The opinions and ideas expressed in this piece are of the writer, a community member of Elastos, and meant to prompt discussion among our community.
By Nicola Zimmerman aka “Gandhi”
I have been heavily involved in the Elastos community for more than half a year now. By constantly being busy answering questions and explaining details about the project, I started to fail to see the bigger picture of what the Smart Economy is and why it needs Elastos to work. When I went on a vacation recently, I took a break from reading about Elastos and enjoyed the crypto-free time with my girlfriend. During this time, I couldn’t help but see use cases for Elastos everywhere I looked. From smart door locks to road pricing to universal basic income, in my opinion, the Smart Web can be used everywhere. With that, I decided to write my daily thoughts down and share them with the community on Telegram in hopes to educate them and start a discussion about what the Smart Economy of the future will look like. What business models will be successful? What technologies can be brought to mass adoption because of Elastos? What industries can be disrupted by blockchain technology? These are the questions I want the community to discuss. Eventually, we will need developers, DAO’s and companies to build dApps and provide services on Elastos, but all of us can contribute to the discourse about the Smart Economy and let the developers know what we want and need them to build. If I can inspire even one project to be built, it was already worth the effort.
Daily thoughts – Part 1
Yesterday I was in Cologne, a beautiful city with buildings and Brauhäuser older than most countries. The Rhein, one of the longest rivers in Europe, flows through the city and is a wonderful place to go for a walk. That‘s what I did. But instead of enjoying the weather and the view over the river and the city, there was something else that caught my attention: a billboard. But how could an advertisement be more interesting than century old buildings and the Rhein with its bridges and the famous Kölner Dom?
The answer…because of Elastos.
Everywhere I go I see potential use cases for Elastos as a secure operating system and P2P network. The ad was about smart locks. They advertised that it‘s possible to manage access rights over the internet. Wouldn‘t this be really useful? Just imagine you‘re in my position and going on vacation and have a cat at home. Someone needs to take care of her and feed her. This means I have to hand over my key to someone for them to gain access to my home.
Or, if you have someone who cleans your apartment, you have to do the same thing. In every instance you hand over your key to someone else, and they have the possibility to copy it and later on use it for whatever they want to do and whenever they want to do it. A Smart Lock which is connected to the internet can make this process much smother. I can give anyone access to my home with just a click and even unlock my door on request from everywhere in the world and I can limit the access to a certain period of time.
Sounds amazing, doesn‘t it?
It does not.
We all know how easy it is to hack any device and execute man-in-the-middle attacks. Do we really want to have these vulnerabilities in something as important as the door lock to our homes? For me, the answer is certainly no. But I still want the benefits of a Smart Lock.
Here comes Elastos: As a truly decentralized and secure P2P network and operating system, Elastos provides a solution to the problems I mentioned above. No more hacks, no more MIM and DDoS attacks and no more traffic monitoring. These features are prerequisites not only for Smart Locks but for the Smart Home of the future in general, and to the best of my knowledge, Elastos is the only viable solution to those problems (if you want to know how it prevents them you should read the beginner‘s guide to Elastos).
Why am i telling you about this?
There are so many ways in which Elastos could help making our future both easier and more secure at the same time. Currently, everything blockchain related is way too complicated (just try and tell someone who has never used cryptos before to call a smart contract on any existing blockchain, they will have a very hard time) and the internet is way too insecure and even scary for the most part. The status quo is unacceptable and needs to be changed.
Elastos will be this absolutely necessary change.
Thanks to Rong Chen, Feng Han and everyone else who worked on Elastos for the last 18 years, our kids will grow up in a world where they don‘t have to worry about a hacker breaking into their smart house, smart car, smart stove and smart clothing, the smart grid, nuclear power plants, trains, planes, boats or other critical infrastructure. Let‘s help them make this dream come true and support Elastos where ever we can.
Onward! Upward! Elastos!
Daily thoughts – Part 2
After spending our last night in Cologne, I continued my trip to the most north western part of Germany, also known as Ostfriesland. In the region where I am staying there are two very big and important employers: a big automaker and a shipbuilding yard. Since the article about SAIC and Elastos, we already know about how Elastos can be used in autonomous driving cars (https://medium.com/elastos/auto-giants-new-blockchain-game-7e044dbe12b8), so today we are going to talk about ships, or about cruise ships to be more precise. What I am going to tell you is pure imagination and not based on any existing project or partnership, but my own vision of a decentralized smart economy.
Today, all the big cruise ships are built and owned by huge international corporations. This makes sense since it costs enormous amounts of money to build and maintain them and the only entities able to build them are those corporations with help of the big banks. There is no way an average Joe will ever be able to have his own cruise ship. Or maybe there is?
Enter Elastos and the concept of DAO (decentralized autonomous organization):
The blockchain revolution has brought forth a completely new organizational structure for businesses, the DAO. But what exactly is a DAO and how decentralized does it need to be to be considered a DAO? In my opinion it is crucial that the financing and administration are decentralized but not necessarily the execution of a business. Currently a large part of the world‘s GDP is earned by human labour that can‘t be decentralized as of now, because of a lack of tech to enable this. Maybe this will be possible some time in the future but in the present we have to work with the tools we have at hand.
What does this mean for cruise ships?
In this case, there are some things which can‘t be decentralized, like cooking, cleaning, maintenance and of course building the ship in the first place. On the other hand, there are some tasks which can be either decentralized or be made completely autonomous by the ship itself. Thanks to the advent of ICO‘s, the financing can be completely decentralized and everyone can get a share of a cruise ship. Not only today’s ship owners and the big banks, but also you and me. The best solution here would be a security token which grants you rights for profit shares and also voting rights for the strategic directions of the DAO. In other words, token holders will take over the rights and obligations of share holders and the board of directors in traditional public companies.
In my vision, the ICO will be held by the shipbuilding yard and they will need to provide a solution for the governance of the DAO as well, at least for a transitional period until the token sale is done and the token holders are ready to take over the lead of the project. After the ICO has finished and enough fundings are raised, the shipbuilding yard does what it‘s best at: building a ship. It will be powered by Elastos, doesn‘t need a captain to steer it because thanks to the Runtime and P2P network it can‘t be hacked and thus easily be cruising completely autonomous. No more financial department is needed because everything gets managed by smart contracts, from paying bills to annual closing statements, filing taxes and paying out profit shares to token holders.
People working on the ship are actually employed by the ship itself and become a part of the executing branch of the DAO which cant be replaced by smart contracts or machines (yet). For them, nothing will change. They do their work, report to their bosses and receive a salary. They could also be incentivized to do a good job by rewarding them with ship tokens and let them benefit if the business is doing well.
I could go much more into details about use cases for Elastos on a cruise ship (entertainment, trustable ratings, food supply chain management, etc.) but this would go beyond the scope of this series. The main point of today’s post is about Elastos allowing DAO‘s and with further automation maybe disrupting industries we haven‘t even thought of yet as potential use cases of Elastos.
Onward! Upward! Elastos!
Daily thoughts – Part 3
Yesterday we talked about DAO‘s and automation replacing humans in the workforce. According to different studies, a lot of people will lose their jobs to machines in the future. This is a scary thought since we are dependent on earning money to pay our bills and buy food. Without money we can‘t survive in today’s society apart from a few exceptions living completely self-sustained. The actual problem is not in having a job or not having one, but in having money to sustain a dignified lifestyle. We as a society have the responsibility to give everyone the chance to achieve this.
But how can we do this when there aren‘t enough jobs for everyone?
Today, we are relying on social security and unemployment insurance but only works out if the majority of people have a job and contribute financially to those systems. As soon as too many people are unemployed, there won‘t be enough money anymore to pay for everyone. We need a new solution which is adjusted for the 21st century and the Smart Economy. One of the most talked about solutions is a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for everyone, which would need to be high enough to cover all fixed costs such as rent, health insurance, food and mobility. I‘ve been a supporter for a UBI for quite some years now but there are some serious problems with it, above all the financing. It‘s probably not impossible but very hard to convince a majority of politicians and citizens of the world that it‘s worth it. What else solutions can we see on the horizon?
Just like yesterday, the following is my own imagination and not based on an existing project. Actually, the solution to the income problem is quite easy and right in front of our eyes: the machines replacing humans need to provide an income source for those people who get displaced by them. With current systems this is almost impossible to pull off and the only possible solution that comes to my mind would be taxing the work done by a machine and redistribute this money to the people in need. This can only be done by nation states and is very inefficient and expensive.
Enter Elastos: With Elastos you can tokenize machines and have them work autonomously. Those machines could charge a fee for the work they do and distribute the money they earn to the token holders of said machines, managed by smart contracts. Electricity and maintenance cost can be deducted automatically before giving out profit shares. If the people who are forced out of their jobs get credited with machine tokens they now have a new income source without the need of doing any work. But why would anyone do this and give out security tokens and thus profit shares for free? Because they need to.
There are always two sides of an economy: the production and the consumption. Everything that gets produced also needs to be consumed in order to have a sustainable business. We have witnessed numerous times what happens when the consumption can‘t keep up with production. Businesses go bankrupt and products have to be destroyed without ever being sold. Everyone on the production side has a strong interest and incentive in keeping consumption on par with production since it is the only way to make money. By replacing humans with machines the productivity of a company rises dramatically but the consumption declines because more and more people can‘t afford to consume anything. If the economy doesn‘t find solutions on how to efficiently distribute tokens to everyone in need, governments would have to intervene and introduce regulations on this matter to make sure everyone has enough funds to sustain themselves and their families.
To sum it up: people will lose their jobs to machines and that‘s the best thing that could happen to them as long as they get another source of income. Just imagine having enough money to live and not have to do any boring work. What would you do with your time? You could for example contribute to an open source project without being rewarded and not having to worry about money. You could spend your time to take care of your family and raise your children without having to worry about money. You could write the book you always wanted to but didn‘t have enough time or money and publish it on Elastos. You could make movies, start painting, go studying, do charity work or just enjoy your life on your couch or in nature and all without having to worry about money. Doesn‘t that sound like a dream come true? It definitely does for me.
Let‘s all come together in the Cyber Republic and help Elastos achieve its goals to provide the basis for a better future for everyone around the world!
Onward! Upward! Elastos!
Daily thoughts – Part 4
Today I am going to expand on yesterday‘s thoughts about future sources of income. I think it has become quite obvious that automation will kill millions of jobs all around the world and we need to find alternatives to working as a means of financing our lives. Yesterday we talked about tokenized machines/robots earning money for the people they replace in the workforce, today we are going to talk about something you can provide yourself: Data.
Everyone is generating huge amounts of valuable data throughout their life, from the browsing history to movement patterns, medical data, shopping history, etc. We already generate this data today but what actually is happening with it? Who benefits financially from our data? I have never received a check from Google, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba or Tencent, have you? But nevertheless, these are amongst the biggest corporations in the world and one of their main source of income is our data that we decide to give them for free and let them do with it whatever they want.
There are two huge issues with this model:
- The only people benefitting financially from this are the corporations and not the users who generate the data in the first place. This is not a fair revenue sharing model.
- The data we produce stays in closed ecosystems and can‘t be analyzed across different platforms but only the accumulation of data from as many sources as possible is what will give it real value.
With todays business models that are geared towards closed ecosystems and exclude competitors from using user generated data from other platforms/businesses, we will never know the real value of the data we generate all day, everyday. Furthermore, there is a very small to no incentive at all for consumers to share their data and they are completely excluded from the data marketplaces of the world.
Elastos is offering a system which allows people to own their data, no matter if it‘s a movie, book, art or personal data. Yes, you heard right: you own your data and you alone decide what to do with it. Do you want complete privacy and don‘t want anyone to know anything about the content of your data? Elastos is the perfect solution for you. Do you want to share your data with scientific studies and universities for research purposes? Elastos is the perfect solution for you. Do you want to share your data for commercial use as well? Elastos is the perfect solution for you.
You yourself decide who you want to share your data with and how much you want to charge them. You also decide on what they are able to do with your data, if they are able to resell it for example or if they can only use it for a limited time. As always, when I‘m talking about specific Elastos use cases I am conveying my own vision and not discussing it based on already existing projects, the same is valid for the following: Every time you visit a website which is using ads to fund themselves, you give your data out for free in order for them to show you personalized ads which they can charge their customers much more for than for random ads displayed to every visitor. In the west, Google is the largest provider of online advertisements. Every time you are using one of their services they collect data about you and add it to your profile. This way they can tell pretty accurately who you are, where you are and which ad could have the greatest impact on you and make you click it. All this data is saved on Google‘s servers all around the world. They do with this data whatever they want, since they own it.
With Elastos, all this data could be saved either to your own device or your personal Elastos cloud drive and you would remain its owner. When you open a website in the Elastos ecosystem it is completely up to you if you want to share this data with the owner of the website and allow him to use it to display an ad which fits your profile. But unlike with Google, you don‘t give away all rights to the data but only the rights to use it for this one specific ad. Also, it can be used by everyone in the Elastos ecosystem as long as you allow it, there are no fenced gardens inside Elastos. This solves the two aforementioned problems:
- The financial gains made by using your personal data will be shared between you and the websites you are visiting, this provides you a new source of income.
- All the data you generate on different websites and dApps can be combined and cross referenced, thus allowing for more accurate analysis resulting in more valuable data for everyone.
If you remember yesterdays thought of the day where we talked about new sources of income, you can clearly see that Elastos can be leveraged for different kinds of models providing a salary for everyone. Actually, I like the model discussed in this post better than what I wrote yesterday because you get rewarded for contributing something – your personal data.
I hope this helps you to understand why Elastos is putting an emphasis on owning your own data. It‘s the way wealth is generated today for the biggest and wealthiest corporations ever in our existence and it will be the way wealth is created for everyone in the future.
Onward! Upward! Elastos!
Daily thoughts – Part 5
Today I continued my trip and arrived in Amsterdam. On the highway there were a lot of trucks and they made me think of road pricing. In Europe, there different kinds of systems in place to finance the highways. Some countries have privatized them, others ask everyone who wants to use them to pay an annual fee and in some places only trucks have to pay anything. In my home country, everyone using the highways need a so called Autobahnvignette, which is a sticker you put on your windshield. On top of that there is a system called LSVA for trucks. Everyone with them needs to have a board computer installed which is connected to the mileage counter of the vehicle and has a GPS receiver. It counts how many kilometers a truck drives inside Switzerland and they have to pay a certain fee per km. This is very bureaucratic and very inefficient since a lot has to be done manually by government employees (and all relevant data is stored on centralized servers which is a security threat as well but that‘s another story).
This could be a perfect use case for Elastos. If the small computer that is used for the LSVA would run on Elastos and would be using the Smart Web we could automate the whole system, make it much more efficient and prevent fraud. Instead of being dependent on the mileage counter, the GPS could be used to calculate the kilometers driven inside a country or certain region, and thanks to Elastos, the recorded data could be trusted by all involved parties. A wallet could be integrated and the fees could be paid automatically with crypto currencies and managed by smart contracts. This whole system could make use of an Elastos sidechain, the Elastos Runtime and of course the Elastos Carrier.
Not everything needs to be decentralized and on the blockchain, but there are others where trust and centralization are an issue, and a system provided by the government which everyone needs to use without having any choice needs to be trusted. I invite every one of you to look around you and find the best use cases for Elastos and write your own posts and articles about them. Maybe your contribution will be the inspiration for a developer to make the first ever mass adopted dApp.
Onward! Upward! Elastos!
Daily thoughts – Part 6
As you may know, I am currently on a vacation. Today I bought some postcards for friends and family and this made me think of electronic letters. When we think of this today, the first thing that comes to mind is email, but is an email similar to a physical letter other than it contains written language and/or images? When sending a letter, you make a physical copy of it, put it in an envelope and bring it to a post office or call a courier to pick it up. The letter then gets transported to the address written on the envelope. The letter is safe because we trust the post office and the couriers not to open it (in most places I know this is forbidden by law), but this trust can be breached and this has happened and will happen again. We can only hope that the next scandal won‘t affect us. This may be trivial when sending a letter to your family asking how everybody is doing and telling them about things you are posting to the public on Facebook, but it is a real problem when you need to send confidential documents to your lawyer, doctor, employer, government or police. In these cases it could have serious consequences if someone is reading your letters. Identity theft and blackmailing are things that come to mind.
When sending an email, you write a letter and then make a copy of it and send it to an email address. Emails are not encrypted by default and thus are like sending a postcard which anyone who is involved in the process of delivery is able to read. Actually, it is known that some email providers read their client‘s emails and they can easily be intercepted.
In both systems, a letter can be copied or altered before it gets delivered to the recipient without them or the sender knowing it. Both emails and letters can be encrypted but it is too complicated to do for the average consumer.
What we need is a reliable and fast way to send letters and documents which can‘t be intercepted, read, altered and copied.
We need a way to do this P2P.
We need a way to prove the integrity of the documents we receive.
We need a way of identifying both the sender and receiver.
We need a way to ensure trust between all involved parties.
We need the Elastos Carrier.
We need the Elastos Runtime.
We need Elastos ID‘s.
We need merged mining with Bitcoin.
We need Elastos.
Onward! Upward! Elastos!
Daily Thoughts – Part 7
Yesterday was the last day of my trip through Germany and the Netherlands. Both countries have welcomed us very well with wonderful weather, interesting things to discover and lots of great food (thanks again for the restaurant recommendation @jortmoney). The last night in Amsterdam, we went to this amazing place called Foodhallen, which happened to be right around the corner from our hotel. It is located in an old tram depot and is like a big food market. There are lots of different small food stands offering meals from all over the world. There is one bar which offers drinks and everyone else only sells food.
When eating there I was wondering how this whole thing is organized. I guess there is a company which is renting out the stands to other companies and running the bar themselves. This way most of the risk is taken by the smaller companies which are in direct competition with all the other food stands. If they don‘t make enough revenue they go bankrupt and get replaced by some other company. Also, by exclusively selling drinks they are the only ones there with guaranteed customers. Everyone needs a drink. There should be a better way to spread both the risks and gains. It should be possible to organzse a project like this as some sort of digital, tokenized cooperative. All the owners of the food stands should get together in a cooperative and do a crowdfunding to fund the start of the project. This should cover rent, infrastructure, water, electricity etc. until the cooperative can sustain itself. A certain amount of the tokens could be distributed to the crowdfunding participants, the rest reserved for people working in the cooperative. All of them get a proportional part of the coins, depending on the total number of employees. There could also be a system which gives out tokens according to the time people have spent working there (the longer you have been part of the cooperative the more tokens you get). Every month the tokens get redistributed by a smart contract, which follows the rules discussed above. Those tokens will grant token holders the right to receive profit shares. All the food stands are independent in how they operate, what they sell and their pricing and they won‘t have to pay any rent. Instead, all of them share the same accounting and pay for all the bills with their combined revenue (including rent, utilities, food, non food articles, salaries (everyone working in the cooperative has a fixed salary), etc.). Everything that‘s left over after paying the bills and forming reserves for the future will be distributed to all the token holders. This makes sure that everyone working there has a strong incentive to be as productive and efficient as possible since every employee gets a profit share.
The whole business could be organized as a DAO on Elastos with votings on strategic decisions on the blockchain. By using cryptocurrencies instead of fiat they could also have an automated and transparent accounting system which will allow for every employee to be sure not to get cheated out of their profit share.
This is just a rough vision of how Elastos could be used to reshape current business models to give more power back to the people and give them a bit more independence and freedom. I‘m sure I have not thought of every detail but I hope to get a conversation started about new business models on Elastos. Maybe one of you is a business consultant or economist and can help to further develop a model like this. The Elastos community is always open to talk about any ideas. It‘s on us to bring them up and refine them until they work as intended. Let‘s do this together as a community!
Onward! Upward! Elastos!