Five Minute Blockchain Nr. 42

Five Minute Blockchain Nr. 42

Welcome to a new edition of the TruBlo newsletter. We aim to collect and link to the most relevant content in the field of blockchain, trust and content from the past week, with optimism for blockchain technology, but not as cheerleaders. We are an EU-funded research project supporting 45 early-stage teams working on “trusted content for future blockchains”. Please forward this newsletter to colleagues and friends if you think they would be interested in this.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes 54 seconds (apologies, we are a bit longer this week).

Updates this week


QUOTE OF THE WEEK


“I can’t think of a field in tech that has had as much polarisation and as much useless noise as crypto. Behind all the noise, a lot of very clever people are quietly building highly complex and technical infrastructure, scaffolding and plumbing that might mean you could build billion-scale consumer services on this stuff in, say, five years.”

Source: Benedict Evans, Newsletter Nr. 457 (20.09.2022)


PROJECT


Projekt of the week: Enarxis – better management of EV loading stations

Enarxis project will use blockchain technology for reputation management for users of Electric vehicle (EV) loading stations, specifically in the hospitality sector.

Why in the hotel sector? Because EV loading stations have become as essential for hotel guests as WiFi was a few years ago. There are two problems: What if people reserve a station but then do not show up – but because of the reservation, the station is still blocked for use by others? Similarly, what if people load their batteries but then do not leave? Both issues will be managed with an app developed by the team behind Enarxis. The team was recently selected for an accelerator program by Visa and had earlier been funded by TruBlo.

Project profile & team members: Enarxis (EV Loader)


TRUST


How Russian Disinformation targeted a US movement

A report on how state-sponsored trolls from Russia targeted a movement (the Women’s March of 2017) and its leaders in the US. The goal was to weaken the movement by attacking the leaders and sowing doubt:

“They posted as Black women critical of white feminism, conservative women who felt excluded, and men who mocked participants as hairy-legged whiners. But one message performed better with audiences than any other. It singled out an element of the Women’s March that might, at first, have seemed like a detail: Among its four co-chairs was Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist whose hijab marked her as an observant Muslim.”

A second quote helps to understand how the tactics work:

“Ladislav Bittman, who worked for the secret police in Czechoslovakia before defecting to the United States, compared Soviet disinformation programs to an evil doctor who expertly diagnoses the patient’s vulnerabilities and exploits them, “prolongs his illness and speeds him to an early grave instead of curing him.”

The New York Times ($)


Passwords: Why four random words are better than a complex phrase

Julia Angwin from The Markup shares a reminder on how to construct hard-to-crack passwords. The critical knowledge is that four random words (for example” “Sunshine Expected Today Brooklyn”) are hard to crack (because of the number of possible combinations) and easy to remember. There is no need for a complex, hard-to-remember phrase. For illustration, here is a link to an XKCD strip about this particular topic.

In her newsletter, she goes a step further and talks to Jeremi Gosny, an expert in the space of password security. They discuss how the need for safe passwords has changed. The critical advice: Make sure that you have a different password for all accounts, not the same across all your logins. The interview is interesting, and there are several relevant and recent observations in the space of individual password security.

Quote from the interview with Jeremi Gosny: “Where we find the most success as password crackers is targeting passwords that are generated by humans, because humans across the globe still tend to think alike. Despite our language and cultural differences, our brains are only capable of coming up with a finite space of patterns.”

The Markup


CONTENT


The New York Times reports strong subscriber growth for 2. Quarter 2022

The New York Times is one of a few newspaper/news organisations that are successfully moving from the old print/advertising world to digital subscriptions. Developments are tracked worldwide in the hope of learning about potential patterns that could be applied to ailing news organisations elsewhere. The most recent update from the company is the second-quarter results for 2022. In total, 230.000 new subscriptions in one quarter mean that the goal of 10 million total subscribers could be achieved much earlier than planned.

The New York Times (Press Release)


Police at the door

In Germany, posting hate content in Germany can have direct consequences as a result of new laws.

“German authorities have brought charges for insults, threats and harassment. The police have raided homes, confiscated electronics and brought people in for questioning. Judges have enforced fines worth thousands of dollars each and, in some cases, sent offenders to jail. The threat of prosecution, they believe, will not eradicate hate online, but push some of the worst behavior back into the shadows.In doing so, they have flipped inside out what, to American ears, it means to protect free speech. The authorities in Germany argue that they are encouraging and defending free speech by providing a space where people can share opinions without fear of being attacked or abused. ‘There has to be a line you cannot cross,” said Svenja Meininghaus, a state prosecutor who attended the raid of the father’s house. “There has to be consequences.'”

The New York Times ($)


Five AR/VR trends: Free analysis of current market development

“Immersive workouts. Workplace training simulations. MeditaThere’sps in virtual reality” – these are just three scenarios which could soon define a growing market for AR (Augmented Reality) or VR (Virtual Reality). Market research CB Insights has a free 26-page study about recent trends for AR/VR, and the study is available after free registration. Salvador’sactive company so far in this field has been Meta, but now Apple seems to get ready to enter this particular market with new hardware offerings.

CB Insights


Instagram allows longer stories

Instagram will allow longer stories. Stories shorter than 60 seconds will no longer be broken into small segments.

“Now, when you post a Story that’s under 60 seconds in length, it won’t be broken up into segments. The company began testing the change with select users late last year and has now rolled it out to all users worldwide…The new change is a welcome addition to the app, likely for both users and viewers. Users will now be able to post uninterrupted Stories that won’t be broken up, and on the other hand, viewers will no longer have to continually tap to get through a long video that they may not actually want to see. But, the change could also be a turnoff for people who liked the simplicity of short, bite-sized Stories.”

Tech Crunch


Podcast episodes are getting shorter

Based on an analysis of 2,5 million podcasts episodes with at least 10.000 listeners, Rephonic found that:

“Over the past nine years, podcast episodes that are at least 60 minutes long have slowly but surely become less common. They made up over 20% of all podcast content in 2013, decreasing to under 17% in 2021. Why? It could be the rise of short and frequent daily news podcasts. Or perhaps as podcasting becomes increasingly accessible, it attracts more indie podcasters with less budget to spend on producing long episodes.”

Other findings:

  • The average top-performing podcast releases a 37-minute episode every 5 days
  • The top History podcasts have the longest delay between new episodes
  • Fiction podcasts should record longer episodes to attract a large audience

Rephonic Blog


BLOCKCHAIN


Digital Euro legislation planned for 2023

“At a conference hosted today by the Banque de France, EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said that the Commission plans to propose legislation for a ‘possible’ digital euro in 2023 to enable parliament and the European Council to debate it. The digital euro work is currently in the prototyping phase, and Banque de France Governor François Villeroy de Galhau confirmed that a decision on whether to proceed would be made at the end of 2023, with a potential launch in 2026 or 2027.”

Ledger Insights


Ethereum Merge reduced global energy consumption by 0,2%

“The Ethereum merge this week slashed global energy consumption by 0.2%, Vitalik Buterin wrote in a tweet Thursday, citing a crypto researcher. The long-awaited event successfully transformed the blockchain from a proof-of-work consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake. Proponents have touted the transition for making Ethereum an almost-net-zero technology. The switch also makes gas fees, or transaction costs, lower and means the network will be able to process transactions faster.”

Insider


Argentine airline to adopt NFT technology for tickets

Airbondi, a low-fare airline from Argentina, plans to issue flight tickets as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This means that passengers can do more with them. For example, they can sell or transfer the tickets to other persons three days before departure. The underlying technology was developed by Travel X, and the company’s website is worth a visit. The company aims to reimagine travel using blockchain tech.

Bitcoin.com


Nomura and 17here’s banks have invested in FNALTY, which uses blockchain for central bank settlements

“Fnality, formerly known as the Utility Settlement Coin, tokenizes money deposited at a central bank to enable the settlement of DLT-based transactions with on-chain digital currency. It is expected to launch its first currency, the British Pound, next month as it has been formally recognized as a payments system by HM Treasury. Other planned currencies are euros, U.S. dollars, Japanese Yen and Canadian dollars.”

Ledger Insights


Bitcoin in El Salvador, one year later

Quote via “Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain”:

  • There’s almost no use of bitcoin as a currency. The official Chivo Wallet is hardly used, and they never did get it working correctly. Businesses have taken down their “we accept bitcoin” signs.
  • There’s almost no use of bitcoin for remittances.
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds have gone up in smoke — which is as if the US spent hundreds of billions — with nothing to show for it.
  • Crypto crashed. As well as screwing over local bitcoin holders, this halved the face value of the government bitcoin reserve.
  • El Salvador can’t borrow internationally. The IMF won’t talk to them while bitcoin is in place. The price of Salvadoran sovereign debt has fallen through the floor, as has El Salvador’s credit rating.
  • The Bitcoin Volcano Bonds supposedly had $1.5 billion of buyer interest lined up — then Russia invaded Ukraine, and those buyers vanished.
  • The ground has not been broken for Bitcoin City. I’m pretty sure it never will.

David Gerrard’s “Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain”


Estonia approves first crypto bank after new legislation

“Striga, a bitcoin and cryptocurrency bank, became the first virtual asset service provider (VASP) to gain regulatory approval in Estonia following the country’s revamping of its digital asset legal framework, per an announcement from the Financial Intelligence Unit.”

Striga is the new name used by Lastbit, a US start-up team. The project had already introduced Mastercards in connection with crypto accounts. The team has been part of YCombinator, a start-up accelerator.

Striga (Homepage)

Financial Intelligence Unit (Press Release)

Bitcoin Magazine


Is crypto a house of cards?

The Washington Post has a special about the story of crypto so far, chapter by chapter.

“Crypto is among the most urgent of current tech topics, driven by billions of cryptocurrency trades weekly — bitcoin and so many others — and a cultural stigma perhaps unseen in finance since the days of the Wall Street wolves of the 1980s. Almost since its creation, crypto has been characterized by sudden wealth creation, surprise hacks, big scams, bold promises and shattered dreams.”

The Washington Post (free content)


OTHER STORIES & SHORT LINKS


  • Interpol has issued a red notice for Do Kwon, founder of failed Terraform TechCrunch
  • Looking at 320 pitch decks, here’s what science tells us works best TechCrunch
  • UN countries are preparing to pick a new head of the International Telecommunications Union Wired UK
  • “As If Nothing Happened”: I Used Artificial Intelligence To See How Some Celebrities Would Look Today If They Were Alive Bored Panda
  • Australian pilot CBDC test for eAUD to commence mid-2023 Cointelegraph
  • Christie’s moves on-chain with NFT auction platform on Ethereum Cointelegraph
  • How Web3 property rights can transform the digital economy Forkast

Thank You for reading. If you have questions or suggestions, please get in touch with us via info@trublo.eu

Subscribe here

 

Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter Nr. 40

Five Minute Blockchain Newsletter Nr. 40

Five Minute Blockchain

Welcome to a new edition of the TruBlo newsletter. We are funding 45 early-stage blockchain ideas to explore new options for “trusted content on future blockchains”. A list of all TruBlo projects is here: https://www.trublo.eu/projects/

Our main question for selecting news and links: How is the field of blockchain, content and trust evolving?

Estimated reading time: 5 min 12 secs

Updates this week:


TRUST


FTC sues US data broker Kochava

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a suit against Kochava, a US-based data broker.

“Kochava’s data can reveal people’s visits to reproductive health clinics, places of worship, homeless and domestic violence shelters, and addiction recovery facilities. The FTC alleges that by selling data tracking people, Kochava is enabling others to identify individuals and exposing them to threats of stigma, stalking, discrimination, job loss, and even physical violence. The FTC’s lawsuit seeks to halt Kochava’s sale of sensitive geolocation data and require the company to delete the sensitive geolocation information it has collected.”

FTC

The Guardian


Two-thirds of UK youth are not interested in crypto

A survey conducted by youth marketing agency Seed in May 2022 showed low interest in cryptocurrency among young people in Britain.

“Responses revealed that 66% of so-called ‘zoomers’ aged 18-24 are not interested in cryptocurrency, with 10% willing to try it but won’t prefer it over other investments. It canvassed 2,000 people during May, which was the depths of the crypto crash. Women are even less interested in crypto, with three-quarters giving it a thumbs down. In contrast, half of men are willing to give it a try.The situation for NFTs was even worse, with 70% believing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are scams.”

Ledger Insights


Facebooks pervasive pixel

A study using technology from Mozilla reveals the extent of data collection around the world.

The Markup


People buying guns with cryptocurrency leave a digital trail

Gun owners in the USA want no or minimal data registration about purchases and ownership. But buying weapons with crypto could leave an unintentional digital trail.

Coindesk


CONTENT


Sources: Netflix plans to launch ad tier in November, to be ahead of Disney+

In July, the company announced to plan for the introduction in early 2023. Now it looks like the launch will be done earlier for markets in the US, Canada, UK, France and Germany.

Variety


Google blocks TruthSocial app because of violent content

TruthSocial is a social media platform initiated by former US president Donald Trump after being banned from Twitter. Now it seems Google will not allow the app to be downloaded via the Google Play Store.

Axios
TechCrunch


French government uses AI to detect undeclared swimming pools

In France, homeowners must declare a swimming pool for accurate property tax. Authorities are now using machine learning software to analyse aerial photos.

“The software, developed in partnership with the consulting firm Capgemini and the US digital giant Google, was tested in nine regions — Alpes-Maritimes, Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Ardèche, Rhône, Haute-Savoie, Morbihan, Maine-et-Loire and Vendée — and revealed more than 20,000 undeclared swimming pools, according to a report by the directorate. “

Euronews


Twitter tests an edit button for Tweets

A tweet can be edited for up to 30 minutes, and the edit history will be shown to users. The feature has been requested for a long time, though critics feat that the edit option might open the door to misuse.

The Verge


Little kids yelling “poop” at Alexa are driving up profits for some songs

“Pecunia non olet” is a Latin proverb that means “Money does not smell”. Now, some musicians report that songs with the word “poop” are getting many plays. The assumption is that this happens because little kids yelling “poop” activate Alexa.

Buzzfeed


BLOCKCHAIN


Helium developers propose switching to Solana

According to a blog post by the Helium Foundation, the platform wants to free up resources needed to develop and maintain its own blockchain and instead plans to switch to Solana.

“Developers behind the Helium network – a grid of medium-range wireless hotspots pitched as an alternative to hard-wired internet service – are proposing to migrate away from the project’s own blockchain onto Solana, in pursuit of faster transaction speeds, higher uptimes and more interoperability with other blockchains as key reasons. The Helium Foundation wrote in a Medium post this week that the new proposal from the Helium core developer team would improve the operational efficiency “significantly.” The proposal to move toward Solana and away from Helium’s own blockchain, officially known as HIP 70, “addresses network speed, reliability and scalability”.

Coinbase

Web3 is going great


Misplaced decimal allowed traders in Georgia to cash out at 100x the regular price

Coinbase tries to get its money back after discovering that in late August, Georgia traders could cash out crypto at 100 times the intended market rate. The Georgian Lari (GEL) exchange rate was 290, not 2,90. As a result, an estimated 900 traders could sell their holdings at a considerable profit. Coinbase is now seeking payback; accounts have been locked in some cases. The misplaced decimal point was not detected for seven hours.

Blockworks


Market analysis: The state of crypto banks in 2022

Users: From October 2021 to May 2022, Crypto.com saw its user base grow from 10M to 50M, an increase of 400%. Similarly, the number of Nexo users doubled from over 2M to over 4M from September 2021 to May 2022. Crypto lending has surged over the last two years and publicizes a vision of financial services where lenders and borrowers avoid the traditional financial firms that position themselves as the gatekeepers for loans or other products.

Company size: While some crypto banks are facing hiring headwinds, others are unperturbed amid market volatility. In June 2022, BlockFi announced a 20% layoff — the company headcount dropped from about 850 in January to about 680 by the end of July. Meanwhile, Nexo’s LinkedIn headcount has jumped nearly 60% since January 2022.

Blockdata


Short links


  • Google and YouTube outline plans for content moderation in US midterm elections TechCrunch
  • How to add DuckDuck Go Privacy Essentials to your browser ZD Net
  • Web3 Domain Name Service Could Lose Its Web Address Because Programmer Who Can Renew It Sits in Jail Coindesk
  • Snap appears to have axed its Web3 team as part of the social media company’s decision to restructure and cut its headcount by about 20%. Blockworks
  • 62% of wallets did not sell Bitcoin for a year amid a bear market Cointelegraph

Would you happen to have any feedback or suggestions? Contact us via info@trublo.eu

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

 

How newsrooms fight disinformation – a Q&A with two experts

How newsrooms fight disinformation – a Q&A with two experts

 

How newsrooms fight disinformation
Q&A with Julia Bayer and Ruben Bouwmeester, DW Research and Cooperation projects

Tuesday, December 14 • 12:00-13:00 CET • via Zoom

How do journalists work against mis- and disinformation? What are the workflows for the verification of content? What are the main challenges for newsrooms? And: What do the experts expect from future blockchain solutions? To get answers and insights please join us for an open webinar on December 14, 2021, from 12:00 – 13:00. 

Join us as a guest

The event is organised for the now 25 funded project teams of TruBlo. But participation is open for guests from the NGI community, EU researchers, startups and developers. If you want to join as a guest please contact us at support@trublo.eu and we sent you the log-in credentials for the Zoom conference. 

The experts will give a very brief overview, the session will then allow for Q&A by the participants.

What we discuss:

  • How do journalists cope with disinformation?
  • What are the workflows?
  • Is there a way to overcome the current crisis of trust?
  • What tools are available and working?
  • What are current views on blockchain technology used for trustable content?

As part of the talk, the experts will talk about tools created to fight disinformation and to help with verification. Examples are the InVid verification plug-in, work done in the EU research project Digger (Deepfake detection) and Truly Media. The latter is a software platform for collaborative verification. Truly Media is used by a number of organisations, e.g. Amnesty International, Reuters, ZDF and the European Parliament.

Link: https://www.truly.media

Our experts:

Julia Bayer is an investigative journalist who dives deep online using OSINT. She has gained first-hand experience from work in the social media team of Deutsche Welle. In addition, she works as an innovation manager of the Research- and Cooperation team of Deutsche Welle. Julia is involved in a number of verification projects, such as the implementation of Truly Media and InVid. She also trains journalists in OSINT techniques and digital verification. Julia has worked with journalists in multiple international locations and has worked with newsrooms, NGOs and DW academy. Julia is the founder of @quiztime on Twitter, where a worldwide community of participants regularly has to solve verification and geolocation tasks.

Twitter: @bayer_julia

Ruben Bouwmeester brings concept development skills and profound graphical expertise. In his role as an innovation manager, Ruben was a key contributor to several software solutions and platforms used for the detection of disinformation and deep fakes. Ruben has been a key architect and manager for Truly Media, a collaboration platform created by the DW ReCo team in collaboration with Athens Technology Center. He has a background in project management, concept development, and design, holding a B.A. from The Hague University. As a ReCo innovation manager, Ruben specialises in User Generated Content (UGC), verification, and HLT. He also trained journalists at DW Akademie.

Twitter: @rubybouw

We need to rethink what we consider as “content”

We need to rethink what we consider as “content”

The fight against misinformation can be compared to a big clean-up initiative: Think of your neighbourhood is covered with trash, not only from last week but several years. Littering everything is done quickly, but cleaning up takes much longer.

What is important here is to rethink, critically, what we consider as content. Yes, a news article is clearly content. But there are today many other forms of information bits that are either preceding or following pieces of traditional news media content. And it should be clear that all these added bits of information must be reliable and trustable. 

When falsified content goes viral, lives might be in danger

One big criticism towards large social media platforms is about not having foreseen and then later not having acted against dynamically generated information, based on posts, comments, discussions. When falsified content goes viral, lives can be in danger. There are documented cases where false information was used to incite anger among a group, sometimes leading to angry mobs in the streets burning down the house of a victim of such allegations

We must, as a result, be clear that all elements of what we consider trustable information must be verifiable. Content components include of course written text. But the definition of what is the content must include pictures, artwork/visuals, videos, video stills, numerical data, system data, raw or aggregated data, algorithms. In addition, we must include user-generated content, such as discussions, opinions and other interactions on social media. So far, on a technical level, it is very difficult to separate one from the other, if only the words are analysed. One take-away is that all kind of meta-data must be included in the analysis, too. 

Most difficult: Mixing true and false information

A very difficult problem here is when correct content is taken out of context and is combined or mixed with false or fabricated information – the connection is hard to distinguish, specifically by automated searches. Humans might be able to see the difference, but there is no feasible way that every item of information is checked for plausibility or truth by a human. Search strings and search methods to identify new information are as important to evaluate as other forms of information detection. 

Just one example to illustrate how technical systems can be tricked is the manipulation of publication dates for information. A malicious actor might have written false content, with catchy headlines. In order to let a search spider pick up the content as new, it is sufficient to re-publish the content, potentially on a different website and under a different URL and IP address. 

Fraud detection can be tricked

Much of the data used by Google for search depends on what website owners and content creators provide. Of course, there are all kinds of fraud detection, but in a world where not many data points for content that is published via Content Management Systems can be verified at the source, the search engines do have not many options. Further, of course, the number of content sources that are intentionally falsifying what they publish is always only a fraction of the total. But because they have a chance to go undetected they can do so much harm. 

If a website methodically refreshes dates for the content on its pages there are not many ways for search engines to detect this. Or, in other words: With the right motivation and a little bit of know-how, it is possible to trick search spider software into believing that a recycled article has been published very recently.

What is the main motivation to invest work into falsified content? Presumably, the main and the most frequent motivation is simply to make money. Running a partially automated fake news system and connecting it to an advertising platform can result in a very good payout. 

Perspective: $50 billion lost to ad fraud by 2025

A report published by industry organisation IAB Europe says: “According to the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), it is estimated that by 2025, over $50 billion will be wasted annually on ad fraud.” 

After the 2016 election researchers found that a considerable number of entirely faked articles were coming from a region as far away from the US as Macedonia. Some people there had learned how to make money through digital advertising and the key was to write entirely falsified, but outrageous articles about political candidates. The wilder the allegations, the better the click rates and shares for such content. This created a mini-industry based on “fake news” in the region. 

The techniques which make ad fraud successful can be used for political or criminal disinformation campaigns. The financial motivation for ad fraud exploits helps to build experience and a lot of practical knowledge on how to mislead existing platforms, which then can be reused for targeted disinformation campaigns. 

These are some, but not even all arguments why we need to broaden our understanding of what is content. Over time there should be detection measures, even at the source where the information is published, to enable 100% verification. 

Examples of funded projects from TruBlo

Among the ten projects which received funding in the 1st open call are several which are explicitly looking for new ways to detect falsified information and content. Some examples below, full list can be found here.

CONTOUR – Trusted content for tourism marketing purposes

LEDGEAIR – Aircraft data mining framework

ShoppEx – to restore the trust between retailers/brands and consumers

More information:

IAB Europe: Guide to ad fraud, 2020

 

 

To fight misinformation,  the “Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity” (C2PA) wants to develop technical standards

To fight misinformation, the “Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity” (C2PA) wants to develop technical standards

In February 2021 the “Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity” (C2PA) combined and consolidated the efforts of two projects with similar goals. On one side “Project Origin”, founded in 2020 by Microsoft, BBC, The New York Times and CBC/Radio-Canada.
On the other side a group by the name of “Content Authenticity Initiative”, founded by Adobe. In the new, larger group more members are represented, including the chip-makers Arm and Intel. TruePic, a startup with interesting technology in this space is a member, too.
What all the participants have in common is this: To develop standards and tools for reliable content provenance. This would include certifying the source, the origin and the history of content elements. But, it is not an attempt to re-create DRM (Digital Rights Management).

Today falsifying content is easy

So far, content that is accessible on the internet can be intentionally falsified, easily.

  • Tricking search engines: From false claims to falsified sources to sloppy or falsified metadata. For example a low level, but common approach to content fraud is to simply change the publishing date. Search engines are good at finding content, but all search platforms are challenged by falsified data and information.
  • No restrictions in Content Management Systems: For the sake of convenience, almost all currently used Content Management Systems do not impose strict guidelines nor checks for copyrights or whether the publishing data is correct.

In earlier communication the group behind Project Origin stated the goal: “Having a provable source of origin for media, and knowing that the content had not tampered with en-route, will help to maintain confidence in news from trusted providers”.

Technical demonstrators so far

How do they want to get there? So far the concepts are demonstrators or software in beta. Technically, the idea is to define an “end-to-end process for the publishing, distribution and presentation of provenance enhanced media”. Provenance is of course the key here. It means that added information should enable to trace down where the content came from and whether what is presented is actually the version that was published at the origin. Provenance information will be added no only to text-based media but also to audio, video and images.

In September 2020 the project origin published a short video, which narrated the motivation as well as the early proof-of-concept models. Key goals are to confirm the identity of the publisher and to ensure that the content has not been tampered with. This applies to the visible editorial parts, but also to metadata which might not be directly visible, but is used for example by search engines to rank the content. It is common for misinformation to change dates, for example, to make old content look “new” again.

Two videos, one from Project Origin, the other from the Adobe-led Content Authenticity Initiative show the intentions and goals.

Project Origin (2020)

Source: BBC

Content Authenticity Initiative: Vision

Searching for a standard

As of spring 2021, there is a common goal and specific roles for the different partners.  “Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity” (C2PA) aims to advocate and find support for an open standard. At the same time the different technology companies work on their individual solutions:

  • Adobe is working on an attribution tool, which could be added to Photoshop and other Adobe packages.
  • TruePic, a start-up from San Diego in the US, could have the most innovative. The company has developed software specifically to enhance and enrich content enabling checks of its integrity.
  • Microsoft describes the current approaches on a dedicated innovation website.
  • It is notable that Google is missing from the members, so far. The same is true for Apple and Facebook.
    It might be that if all the big tech and content companies would join finding a compromise would become almost impossible. Instead, that is the assumption, the smaller, current group firstly wants to develop early suggestions and ideas.

Demos from Microsoft

Microsoft specifically has the most details yet how Project Origin could work. The company discusses current ideas on a webpage of the innovation department. They christened the technical approach AMP (Authentication of Media via Provenance).

Search for standard might take years

  • Agreeing on standards, specifically, might take years. While misinformation and content used for propaganda in many parts of the world are pressing problems. Finding common ground will depend on many details – and take time, specifically when there is a need for an agreed-upon technical standard, which is accepted worldwide.
  • One thing that is notable: All three projects and the entire coalition do not commit to a specific blockchain technology to store the information. It appears that the question is currently avoided – there might or might not blockchain tech in the backend.
  • Another problem is to find a technology that gets accepted by users and does not make media production more complicated. Adding metadata is a notoriously skipped activity in many fields of content production.

More info:

Microsoft Innovation: Exploring Project Origin
https://innovation.microsoft.com/en-us/exploring-project-origin

Microsoft Innovation: Technical explanation and demo
Deep Dive: Technical explanation of Project AMP’s components including a demo based on the paper
AMP: Authentication of Media via Provenance.

Adobe brings its misinformation-fighting content attribution tool to the Photoshop beta
https://techcrunch.com/2020/10/20/adobe-cai-photoshop-beta-misinformation/

Newsletter #11: TruBlo project update • Carrots, not sticks to quell misinformation and more…

Newsletter #11: TruBlo project update • Carrots, not sticks to quell misinformation and more…

TruBlo Project Update

Next steps for Trublo open call #1: If you participated, when will you get results? We published an article on the TruBlo website, to provide an overview of the process. The quick answer to the key question: Participants can expect a notification on April 30, 2021. More details: [TruBlo Website](https://www.trublo.eu/2021/04/09/trublo-open-call-1-next-steps-and-selection-process-overview/)

Updates this week:


TRUST


Trust in tech declining, survey finds

 ”Trust in tech — including companies specializing in AI, VR, 5G and the internet of things — fell all around the world last year, the Edelman Trust Barometer found in a massive survey of 31,000 people in 27 countries.”
[LINK


Procter & Gamble accused of collaboration with Chinese advertising

Apple aims to change how data can be collected for advertising purposes, specifically how profiles of users can be created. Many advertisers and other platforms are opposing the change. One unexpected result: The US company Procter & Gamble teaming up trade groups in China.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal:

”Procter & Gamble Co. helped develop a technique being tested in China to gather iPhone data for targeted ads, a step intended to give companies a way around Apple Inc.’s new privacy tools, according to people familiar with the matter. […]
The company has joined forces with dozens of Chinese trade groups and tech firms working with the state-backed China Advertising Association to develop the new technique, which would use a technology called device fingerprinting.” LINK


Blockchain for trustable food system – from seafood to grain

The Conversation: “With global-scale food systems such as seafood, nearly 40 per cent of which is traded globally, data transparency and traceability through technologies like blockchain are important for socially and environmentally conscious decision making and to facilitate trust among stakeholders. Blockchain technologies can be used to consolidate information on the quality of the seed, track how crops grow and record the journey once it leaves the farm.” LINK


Content


New motivation: ”To quell misinformation, use carrots – not just sticks”

An article by neuroscientist Tali Sharot published in “Nature” argues for a fundamental change in how users should be rewarded when posting content.

Quote: “Most readers have felt an ego boost when their post received ‘likes’. Such engagement also results in followers, which can help people secure lucrative deals. Thus, if a certain type of content generates high engagement, people will post more content like it. Here is the conundrum: fake news generates more retweets and likes than do reliable posts, spreading 6–20 times faster.”

What could be a solution?

”At the moment, users are rewarded when their post appeals to the masses — even if it’s of poor quality. What would happen if users were rewarded for reliability and accuracy?” LINK


Facebook criticised for being unresponsive to reports of manipulative content, investigation reveals

The Guardian published findings of an investigation of how the social platform handled manipulative content, specifically outside of the US. A former employee says that Facebook was often inactive, even when warned about such manipulative content.

“There is a lot of harm being done on Facebook that is not being responded to because it is not considered enough of a PR risk to Facebook,” said Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist at Facebook who worked within the company’s “integrity” organization to combat inauthentic behaviour. “The cost isn’t borne by Facebook. It’s borne by the broader world as a whole.” LINK


BLOCKCHAIN


Revenge of the Winklevii

Forbes reports at length about how Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are emerging as investors in several blockchain and crypto projects.

A dozen years after they settled with Zuckerberg for $65 million in Facebook stock and cash, the Winklevii, as they are widely known, have emerged as leaders of a technological movement whose core operating principle involves digitizing the records of all assets globally, decentralizing control and cutting out gatekeepers—including Facebook.

The two are now owners of a holding company called “Gemini Space Station”, which “owns their crypto exchange and Nifty Gateway”. Forbes reports that the twins invested in 25 digital asset startups. LINK


A notable uptick of interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain initiatives

The rise of Bitcoin value is driving interest in trading of cryptocurrency trading. In parallel, we see new corporate projects for blockchain. While the two areas are not directly related, the financial market seems to validate blockchain technology, to an extend.

Selected examples:

  • Trading app Robinhood says 9.5 million users traded crypto in Q1 2021. This is an increase of 458% related to just 1,7 million traders in Q4/2020. LINK
  • The Wall Street Journal has a special how “GameStop, Blockchain.com and Bitcoin Renewed a Push to Digitize the Stock Market”. A lot of speculation mixed with enthusiasm, along with potential volatility and other risks. LINK
  • This week it’s the second virtual edition of the European Blockchain Convention, due to the pandemic. It is worth your time to scroll through the (long) list of attendees – you’ll find a mix of blockchain start-ups, representatives from larger companies and many EU officials. Just the visual scroll will give you an idea of interest in all things blockchain. LINK
  • And finally: Drivers of the new Fiat 500 electric vehicle will earn coins if they drive sustainably:

”Stellantis and UK-based startup Kiri Technologies will use blockchain rewards to encourage sustainable driving behaviour. Stellantis is the result of a recent merger between Groupe PSA and Fiat Chrysler and owns 16 car brands, including Peugeot, Citroen, Chrysler and Fiat. The rewards initiative will be conducted under Stellantis e-mobility program. Drivers of the New 500 Fiat, a fully electric car, will be awarded KiriCoins, which can be spent in the Kiri marketplace.”


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