Samantha Matthews Chase calls GDPR – General Data Portability Regulations rather than data protection. GDPR has forced many companies to make over a decade’s worth of our data available to use, and Chase sees this as a goldmine that can be mined for insights into ourselves.

She’s been looking at how the combination of VR and edge devices on Internet of Things and are going to catalyze a lot of data collection about ourselves. Who is going to own that data? And what can we do with it?

These questions have driven Chase to investigate the protocols around Self-Sovereign Identity, and to experiment with how all of this data can be remixed into chatbot art projects that can archive our identities and digital representations of ourselves. And perhaps all of this data can be used beyond the generation of psychographic data profiles and advertising, and maybe it’ll be able to provide some genuine contemplative self-reflection to help us understand more about ourselves.

I talk with Chase about believes that there may be many market opportunities for this type of “Insight Engineering” that could come from the data mining, processing, and virutal spatialization of all of this data.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Janus VR has been implementing an IPFS distributed file system option for creators for the past couple of years. I talk to “Taco Dog” who was the catalyst behind helping to architect the protocol foundations of the decentralized metaverse.

He has also been experimenting with building mesh network hardware like a fashionable necklace that contains a WiFi router, SD Card, and the mechanism to be able to enter into a shared virtual world together. This mesh network node was inspired by dead drops from the information security world where there would be a physical way to transfer digital information in such a way that couldn’t be tracked online.

This type of physically-constrained network could provide the basis for exclusive VIP virtual and augmented reality worlds that could only be accessible by having access to the physical location where it’s located. Or these types of distributed, P2P mesh networks could also provide the basis for more secure back-channel communications within these virtual worlds.

I had a chance to talk with “Taco Dog” about his passions of helping to architect the decentralized metaverse, information security, and the archival of physical event spaces using photogrammetry + a depth-sensor camera on a Tango mobile phone.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

The decentralized metaverse will require the transferring of A LOT of data. Distributed, peer-to-peer file systems like IPFS could provide the backbone of the decentralized metaverse.

I talk with David Dias who is one of the developers of IPFS about how they’ve been able to transform your web browser into distributed file system node, how Filecoin could create an incentive mechanism to support a robust decentralized file system and mesh networks, why content deliver networks aren’t of much use if a region doesn’t have a viable ISP network, and the challenges of making a peer-to-peer file system more robust and reliable.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Decentraland is a grand experiment of bringing together decentralized blockchain technologies and virtual worlds. Decentraland ICO raised over 26 million dollars, but it wasn’t without controversy where 5-9 whales came in to buy up all of the tokens within 35 seconds of the launch.

The big open question now is whether or not the current owners of these virtual plots of land can be able to create an integrated, WebVR-enabled, experience of a virtual city that can justify the speculative prices of more than $200,000 for some parcels of virtual land.

Decentraland is a grand experiment for many different blockchain technologies and governance models, but it’s also going to be adding an immersive & embodied layer into many other blockchain technologies that are otherwise just a virtual abstraction of cryptographic mathematical formalisms representing value exchanges. Whatever happens, there will be many lessons to learn from these early experiments of blending blockchain technologies with immersive VR worlds.

Here’s an update on Decentraland in this interview with Trevor Waldorf.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

ICOs are disrupting late stage venture capital. Shawn Cheng was working at the Vayner/RSE VC, but now he’s working with Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin’s Consensys where he’s helping to manage a portfolio of over 40 blockchain companies. Cheng talks about how the coopitition ecosystem dynamics of blockchain companies is completely opposite to how VC thinks about value creation. Supporting a unicorn companies can make or break a VC investment, and the entire VC-industry has been aimed towards hitting these home runs.

Value creation for a blockchain company is more about the cultivation and nurturing of an entire ecosystem that can’t always be reduced down to a single number. This is part of why Lubin is reinvesting his money made off of being a co-founder of Ethereum into so many of these blockchain projects that are trying to develop these different ecosystems.

I talk to Cheng about how the trends of blockchain decentralization are leading to open source software, open protocols, open networks, being permissionless, censorship resistance, and how immutable, malleable, accessible data is leading to a free market of innovation in the blockchain ecosystem.

Whereas “Web 2″ focused on enterprise companies that added value, but consolidated power and influence, the “Web 3″ is more focused on the individual being able to contribute and add value and participate.

There are many idealistic and optimistic potentials for the future of the blockchain, but there are also many open questions and challenges around scaling, creating viable long-term infrastrucutre management, and whether or not all of this will change the fundamental dynamics of the consolidation of wealth and power.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

The threat of forking a blockchain project is a catalyst for cooperation, which means that there are many parallels between the blockchain and open source development dynamics. It also means that the value of a blockchain project comes more from a vibrant ecosystem of participants who are exchanging value with each other.

There are many new cryptoeconomic primitives that are pointing towards gift economy and “yin currency” dynamics where the more that you give away, then the more that you get.

  • Will there be new economic behaviors that are revealed through the unique blend of Tech, Law, Culture, & Markets?
  • Do the economics of cryptocurrency tokens allow for a more equitable redistribution of wealth?
  • What’s a more sustainable method for funding and cultivating open source software development?
  • And can you actually get more value with the more value that you give away?

These are all questions that Joseph Poon is setting out to answer through a number of experiments with his new Handshake.org project just recently announced.

I had a chance to talk to Poon at the Decentralized Web Summit about some of the theory and philosophical concepts that he’s exploring around coordination mechanisms, group dynamics, and collective action decisions. He’s exploring how technology (algorithms & code) works in relationship to human incentives (economic market), social dynamics (culture), & coordinating group dynamics (governance models).

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

High Fidelity and Janus VR announced in March that they were creating a Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance in order to determine the protocols for the global interoperability of VR.

I had a chance to talk to the co-founders of Janus VR and High Fidelity about how the immersive experience of VR will be driving innovations in blockchain technologies. Technologies like self-sovereign identity will enable the seamless transfer of embodied avatar representations from one VR world to the next.

High Fidelity is experimenting with High Fidelity Coin (HFC) that is a Stable Coin pegged to a consistent exchange rate through the creation of new currency in order to encourage the use of HFC as an actual in-world currency rather than a speculative asset as most cryptocurrencies are being used for.

We also talk about the importance of verifiable digital asset ownership, authorship, and attribution in the context of virtual worlds. The Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance will also be working on collaborations between different virtual worlds in order to better define the different protocols that will lead towards the decentralized metaverse.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, a co-editor for Boing Boing, and consultant to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He’s been closely tracking the relationship between Tech, Law, Culture, & Markets, and he is seeing a concerning pattern. It’s possible that some of the legal regulations that were meant to protect online users and copyright holders could actually lead down a path of creating a barrier to entry to competitors that results in a permanent regulatory dominance and monopolization.

Doctorow talked about these complicated dynamics in his closing keynote at the Decentralized Web Summit, and I had a chance to talk to Doctorow about some of his ideas ranging from adversarial interoperability, compulsory blanket licensing, and a free market of algorithmic collecting societies that could do a better job at figuring out who to pay better than the algorithmic copyright cops who are figuring out which free speech to suppress.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

There’s a tension on the web today between creating a safe space to be online versions the costs to censorship and free speech. Spam, bots, trolls, harassment, hate speech, and terrorism are on the frontlines of making the web an unpleasant place to hang out, and so every online platform has to make a decision for what their terms of service are going to be be in order to foster a certain culture that makes it bearable to spend time there.

The issue is that our online platforms are communication have been increasingly consolidating into just a handful of companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. Without a plurality of places online that people are using, then this monopolization of communication networks has the effect of the enforcement of these terms of service be interpreted as forms of censorship and free speech.

Not only that, but these same major corporations are either directly collaborating with governmental mass surveillance programs, or the weaknesses of the third party doctrine as applied to the Fourth Amendment means that any information that you provide to a third party has “no reasonable expectations to remain private.” Sharing data means no secrecy, and therefore no privacy in the US government’s eyes.

The ACLU disagrees with the government’s assessment that any data shared with a third party is no longer private, and they had a small victory in the Carpenter case that went to the Supreme Court that indicated that the third doctrine shouldn’t be a blanket application to all online data, and that it needs to be looked at on a case by case basis.

I had a chance to talk with the Jennifer Granick who works at the ACLU as Surveillance and Cybersecurity Council about mass surveillance, the third party doctrine, and the debates around free speech and censorship are complicated by the monopolization of communication networks and with governments colluding with technology companies in order to censor information online. The legal lines between free speech and tyrannical governmental control creates a number of slippery slopes that has lead the ACLU to some surprising legal battles.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Brewster Kahle told me that the average of a web page on the Internet is 100 days before it either changes or disappears completely. Kahle realized that you can’t run a culture when you have no institutional memory, and so he started the Internet Archive in order to preserve our online cultural heritage that turns out to be extremely ephemeral.

But then the Snowden revelations came, which showed Kahle how the open web has been transformed into an engine of mass surveillance for governments. Then Cambridge Analytica happen, which showed how advertising platforms could be transformed into bespoke instruments of information warfare by hostile foreign nations. These issues of mass surveillance, privacy, & censorship illustrated to Kahle the dangers of the consolidation of power within centralized governments and corporations.

This motivated Kahle to do something about it. He saw how brittle online information can already be, but it’s even worse now with the rise of fake news, governmental censorship, and information warfare. Foundations including Mozilla Foundation, Open Society, Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and Ford Foundation asked Kahle what his “Moonshot for the Internet” would be, and his answer was to build the decentralized web.

The Internet Archive sponsored the first Decentralized Web Summit in 2016, and this second gathering in 2018 represents a critical mass of some of the most key architects coming together to build A New Internet™. The fact that this is the narrative focus HBO’s Silicon Valley was not lost on the crowd gathered a few weeks ago as creator Mike Judge was featured in the opening session talking about how fact meets fiction in his show.

But I had a chance to talk with Kahle about the underlying motivation for why he wants to build a decentralized web, how the Internet Archive wants to help create a web that’s more self-archiving and resilient to censorship, but also what he’s doing personally to support different decentralized web initiatives including building a decentralized version of the Internet archive at DWeb.archive.org.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality