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IBM, the GDPR and “blockchain” — whatever that word specifically means

Gyula Pal from IBM Blockchain argues that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation is short-sighted in not carving out an exception for blockchains — and that this is a symptom of government’s fundamental incompetence with new technologies, as they can only look backwards:

Without regulators learning the technology behind blockchain, GDPR will only be a victim of its own intent. Once this is changed, not only will blockchains not be blocked by GDPR but effective food safety, carbon cap and trade, and a transparent jewellery supply chain, will be regulations that can be effectively enforced, collectively marking the beginning of the era of proactive regulations.

Of course, all of these use cases are prospective IBM marketing pitches — and none of them somehow require the database to be a permissioned blockchain, rather than a database with some other architecture.

(I’m pretty sure that if the authors of the GDPR did understand blockchains, they’d be delighted to have drafted the antidote.)

But what specifically is Pal asking for?

“Blockchain” is a buzzword — it has no specific, agreed-upon meaning. There’s a spectrum from Bitcoin-style cryptocurrencies to literally just the Merkle tree, as in Estonia’s KSI Blockchain — which was only renamed “Blockchain” for marketing purposes.

You get bad legislative attempts to define “blockchain” or “distributed ledger technology” — and the EU has one in the works — but I’ve yet to see a legal definition of “blockchain” that would include the things sold as “permissioned blockchain,” but wouldn’t also include any Git repository.

This is because the actual meaning of “blockchain” isn’t a specific technology — it’s the hype around a particular set of unrealistic promises:

The promises were originally made for Bitcoin— which had failed most of them by 2014 — and then lifted wholesale to try to market very un-magical and mundane Merkle trees to business. The product is the hype itself.

IBM’s “blockchain” products are distributed databases with centrally-administered access, whose architecture is that the nodes send each other their FRYE Mens James Bal Lug Oxford Redwood 92l8Z8x
in a format that uses a Merkle tree.

That is — Pal is arguing for special treatment for distributed databases, as long as they use a particular data structure to communicate between nodes.

I think this is unlikely to fly with the EU.

Pal’s post is generic business special pleading. But I’d have expected IBM to be better at it than this.

(I suspect the post is at least partly intended for internal consumption. IBM’s having a hard time coming up with real-world production uses for Hyperledger, despite a couple of years’ vendor-subsidised pilot programmes intended for Laura Vita Angela 11 Womens Shoes 9pY1nGv
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IBM is responsible for quite a lot of business blockchain press articles.)

1: The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows

2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

3: T he Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President. 8

4: The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

5: No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirtyfive Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

Think Washington , , Business

IndieFlix brings independent films to the masses

What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Joe Cocker’s broken, downbeat version of the Beatles’ song resounded through American living rooms in the late ’80s, a signal to gather around the TV and watch The Wonder Years, an offbeat show that championed the outsider.

“I pretty much dressed Winnie Cooper as I had dressed as a kid,” Andreen recalled. “Of course, I always checked the dates in my research that consisted of yearbooks and Sears catalogs that were piled high on my desk.”

She was nominated for an Emmy, and the show gave her the financial freedom to start participating in the indie film circuit. Such is the backstory for IndieFlix, Andreen’s streaming service for independent films which challenges traditional distribution models by directly connecting artists with their audience and paying the filmmakers according to a unique revenue-per-minute model. It’s an artist-centered forum which can potentially change the game for indie filmmakers, allowing them to use their work to directly generate revenue for their next project.

Streaming technology finally keeps pace with Andreen’s vision
The IndieFlix crew at a festival

Andreen is a CEO and an artist, and she pushes the boundaries of both roles. Her current project is called Angst: Breaking the Stigma Around Anxiety. It tells stories of anxiety and how it impacts individuals as well as society at large. The project will be released as a multimedia experience: a movie, a documentary series, app and virtual reality experience designed to simulate a panic attack. She wants to use art to break through the isolation of anxiety disorder and tell the larger story.

Andreen’s love of independent films goes back to her days on The Wonder Years. “During my hiatus, I would produce or direct a movie and travel with that film through the film festival circuit,” Andreen said. ”It was during that time I learned about how many thousands upon thousands of incredible films are made every year and yet less than 1 percent find any kind of meaningful distribution.”

It was a critical insight. The prospect of distribution was a slim all-or-nothing experience. Filmmakers dreamed of getting noticed and having their projects picked up by the artistic branch of a big studio. Artists were at the mercy of the Hollywood studios and only potentially profitable projects really had a shot. There were breakout hits where indie movies crossed into the mainstream, but for the most part the big distribution model left an endless number of unwatched independent films in limbo. Why not help people see them?

Andreen’s idea was the true beginning of IndieFlix, although the state of technology at the time couldn’t support the concept.

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