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The University of Edinburgh

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Podcast #4 | Thoughts on Wayra UK London Week 1, Internet of Things, and Future Projects


Show Notes

Decio:

This is podcast number four and we're back again with Thomas, Adam and myself, Decio. We have found some time in our busy schedule to talk a little bit about our past week.


And during the past week we spent the first London Week at Wayra UK. And I was not present. But Tom and Adam were and they had a blast, really. Tell me what actually happened while you were in London?


Adam:

Quite a lot happened in London and I'm sure we're gonna get into in the midst of this podcast. As you mentioned it was the first Wayra UK event. It was really good! We met quite a lot of interesting people around the space and also followed up on people that we've known about for a while that we really wanted to get in a room with.


Overall it was really productive - I had a nice time!


Tom:

That's easy for you to say because you actually slept on the bus on the way down. But yeah, it was great actually! London... very, very energetic! Lots going on…


We go to spend some time in our new offices in Piccadilly Circus. Got some advice from some consultants… Hit or miss I'd say, in terms of what they had to offer. But there were some interesting ideas thrown about. I think we're due for a new revamp on the website, soon. We also got to meet some guys in a skyscraper - I don't know if you want to talk a bit about that one, Adam?


Adam:

Well I'll let you tell the story on the event, but for those crypto guys listening to the podcast it was the Primalbase HQ down in London.


Tom:

Yeah so we walked into this office that isn't completely empty - it’s full of no people. And it’s overlooking the heart of London, which is pretty incredible. Yeah, what a view those guys have!


So yeah, we sat down with them and began chatting about what they're doing. Some of it was around sports branding and connecting the different brands in sport to technology. I think - what was it the guy worked on? Was it the first Manchester United coin or something like that?


Adam:

I don't think it was a Manchester United coin. I think he worked with Arsenal for some cryptocurrency coin deal. I know there was one a while ago that had a partnership with Arsenal which was CashBet so I think that was their area of expertise. They had a lot of different hats on and a lot of opportunities and connections and stuff…


But overall, it was a really good place to be in. And as you were saying like it was kind of like a zombie apocalypse… It was bizarrely empty when we got from the lobby... Kind of cool but also weird…


Tom:

So yeah! The guys up in the skyscraper they're very... you know, interested in the blockchain, what it could offer to what they were doing…


In particular, the sidechains technology that SageCity has been developing. But also in the conversation, something that I've been working on, came up. Something I call Mewsical beers. And basically they’re beers that play music… Or should I say, transmit music wirelessly to your mobile phone. Wirelessly anywhere anytime. Wirelessly… Did I say that again? I did say wirelessly.


So that's using a bit of IoT Bluetooth technology, apps, all kinds of stuff put all together so that beers can transmit music. And the whole idea with this is an artist will be able to walk into a venue and the beer would automatically update with their new songs. So they can tell their fans, “If you want to buy our new song, go to the bar!” And of course you were gonna buy a beer anyway so you might as well buy their new song with it. That's kind of the whole concept behind Mewsical beers and these guys in the skyscrapers were dead keen find out about it.


Decio:

How do you see blockchain coming into that Mewsical Beer technology and/or product?


Tom:

Yeah so... I'd be lying if I told you I've thought deeply about how blockchain could do something or be related to these Mewsical beers but I'll give it a go anyway... I reckon if we add some beers and they contained something that was unique - or it could be any item of clothing really. Okay, a shirt that can update with new digital content that is unique and scarce. And the way you keep it unique and scarce is by using the blockchain.


Would that be a good way to do that, Adam?


Adam:

Yeah! And we've had some initial chats about that kind of thing. This summer we've been involved in… We've always kind of known that it could be something we maybe work together in some form in the future. But yeah, the kind of discussions around the table at that meeting were that we can do a bit of both and take the best from both worlds and make some interesting stuff.


One of the things they were interested in was adapting a lot of the kind of concepts you you've explored and built and turning into IoT devices… A means around the home. So for me, in that realm, the blockchain is the facilitator and regulator of the data transmission. And also the actions are going to be automated or implemented depending on conditional actions.


Tom:

Yeah so the whole concept around Mewsical beers is you're able to transmit songs or albums from any beer - and then eventually any inanimate object. So imagine you're an artist, playing a gig, and you can tell your fans, “Hey guys! Check me out… [beatboxes] I'm doing some beatboxing!” and then everyone's like, “Whoa!” and then you're like, “Yeah you can buy my new song at the bar! Just go to the bar and buy this beer…” So they go and buy this beer and then they buy your shirts and then they buy everything from you and then you've got all these digital things inside those objects. And the objects can be updated with new digital things anywhere anytime.


So imagine a football shirt that suddenly updates with new tickets to the football game or updates with a new FIFA football pack… You'd be rushing back to your shirt, wouldn't you?


Decio:

Just for the record, Thomas is actually football illiterate…


[Laughter]


Adam:j

Yeah, it was kind of funny that we had a meeting about sports with the tech, actually…


Tom:

So how would we use blockchain to make digital things that are stored in shirts or beers? How would we make those things scarce by using the blockchain?


Adam:

The initial answer to that are ERC-721 tokens which are also… What’s the word? It’s either fungible or non-fungible… I always get the definitions confused… (It’s non-fungible). But basically, cryptographically unique tokens that can be identified rather than across a group of tokens. Basically the answer for unique assets is via those means. They can be digital assets in their own rights or they can be redeemable for real-world tangible assets you hold.


Like you were saying with the packs, you could definitely easily create tokens which represent those things and can be redeemed for specific players or items or whatever… And the actual real tricky bit is something that you've already delved into really with the Mewsical beers - which is how you actually interact with these devices. You've essentially built interfaces within mobile phones which are easily adaptable to this kind of purpose. It is really just changing where the information is being requested or pulled from or actioned from…


Tom:

Yeah, totally! And there's also a further element to this, which I haven't spoken too much on, but that's around how do the musical beers or how to the football shirts update with new content?


And there are two ways that can happen. One of them is by updating the actual servers - and you can do that remotely. And then another way is using beacon technology that would interact with the mobile phone and the object itself, and all three together would then trigger a unique outcome. For example, if a famous person walked into the room anyone that wore one of their shirts, or a shirt of some kind that was digitized, could then be emitting content that is unique or specific to that famous person. And then as soon as they leave that room, the content will no longer be there.


Decio:

The way I see - taking the football shirts example - what you could use is the actual stadium as a beacon. Or perhaps the store of a football club for merchandise as a beacon. So, if I was to purchase a football shirt from Arsenal and I walked into the Emirates Stadium I would get access to assets, to special prizes or gifts in exchange for my being there in the stadium. So that could bring about other positive consequences such as higher turnouts at football matches or brand awareness or even an increased commitment by… Loyalty! By the fanbase.


So there's a lot that we can play around here… It's about finding that value proposition, I think. Because the features are there, we can find really cool stuff. But truly, what will benefit the club or the association or the organization from a high-level perspective?


Adam:

Yeah, it's funny because we talked about all the possibilities of sports applications. Actually, after talking to them, I think we're gonna end up going down a completely different road.


But one thing I wanted to talk a bit about was where SageCity’s platform comes into all of this. And Mewsical beers - the project Tom's been involved on - is a thing in its own right. But one of the things that they've struggled to suss out was: How do you regulate this data or control its access?


And I think the answer there is very much: the blockchain. You could limit the amount of downloads or limit the types or certain accounts that could access the information. And also, as well, the data is immutable. It's difficult to delete or modify for other purposes…


Do you have anything to add there?


Tom:

Yeah, I mean... I think an interesting point with using the blockchain in the context of the creative industry is looking also at... I guess one way you could call it is a supply chain for contents.


We met this guy who's talking about making the very first blockchain camera. I'm not sure if there are any projects out there that go under the name of blockchain cameras or blockchain video cameras or whatever. But essentially what you'd have is a camera that when you took a picture we would make a digital print on the actual image straight away. It could be the size of a pixel and then that digital pixel or print would be stored on the blockchain. And each time the image was edited or updated or sent to another person that block chain would be able to keep track of the image and essentially keep all the parties - that are concerned with the image - aware of what's going on with the image. And so this really opens up new areas for tracking, ownership, and the editing process or journey of any piece of content. Be it photography or even film or in music…


Adam:

Yeah so in a nutshell, basically what they want to do is track and understand the lifespan of contents. Does it get copied and replicated? And that's where it finds success or? Is it an original thing that just grows or is it in some wave of success? And I think these are the kind of things that they want to figure out. And I think the way they would probably position themselves is like as a data analytics company rather than protecting/preventing tampering and negative things to happen within pictures. That was an interesting take and we've already been delving into some ideas and discussing it with Milos and the team, as well. Pretty exciting area, there!


Decio:

Yeah! Would you say this is the start of SageCity’s involvement in the IoT devices world?


Adam:

It is! And I'm quite excited that we've found and enrolled early on because - as some of you probably know - one of the end goals is zero-cost living and technology within homes and physical spaces to make things easier or more efficient. This potential project we're gonna be involved in is literally that in a nutshell and it's gonna provide us with some great insight into you know the hardware element which is something we've got some ideas in but nothing solid. And also just the implementation and practicalities of some of these devices and ideas we've got.


Tom:

Yeah, totally! Every city eventually will be using the Internet of Things and if you can begin to connect things together through the Internet then I feel we're gonna get one step closer to zero-cost living.


Adam:

And that's basically what the sidechains are about. And one of the kind of roles that we see them having, within future organizations and network structures, being trustless mediators between different sources or parties of data.


That one of the main things that we're building overall. It’s essentially interconnectivity. And obviously it's been done traditionally, really simple terms. Things like modems and things like that. But now we’re at a stage where we need to catch up with a lot of the innovations that were we're doing as a society and as humans. We have a humongous wave of data coming in from you know our phones, every application and process that were involved in… Sometimes even when we're not aware of it! In certain countries walking down the street you're instantly part of the data that's being captured from cameras to microphones and things like that…


Data's evolved without us and now it's kind of at a point where we need to start regulating and controlling that data and making sure that… Or, actually, it’s technically a lack of control from external sources! So giving people choices and the ability to remain private…


We’re still, in terms of development, not just us, but that kind of ideology as a whole is still pretty early doors. And it's something that I'd like to see us get involved in more…


Tom:

Yeah I'd like to emphasize a point there which is around you know… It isn't necessarily putting more controls of regulation. In fact, it's about reinstating who has the control and who is able to regulate it.

It shouldn't be middlemen, it shouldn't be facilitators, it should be people who have their interests in the right place - who should rightly have ownership - whether it's the artist who took the photo in the first place, you know wanting to control the rights to their content… Or if it's some crazy-wack musical beer that's emitting songs and whatever it is and how that's going to interact with the environment and who gets access to the content. So a few areas around ownership and control can be really tackled through blockchain tech, that#s for sure.


Adam:

Have you got anything to add to that, Decio? Obviously, you come from a slightly different perspective and background…


Decio:

My question would be, whose responsibility is it to regulate data? And produce regulatory documents and legislation? If we don't want the government to be involved in controlling of our data and also in the creation of rules and laws around it, then whose responsibility is it?



That's a huge question to answer. And I feel it hasn't yet been answered…

Adam:

Yeah, I would agree, you’re right! And we’ve had conversations in general where it's been like, “Yeah we need to give people more control or let them manage certain things…”, but society isn't an individual thing… It's a collective. And there's going to become a point where we actually have to start answering the questions about how consensus or government is managed. And it's in a whole very tricky scenario.


We typically kind of go… It's a common rhetoric to say that everyone's equal... The reason why traditionally we have parliaments and we elect people is because there would be absolutely no way for everyone to speak. We have the technology now where it's possible to let everyone have a voice in some form. That's kind of one of the areas of focus within SageCity, around governance models. You’ll see in our initial white paper that we talk a lot about meritocracy. You're rewarded or allowed contributions based on what you contribute yourself. Someone might have a lot of great qualities on paper - things like wealth - but if they have no idea what they're talking about then they don't necessarily deserve a whole seat at the table. And this is kind of one of the things that we were… To be honest as a whole podcasting in itself at some point… This is one of the areas that we are working on diligently, and Tom's one of the main drivers in that.


One of the things we've got scheduled in the next few months is some idealistic papers and a lot more on our values and principles. Tom, do you want to talk a little bit about what you've got in the works there?


Tom:

So the culture of SageCity is a liberal meritocratic culture, meaning we believe in rewarding what is meritable and that is defined by the common merits which are shared by us, as a community, as a business. And then there are the individual’s merits, those that make up the community. And the relationship between the individuals merit’s and the community merits, the common merits, that forms the meritocracy. And there's a lot more I could talk about on liberty as well. But one of the fundamental tenets to that, for SageCity, is zero-cost living.


For if I strive toward my merits and you strive towards yours, then there can be at times conflict between us because what I want may be at the expense of what you want… And so we conflict with each other's liberties. But knowing that we all have zero-cost living will mean that there will always be a basic level of freedoms that we can all enjoy. And that's really it…


Decio:

That just about wraps it up here this episode four of the podcast… Some future topics that we'll consider talking about are: company culture, governance models, and also liberal meritocracy…


Catch you later and I'll let Tom end this one off for us…


Tom:

[Beatboxes]


Be sagacious.


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