Blockchain and Building the Future of Information Management and Sharing – Tech Forum 2018
– [Tim from BookNet Canada] Brian O’Leary is Executive
Director of the Book Industry Study Group, a U.S.-based trade association that works
to create a more informed, effective, and efficient book industry supply chain.
He oversees the work BISG does to disseminate information,
create and implement standards, conduct research and grow membership from
companies working throughout the supply chain. Please
welcome Brian O’Leary. – [Brian] We’re going to get started
quickly with an overview provided by Andreas Park, the University of Toronto,
just to kind of a primer on blockchain because we recognise people come
from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences on this. – [Andreas] When I was asked by the
organisers to give a presentation on blockchain for the book industry,
I was a little concerned because, you know, I thought… You know,
I knew nothing about publishing, which is both entirely true and totally
ridiculous considering that my entire life as an academic is about publishing,
but here we are anyway. So, before I start, let me ask you,
how many of you actually own a crypto currency, or who owns any Bitcoin
here? Oh, okay. Anybody holds Ethereum? Okay. That’s quite a lot of people.
I’m impressed. I should say I got interested in blockchain technology about
three years ago, which is, you know, ridiculously short period of time if you
think about it, but in this blockchain world, it’s an eternity.
So people talk about things that happened three months ago as in the ancient past.
So, just so you know how fast this world works. Now, what I’m going to do is
I’m going to talk about the concept that underlies cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin
and Ethereum that you may have heard about already. So, if I want to do it in a
very boring way, the way to say it is that what a blockchain really is
at its core, is a digital ledger. So it’s something really boring if you
think about it because a ledger is just a record of transactions, messages,
contracts, and the like. But there are some very special features
to blockchains which are noteworthy and would make this a transformative
technology as far as I’m concerned. So, first off, this ledger is not kept at
a central location like a central database but it is at many locations. Also,
this is not, you know, just a set of databases but it’s referred
to as a distributed ledger, so a distributed database. So,
copies of the same ledger are kept all over the world in Bitcoin,
at about 8,000 different nodes, in Ethereum, at about 30,000 different
nodes. So, now, how does this work? So, as I said, a blockchain records
transactions. So first, we need to understand what’s special about
blockchain by understanding a transaction. So, we have Alice and Bob here.
Alice wants to buy a car from Bob. All right. So, Alice wants to pay Bob
money, so how does she do it? Well, she basically writes a contract and
then signs the contract with a cryptographic key so that this contract is
therefore digitally locked. And that is essentially transactions that
we think about and that are recorded on this ledger. Now, one special
feature is that an attacker, somebody who wants to be an
impostor and tries to steal her money, because of the high level of encryption,
will not have the ability to steal from her. Now, we have these transactions,
and there are many of these transactions, and what we do with them,
what a blockchain does is they form them and group them together
in blocks. So that’s where the term block comes from. And we have many of these,
and a special feature which makes it a chain is as follows.
There is information included in all of these blocks which are essentially
digests of information. So you have a digest of information in the
first block at the bottom here. This is basically a summary of all the
information that is included in a block, and the best way to think about the
workings of it is that the last entry, there’s digest, in one block is part of
the header of the top of the next block. So there’s a direct link
between these blocks directly. Now, the crucial part about it is, is the
moment you want to manipulate a change, any of the entries that are part of a
block, you would change the digest and then the digest that links from this
block… What happened? Hold on, sorry. The digest that links from the block down
here to the next block would no longer be compatible and the network
would reject such a manipulation. So that is an additional feature of
certainty and what that creates is the link, which is the chain.
So these blocks are therefore chained together. Now,
I should say that the cryptography and this link of blocks is not sufficient to
establish a security of the blockchain. There’s one extra feature and that is
essentially economic incentives. If you want to change the blockchain,
if you want to work on it, and if you want to do work on it,
you have to expense resources. Now, if you… You may have heard about
this, and if you’re on the critical part about, you know, the technology,
you’ve heard of the large energy wastage that is associated with, for instance,
in particular, Bitcoin, essentially, this is the proof-of-work protocol which
creates it. It’s the economic portion of it which secures the chain.
So it’s cryptography together with economic incentives,
very crucial concept. Now, let me put this into perspective.
So I’ve just explained to you what the technology is. Let me explain what that
actually does. If you think back through the history of mankind,
if we want to have commercial relations, we need trust. This is extremely sensual
feature of all institutions, of many of the institutions that we see in
the world. We have laws, we have contracts, and we have banks.
The main reason, and one of the critical features of a bank is that it establishes
trust of your deposits, of contracts that are being made.
Even identities like passports is a level of trust that you have the person in front
of you is the person that you claim that they are. Now, the premise of a
blockchain is completely different. Number one, it is something which is not
controlled by any one entity person or organisation. If you think of any of
the institutions that we have such as they are, they’re always controlled by
something, somebody, or an organisation. Blockchains are controlled by nobody.
They’re owned by nobody. Secondly, everybody can participate. Now,
bad people and good people can use a blockchain. It’s open to anybody.
And the third, and this is really crucial, is that it’s entirely trustless.
There’s no trust needed because everything… So the only
thing that you would trust in is something that you can verify.
The code of a blockchain is open-source. The information on the blockchain is
available to everybody. The trust is established, essentially,
by transparency. Now what do we get from that? What we get from that is a
decentralised internet of value. If you think of internet such as it is,
what it really is is an internet of information. And if I want to transfer,
say, a file to anybody here, what I would send you is a copy of that
file. Now, if we think about money or something of value, that’s not going to be
good enough because, you know, if I sent you a copy, I just basically
had spent the same amount of money over and over again. So,
in order to have that ability to transfer value, we need special
features and that is essentially what a blockchain as a technology enables. Now,
one of the strongest features, and this is what is of most interest,
I assume, for this audience here, is that you could have digital,
enforceable, and automatically executed contracts that you can write. So,
for instance, for intellectual property, for property rights transfers and the
like, you could have contracts that you can trust that they will be executed,
that money transfers will occur based on the code which is written and executed
by the blockchain. What that all enables us is there’s a lot of control that people
gain now. You gain control over your property rights, you gain control over
your intellectual rights. You can gain control over your own data,
be it medical data, identity data, and so on and so forth.
The possibilities are huge, and I wouldn’t say endless, but vast.
But there’s also lots of control involved. Tax collection gets difficult on a
decentralised worldwide ledger. Law enforcements gets difficult.
You can have rogue states like North Korea, dictators,
pornographers, any number of bad people can use this blockchain.
There is no limit to it. So, you know, instead of rejecting it, though,
I would recommend that we consider… That we think really hard of how we handle
it. And that’s basically most of what I want to say. Transformations
will be huge. The banking industry, the accounting industry, and the legal
industry all will have to… will change in the wake of this
technological transformation. And that’s all I have to
say for now. Thank you. – Before we turn over to the panel,
I want to explain, Madeleine Chang was also scheduled to be part of this but she
had an unavoidable commitment on the West Coast, and BookNet Canada looked at a
variety of different options to include her but they were all technologically not
really great. So, we’re sorry to miss her today. I think that she has a really
interesting story, and if you’re interested, she tells a little bit
of background on a post that she created for BookNet Canada I think in December.
So it’s up on the site. So, Simon-Pierre, you actually also wrote for BookNet Canada
and talked a little bit about a distributed ledger for eBooks,
a way to monetise on independent platforms. And I’m wondering if you can
talk to this group and also to your fellow panelists about what your ideas,
how it might work, and where you are on it right now. – [Simon-Pierre] Yes. So, thank you,
Brian. So, yes, at the Scenarex, we’re building right now an affordable
solution that will protect eBooks using blockchain technology.
So we call it bookchain solution. And basically, what it will bring,
it will increase the security of the eBooks by providing to the eBook owner a
universal access right to their eBooks. It’s also going to bring additional
traceability, functionalities as we’ve seen in the previous presentation.
When you have access to a blockchain, you can have access to all sort of
traceability, visibility of where your eBooks or authors and publisher will be
able to see basically what happened to their books. The additional
functionality that offer solution which is the key here is the sharing possibility of
any book. So an owner of an eBook using a blockchain solution will be able to either
resell his book or he could lend it, sorry, to someone he knows. Of course,
this needs to be done with the authorisation of the author or the
publisher. So in our solution, when an author or a publisher publish a
book, they have to sign a contract and they have to decide if the owner of their
books or their eBooks basically will have the right to resell it or lend it.
So if they gave the permission or a solution encrypted in the blockchain,
we’ll manage the redistribution of the rights through the resale with the author,
the publisher, and of course, the sellers who sold the eBook. So,
of course, I was letting you know that we’re building the solution.
We have already built a prototype in 2017, and we’re now in the phase of
building the minimal viable product. It should be launched this year in August.
So it will be available to all authors and publisher who want to participate.
And, of course, this is not a simple solution and we know that there are
roadblocks ahead of us but we believe that Blockchain is the way of the future and we
intend to make sure that we will be one of the first in that sector,
and bring that to the publishing industry. We’re also willing to share what we’re
doing. So we had a discussion yesterday and the day before with WC3 and we are
going to be members of WC3 in order to put in place the standards of what we are
doing and also share a part of what we are doing with everybody.
As we were talking earlier, blockchain is considered open-source,
so that’s what we are also intending to do with our
solution, at least part of it. And, so basically, in
a nutshell, that was it. – Do you have a timeline? I mean, do you
have a sense of when you’re going to be public with this? – Yes. Exactly, that’s what I was saying.
So, basically, we are developing the solution right now and in August,
if everything goes well, we should have a first minimal viable
product on the market. Of course, after that, we’ll continue to build on it
and improve the solution with the users that will participate in our first
diversion of the product. – And I was kind of curious,
have you thought about how you get the data to populate because there’s a lot of
information you’re thinking about with respect to rights,
territories, and the like? – Yes, absolutely. So, there’s two
basically type of blockchain that you have. Private blockchain
and you have public blockchain. So the difference is mainly because
public blockchain…when you do a public blockchain, it’s really secured on
a network that’s only accessible by those who build it and if they give you
access to it, you can access it. Then you have the public blockchains
that are already available. There’s assumptions right now.
People are thinking that, “Okay, if I’m using a public blockchain,
I absolutely need to use cryptocurrency or my end user needs to pay in crypto
currency.” And that’s not necessarily the truth because you can build around it an
interface that your end user or your customer will pay using their local
currency and then after that you can manage it by yourself and transform that
into cryptocurrency of the public blockchain. So, for example,
in our case, we’re using Ethereum but our customers will be able to pay with their
local currency and we’ll manage the conversion in order to pay the miners or
the network with their own cryptocurrency. So, of course, there is still issues with
the data that we store in the blockchains. It’s very heavy right now.
It takes a lot of time. So the idea at first is to say that only
their rights will be store on the blockchain and not the content of any
book. Otherwise, it would take away too much volume. It would cost too much also
for the customers. So that’s the way we’re going to build ethos, really,
to put in place security with blockchain but not the content of it. – Andreas’ survey suggested there’s a lot
of cryptocurrency floating around the room. So maybe we got to shop there. Andreas or Stephen, any
thoughts on this before…? – So wondering… I think this is a great
idea and it’s exactly what I was alluding to of how this can be used and how this,
in my opinion, also empowers authors in particular to have stronger
power over their digital rights. There’s already musicians who will use the
technology for similar purposes. I’m wondering, do you have any thoughts of
how this will actually change the relations of authors
with, say, publishers? – Well, their relationship will definitely
change. So, to my opinion, publisher needs to…they need to start
thinking differently in order to get into that space. So, I cannot
tell you exactly what it will be. I think it’s to the publishing industry to
really think how they want to address that but, I mean, any publisher in that room
should start thinking about it because if you’re not thinking about it,
you might get bypassed in a few years. And I can do a parallel a bit.
I did my bachelor degree from ’93 to ’98 and I study the internet burden rise.
And I remember at that time, we were saying the exact same thing that
we’re saying with blockchain right now. So, the network is not strong enough,
it’s not secure enough, or any other excuses were good for
people not to get into that space. But then after that, you know,
internet is history and we know that we cannot live without it right now. So,
blockchain, we’re starting to see the exact same patterns.
So I don’t have a crystal ball there. I cannot predict the future,
but what I can tell you is that if you do not look at it right now,
you might end up in a bad position in the future. – I definitely like the analogy to the
internet of the 1990s. It seems like with blockchain technology today,
we’re, like, in the days of dial-up and there’s some limitations,
but like the internet, how it progressed, a lot of us believe that that’s going to
be happening with blockchain, too. So, my question was more about how
are you onboarding these different rights holders like publishers or authors?
How are they uploading their books? How is that working? – It will be through an interface that we
will build. So it’s a web interface where they will basically download their eBook.
Right now, our solution will work with the EPUB Version 3.
So there are codes that will be attached to their eBook in order to be
distributed through the blockchain. – Are you thinking about metadata as well? – Yeah. But also just more on the right
side, publishers tend to have better information on the rights of the author
and the publisher. So, often, it’s the publisher that you want to be
onboarding because of their vast catalogue in that kind of knowledge that they have.
In my experience, authors often don’t have good information about the rights. Like,
they’re like, “Can I do this with my own work?” And they don’t even know
especially in academic fields. So I was just wondering how that worked.
And also when we get talking about our own project, we had some speed bumps with
regards to uploading works and the onboarding part of it. – Yeah. I want to go to you next
because… But that is an interesting observation if you’re an eBook creator
particularly a third party, you’re not going to miss…
So you’re going to know something about the book but you’re certainly not going to
know rights. So figuring out that workflow is probably critically important. – So, if you don’t mind,
I have another question actually for you guys which is that, so we have the
authors, we have the publishers and, you know, potentially also illustrators
and others whose rights can be probably used very well in this front. So, you know, there’s a big
question about what happens to bookstores like Amazon and the like
because, you know, I mean, there’s the eBooks. They sell eBooks at
the moment but it seems to me that will possibly be no longer necessary.
Is that the path of the future or do we see bundling of services again? – I think they can still be usefulness of
having a bookstore because it doesn’t mean that you use a blockchain technology to
distribute your book that you will have the market power to publicise it and bring
people to buy it. So, in that sense to me, it makes a lot of sense that your starting
point for selling your eBook that is protected by blockchain could be a usual
store of eBooks. But, of course, that means that you need to convince the
Amazon of this world to jump into that with you which is probably not a easy
task. But that could be a potential solution. – Yeah. I definitely think that there’s
going to be bookstores in the future and I don’t think it will change that much maybe
in the sense that bookstores, in the future, I think will need to get on
to the blockchain movement or be disrupted. I do think that. But,
you need an aggregator and a place, a storefront in order to be finding this
content. The authors and publishers just can’t publish content just through the
website because it’s not as visible as it would be in an online bookstore. – Absolutely. – So, turning to you for…last
fall, BookNet Canada asked me to write something about a potential use case for
blockchain in publishing, and I did a piece that’s also up on the
site that talked about potential rights applications,
how Access Copyright actually in parallel has been prototyping and
building something of its own. So tell us a little bit about that. – Yeah. So, it started last summer that we
started working on a proof of concept using a blockchain application
specifically on the public Ethereum platform. And what we were
trying to do was a research project. We’re not necessarily proving, like, a
business model or this kind of thing. We need to get our hands dirty into how
this technology works in order to really understand it. And that turned out to be
really true because we learnt a lot. And we wanted to cut through, you know,
the hype around blockchain. Like, what is really happening?
What’s really beneficial here as opposed to, you know,
these messages that are coming out that Blockchain can solve everything. So,
what we did is we created, like, a, you know, similar to what you’re talking
about. Like, it’s a platform where you would upload a book and then you could
actually, within that platform, sell the book peer-to-peer to the
customer. So the money would be flowing directly within seconds from the
customers’ wallet, their Ethereum wallet, into the wallet of the author and the
publisher. And it happens, like, over a few seconds. So that peer-to-peer payments
is something new and different because there isn’t the intermediaries that are
taking a cut when those payments are made. So that, we found, is very powerful.
The other thing is when you’re uploading a work, you can define the amount of
additions or copies of that work, which is something that, of course,
can’t be done in today’s internet of copy and paste. So because of
the smart contract application, you can actually define, like,
“I only want there to be 100, you know, 1,000, a million copies of the
work.” So you can create scarcity in your asset, and therefore value as
opposed to our current internet of, like, “I have a PDF. I email it to you.
You have it and I have it. You email it again and now everybody has
it.” This is very different in the blockchain space where there’s a finite
asset that gets moved around. So that is also very powerful.
And the last part that we were looking at was if somebody bought the book on the
platform, were to tell someone else about it and that other person bought the
book, that the initial purchaser would share in the revenue stream. So,
it’s this way of getting the fans involved in trying to promote books and then they
could share in the revenues. So those were the sort of three things
that we wanted to tackle in the proof of concept and what we sort of found which
was really exciting was the smart contracts on the blockchain,
like, all these aspects worked. What was difficult though was the payments
are somewhat slow, like, when you buy the book you have to wait 30,
40 seconds as opposed to our visa world where we’re used to these instant
transactions. And also when uploading a book, you know, for initialising that
smart contract requires a lot of fees on the Etherium platform. So,
we were quite surprised to find that when we’re uploading a book,
that it’s costing, like, $50, $60 Canadian to put it on the Ethereum
platform even though the book itself is sitting in a regular standard database.
It’s the smart contract that’s being initialised and uploaded.
Because blockchain offered this promise of, like, “We’re going to have all these
micro payments and you’re going to be able to, you know, buy your coffees and
have these small fees and you’re going to be able to… When you get to a
newspaper, you know, website, be able to read that article for one cent
and all these kinds of things.” And as things got more popular,
the fees went up and these sort of dreams have sort of vanished maybe temporarily in
things like Bitcoin and Ethereum. But what we sort of realised in doing this
project was there’s some fundamental problems when, you know,
for this uploading a book is do we actually know who this creator is,
and is it actually their work that they’re uploading? So you need to sort of
authenticate the authors and the users. You know, are these the actual people?
Is this actually Margaret Atwood who’s the one who is uploading her work?
Because if you’re doing peer-to-peer payments, you know,
the right author better be at the other end, otherwise the system
kind of doesn’t work, right? And the right publisher better be at the
right end of it in the same thing. So, that was something that we noticed is
a problem and there are a lot of people in the blockchain space that are looking
at fixing that, at creating identity systems that work. But then the other
issue is, is it their work that they’re uploading? So is it actuallyThe
Handmaid’s Talethat Margaret Atwood is putting on or is it something else that
doesn’t really belong to her? And we see these as big problems because
we live in our YouTube age where, you know, people are uploading stuff that
doesn’t belong to them and even sometimes monetising it. And as blockchain solutions
are becoming more prominent, we found that other solutions are taking
these issues for granted that, “This is my content and I’m uploading it
and I should get paid for it.” But as you’re uploading content to a
blockchain, which is immutable, you create an even bigger problem that
there’s something fixed on a blockchain and it makes it more difficult to fix.
So than it is in today’s world. – So you really have
to get it right at the start? – That’s it. So just to finish,
it’s like a database, right? So it’s junk in, junk out. If you have bad data to begin with,
you’re going to have a bad database. – Okay. And does publishing have a really
good legacy of getting it right at the start? Do you want
to weigh in on a part of that? – Yeah, no, I just wanted to maybe just
add a little bit of context and background there. So you’ve been talking
about the fees, so just we understand that the way it works on Ethereum is, you pay
per programming cycle. So think about it. You have a pocket calculator every time
you press a key, you pay for that essentially, right?
And so a contract actually has relatively large number of programming cycles and
this is why you have to pay a high fee. And the speculation in Bitcoin,
Ethereum didn’t help because, you know, all of a sudden, these assets or these
tokens were extremely expensive and it’s kind of against the whole idea of being
able to use it on a frequent basis. Now, there are solutions that are being
proposed to make it faster and cheaper again and we’re hoping that
this will eventually happen. So, sit tight for that one,
but don’t hold your breath. So then the second thing I wanted to…
and then I forgot actually what I want to say. Oh, yeah. So the very
big issue with blockchain is the following. I kept talking about it as
trustless, right? And it works indeed where anything that is on the blockchain,
it works automatically and it is immutable and it’s secure and they’re not…this is
all hunky-dory but every time you have to have an interface with the real world
as you say, it gets actually very difficult. One way to think about it
is the blockchain you can do anything that you can explain to an alien, right?
And I literally mean extraterrestrial. But if you want to do anything that we do
in the real world, which has humans in it, which has potential fraud in it,
then it gets actually very, very difficult to have that done in the
same manner such as it is. People are working on that but, you know,
somebody being an impostor for Margaret Atwood,
this has not yet been resolved. Last thing I want to say,
this is however the big opportunity for digital identities. So I’m
personally a big fan of that idea. I’ve lived in Denmark for a year where I
had a digital identity which allowed me to everything, bank accounts,
anything I had to do with the government and so on was great and I sincerely hope
that we get that here in Canada, you know, yesterday so that we can use it for all
kinds of these purposes and then you can actually link that, too, with the…
You know, as a very secure way of using outside world data. – [Man] My question,
you all alluded to, I mean, I think there are two big
[inaudible] what some of our blockchain work. Clearly, the
environmental issues, you know, and I’d be curious about, you know,
you elaborating on that. The other thing that keeps me awake at
night is the way you take out the middleman and we want to do any kind of
commerce where there has been traditionally taxes involved.
There are no taxes involved because there’s no government entity involved.
We’re talking about big powerful entities that are getting stripped out of things.
What do you think the potential backlash of that would be? – Okay. Probably start with Andreas. – Yeah. So the environmental impact is a
huge concern and I think it’s atrocious how much energy is currently being used.
You may have heard about it that the Bitcoin blockchain now uses more power,
more electricity than Iceland. And this is just crazy.
– Small country. – Now, when Ethereum
was set up in one of those design, there was always the idea
of moving over to a system which does not require this proof-of-work protocol which
consumes all the energy. They wanted to move towards
referred to as a proof-of-stake protocol. Technologically and mathematically,
that’s actually a hard problem to solve and so far, it has not been, you know,
successfully implemented but they’re working on it and there’s currently a
version of proof-of-stake working as a TestNet and I have some higher
hopes that it eventually works out. And that actually would solve
a gazillion problems there. – But there’s some potential issues with
proof of stake that get brought up in the sense that proof of stake is weighted
on individuals that have to stake their coins on approving transactions and if
they do it wrong and maliciously, they, like, lose all their coins. So,
some people in, you know, on the Bitcoin sort of side of
it look at Ethereum as, “Don’t you sort of have this problem that
the rich are getting richer as far as proof of stake is happening?”
And that’s maybe partly why it’s sort of taking so long for a proof of stake to
get rolled out. But there’s definitely things being looked at to solve this
energy problem because it’s, yeah, pretty gross. – And Simon-Pierre or Stephen,
what are you thinking about with respect to tax obligations? I mean,
is it something you’re kind of sorting through? – Yeah, definitively, we need to
ensure that we go with the regulations of countries, but, of course,
it gets complicated when you have an individual sending a book to another
individual in another country, for example. So that’s a bit complex.
In North America, there is some rules that we can play with that’s not necessary the
case all over the world and unfortunately, we cannot restrict the network to a
certain area of the world. So, it’s going to be challenging for sure. – In fact, I would imagine that,
for example, on rights applications, restricting it to a specific part of the
world will be contrarian to the purpose. – Yes. Absolutely. – You want a rising tide where people
discover and can purchase and/or sell rights to people that otherwise
would not always have them. – Exactly. So I think as far as blockchain
is concerned and sovereign areas of influence in terms of the rights that
are put into a smart contract are over, I think the governments have to actually
face that reality and work towards it and try to understand how they can deal with
it. I know the reaction and the instinct is to say, “Well, we can’t have this.
This is illegal. We can’t, you know, have anything like it.”
But you can’t stop a blockchain. It’s not possible. It’s a distributed
ledger. It’s everywhere. How are you going to stop that?
It’s not technologically feasible unless you force people to switch off their
computers. So, you know, in that sense, and, you know, your point is very well
taken. We have to pay our taxes, right? But the government clearly loses control
and they have to find ways how they can operate without that control. Now,
I would argue, there’s actually some positive here because it enables people,
right? So the government, the banking sector, for instance,
and I’m from finance, can be extremely oppressive.
So take the Ethereum Foundation that founded a blockchain here and an amazing
product here in Canada and these guys couldn’t get a bank account in
Canada to operate it and to start it. Can you believe that? Now, what did
they do? They went to Switzerland because Switzerland actually provided
them with the opportunity for it. That’s a huge loss for Canada.
And it came from oppressive regulation and from oppressive banks. – I also just wanted to come back to the
question about, like, backlash and intermediaries. I got an email from
Scotiabank a couple of weeks ago that was like, “You can’t use your credit card
to buy crypto anymore, just so you know.” I found that somewhat not surprising but
never have I gotten an email from a bank saying you can’t buy something
that’s completely legal. Like, I found that really strange.
So that’s an example of an industry that’s being disrupted and they’re trying to
fight it by not allowing you to interact with what’s disrupting them. So,
that’s one way to go about it but the better way is to evaluate the technology
and see how you can use it to make your business better. – Okay. Thanks. Other questions.
All right. There are a number of things that we actually were looking some of the
pre-reading that we were given. Talked about a range of applications,
some of which we talked about today, but things like credentialing,
enhanced metadata exchange, tracking sales and rights for digital-first
products. These all seem like pretty credible use cases for us. I mean,
what’s your perspective on it? I’ll start with Simon-Pierre. – So basically, the whole idea of the
blockchain brings so much new possibilities for so much different
industries. It’s hard to get our head around it. So I believe that really the
markets that will benefit the most out of it are the markets that really
needs what we were talking earlier about the access rights basically
or the identification. So if, for whatever reason you have a process
where you have that type of rights or need for a right, then a blockchain solution
could be a good idea for you. But, of course, right now,
like we were saying, if you need database to store a lot of information,
that might not be the right place to go. – So metadata becomes kind of problematic
in that regard because it is data-intensive.
– Exactly, yeah. – Based on what Simon-Pierre was saying
was, I do feel, though, if you get the authentication right and you get the
attribution right, the asset, the eBook or song, you know, music,
it can become a business onto itself. It can sell itself. It can license itself.
It can license content. You know, if it’s an eBook and you want to just
copy, like, a chapter out of it, you can do that as long as it’s all coded
within the smart contract. You can have very sophisticated licensing
schemes which can all happen in almost real-time in an automated peer-to-peer
way. You know, if you want to have different pricing for different kinds of
customers, whether consumer or corporate, you can do all these kinds of things.
And it offers a lot of opportunity to be doing things much more efficiently.
And ultimately, having more money come back to the creators and publishers
because of that. – Yeah. That’s kind of the rising tide
argument that the market becomes broader rather than just simply transactionally
done more efficiently. We have Tricia McCraney who is leading our
rights committee at Book Industry Study Group who’s giving a presentation in one
of those places right now, but that’s part of the work that they’re
doing, is thinking through those use cases. Quick thought on this, or…? – Look, I mean, I don’t know enough
about your industry. The way to think about it is, you know,
whenever there’s a middleman who is there to, you know, make sure that the
left side does what the right side does, like an accountant, so those middlemen can
be cut out and they’re expensive. So that’s good, I would argue. – We have just about a minute left but
maybe one quick takeaway. We have a quick question, Robert? – [Robert] I think, and you spoke a little
bit about the prospect of blockchain is a democratising and decentralised
technology. In the last few years, we’ve seen the outcome of a lot of
democratising and decentralised technologies that have actually been used
to enhance the capabilities of exclusion and oppression and entrenching the status
quo. And I think we’ve learned that much of that could have been mitigated or
prevented if the people working early on on potential use cases or product
design had had access to perspectives other than their own. And so I’m
curious in the work that each of you do, do you feel like you have
access to those perspectives? – Well, I guess, I feel that on true
public blockchains, I’m not as concerned with maybe those considerations
because if it’s being, you know, the proof of work and the mining is
happening truly around the world by different players then it will be
distributed and therefore democratic. The problem can be as is happening on the
Bitcoin blockchain is the arms race to use more and more energy to be doing the
proof of work that there’s only a select group of users that are actually doing the
mining and doing the work and sustaining the network and therefore it becomes less
decentralized, excuse me, and therefore more open to the issues that
you are maybe considering. So, it is a problem as far as the way
things can work and I think it’s just having hope that things work the
way that you want them to, yeah.