assets…the list goes on (check out my recap on ETHDenver for more). The best part of these creations, aside from showcasing just how creative and flexible platforms like Ethereum are, is ideating around how to remix them accordingly for your particular use case.

When designing tokens for cities and states, it’s important you construct city incentive mechanisms that maintain a new or existing urban sprawl, and lessen the potential for abandonment, while simultaneously incentivizing new growth. I’ll now explore some of the fundamental tools we’ll need to get there.

Geo-Fencing to Incentivize Commerce:

If you’re not familiar, geo-fencing is when you enable certain actions and services within a pre-determined geo-locational area. There are some very impressive projects seeking to enable this efficiently by rethinking location attestation (proving you are where you claim) with the assistance Proof of Location focused protocols.

By enabling self-sovereign, verifiable locational data, you can create a slew of various applications by utilizing geofencing (more from the FOAM project on these topics, here).

One of my favorite personal applications of this would be the invigoration of dilapidated downtown sprawl.

Typical look of many U.S. downtowns. A sparse graveyard of uninspiring architecture and middle-class wage dreams.

Uninspiring, and often occupied by small-business owners, downtown areas in most of modern America look similar to the above scene. Shopfronts empty, retail spaces with no foot-traffic. And to make these sections of town viable for business again as the world moves to internet specific retail, we need to rethink how we maintain businesses as we go through technological booms and busts. Cities that have their own token-based systems could subsidize tax payments to areas that experience low traffic and usage to certain geo-areas, and make spending that particular asset or sub-assets more powerful by increasing their purchasing power there (i.e. most areas of town pay full price for goods, but cities could offer a 1–5% discount for citizens that shop from those geofenced retailers).

Dynamic Monetary Spending Mechanisms:

If we assign ourselves to the idea that overtime cities will charge fixed transactional fees on their tokenized systems in lieu of taxes (easier accounting, greater economic efficiency), then we can get really creative.

If all data is being aggregated and shared (perhaps using zero-knowledge proofs to protect privacy) we could easily determine, in real-time, where to create more incentives or reduce costs to spur commerce. By tokenizing a formulaic approach like Cost-Volume and Profit Analysis, as a business I could reference historical data and make informed decision on where and how I can reduce costs to incentivize my customers. Or, in times of high demand, increase prices to ensure maximum profitability by strategically competing for best-value against your competitors (can’t avoid it, greed is an inherent human function, embrace it).

Token Curated Registries for City Planning:

Another difficult aspect of maintaining a cities’ future progress and growth is planning. Electing officials to appropriately follow the will and vision of the people to improve conditions is the norm (or rather, that is the intended point of democracy). However, obeying the whims of the majority can be difficult, especially for larger cities.

If you’ve not heard of Token Curated Registries (TCRs, we love acronyms in crypto) yet, you can learn more, here. But, put simply, they are a way for stakeholders in a tokenized ecosystem to seamlessly vote and come to a quorum on additions to, or removal of, items in a registry (think yearly budgets, infrastructure initiatives, etc).

Trying to decide whether the city budgets for a new park, filling pot-holes, or investing in new books and laptops for a school district? This can be done more easily with a TCR. By allowing the stakeholders (citizens) or elected officials access to the TCR, they are forced to vote on the needs of the people and have it be transparent, or private (depending on the type of accountability necessary). Voting can be done in a matter of hours on key issues, allowing the public to mobilize wealth and time more efficiently, and not let city improvements get lost in the bureaucratic machine.

Staking Bounties for City Initiatives:
Do you live in a town encumbered with youthful college students and teenagers? Why not put the younger generation to work with real-time incentives? As a citizen, a general purpose digital bulletin board for road adoption, park clean-ups, local event volunteering and more could allow citizens to stake assets or tokens as a reward for the completion of, or continued participation in, activities that support and sustain your local economy.

Tools like these could enable a local network of individuals to continuously help each other in real-time. This increase in odd-job economic activity helps build character and skills for the younger individuals, and creates an avenue for the working-class adults to put the money where their mouth is to improve order, and improve their community.

Location Attestation and News Coverage:

The last example I will provide you all is likely one of the most simple and most important. The news world has changed. If you can prove you are where you are with the assistance of Proof of Location specific protocols, you could ensure that news coverage is locationally accurate, reported by individuals with a monetary incentive to prove they were where they claim they were when reporting facts.

This data could be stored historically (pictures & videos) in this cities’ blockchain to be referenced by businesses like insurance companies to allow for the realtime estimation of rates that are fair and frequently updated based on current conditions (with respect to people’s privacy).

Conclusion

There is no right or wrong way to build the tokenized cities of the future. We are bound and limited by only our imagination. But, improved efficiency, privacy, security, and the interoperability of these systems is the key for their long-term sustainability.

Help us build a future humanity can be proud of, by first reshaping a nation our country can be proud of, together.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead, anthropologist, recipient of the Planetary Citizen of the Year Award in 1978.

Resources and References

Starships and Tokens:
https://blog.bigchaindb.com/starships-and-tokens-d8c32728a24b

Towards a Practice of Token Engineering:
https://blog.oceanprotocol.com/towards-a-practice-of-token-engineering-b02feeeff7ca

Are Gamers Poised to Shape the Blockchain World: https://medium.com/blockchannel/are-gamers-poised-to-shape-the-blockchain-tech-world-cdd82f37834d

A Major California City Could Become the First to Create its Own Bitcoin-Inspired Currency:
http://www.businessinsider.com/berkeley-is-exploring-cryptocurrency-2018-2

Countries Are So Last Century. Enter the Net State:
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/11/countries-nations-net-states-globalization-populism

The Emergence of Cryptoeconomic Primitives:
https://medium.com/@jacobscott/the-emergence-of-cryptoeconomic-primitives-
14ef3300cc10

Self-Sovereign Location:
https://blog.foam.space/self-sovereign-location-foam-uport-abc6e639d16d

Introduction to Proof of Location:
https://blog.foam.space/introduction-to-proof-of-location-6b4c77928022

Cryptoeconomic Theory: Basis of Social Order:
https://medium.com/blockchannel/cryptoeconomic-theory-basics-of-social-order-2be4c1be89c1

Blockchains are Governance:
https://medium.com/blockchannel/blockchain-is-governance-e0d827b97b3f

Tokenizing Public Infrastructure Pt 1: Incentives and Commoditization

Innovation Through Creative Cryptoeconomic Recombination

I’ve been thinking a lot about America and how we can improve our country while things socially and politically continue to trudge forward in a state of apparent dysfunction. I tweeted this, and that got me thinking, so here is where my thoughts have progressed with the help of Kyle Forkey, previous Civil Engineer/Project Manager & now GP at Amentum. Special thanks to Alex Evans for proofreading and his assistance.

Much like the banking industry, the public infrastructure and city-planning projects and initiatives that would help to spur innovative new products and best-practices, ones that would improve conditions for the average consumer, is stagnant.

As a generation comes to a close, there is ample room for improving many aspects of utilities and systems we interact with on a daily basis; ones that lie outside the normal realm of decentralized payments and computing that we’ve become accustomed to.

Matching private companies/contractors with the public sector which doesn’t typically have time to innovate and work on new initiatives to improve conditions, is the core basis of this stagnation. The process of procurement and funding can be a bureaucratic mess; one plagued with legal jurisdictional headache and copious amounts of scope creep. But, that bureaucracy is a necessary evil that enables public infrastructure to expand and flourish.

Publicly accessible goods are ripe for innovation from the crypto-sector, we just need to be creative.

Take for instance the American Interstate Highway System. You’ve interacted with it if you’ve ever travelled between state borders in the U.S. — it’s a modern marvel that directly impacts citizens everyday. The core aspect of public goods is that they are non-rivalrous in nature as they are able to be used by a multitude of different individuals at one time; they’re non-excludable and don’t disallow access based on race, gender or religious affiliation. This ultimately means that no citizen can be barred from utilizing them (does this ethos sound familiar?).

Everyone wants to benefit from access to public goods and services, however, no one wants to be the sole individual responsible for their maintenance — quite the Catch 22 (quick aside, did you know Elon Musk raised money for his tunneling transportation company, The Boring Company, by selling hats? Yeah…2017 is something else, the greater crypto community should be ashamed).

It’s great to have access to public goods, until there’s a pothole that goes un-repaired on your commute to work for 6+ months until a random city/federally-funded contractor comes to make quick work of it, like magic. Then when the bureaucratic repair magic begins, people gripe about having to take an alternative route (we’re a fickle bunch, huh?).

People expect this public goods/utility magic, the same way they expect clean water from their tap, and electricity to power their smartphone. The cycle doesn’t end, because centralized authorities garner the means necessary to expedite both innovation, and continued, iterative improvements (even if that means an extra 10 minutes to your commute)…

What If There’s A Better Way?

If we seek to co-opt with local state/city government officials, we can augment how this process is handled entirely. Crypto allows us to create market incentives utilizing the best aspects of cryptography and game theory (learn more on this here); by creating unique tokenized systems that are self-correcting thanks to externalized market supply and demand forces.

Utilities and public infrastructure have a lot of potential when combined with the game theoretic nature that crypto innately enables. Companies like Grid+ are already working to create an alternative market for energy consumption in a peer-to-peer nature; if you haven’t already, this is a great read to understand the motivations behind their project.

Building alternative systems atop legacy ones is one of the fastest ways to iteratively co-opt the public sector, and slowly get them to adopt these new blockchain-based systems instead. Ones that would enable increased transparency and efficiencies, while evolving a utility to the next generation of usability.

What I propose is a way to incentivize the investments in public infrastructure for both the private and public sector, by creating market incentives for the creation, bidding, and overall completion of major infrastructure related projects like high-speed rails, Hyperloops, toll-roads, underground tunnels, and other future innovative forms of public transportation.

Challenging But Worth Exploring

When I began to think about what aspects of this new major overhaul to infrastructure funding would look at, it was easiest to first research/learn about the roadblocks that exist in the present; while re-imaging those same systems built on a publicly accessible, transparent, global ledger.

If we’re going to explore this potential there are few things we have to get right, first being the overall structure. What I imagine would be the lowest hanging fruit as a far as implementing this, would be to begin with a public token sale. To do that, we have to also take into account jurisdictional variances, and the private property of private individuals who may lay in the way of a new public good (i.e. a farmer, where a portion of a railway or road would run through their private land, etc).

After those fine details are hammered (let’s assume we’re incorporating in a jurisdiction with defined regulations, and token sales are legally permittable to maintain scope), we can begin.

What We Have To Get Right

To maintain scope, and not inundate you with fine details, lets just focus on the core components that are more important when looking to architect the most sound and feasible system to facilitate this idea. Keeping scope small and manageable is important; while also taking into account the unique complexities public infrastructure introduces, combined with the already complex nature of crypto.

Public & Private Accessibility

To create a public good or infrastructure on crypto, you’ll need to ensure it’s accessible. What this means is you should not disallow public citizens from participating (even low income families); but you should also ensure that you don’t alienate private individuals and corporations as well.

By allowing both the public and private sector, you get a larger potential pool of capital, but also a diverse group of individual stakeholders who will eventually benefit and utilize this public good. This is also essential when getting local political attention to ensure a distributed array of support as the project scales (increasing it’s overall likelihood of success and timely completion).

Depending on the public good too, once it is completed, stakeholders can utilize their token to access that good forever, at a discounted price thanks to the price appreciation of the underlying token. Whether its a new underground rail system, autonomous shuttle fleet, or a tolling system, public individuals that invest can then be more deeply ingrained and invested in their local communities; while at the same time private corporations (like say Amazon building a new HQ in your local city) can enjoy funding public transportation and services that mobilize their workforce.

Outside individuals from different localities and countries would then just purchase the liquid tokens at a terminal, just like any other system; or purchase token credits for their wallet to use with the system from a mobile app. If they hold the tokens overtime, they could even appreciate. Imagine your autonomous bus pass making you money due price deflation as the system buys back tokens programmatically on market as its used in realtime.

Game Theoretic Incentives/Disincentives

This tokenized system, and it’s subsequent crowd sale needs to have double-sided incentives/disincentives to create a balance. A clear example of game theoretics applied here would be with project bidding. Thanks to smart contract based auctions, we can have contractors and firms submit bids in realtime. After the initial whitepaper is complete and in the public, firms can then begin assessing and estimating job costs, and completion times.

We would then programmatically ensure that the winner of the bid is also allocated X % of the liquid tokens, locked in the smart contract as well. We would allocate tokens on both a cliff, and a set series of milestones. Example being if a firm says they can complete the project in 6months, there should be an additional bonus pool of tokens that are available to incentivize timely construction. On that same note, you also want to ensure there is an inherent penalty pool as well that says if the firm takes X days past the completion day, their eventual bonus would be deducted based on the $ value of additional work (i.e. Cthulu lives in the path of this tunnel, and we then must dig deeper).

These additional rulesets help lessen the potential for scope creep, but also leaves funds on the table to handle any unforeseen costs. Once the project has begun construction, tokens should then be made liquid on exchanges. This means the stakeholders have to actively monitor their investment and the construction progress, creating a collaborative ecosystem of contractors/stakeholders. Delays in the project or obstruction to its completion would reflect in the markets, and the additional liquidity and price influx due to speculation enables us to subsidize the development of a project that is iterated on in realtime, as tokens can be sold at the high of price jumps to essentially lower cost of development (if it is successful during each major construction phase).

Transparency

Every project manager’s most dreaded phrase, “scope creep”. It’s the bane to any project’s eventual success. However, issues like delays, or expansion in scope can be mitigated thanks to the transparent nature of the system.

All project expenditures would essentially be public record; the real value that transparency creates here is also mitigating the potential for kickbacks, and special treatment for certain contractors. Everyone getting paid is publicly accounted for, and should serve to expedite the completion of the project over longer time scales thanks to greater accountability.

Improved Security

It’s no secret that the complex nature of public infrastructure (power grids, water treatment facilities, toll-roads, etc) is also a gaping attack vector on our public infrastructure. By rebuilding some of our most crucial systems atop cryptographically secured systems that are funded, built, and maintained by the underlying token assets, we can greatly reduce the potential for large scale disruption and malice on the public goods we depend on everyday — while simultaneously expediting the pace of public good creation.

Security should be at the forefront of any researchers/engineers mind when creating such systems, as the public good will be in service generating returns for years to come.

Concluding Thoughts

When approaching a potential project of this scale, its important to remember that humans interacting with a system will never be flawless. That’s just the reality of humanity, we’re only as strong as our weakest link (which is typically the human aspect).

This is only an initial thought exploration regarding the potential here for tokenization as a means to reduce inefficiencies, and mitigate unnecessary spending; while creating a transparent process from beginning to end, alleviating long-standing issues in systems that aren’t going away.

Crypto will be key to bringing public infrastructure to the 21st century.

[This post was originally published in late-2017, and was migrated to this newsletter for archival purposes]

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