Blockchain technology was inspired by the frustration of middlemen – companies & central authorities owning user data with a bait-and-switch.
The proposition of Blockchain is to decentralise information – where data exists across many servers instead of being managed by a single authority / platform.
With blockchain, data is immutable. Once a transaction is logged in the blockchain ledger, the data is permanent, indelible, and unalterable.
If data is immutable, what does this mean for data privacy & ownership?
To answer this question, we gathered a few speakers who shared their thoughts:
- Dinidh O’Brien is the head of PR and marketing of Data Lake, whose team is working to transform medical research by putting anonymised patient consents for the use of their data for research on the blockchain. He has been in blockchain and crypto space since 2012, and has also been a consultant to companies, helping them integrate blockchain and DLT into their business.
- Jackie Tan is Head of Academy at Tribe, who is training tech talent to be ready for blockchain & Web3. Before joining Tribe, he co-founded UpLevel, a data science academy as well as a financial insights company.
- Evan Lee from CryptoJobs, who is working to build a talent platform to connect talented individuals to the best blockchain projects.
Listen to the recording, or read what we chatted about below!👇
- How is data put on the blockchain? What data can be on the blockchain?
- Define the Use Case that Blockchain can be used for
- Understand a critical Problem in a field (i.e. medical research)
- Define the Dataset requirements to be on the blockchain (on-chain)
- If data on the blockchain is immutable, how can we protect sensitive information?
- How does ownership in decentralised decision-making look like?
- How can data on the blockchain be used for good?
- Audience Questions
- The regulations on crypto as a whole, how does it benefit us?
- How will people be able to keep and use their own data across different platforms?
How is data put on the blockchain? What data can be on the blockchain?
Define the Use Case that Blockchain can be used for
For a start, you need to understand why you’re using blockchain technology. Essentially, it is a decentralised ledger of all transactions.
Each blockchain has different block sizes, which limits the size and how much data you want to put on the blockchain.
So, any data can be put on the blockchain – as long as you can hash and encrypt it efficiently.
As for what data, in most use cases, they are ledgers, meaning records of financial transactions.
Increasingly, we’ve been seeing interesting use cases such as Data Lake’s; putting biomedical data on the blockchain.
I’ll let Data Lake explain more about this.
Dinidh, Data Lake
Yes, one of the biggest issue is that blockchains have different block sizes. Bitcoin have their block size and and Ethereum too.
As we go forward, chains should allow us to store more and more data exponentially. Also, internet speeds are picking up across the globe.
But of course, if we look at a non-Western perspective, if you move outside of developed countries, they don't have the internet speeds to handle that kind of transaction sizes.
So yes, storage although is quite a technical topic compared to data privacy, it’s quite important to consider storage when we’re making these decisions on what to put on the blockchain,
We can consider it like a timeline or a repository of information that we can trust and verify because the technology ensure information is distributed.
In terms of immutability, that has some ramifications as well, on what data we really put on-chain.
There’s also a regulations that we follow especially in the EU, where we can’t put personally identifiable information on the blockchain.
Consent, data ownership, privacy – these are big topics that our society is more aware right now, they were very important in the early stages of crypto or Web3. We believe that any data system should be based on consent.
We looked at what blockchain can offer in terms of the technology, and identified where we can use it most.
How we decide to use the blockchain, is that we knew we needed this open repository of information that anyone could verify at any time. The perfect application is our use case, is with consent.
So, we get everyone sign a consent form to put their medical information on the blockchain; whether you can or cannot use my data.
Understand a critical Problem in a field (i.e. medical research)
Dinidh, Data Lake
We also know that there’s some problems with big data right now, such as with AI for example, where it runs on datasets that are often biased and incomplete – basically bad quality data that gives you wrong results, so you can’t run proper analysis with.
Modern science and medical research comes from data, especially good data that is widely representative.
But today, it’s not that way. So, what we’re doing at Data Lake, is that we’re trying to create an international medical data donation scheme that’s similar to blood donation, but it’s for medical data.
So, with a user’s consent and the blockchain technology (where it is time-stamped, trustworthy, and verifiable since it’s public), we know that the [medical] data is going to be used by researchers, and that it’ll protect the end-users who are donating their data, because they could say at any time, “Nope, stop using my data”.
What a user decides will be permanently written on the blockchain, and there’ll be no question about whether researchers can use the data or not, since there’s no hidden, privately owned database. It’ll be verified pretty much instantly since it’s on the public blockchain.
Define the Dataset requirements to be on the blockchain (on-chain)
Dinidh, Data Lake
Like what Jackie mentioned, you can put anything on the blockchain.
So, fully understand that data on the blockchain is permanent & publicly viewable by anyone who downloads the data.
Then ask yourself the question, what dataset can you put on there then?
I personally will not want my personal identifiable information on the blockchain, and will not want that for our potential data donors too.
Jackie, Data Lake
I find it interesting, because most biomedical research or clinical trials, the most used dataset would be genomic data.
Is genomic data off-chain or on-chain? If it’s off-chain, is it encrypted?
Dinidh, Data Lake
You brought up hashing and encryption earlier. I think these are tools that have to be leveraged. In our use case specifically, we’re not going to be putting genomic data on the blockchain.
It’s going to be stored externally, then we’re going to act as the bridge by doing KYC to make sure that people are who they say they are when they give consent.
And then, we match up the user identity with the consent form – which is encrypted, anonymised using tools.
So, instead of connecting individuals and their data with the third party directly, we make sure the data is passed through a system of anonymisation.
We put that together and accumulate and parcelled into big, anonymous data sets, which is then sent to researchers.
From my understanding of blockchain, data is publicly viewable online, so data goes through certain checks and it is hashed and protected/encrypted, so it cannot be traced back to the person. But from these data points, you aggregate information so that it makes sense in a broader analytical perspective to answer certain questions.
I think that’s the next stage for data & analytics, because although we want privacy & ownership, we still want to make data-driven decisions.
Dinidh, Data Lake
Yes, I agree. It’s to make better informed decisions. One example I have when I did consulting, really shows this directly benefits both parties.
So I was working with a cosmetics company selling expensive perfumes, and they wanted to improve their product authentication. And they were having issues with copies, falsification and theft.
So, we designed a system where serial numbers of their products were stored on the blockchain, hard coded into a QR code, which was inside the product itself – you can just scan it from the shelf. This helps the company to verify and authenticate the product on the blockchain since the blockchain stores the serial numbers.
On one hand, consumers are protected by data on the blockchain since in a distributed environment, it is trustworthy and verifiable. On the other hand, manufacturers can verify and reduce a lot of falsifications.
They took the system to another, even better level, by adding the serial numbers during their manufacturing and shipping process, because basically it becomes a touchpoint of data.
It also eliminates the need for trust, which is really powerful when we’re talking about financial contracts or moving into the NFT space when we’re talking about deeds or ownership.
There’s really so many applications of data on the blockchain, not just in cryptocurrencies, trading, investing and tokens.
Your consulting project reminded me of this financial inclusion project I was involved in, where we wanted to help unbanked farmers in developing countries that had no access to financial services because they couldn’t prove that they own certain things. Their ownership wasn’t verifiable.
What we did was we added temper proof tags on the livestock so that farmers were then able to record and prove that they own certain assets.
Since this ownership was recorded on the blockchain, they could then go to regular financial institutions and get a loan, using their livestock as collateral.
I think it’s pretty cool; the fact that we were able to remove “trust” from the entire equation; as long as it is verified legitimately on the blockchain, it’s all good.
As for new applications for blockchain popping up everyday, I definitely agree. It’s interesting that 2018 was a time when tokens were fungible, and in 2021/22, it’s all about non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
Dinidh, Data Lake
Yes, whether we’re talking about cattle and developing countries, perfumes, or artwork in the digital space, I think blockchain is the bridge between the physical and digital world, which I think is absolutely incredible. In the same way I love RFID technologies in how it bridges the same gap.
With regards to NFTs, I think it’s been a little misused up until this point, in the sense that it’s been used for cartoon profile pictures and that kind of stuff.
But the future potential use case could be land deeds or even wills after you die – they could be an NFT – which is super exciting.
Another interesting use case of blockchain, is that it’s not just a single source of truth, that’s verifiable, it’s also individual and unique.
If data on the blockchain is immutable, how can we protect sensitive information?
Dinidh, Data Lake
Blockchain data is immutable, permanent on record. The concerns about privacy on the blockchain, I think they're really valid concerns.
There are concerns from governments worldwide too, and they are currently considering regulations since they recognise the implications of that.
In my mind, it’s to treat the data with the respect it deserves – especially if it’s going to be permanent.
We’re human, we make mistakes, we make decisions that we later regret. So I think therefore we need to understand those potential issues and match it with what we’re putting on the blockchain. And until quantum computing is commonplace, I really think that any project should be leveraging those technologies to the absolute highest standards since they exist.
As mentioned earlier, Data Lake does not put people’s medical info on the blockchain. The data we send is fully anonymised. We use the blockchain where it’s most beneficial, with the declaration of consent for the use of people’s data. We want data buyers or researchers to be able to have that source of truth for their own protection, even legally speaking. It also protects donors from the from the data that's being used.
So I think something that's not private, non-sensitive instances of truth, that’s something you want other people to verify, that's what you want on the blockchain.
Touching on your question about how we can make sure people aren't excluded or there is on bias, that's another big portion of our project and why we exist in the first place. Medical data it usually skews white western males, which is no good for medicine.
There are obviously demographic differences that need to be accounted and represented for, so for me the solution is to represent in the blockchain and making it as accessible to as many people as possible lowering the technological overhead for blockchains.
Blockchain should be able to run on cell phone networks, it should be as simple as possible to access. I think education is a big portion of that as well.
Actually my answer to this question is relatively simple. Don't put sensitive data on the blockchain in the first place.
Jokes aside, there are increasingly new things being built. For example, in the area of digital identity there's a thing called the decentralised identifier, DID for short. What DID does, is it helps you to verify and maintain your identities to a certain extent of encryption.
It’s a combination of public keys right that you can verify openly, since it's meant to be read openly. The idea for DID is a combination of encryption, that even though it's open, it’s only readable by the right folks with the right keys.
It’s kind of an oxymoron. Data that’s publicly available, but also encrypted to a certain extent.
That’s what I can think of right now when it comes to putting sensitive data on the blockchain. Other than that, don’t put it, folks.
But I have something I’m curious about regarding sensitive data on the blockchain. Let's say if we talk about biomedical data, genomic data for cancer. Most of the time you need thousands and thousands of genomic data to be able to make an accurate analysis.
But what if it’s a rare disease where the number of patients worldwide number number to the tens and hundreds only. It’s a lot easier to identify them, isn’t it? What are the ways we can do to ensure that these people with this rare disease, cannot be identified?
Dinidh, Data Lake
We've thought about this for sure, because the more uniquely the identifier, the easier it is to de-anonymise someone.
I think from one standpoint, we have to rely on the technology in terms of anonymisation.
For me, it’s really the external factors that would determine the the likelihood of of someone being attached to their medical information.
Where we can't do anything about, is where there's already existing public information on that particular case or person. So quite often, someone has a rare disease and they do some sort of interview even if it's for a medical journal or even the press. Obviously, they’ve kind of put the spotlight on themselves, so there’s not much that we can do about that, if they’ve shared their demographic data, where they live, even what city that they're from.
As long as there's no real world attachment to them and their rare disease, they're still quite safe.
Besides, there are standards when doctors are doing case studies especially when it refers to smaller amounts of people, they don't mention their name or personal identifiable information.
But it's a super interesting question and something that will obviously wrestle with going forward into the future, because there are diseases that as you mentioned, number in the dozens or hundreds across the whole world of billions of people, which is quite a tiny demographic.
With regards to DID, it’s a super interesting technology – our listeners out here, definitely go look this up. There's a kind of partner technology or partner system called self sovereign identity, and it's something that's going to be really big in the coming years.
The European Union I know for a fact, is already working on integrating self sovereign identity into their personal identifiable documents, such as driver’s licenses and identity cards.
It's a way that you can give agency to people to share limited amounts of data about themselves on the blockchain through identification verification systems. Not all your data is going out. So some of websites ask for information or even just the KYC process, what that will do is really simplify it and allow someone to basically say “yes, I am who I say I am”, without sharing their personal information in clear text.
It really puts the power back in the hands of the user. I think it’s the way forward and will become really big in the coming years since the EU government is looking into this, so it’s a really interesting thing to learn more about.
On the contrary, I think it’s ok to put sensitive information on the blockchain, if it helps to improve decision making and society in general, such as healthcare and medical research.
So I am willing to put my medical data on the blockchain – provided that it is not traceable back to me. But I will not put my social media content on the blockchain, because I might regret the embarrassing stuff I’ve shared when I look back 10 years later.
Of course, the key thing is that it’s able to protect my identity, so that I will not get discriminated.
It’s great that the EU is working on this, which is interesting. I’ve read briefly about zero knowledge proofs, which seems like self-sovereign identity, where you don't need to know the entire context of that person – such as their name or even email – to trust them. You just need to know what you need to know.
Dinidh, Data Lake
You're definitely right. It basically allows 2 individuals to transact in some form and another without revealing all of the contents of the transaction but still being able to trust that they are they are correct, so it's a really interesting technology for sure.
Yes, zero knowledge proofs (ZKPs) are pretty amazing because you don't need to know anything except that at the end. It's either a yes or no kind of thing, which makes it a lot safer.
ZKPs may not be applicable for all obvious cases, especially when it’s always a yes no kind of outcome. Then again, it's pretty new, so let's see where this space evolves.
I guess if you do put data on a blockchain, we have to kind of trust that KYC or the encryption process that our data goes through, can be trusted to protect us right.
So yes, I think there will be some time before we get there; we might already be almost there already with ZKPs, encryption for self-sovereign identities.
Dinidh, Data Lake
Back to your point, I think is quite interesting that you would be comfortable putting your anonymised medical data on the blockchain but not like your personal social media thoughts.
I think that's really interesting because it highlights this element that everyone has their own levels of comfort of what they want to share public or not. I tend to be a personal thoughts and feelings being immutably shared forever, then I do my medical data.
I think feeds into the question of where are we going with regulation, because there is regulation coming from different countries on what can be put and what cannot be put on the blockchain.
But then on the other hand we also have this personal level of agency and decision making for that stuff so I think it's going to be really interesting, since it’s going to be regulated in in the US and the EU.
And you know, we have decentralised autonomous organisations as well, where members can vote on proposals. So in the same way, we will have people who may be more comfortable with putting whatever on the blockchain.
And I think there's gonna be a very interesting adjustment period over the next few years as we figure out you know where even free speech ends and regulation begins.
Evan raised something interesting about how she doesn't want to put her social media content on-chain.
Let’s take Twitter as an example of a Web2 technology, meaning it's traditional data is owned by Twitter. What would a Web 3 version of Twitter look like?
I think there are two camps when it comes to the decentralised social media.
- First school of thought feels that all your tweet content will be self hosted, most likely within your wallet, so you own all of the tweets. The only the decentralised part of it would be the chain that contains the interactions between the users, not so much the content itself.
- Second school of thought, the tweets go on-chain, but the sender, you yourself as the wallet holder, decide who sees your tweet on-chain.
I don’t think there’s any prevailing views yet when it comes to having the decentralised social media, simply because nobody has really created a platform like that.
But I guess when we talk about this decentralised social media platform, nobody really has a has a good idea of what should be on-chain.
Back to my point, I guess I will not be open to putting my personal thoughts or anything that can be traced back to me in case I regret it down the road.
However, if it's content that I create and I'm willing to share with the world, then I’d be ok. For example, if I’m an artist, I’ll want it to be traced back to me, since I created it and may even want to monetise it.
Essentially, if it’s my creative efforts that I hope to monetise, I’m willing to declare my personal information, and allow it to be traced back to me.
If it’s sensitive information, like my medical data, that may help medical research, I’ll only be willing to put it on-chain if I cannot ever be traced; if the the encryption and anonymisation is truly secure.
How does ownership in decentralised decision-making look like?
What Dinidh mentioned about regulations and decision-making is interesting, such as in governments and DAOs where we don’t have a board or CEOs making decisions on behalf of the community, but really decisions are down to votes.
How will decisions be made, since right now it didn’t go so well with the hype, with people buying tokens just to cash out very shortly after, rather than because they truly believe in the project and want to invest for the long-term.
Dinidh, Data Lake
It's a super interesting question and it goes far beyond blockchain into philosophy and politics.
There's some sort of misconception I think in democracies – and we've started to understand in the modern era – is that democracy has its drawbacks. Groups of people can make bad decisions.
So this is something that for me really needs to be kept in mind when we're talking about the decentralised decision-making process. We need to be aware that once we open up our our democracy, decisions are unchangeable based on whatever majority prefers.
Especially when we're talking about smart contracts, there's no going back, there's no changing them, there's no “oops” unless you reverse the decision by another vote.
For example, a DAO could vote and has voted for large token holders to completely pull the profits and flat line the value. This can happen if you have too many whales or too many people with too much purchasing power equating to decision power.
The future is really hard to predict, in the same way that I'm not sure what's gonna happen to some world democracies over the next 5 to 10 years. I think it's a really interesting human experiment, DAOs especially.
I think from a very idealistic point of view, they're fantastic. The little guy gets to have the vote, everyone is participating in the democratic process. Ideally people are putting thought into their decision making and voting processes as well.
In practice, I think it opens up all of the same issues we see in a traditional representative democracy where a majority of people can make a bad decision or a minority of people that holds more voting power can make a bad decision for the rest of us.
I think i'm just more interested to see really where this space goes, especially since the US and probably the EU is looking to regulate DAOs as well.
I think depending on who you ask, there are those who are very bullish and may say DAOs are the future of democracy, of organising people and making decisions as a collective.
I think DAOs as it is right now, there are mechanisms in play to prevent overrepresentation of power. But still takes a lot of time to organise. Even the largest protocols right now, their voting cycles and execution takes literally weeks. It takes forever for change to take effect.
But I suppose the idea of a DAO is a nice step forward in terms of governance. Whether it’ll replace existing political systems, I think that remains to be seen. It’s the dream of a DAO to completely replace an existing power structure. But I’ll be keen to see how that pans out.
In Singapore, our famous founding politician, Lee Kuan Yew, came up with a controversial approach which seems related and worth considering.
He realised that democracies are not really working, because some people are not really well informed before they vote. What he proposed to do, was to give higher weightage to people who have proven to make good decisions, that’s not really based on his/her purchasing power.
In Web3’s DAOs and token governance, I guess it gives us a way to experiment this kind of different structures.
Dinidh, Data Lake
I think that’s interesting because I’ve also seen people talking from the more philosophical point of view in terms of downs.
If we have trusted people or people who are proving themselves to make good decisions, then we're moving just back towards a parliamentary system, where we trust this guy or woman to make the vote for us. Which again, seems like we have some problems with decentralised decision making.
In terms of what we're looking at in for decentralisation for Data Lake, for us it comes down to the sorts of questions or decisions that we're gonna be putting up to the community. We're not sure how granular we're going to get in terms of operations.
But what we are really excited for, is we are going to be setting aside a portion of operational income or profits towards charity or medical organisations that are doing research for cancer or that sort of thing.
We want to be able to give our community the vote as to where the allocation of this month or this year's donation is going to go. And that's within this kind of framework of set choices or maybe they can even vote to to add their own.
But for us that's a great application of giving this potential to do more good, by getting the community to have a say and be part of that decision making process.
But we’re careful about decentralising the decision-making process because it can have such big ramifications especially when we're talking about smart contracts which can't be paused or stopped or reverted once they're voted on and go live. There's definitely a finality in these decisions that we have to be aware of.
I'll throw the question back to you, Evan. What what does it mean to make a good decision?
Great question, I’m not sure. Perhaps, critical thinking, whether someone is logical when thinking through a problem, not just making decisions based on emotions or the latest hype.
It could be an assessment that comes out as quiz question to assess those factors, or about a topic they’re voting on, even questions on how they’ve made past decisions.
I think this can be a proxy on what it means when we say someone can make good decisions.
But of course, when you ask questions to the community, it could open up a Pandora’s box and take a long time deciding which questions to ask. So yeah, I’m not sure how this could potentially be carried out.
I find that the future is not fully decentralised. We still need some form of centralised decision making otherwise it’ll take too long.
But in some sense, important decisions that impact a majority of users, they need to be decentralised. So like what Data Lake you mentioned, voting which charity that funds goes towards, I think that’s a perfect way to get the community involved.
How can data on the blockchain be used for good?
Dinidh, Data Lake
I think this kind of leads into the final question about using data for good. I think there's different levels to it.
So there's kind of my personal benefit to a decision on a very individualistic level. Then there’s whether it benefits my tribe so on a smaller group level, people who are close to you.
For me personally when I look at blockchain overall, it's a question about altruism and what can be done for the greater good of society.
That may sound like a little too philosophical or idealistic, but for me really that is the question I think that blockchain has the ability to have such incredible social good impact in the world.
Across all the various applications – whether we're talking about a medical data donation system powered by blockchain, for the research of new treatments and saving lives through the early detection of disease, or if we're talking about equalising the financial world by banking the unbanked – all of these original, high level philosophies that we wanted to achieve with blockchain that were talked about when Bitcoin was a thing and cypher punks were all talking about it.
These are to me the core aspects of how we can make decisions on the blockchain to benefit the greatest social good, the most amount of people.
Yes, people are selfish. Blockchain doesn’t change our natural tendencies as humans.
But for me, looking into the future of where we need to go, I don't care if you're a business or you're an organisation or government, we need to include people we need to make people feel heard and we need to make decisions that benefit the the greater good.
I think companies that don't have some sort of social good aspect are gonna be dying out in the next few years.
Going back to the EU, it’s not perfect. Let me just preface that on privacy they have some issues which which i'm not thrilled about.
But on the other hand, they’re calling out for altruistic data systems and that's either in medicine or in other sectors, they want to leverage data for altruistic purposes and they're actually codifying this. So at least from the European perspective, I can say is it good data decision making is one that benefits society at large.
Of course that comes with a lot of situations where we have to determine what is the actual benefit, who is it benefitting, and is it actually really benefitting people or are we just telling them this so we can make them feel happy.
For me, I look forward to the day where the question of “How data on the blockchain can be used for good”, return to “How can data be used for good”.
I think that day will happen when adoption is a lot more widespread.
What I mean is that when we talk about a product, we don’t say that it has a database anymore simply because the usage of database is implicit.
Similarly, I think in the future, products in general should kind of have blockchain as an implicit feature. That'll be pretty cool.
As for used for good, I'm still on the fence regarding good for society versus good for yourself. It’s pretty selfish I suppose. Because what's good for the society may not necessarily be good for individual, and vice versa. That's how you get tragedy of the commons.
I’d say, data on the blockchain being used for good, same thing, data itself should be useful good. And I guess in the future empowering the individual and the ownership of data, that's one direction we should be going.
But also ensuring that there's clear provenance of data where you definitely can attribute benefits of data or non benefits to certain entities.
If we look at things like carbon credits, the EU is a lot more progressive than anyone else in the world, which also requires certain systems, security, societal maturity and individual maturity as well.
This really hinges on how developed a country is, such as Asia, where such methods may not be at the top of mind in terms of priority.
For me, I guess the ideal is really that it can benefit everyone, not just in the EU, but across the world. But of course if your basic survival needs are not met, then you will look at blockchain technology or crypto for financial gains.
But I think that’s the goal to get people to move on towards focusing using blockchain or simply, data, for the greater benefit of the entire society.
The regulations on crypto as a whole, how does it benefit us?
I’m based in Singapore, so the government's stance in crypto is that the technology itself is not regulated. However, usage and applications are. For example, fintech companies in Singapore, if they want to use blockchain technology for certain use cases, they have to get approved for it.
I don't see this as a bad thing necessarily.
I'm assuming your concern comes from wanting to use crypto and things that are on the blockchain, because they are decentralised and not regulated right.
I think there’s a balance between regulation and freedom.
Dinidh, Data Lake
I think I'm very similar to Jackie, in the sense that I think regulation can be a double edged sword – it can protect people or it can harm them.
I think right now the token space is pretty dangerous. A lack of regulation allows anyone, especially scammers, to just launch a project.
It can have zero fundamentals, a copy of a contract, a duplication of another project's logo. And decentralised technologies, with open repositories where anyone can view and copy, or even duplicate a smart contract, all of a sudden it’s something that's supposed to be considered valuable. And people throw their life savings into it, and we all know how that ended.
But now that crypto is out of the bag, regulation can never really fully stop it.
On the other hand, it really just depends on your personal risk profile. If the technology is available to you and your government says no.
Let's take Monero as an example, which is a privacy coin that’s pretty much untraceable, anonymous and private.
It's being talked about by a lot of governments even in the EU, in terms of anonymous crypto for transactions and how now they want to make everyone identify their verification at a wallet level.
It's probably not going to be great for people who hold and use this coin. At the same time, there's no way for governments to truly stop some of these technologies.
I think it's going to be like file sharing P2P in the sense that there are always going to be people trying to chase it down. They can add regulations, but at the end of the day some people are just going to ignore them.
I really hope that there's a balance. At least with the European central bank, they asked the public for comments about the digital Euro asking people what the top features they wanted. Privacy was number one.
Regulation is unfortunately just a fact of life. It's going to come. I think in some sense, it can really protect people, especially new investors without the knowledge or education to be safe. At the same time, I think it can go quite overboard and go too far, which can stifle innovation and freedom.
So like with anything else, it's gonna be up to the people that we vote for, the governments we have installed, and how much we make our voices heard in terms of fighting for what we believe is important when it comes to these technologies.
Yeah, regulation can be a double-edged sword, it can good and bad. It’s usually to protect people especially from scams. But if we talk about economics, too much regulation will stifle innovation and affect a country’s economic development and growth – which governments tend to avoid. That’s why we need to vote for the right people or make the right decisions.
How will people be able to keep and use their own data across different platforms?
Question: Regarding privacy and ownership of data on social media, there have been news coming out related to the decentralised social graph. What are your concerns and your point of view regarding what and how people will be available and eligible to keep and use their own data across different platforms?
Dinidh, Data Lake
If you start looking at what scholars and researchers are even talking about, there's even a question of whether we own data, it's infinitely copyable in an instant
In the sense that it's copyable. It's not a tangible object, it's just bits and bytes that is stored somewhere on a hard drive.
Like what Jackie mentioned earlier, there are projects who are looking at this and and whether we have our own personal generation of content be it a tweet or an image that we share stored locally and then only have the interactions on the blockchain.
There's also IPFS storage which is distributed storage. Let's say the common framework of an application such as a social application that is decentralised and hosted on many, many instances.
As Jackie mentioned, we would own our specific portion of our generated content on our own segmented storage.
There's some great movements happening in the social media space not specifically blockchain but privacy focused.
For example, federalised social networks, Mastodon being one of them. There's also one that's trying to replace Instagram right now, called Pixel Fed.
They basically allow you to own your account and it's portable from one server to another. But you're still storing some of the information. If you share a picture for example, it goes to a centralised database centre server that the person who's running your instance pays for and owns.
It's still not quite where we have these segmented little pods of our data that we can bring from one place to another. But I think federalised social media is going to be an important part of it potentially.
And like what Jackie said, it would be interesting to figure out from the technical standpoint, which data we carry with us and which data is is decentralised. I don't think anyone's quite come up with a great solution to that.
There are definitely blockchain social media projects but we're so far early in that stage and I would imagine we're still 3 to 5 years away for decentralised blockchain based social media to have enough market share to start pulling Twitter and Facebook users away.
To add on to what you mentioned, when we look at Twitter and Facebook, they are generating petabytes worth of data each day, which is 1000 terabytes. That’s crazy.
Imagine thousands of terabytes of data being generated everyday, and to get there it's gonna be crazy.
I don't know how. Right now, nobody really knows how far we can push blockchain technology yet. It’s going to be 3-5 years before we truly know which approach is better.
If you ask me personally, in my ideal version of Web3, let’s say Twitter, I would rather own my tweets on my own machine and machine.
In fact the reason for that is because it's all about portability, meaning you can move from platform to platform. Just plug in and you have your data with you. It's a lot more portable rather than depending on a new application which may use the same chain.
From a technical standpoint, I'm bullish about us owning our own data and then we just bring it to wherever we go.