Blogging Live from BIEN 2016

First impressions:

This could be the high water mark of a movement, or it could be the start of something much greater. People have spoken so far from Finland, Mexico, Switzerland, Belgium, and of course South Korea. Auditorium is packed. So far speakers hail from academia and government. Surprised there aren’t more representatives from the tech sector on the schedule. Morale seems high despite the defeat of the basic income referendum in Switzerland last month.

One thing immediately becomes clear: due to differences in cost of living, from a practical and logistical standpoint, basic income is far easier to implement, on a far wider scale, in the Global South than the economies of Europe or the United States. See for instance the upcoming $30m experiment in Kenya, the world’s largest ever.

If predictions about the beneficial societal effects of UBI prove true, this trend could prove a major equalizer between economies of North and South. Perhaps in time, citizens find themselves tunneling under Trump’s proposed wall — in the opposite direction.

Sogang University, Seoul

Sogang University, Seoul

2016 BIEN Congress

BIEN Congress, Seoul 2016

Attention Based Currency and Universal Basic Income

We are pleased to announce that Art | Code Tess Gadwa and Attention Based Currency Chief Scientist Scott Little, Ph.D. have been selected to present their paper on Attention Based Currency (ABC) and Universal Basic Income (UBI) at the 16th annual BIEN Congress, defining a new model for application of the attention-based cryptocurrency to this specific problem set.

Attention Based Currency (ABC) is a cryptocurrency generated by the interaction of Internet users with streaming media. Listening records are secure and encrypted, but the algorithm rewards listeners who seek out and share new content as “early adopters.” ABC is a market-based approach that can be used independently or in tandem with more traditional government-funded or philanthropic UBI programs.

The conference will take place from July 7-9 in Seoul, South Korea.

Encryption Keeps Us All Safe

Key Unlocking

A few months ago, some friends approached me about a grassroots privacy advocacy group they were starting, known as Privacy Patriots. I was immediately interested. Encryption is a great example of a technology that is understood by few, but has huge implications, for, well, practically everyone. What we’re talking about is not just an algorithm — it’s the toolbox to protect our freedoms and privacy in the online era. For women especially, it’s an essential weapon to fight back against stalkers and harassers on the Internet. I wrote this as a letter to the editor for my local paper. Feel free to copy and re-post, or write your own.

Encryption Keeps Us All Safe

Recently, politicians seeking a scapegoat for terrorist attacks at home and abroad have attempted to pin the blame on encryption. This is a critical error because encryption is one of the most important and widely used tools to keep us safe in the information economy.

Encryption is simply a way to “lock” information so that only those with the proper “key” can access it. Encryption is a powerful tool for whistleblowers and for women seeking to avoid harassment and stalking.

There is no evidence that terrorists in Paris ever used encryption on their phones. In the San Bernardino shooting case, the government was able to crack the iPhone in dispute without assistance from Apple. Apple is correct that our information economy needs encryption to thrive. Our  banking and credit card system could not exist without it.

Cybercriminals grow more sophisticated every day. Outlaw or weaken encryption and nobody is safe.

Can Bitcoin Save the Music Industry?

Ever since Napster, the Internet has taken the fall for the music industry’s woes. Now an unlikely contender from the tech world seems poised to turn the tide. On July 14, Berklee College of Music’s Rethink Music report endorsed Bitcoin’s Blockchain database technology as the most promising solution to the problem of artist payments. A chorus of industry figures  have echoed its findings, from David Byrne to D.A. Wallach of Spotify to Panos Panay, founder of SonicBids, to Brian Message, co-manager of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey, and Radiohead.

Between 20 and 50 percent of artist royalty payments never reach their rightful owner, due to poor accounting and a lack of common reporting standards — what Rethink Music calls the “black box” problem. Previous attempts to establish a central payments registry bogged down because of high administration costs and concerns over sharing sensitive data. The Blockchain is a type of decentralized database that allows secure “trustless” transactions between multiple actors, without any central authority. The network validates transactions and enforces a common set of standards, but only the key holders to each transaction have access. The core innovation behind all forms of cryptocurrency, the Blockchain is what allows Bitcoin to process hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions daily without any central bank. Also in use for banking and real estate, Blockchain technology could reduce costs and solve the trust problem.

“Musicians tell us that a royalty check might come every six months, or not at all,” says Tess Gadwa, cofounder of Attention Based Currency. “This is a problem of missing information, and it can be fixed.” Her company plans to launch a model blockchain-based streaming service known as the Million Song Mixtape later this year, eventually licensing the platform to other streaming music services. The goal: keep licensing fees low by launching a tradable online currency generated from listeners’ interactions with music.

For a demo of Attention Based Currency in action, please contact the cofounders at info@attentionbasedcurrency.com.