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Trent McConaghy: Rewiring the Internet for Ownership with Big Data and Blockchains

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Published on May 30, 2015

When it comes to ownership, the internet is broken. Artists, designers, and other creatives can share their work easily on the internet, but keeping it as "theirs" and get fairly compensated has proven difficult. How do you "own" something when bits can be copied freely? It turns out that visionaries of hypertext foresaw this issue in the 60s. They even proposed systems to handle this. However, those systems were too complex and hard to build. By the early 90s, the simpler WWW had won, but unfortunately in its simplicity it left out attribution to owners. We ask a new question: can we retrofit the internet for ownership? It turns out the answer is yes, with the help of python-powered big data, machine learning, and the blockchain. First, we crawl the internet and create a large scale crawl database, then preprocess all media into machine learning features. Then, creators can "register" their work onto the blockchain. Finally, we use machine learning to cross-reference registered works against the large-scale crawl database. We can do this for images, text, and even 3d designs; and it works even if the design has changed meaningfully. Python-powered big data is making it possible to revive the dream of ownership on the internet.

Trent McConaghy

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