Crypto’s Killer App is Litter-ally Under Our Feet (3 of 5)
The core thesis of this series is that DLT seems ideally suited for global decentralized waste, hazard, incident report-analytics-response data marketplaces: (“Siri, CleanApp this beach.”) + (“Alexa, CleanApp the kitchen.”) + (“Google, CleanApp Aisle 7, there’s spilled milk here again.”) x billions of active daily users.
That CleanApp (whatever it goes on to be called) must permit: (1) reporting trash objects and hazardous conditions, (2) optimizing & chaining those reports, and (3) opening those CleanApp reports to many different transactional logics.
Part One: Recap
In Part One, we made a number of disclaimers about our argument and started to explain how,
For fastest & safest crypto adoption globally, we must aim Blockchain technology at the most seemingly mundane, intractable, and universal of our global problems — like everyday litter & hazards.
Our research shows the Blockchain community’s first ubiquitous killer app must offer unprecedented levels of new utility in the most uncontroversial, common-sensical, apolitical, nonpartisan way imaginable. This stance (1) facilitates vastly greater adoption, (2) triggers the least amount of viable opposition, (3) serves as compelling precedent.
By demonstrating its superior social and market utility, the killer app permits different DLT development teams pursuing completely unrelated projects to use the killer app’s success to define and carve out operating space vis-a-vis their respective existing market and regulatory incumbents.
Having a global trash/hazard tracking service that gives rewards for reporting activity and response activity doesn’t just seem like an ideal Blockchain embodiment; strategically, it is the ideal vehicle through which to introduce the potential of Blockchain to the masses; it’s also an ideal tool for damming ad hoc regulatory initiatives.
Because of its widely-distributed utility, CleanApp is perfectly suited for conveying the potential of Blockchain to policymakers and regulators.
Part Two: Recap
In Part Two, we learned how something like CleanApp or Littercoin is the clearest illustration and easiest explanation of the virtues of Blockchain tech. Period.
Unlike any other use case, CleanApp/Littercoin actually show huge billion dollar markets to ordinary people who might have previously just seen trash. Because ordinary people see trash everywhere, mere knowledge of CleanApp or Littercoin forces them to now see potential Blockchain treasures everywhere, and not just in the litter/hazard reporting context.
This is why Littercoin already serves as the best Blockchain gateway, despite its limited reach: it’s broadly accessible even to individuals who have no previous theoretical or practical understanding of Blockchain tech, yet whose buy-in to different Blockchain-based modes of exchange is crucial to the success of the overall Blockchain enterprise.
Here’s the big picture we’ve sketched thus far. The name of the game in our current moment isn’t just new utility, it’s maximum utility flowing to the greatest number of people. At CleanApp, we call this hyperutility.
The goal is to make, say, Ethereum’s or IOTA’s (or Littercoin’s & CleanApp’s) many value propositions so obvious, so widespread, so full of future material gains and potential, that the need to sustain and support these platforms and apps becomes an unassailable tenet of contemporary cyberpolicy, globally.
Instead of asking why “X” needs to be “on the Blockchain,” let us ask how BlockTech can help “X” give even more value to ever more people.
If/when they get mainstream crypto & BigTech support, projects like CleanApp, Littercoin, WasteSpace.io, @WorldCleanupDay, TrashOut, Litterati, Pirika, etc. become Exhibit A for why Blockchain/DLT is the New Internet, Web 3.0, and so on.
These use cases actually show how DLT platforms are so potentially transformative, valuable, and so potentially emancipatory — in terms that regulators and the public can understand, appreciate, and approve.
Speaking even more bluntly about respective value propositions, here’s what must happen for crypto’s killer app to take over the world.
Aside from making it extremely easy to spend and trade different coins and tokens, crypto’s killer app must make it easy to earn crypto — in non-speculative, globally accessible, social-utility-maximizing ways. Crypto’s killer app must give users hyperutility.
Continuing to propagandize crypto as a financial tool seems too self-serving and speculative; advertising Blockchain as a way to disrupt the cloud storage market or stock media market still seems too remote and abstract for ordinary people.
But a crypto-based CleanApp as a cleaning/reporting utility underpinning something like a global Uber-of-trash (complete with autonomous responders) is something that everyone, in principle and in reality, can and will get behind.
@Littercoin’s value proposition is “duh” obvious and brilliant. CleanApp is something even five year olds can understand.
Then Launch CleanApp! Show Don’t Tell!
No, and we already explained why.
Existing web-based, mobile UI, and DLT-based interoperability frameworks (in terms of data input, transactional fluidity, secure multilateral API access, etc.) still need refinement.
This is fact, not critique; these are developmental needs that one of the architects of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, has publicly stated are priority need areas for 2018. These are far from resolved, most clearly evidenced by the lack of a full-fledged mobile Ethereum client — not to mention an apparent lack of a clear legal & global governance vision.
Competing DLT platforms like IOTA may end up being better suited for CleanApp data processing backends. New teams are advertising their platforms all the time, with claims that seem wholly incredulous. The operative word here is “seem” — all tech breakthroughs, including CleanApp, look like science fiction to outside observers at first.
Interoperability is a Must
As CleanApp continues to actively court core developers and hackterns to help us do our “platform-shopping” due diligence, we made a key finding:
There’s far more FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) lurking in the choice of what platform to develop on, than even in the extremely high-risk/high-reward FUDscape of crypto investing. That’s bad.
Dev Must Be Easier
Developers of cross-platform processes like CleanApp shouldn’t have to choose between one platform or the other.
On the contrary, it is platform developers who should be seeking out killer processes like CleanApp and doing everything possible to facilitate easier and more secure integration and functional inter-operation.
It’s irrefutably clear to CleanApp that DLT interoperability will make everyone better off.
We are pleased to see consensus forming on this uncontroversial point. But we are still a long way off.
Tribalism Hurts Innovation
Until we get to functional interoperability, there are many other irrational but powerful barriers to entry. For example, the major DLT platforms seem so tribal at the moment that even the mere appearance of alignment or expression of preference for one platform over another is akin to stepping in the middle of a civil war. If you think this is exaggeration, try to explain the merits of interoperability in the middle of a Twitter civil war between ETC v. ETH, or EOS v. ETH, and so on.
The only way forward is for platform developers to make life easier for app developers. Right now, stories like this show that the reality is the other way around.
CleanApp Success = You
The CleanApp Foundation has been upfront about its current development goals. With so many different factors bearing on our unique market, social, and regulatory space, we need to tread very carefully.
We understand that many of the platform-level ideas and methods being developed right now are so new and untested that accelerating the release of a mass-oriented embodiment could paradoxically backfire.
The same is true on the app developer front. The ideas behind Littercoin, for instance, are so fresh that the founder has not even had time to publish the Littercoin whitepaper.
CleanApp’s own standard-setting whitepaper has only been published recently, and CleanApp’s draft standards documentation is still going through peer-review.
We are confident in our ability to overcome those challenges, but only with support and collaboration of other front-line developers who see the bigger picture behind these efforts, and the broader social and political implications of the crypto revolution.
Something as transformative as decentralized global waste and incident report-response data markets must be done right, even if reaching the right people — you — takes longer than we’d like.
You are central to the CleanApp story. Without you, there is no CleanApp.
DLT & BigTech Must Launch CleanApps
You, our fellow tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, BigTech theorists, and crypto-developers, stand to benefit the most from a successful CleanApp deployment. This is why you should help us launch the best CleanApp offering that current tools permit.
It’s in your long-term interests to partner with us to design DLTs that facilitate globally-decentralized resource markets.
When you help us develop a fluid and decentralized, yet truly global, crypto-security paradigm that can withstand operational stresses in the trash/hazard-mapping context, you will be prototyping the key BlockTech innovation most needed to overhaul, um, the Internet: flexibly constituted, predictable, secure, semi-permeable jurisdictional bounds.
CleanApp’s DNA = JDXN Mapping
“Flexibly constituted, predictable, secure, semi-permeable jurisdictional bounds” is a mouthful at first. But what we mean are rigorously probabilistic answers to the questions: (a) who is responsible for cleaning up a particular object or condition; (b) what should be the best allocation of cleanup cost in cases where a condition straddles a property line, or where the object(s) and/or condition(s) blur the traditional public v. private divide; (c) etc.
CleanApp Chicken & Egg?
We realize that our position may look like a cop out or a classic burden of proof shift fallacy: “Give us better Blockchains, and we’ll give you CleanApp!” But anyone who has followed our posture since our inception knows that for us, it’s not about “CleanApp Foundation’s success” and it’s not even about “your” success, in some narrow sense. Instead,
We all need better DLT architectures so that we can benefit from hyperutility apps like CleanApp. We all need to figure out jurisdictional basics, and landfills seem like the least controversial venues for having grown-up discussions about resource allocation in both virtual and material worlds.
In order to have full-spectrum ubiquitous CleanApp capability that finally blurs the arbitrary lines between outdoor & indoor incident reporting, we need far more secure, efficient, and interoperable blockchain architectures. But the needs go deeper than that.
We Must Rethink Jurisdiction
We need conceptual and technical architectures like OpenAR Cloud. We need better conceptual and technical approaches to geolocation. We need smarter conceptual and technical approaches to universal time. We need far better conceptions of shared operational theaters and overlapping jurisdictional circles.
The New Internet needs jurisdictional maps that are much more rigorously-coded and, as a result, are much more flexible and dynamic.
To reap the gains from global incident reporting across the public-to-private spectrum means to permit the same user to (a) CleanApp one’s bathroom, and then (b) CleanApp one’s workplace, followed by (c) CleanApp of city streets, and (d) CleanApp of national parks — on whatever platforms and input devices the user is most comfortable with.
Full-spectrum utility like this hinges on many factors, including quintessentially legalistic conceptions of jurisdiction. To achieve this level of functional interoperability, we need to give users security guarantees that are qualitatively stronger than anything currently available in BigTech and DLT.
Security is a technical matter; but data security is also a question of law.
DLT security must be done right in this crucial constitutive moment. This requires big thinking about the smallest problems at global scales.
Measures of Success & Failure
One of the main reasons the DLT community should coalesce around CleanApp’s “flexibly constituted, predictable, secure, semi-permeable jurisdictional bounds” is that CleanApp comes prepackaged with an easy, quantifiable, and verifiable methodology for measuring success in achieving this ambitious system-wide innovation benchmark. Here it is:
If it’s 2021, you’re Paris-based, and you can ask Satoshi (or whatever you call your digital assistant) to zoom into Tiananmen Square to check how many CleanApp Reports were submitted today, to check how dirty it is, to see if anyone’s responded to the loose paver stone you complained about on your last trip to Beijing, then you’re benefiting from “flexibly constituted, predictable, secure, semi-permeable jurisdictional bounds.” Everyone around the world, including regulators in Beijing and Paris, should see the value and full import of this success scenario.
By contrast, if it’s 2021, you’re D.C.-based, and you’re trying to see “litter incident rates” and “responsiveness rates” at Moscow’s Red Square, but you’re firewalled because the Kremlin sees geo-blockchain applications as a threat to national security, national sovereignty, and core “national interests,” then we will have failed. At CleanApp we’ll look back to the 2010s knowing we did everything we could to anticipate and prevent this.
Please judge for yourself whether the problem is as bad as we’re making it out to be, and whether the need for collaboration is as existential as we’re stressing:
The tech industry’s current solution to these problems is further centralization. The trend is similar in Blockchain applications, with BigTech (Microsoft, IBM, HP, Oracle, SAP, and most recently, Amazon) making major investments in Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) infrastructure for enterprise clients. Smaller autonomous actors like Littercoin host data on AWS, and the trend shows no clear sign of reversal any time soon.
At first blush, there’s nothing inherently problematic about BigTech embracing the opportunities opened up by BaaS. Enterprise-grade tech products typically have good security measures and relatively quick crisis-response patching processes. This is one of the reasons we’re encouraging none other than Google to activate CleanApp reporting capabilities.
But the key question isn’t whether the security frameworks are “good” enough in their present form.
The key question is whether BigTech security frameworks are strong enough to bend to the needs of increasingly DataWoke populations over a 5–10–20 year time horizon.
In the CleanApp context and in so many other contexts where privacy and security go hand in hand, boilerplate security protections are prima facie insufficient, irrespective of whether the data will be stored “on the cloud,” “on the chain,” or on a chain of clouds.
Pro forma BigTech security guarantees are inadequate for the simple fact that citizens-as-consumers will reject platforms that smack even more of Big Brother than they currently do.
In order for CleanApp markets to unleash the trillions, yes, trillions of dollars of scrap resource value and hazard-reporting/hazard-abatement value in the 2020-2050 timeframe, current Blockchain forms must give much more meaningful, easily-verifiable, consensus-driven security guarantees.
For Real Blockchain Security, Re-Read Satoshi
The fact that Xiaomi RoboVacs collects several megabytes of sensitive data daily to Xiaomi servers (including the names and passwords of the WiFi networks the device connects to and the maps of the rooms it makes with its lidar sensors) is concerning, to put it mildly.
Worse, it does not seem to provoke the same outrage in the tech community or in civil society as the same bit of news would have just five years earlier.
Today’s Webizen finds herself in a peculiar Catch-22. She is increasingly resigned to ubiquitous surveillance; yet she knows that any attempt to challenge the status quo will subject her to additional surveillance & blowback.
How do we find that Goldilocks zone between security and privacy, on-chain/off-chain, online/offline? The answer is at the heart of the Bitcoin whitepaper.
Adressing Blockchain security, Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto reasoned:
The [Blockchain] system is secure as long as honest nodes collectively control more CPU power than any cooperating group of attacker nodes.
Implicit in the characterization of certain nodes as “honest” is the following assumption: the so-called honest nodes are interested in protecting and growing the value of their investment in a particular Blockchain application or applications. This assumption extends to the attacker/attackers. Here is Nakamoto’s analysis:
The [“financial”] incentive[s] [like mining new coins or collecting transaction fees] may help encourage nodes to stay honest. If a greedy attacker is able to assemble more CPU power than all the honest nodes, he would have to choose between using it to defraud people by stealing back his payments, or using it to generate new coins. He ought to find it more profitable to play by the rules, such rules that favour him with more new coins than everyone else combined, than to undermine the system and the validity of his own wealth.
The operative word here is “may.” The operative logic here is game-theoretical self-interest, the assumption that — all other things being equal — a ‘player’ in a given Blockchain game understands that she is ‘better off’ playing by the rules.
There are a lot of assumptions in Satoshi’s logic regarding human behavior vis-a-vis PoW processes that have since been consistently proven wrong, including a far more granulated set of motivations than the honest/attacker binary, still largely misunderstood effects of cartel formation, and, crucially, State intervention in Bitcoin operations.
There is another core assumption in Satoshi’s logic that is only now being realized, appreciated, and finally coded. Destructive (attacker) v. constructive (honest node) motivations manifest themselves outside of the Blockchain mining process as much as within:
Blockchain integrity, in other words, is a function of processual and institutional “honest node” behavior as much as it as a function of raw “computational honesty.”
There is a LOT to unpack here. We will begin to analyze the significance of this takeaway for Blockchain security and CleanApp security in our next installment, Part Four.
For now, we’d like to leave you with three vignettes from Vitalik Buterin, as a jumping off point for Part Four:
(1) Tweet of May 27, 2018, wherein Buterin shares the evolution of his thinking on privacy;
(2) June 19, 2018 presentation at Cornell University, where Buterin still begins by explaining that Blockchains are “interesting” because, among many other things, (a) “[Blockchains are] digital institutions with no central coordinator and not bound to any single jurisdiction;” (b) “Smart contracts [can be thought of] as special-purpose ‘legal system’ with very low enforcement costs… in some cases.”
(3) If Ethereum-based Blockchains are so amenable to enterprise-grade application and are increasingly used by leading BigTech firms like Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, HP, Oracle, SAP, how do we explain the founder’s own (very perceptive) warnings about the inherent instability of the Ethereum network (& hyper-volatility of its core instrument)?
This is a recent message from today’s most influential evangelist for Blockchain technology. As we think ahead to Part Four, please take a moment to re-read the tweet and simply ask yourself, why?
Crypto’s Killer App is Litter-ally Under Our Feet, Part One
Crypto’s Killer App is Litter-ally Under Our Feet, Part Two