New Blockchain Marketplace Aims to Tackle Morality Issues of Deepfake Media

New Blockchain Marketplace Aims to Tackle Morality Issues of Deepfake Media

Cointelegraph interviewed Arif Khan, CEO of blockchain marketplace Alethea AI, about how to address the legal and moral quagmire that “deepfakes” have created.

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A blockchain-based marketplace is  today launching for creators of “synthetic media,” a term used to describe video, image or voice material generated through artificial intelligence algorithms.

On May 15, Cointelegraph interviewed Arif Khan, CEO of Alethea AI, the firm behind the project, about the legal and moral quagmire that “deepfakes” and other AI-generated content have created for online media consumption.

Khan’s wager is that blockchain can play a role in ensuring that this content is circulated responsibly by providing infrastructure for licensing, circulating and monetizing legal and permissioned creations, as distinct from unlabelled and potentially nefarious media:

“We must distinguish between deepfakes (harmful, unpermissioned e.g. deepfake porn, deepfake misinformation political campaigns) and synthetic media (permissioned use of faces and voices, creating AI-generated clones of your soon-to-be-deceased parent’s voice with their permission to read an audiobook for your kids).”

In partnership with software firm Oasis Labs, all content generated for Alethea AI’s marketplace will be labeled using the Oasis API in an attempt to restore control to content creators as well as to those whose images can be manipulated. 

Similar to the blue tick verification that Twitter provides, the company believes that secure blockchain validation on its platform will establish a barrier between valid and suspicious material. Legal permissions and consent will be the fundamental criteria for synthetic media that can be circulated and monetized, Khan said. 

He pointed to the public furore earlier this year over law enforcement agencies’ access to Clearview AI, an app that could match faces to photos scraped from social media platforms by using neural net technology:

“Clearview AI stole people’s faces and sold them to security agencies without their consent. A person’s face and voice data belongs to the individual and no corporation or regulator should own this. With the Oasis Parcel API, the aim is to have this data be confidentially and securely stored and accessed through the Oasis blockchain. The user retains control of their data, who can access it […] and choose how to monetize this data.”

Now that AI is being used to go beyond facial recognition and simulate authentic appearances, Khan conceded that, ultimately, it will fall on regulators and citizens to collectively determine what kind of synthetic media is in line with the public interest — and rapidly —  “given how bad actors can use this technology.” 

He argued that Altethea’s model for permissioned synthetic media will help to educate the public on “the positive use-cases that can emerge from this technology.” 

To illustrate what Alethea AI considers to be the positive potential of AI-generated content, the company states:

“Synthetic media […] does not require humans to physically interact, which is crucial during the pandemic as movie studios are unable to produce new content due to quarantine restrictions. 

We can now enable actors and their talent agencies to license out their face and voice data in a secure manner […] Our faces and voices are becoming fully portable, composable and tradable and we will enable users to exercise their creativity within legal and permissioned domains.”

As to whether there might be something faintly dystopian in the proposal that synthetic media is attractive precisely because it does not require humans to physically interact, Khan said:

“30+ million Americans are unemployed. Dystopia is already here with a President who retweets deepfakes/cheapfakes on a quarterly basis (my rough estimate). Our Creator program is designed to facilitate the creation of synthetic characters and provide an income-earning opportunity for the myriad of creative use-cases that synthetic media will unlock.”

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Cointelegraph interviewed Arif Khan, CEO of blockchain marketplace Alethea AI, about how to address the legal and moral quagmire that “deepfakes” have created.

Attestiv CEO on Using DLT to Fight Fake News, Insurance Fraud, and Deep-Fakes

Attestiv CEO on Using DLT to Fight Fake News, Insurance Fraud, and Deep-Fakes

Cointelegraph interviewed Attestiv CEO Nico Vekiarides about the role of blockchain in fighting fake news and insurance fraud

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On March 18, Attestiv, a firm combating digital fraud and deep-fakes using blockchain technology, announced that it had secured funds exceeding $2 million in a seed offering.

Cointelegraph recently spoke to Attestiv’s CEO, Nico Vekiarides, to analyze his thoughts on blockchain’s role in combating fake news and digital fraud in the insurance industry.

Cointelegraph: Can we get an overview of how the Attestiv platform works?

Nicos Vekiarides: Attestiv provides authenticity for digital photos, videos, and documents by registering a fingerprint to a blockchain when a digital asset is captured.

While it does not contain the asset itself, the digital fingerprint securely accounts for all of the asset content and key metadata such as timestamp and location. It also includes other optional attributes such as user or context-sensitive information. At any point in the future, the asset can be compared in real-time against the fingerprint in the ledger to determine if it is altered in any way.

Behind the scenes, the full process involves AI, heuristics, and even forensics to help track and determine authenticity, chain of custody, and even understand slight changes, reformatting, resizing, etc. Because we are ledger-agnostic, we work with both public and private blockchains or ledgers, and will be announcing partners soon.

CT: What are some applications for the Attestiv platform?

NV: Our initial use cases focus on the insurance ecosystem, where there are numerous stakeholders who don’t always share a common system or trust.

Our customers range from insurance brokers, adjusters, carriers and even law enforcement. The insurance industry already faces $30-$40B in property & casualty fraud in the US alone, (according to the FBI).

With digital transformation and self-service mobile user interfaces either in roll-out or on the horizon, there is a growing need to detect and prevent fraud, particularly based on recent advancements in AI-based photo and video editing tools — that are available to virtually anyone.

CT: Are there particular projects that portions of the $2 million raise has been designated towards?

NV: Absolutely. We are expanding our perceptual fingerprinting technology to cover more use cases, such as video that has been redacted, transcoded or lossy. We are building forensic technology that works in tandem with our blockchain-based tamper prevention. Finally, we are creating optimal user experiences for our clients either through apps or APIs that seamlessly integrate into existing applications.

CT: Can you comment on the role of blockchain technology in combating fake news?

NV: Blockchain can play a big role in combating fake news to the extent the industry is willing to adopt a new standard for capturing photos and videos.

To some extent, the lines get blurred when editorializing enters the picture — and there are certain instances where the best we can do is create a provable endorsement of a news article, rather than prove its authenticity.

Social media has been scrambling to create order around this space, but regulations around deep-fakes are still in early formative stages and, quite frankly, evolving on a regular basis. For instance, what constitutes satire vs. fake news can sometimes be perceived differently by different people.

We’ve learned fake news can be very problematic during a pandemic. Early on, a video purportedly showing the Wuhan market where the COVID-19 strain materialized was debunked and found to be shot somewhere in the Philippines. But the truth emerged after a significant amount of sharing.

Clearly people are more vulnerable and more likely to believe photos, videos, or print when they are in a panic. Being able to discern between what’s real, what’s fake, and what’s opinion is very important under these circumstances.

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Cointelegraph interviewed Attestiv CEO Nico Vekiarides about the role of blockchain in fighting fake news and insurance fraud

Bancor’s Airdrop as First Step to Take Blockchain Out of 1997: Interview

Bancor’s Airdrop as First Step to Take Blockchain Out of 1997: Interview

Cointelegraph interviewed Bancor’s Eyal Hertzog and Nate Hindman about the BNT airdrop and the future of Bancor and crypto at large

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Decentralized exchange project Bancor (BNT) is currently in the midst of launching a massive airdrop to all its token holders. Cointelegraph took the occasion to interview Co-founder and Product Architect Eyal Hertzog, and Head of Growth Nate Hindman. The duo shared their thoughts on the airdrop, existing trends in decentralized finance (DeFi) and Bancor’s upcoming transition to a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO).

Engaging the community through an airdrop

In November, Bancor announced an airdrop of ETHBNT to all those who held its BNT token as of Jan. 1. The airdrop gives the equivalent value of 10 percent of the wallet’s BNT balance as ETHBNT, a “pool token.”

These tokens are a key feature of the Bancor exchange. Unlike normal order book-based platforms, Bancor relies on an algorithm that automatically calculates price based on the difference in buying and selling pressure. Liquidity pools made of tokens like ETHBNT are a key component of this system. Users can acquire pool tokens and stake them in the liquidity pool, receiving a portion of the exchange fees. Then, at any moment, they can be exchanged for either ETH (and other coins) or BNT.

The token will be distributed to all non-custodial wallets and supporting exchanges, a list that currently includes Binance and, as of Jan. 16, Poloniex.

Bancor maintains that the airdrop will increase the number of users in DeFi six-fold by adding 60,000 new people into the ecosystem. However, airdrop participants are naturally inclined to take them as “free money,” selling the tokens at the first opportunity and never really joining the community.

Both Hindman and Hertzog acknowledged this possibility, with the latter noting that it’s “part of the freedom.” Hindman elaborated further on Bancor’s expectations from the airdrop:

“Of course, there’s many people who won’t do it [join the ecosystem], will either sell it immediately or won’t do anything with it. But we’re thinking if we can capture even 20 percent of those new users and get them using this ‘new DeFi asset,’ staking in liquidity pools, utilizing the Zerion interface… that’s how the protocol succeeds.”

In preparation for the airdrop, Bancor developed the Zerion interface as a staking dashboard, allowing users to manage their funds and get a clear view of returns.

Indeed, the primary motivation of the airdrop is to show users that DeFi is not so scary, as Hertzog noted:

“For someone that is holding BNT, it may be kind of scary to take the first step and put this BNT in a relay […] It’s a very natural thing that people are concerned about things that they haven’t tried before. But using this airdrop, we created a situation where […] as you look at the wallet and all of a sudden you see a token like ETHBNT, maybe you heard about the airdrop, and then you click on that and you see that you have this amount […] it gives you the experience of participating in DeFi and not just being a holder of a token.”

Bancor’s transition to a DAO

The new year is set to bring about Bancor’s transition to a decentralized structure. The BNT token will be changed to an inflationary supply model, with the community deciding the specific rate of inflation. But that is just a start, as Hindman explained:

“Within the next month or two, there will be a formalized voting and proposal process for the DAO […] We’re very excited to really have the protocol built into this DAO, so that any changes to the token model, any potential improvements can really come from the community.”

Hertzog revealed that the DAO transition is something that always made sense for a project like Bancor:

“We think that Bancor, and some other projects, are in this category of not being classic corporations or services. I like to describe services like Bancor, or even like Maker, as a common agreement about a set of rules. As I like to say, it’s the difference between England and English […] England is a real entity and English is just an agreement, a global agreement about the meaning of the words.”

Though the loss of control may be a scary proposition for some blockchain projects, Hertzog sees it as the only way of scaling the ecosystem’s adoption:

“We’re not looking to build a service here, make money and enjoy the revenue, we’re looking to create a standard. We’re looking to create a standard that will be adopted, and our success will come from the adoption of the standard. We don’t want to control it, but because no one has done that before, we cannot create a standard on day one and expect that to work. It’s going to be a process, it’s going to take years to realize what it even should be. I think that the DAO is the final step to when we would say: ‘ok, that’s the standard, we understand how it works.’”

The future of DeFi and blockchain 

The rise of decentralized finance has been one of the key stories of 2019, though Hertzog noted that Bancor was, in a sense, a DeFi project since before the term went mainstream.

Sharing his thoughts on the evolution of the industry, Hertzog said:

“DeFi is a great thing and it’s a natural evolution of what I call the ‘industry dogfooding.’ I like to think of the story of when I was young and started to work in an Internet company in 1997. I had an email, I had a browser and I was connected to the Web. But all you could do with it in 1997 was just to use it within the Internet industry. The only people I could email were from other Internet companies. The only things that I could find on the web were technology news that are related to the Internet. I think we are going through the same phases now with crypto.”

While the primary crypto use case in 2017 was financing through initial coin offerings, Hertzog compared DeFi to Wall Street’s accessory services to the simple buying and selling of shares. While calling them beautiful, he considers decentralized alternatives to loans and leverage options as simply the natural evolution of the financing use case.

Finding uses outside of the crypto trading market is not easy, and Bancor itself is still primarily one of these providers of accessory services for trading. When asked by Cointelegraph whether the project is working on something beyond DeFi or the cryptocurrency world at large, Hertzog grinned, replying:

“We actually are working hard on major partnerships that extend beyond crypto assets. It’s not in the stage of even announcing it […] But definitely we are looking at how those technologies can be leveraged […] Maybe the primary advantage is the transparency that this kind of finance has.”

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Cointelegraph interviewed Bancor’s Eyal Hertzog and Nate Hindman about the BNT airdrop and the future of Bancor and crypto at large

‘Bitcoin’ Interviewed by Cointelegraph Head of News Molly Zuckerman

‘Bitcoin’ Interviewed by Cointelegraph Head of News Molly Zuckerman

Cointelegraph head of news Molly Jane Zuckerman interviewed Bitcoin himself, in the most recent of a series of interviews

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In the most recent of a series of interviews, Cointelegraph head of news Molly Jane Zuckerman interviewed Bitcoin (BTC) himself, with the help of the animators behind the “Bitcoin and Friends” series, in a video published on YouTube on July 24.

Should Nakamoto’s identity be revealed

During the interview, Bitcoin said that he hopes the real identity of his creator — Satoshi Nakamoto — will never be revealed. He declared:

“I hope that the true identity of my dad is actually never revealed. I think considering the nature of cryptocurrencies, and it being decentralized and all… An anonymous team of creators, it’s just more poetic and fitting.”

When Zuckerman asked Bitcoin whether he appreciates the company of altcoins, Bitcoin answered that — while feels the most important one — he is of the idea that “if a project has good intentions and, you know, is truly decentralized, and is trying to bring freedom into the world” then he is on their side as well. He concluded:

“I think sometimes when people are mean to each other, they’re talking with their pocketbooks, instead of looking at the bigger picture.”

Don’t blame the tool, blame who uses it

Interestingly, when asked to comment on the correlation between BTC and illegal activities, Bitcoin pointed out that he is a tool that — as any other tool — can be used for good or bad. He also provided an example:

“You know, murderers wear shoes — for example — but that doesn’t mean we should outlaw shoes, of course.”

Facebook’s Libra: a gateway drug

He concluded that people should look at the bigger picture, instead of focusing on what a bad portion of the cryptocurrency community uses Bitcoin for. When asked for an opinion about Facebook’s Libra stablecoin, Bitcoin stated that he hopes Libra will introduce a broader audience to the concept of cryptocurrencies, bringing them to actually decentralized ones:

“So I’m kind of hoping that the Libra will be sort of like a gateway drug to getting into really, truly decentralized projects, like myself, of course.”

As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, the CEO of Chinese tech giant Huawei thinks that China can compete with Facebook for market share by issuing its own digital currency.

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Cointelegraph head of news Molly Jane Zuckerman interviewed Bitcoin himself, in the most recent of a series of interviews