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On October 20, Eric Yao, Head of EpiK China, and Leo, Co-Founder & CTO of EpiK, visited Deep Chain Online Salon, and discussed “How EpiK saved the miners eliminated by Filecoin by launching E2P storage model”. ‘?” The following is a transcript of the sharing.
Eric: Hello, everyone, I’m Eric, graduated from School of Information Science, Tsinghua University. My Master’s research was on data storage and big data computing, and I published a number of industry top conference papers.
Since 2013, I have invested in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Dogcoin, EOS and other well-known blockchain projects, and have been settling in the chain circle as an early technology-based investor and industry observer with 2 years of blockchain experience. I am also a blockchain community initiator and technology evangelist
Leo: Hi, I’m Leo, I’m the CTO of EpiK. Before I got involved in founding EpiK, I spent 3 to 4 years working on blockchain, public chain, wallets, browsers, decentralized exchanges, task distribution platforms, smart contracts, etc., and I’ve made some great products. EpiK is an answer to the question we’ve been asking for years about how blockchain should be landed, and we hope that EpiK is fortunate enough to be an answer for you as well.
Q & A
Deep Chain Finance:
First of all, let me ask Eric, on October 15, Filecoin’s main website launched, which aroused everyone’s attention, but at the same time, the calls for fork within Filecoin never stopped. The EpiK protocol is one of them. What I want to know is, what kind of project is EpiK Protocol? For what reason did you choose to fork in the first place? What are the differences between the forked project and Filecoin itself?
First of all, let me answer the first question, what kind of project is EpiK Protocol.
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution already upon us, comprehensive intelligence is one of the core goals of this stage, and the key to comprehensive intelligence is how to make machines understand what humans know and learn new knowledge based on what they already know. And the knowledge graph scale is a key step towards full intelligence.
In order to solve the many challenges of building large-scale knowledge graphs, the EpiK Protocol was born. EpiK Protocol is a decentralized, hyper-scale knowledge graph that organizes and incentivizes knowledge through decentralized storage technology, decentralized autonomous organizations, and generalized economic models. Members of the global community will expand the horizons of artificial intelligence into a smarter future by organizing all areas of human knowledge into a knowledge map that will be shared and continuously updated for the eternal knowledge vault of humanity
And then, for what reason was the fork chosen in the first place?
EpiK’s project founders are all senior blockchain industry practitioners and have been closely following the industry development and application scenarios, among which decentralized storage is a very fresh application scenario.
However, in the development process of Filecoin, the team found that due to some design mechanisms and historical reasons, the team found that Filecoin had some deviations from the original intention of the project at that time, such as the overly harsh penalty mechanism triggered by the threat to weaken security, and the emergence of the computing power competition leading to the emergence of computing power monopoly by large miners, thus monopolizing the packaging rights, which can be brushed with computing power by uploading useless data themselves.
The emergence of these problems will cause the data environment on Filecoin to get worse and worse, which will lead to the lack of real value of the data in the chain, high data redundancy, and the difficulty of commercializing the project to land.
After paying attention to the above problems, the project owner proposes to introduce multi-party roles and a decentralized collaboration platform DAO to ensure the high value of the data on the chain through a reasonable economic model and incentive mechanism, and store the high-value data: knowledge graph on the blockchain through decentralized storage, so that the lack of value of the data on the chain and the monopoly of large miners’ computing power can be solved to a large extent.
Finally, what differences exist between the forked project and Filecoin itself?
On the basis of the above-mentioned issues, EpiK’s design is very different from Filecoin, first of all, EpiK is more focused in terms of business model, and it faces a different market and track from the cloud storage market where Filecoin is located because decentralized storage has no advantage over professional centralized cloud storage in terms of storage cost and user experience.
EpiK focuses on building a decentralized knowledge graph, which reduces data redundancy and safeguards the value of data in the distributed storage chain while preventing the knowledge graph from being tampered with by a few people, thus making the commercialization of the entire project reasonable and feasible.
From the perspective of ecological construction, EpiK treats miners more friendly and solves the pain point of Filecoin to a large extent, firstly, it changes the storage collateral and commitment collateral of Filecoin to one-time collateral.
Miners participating in EpiK Protocol are only required to pledge 1000 EPK per miner, and only once before mining, not in each sector.
What is the concept of 1000 EPKs, you only need to participate in pre-mining for about 50 days to get this portion of the tokens used for pledging. The EPK pre-mining campaign is currently underway, and it runs from early September to December, with a daily release of 50,000 ERC-20 standard EPKs, and the pre-mining nodes whose applications are approved will divide these tokens according to the mining ratio of the day, and these tokens can be exchanged 1:1 directly after they are launched on the main network. This move will continue to expand the number of miners eligible to participate in EPK mining.
Secondly, EpiK has a more lenient penalty mechanism, which is different from Filecoin’s official consensus, storage and contract penalties, because the protocol can only be uploaded by field experts, which is the “Expert to Person” mode. Every miner needs to be backed up, which means that if one or more miners are offline in the network, it will not have much impact on the network, and the miner who fails to upload the proof of time and space in time due to being offline will only be forfeited by the authorities for the effective computing power of this sector, not forfeiting the pledged coins.
If the miner can re-submit the proof of time and space within 28 days, he will regain the power.
Unlike Filecoin’s 32GB sectors, EpiK’s encapsulated sectors are smaller, only 8M each, which will solve Filecoin’s sector space wastage problem to a great extent, and all miners have the opportunity to complete the fast encapsulation, which is very friendly to miners with small computing power.
The data and quality constraints will also ensure that the effective computing power gap between large and small miners will not be closed.
Finally, unlike Filecoin’s P2P data uploading model, EpiK changes the data uploading and maintenance to E2P uploading, that is, field experts upload and ensure the quality and value of the data on the chain, and at the same time introduce the game relationship between data storage roles and data generation roles through a rational economic model to ensure the stability of the whole system and the continuous high-quality output of the data on the chain.
Deep Chain Finance:
Eric, on the eve of Filecoin’s mainline launch, issues such as Filecoin’s pre-collateral have aroused a lot of controversy among the miners. In your opinion, what kind of impact will Filecoin bring to itself and the whole distributed storage ecosystem after it launches? Do you think that the current confusing FIL prices are reasonable and what should be the normal price of FIL?
Filecoin mainnet has launched and many potential problems have been exposed, such as the aforementioned high pre-security problem, the storage resource waste and computing power monopoly caused by unreasonable sector encapsulation, and the harsh penalty mechanism, etc. These problems are quite serious, and will greatly affect the development of Filecoin ecology.
These problems are relatively serious, and will greatly affect the development of Filecoin ecology, here are two examples to illustrate. For example, the problem of big miners computing power monopoly, now after the big miners have monopolized computing power, there will be a very delicate state — — the miners save a file data with ordinary users. There is no way to verify this matter in the chain, whether what he saved is uploaded by himself or someone else. And after the big miners have monopolized computing power, there will be a very delicate state — — the miners will save a file data with ordinary users, there is no way to verify this matter in the chain, whether what he saved is uploaded by himself or someone else. Because I can fake another identity to upload data for myself, but that leads to the fact that for any miner I go to choose which data to save. I have only one goal, and that is to brush my computing power and how fast I can brush my computing power.
There is no difference between saving other people’s data and saving my own data in the matter of computing power. When I save someone else’s data, I don’t know that data. Somewhere in the world, the bandwidth quality between me and him may not be good enough.
The best option is to store my own local data, which makes sense, and that results in no one being able to store data on the chain at all. They only store their own data, because it’s the most economical for them, and the network has essentially no storage utility, no one is providing storage for the masses of retail users.
The harsh penalty mechanism will also severely deplete the miner’s profits, because DDOS attacks are actually a very common attack technique for the attacker, and for a big miner, he can get a very high profit in a short period of time if he attacks other customers, and this thing is a profitable thing for all big miners.
Now as far as the status quo is concerned, the vast majority of miners are actually not very well maintained, so they are not very well protected against these low-DDOS attacks. So the penalty regime is grim for them.
The contradiction between the unreasonable system and the demand will inevitably lead to the evolution of the system in a more reasonable direction, so there will be many forked projects that are more reasonable in terms of mechanism, thus attracting Filecoin miners and a diversion of storage power.
Since each project is in the field of decentralized storage track, the demand for miners is similar or even compatible with each other, so miners will tend to fork the projects with better economic benefits and business scenarios, so as to filter out the projects with real value on the ground.
For the chaotic FIL price, because FIL is also a project that has gone through several years, carrying too many expectations, so it can only be said that the current situation has its own reasons for existence. As for the reasonable price of FIL there is no way to make a prediction because in the long run, it is necessary to consider the commercialization of the project to land and the value of the actual chain of data. In other words, we need to keep observing whether Filecoin will become a game of computing power or a real value carrier.
Deep Chain Finance:
Leo, we just mentioned that the pre-collateral issue of Filecoin caused the dissatisfaction of miners, and after Filecoin launches on the main website, the second round of space race test coins were directly turned into real coins, and the official selling of FIL hit the market phenomenon, so many miners said they were betrayed. What I want to know is, EpiK’s main motto is “save the miners eliminated by Filecoin”, how to deal with the various problems of Filecoin, and how will EpiK achieve “save”?
Originally Filecoin’s tacit approval of the computing power makeup behavior was to declare that the official directly chose to abandon the small miners. And this test coin turned real coin also hurt the interests of the loyal big miners in one cut, we do not know why these low-level problems, we can only regret.
EpiK didn’t do it to fork Filecoin, but because EpiK to build a shared knowledge graph ecology, had to integrate decentralized storage in, so the most hardcore Filecoin’s PoRep and PoSt decentralized verification technology was chosen. In order to ensure the quality of knowledge graph data, EpiK only allows community-voted field experts to upload data, so EpiK naturally prevents miners from making up computing power, and there is no reason for the data that has no value to take up such an expensive decentralized storage resource.
With the inability to make up computing power, the difference between big miners and small miners is minimal when the amount of knowledge graph data is small.
We can’t say that we can save the big miners, but we are definitely the optimal choice for the small miners who are currently in the market to be eliminated by Filecoin.
Deep Chain Finance:
Let me ask Eric: According to EpiK protocol, EpiK adopts the E2P model, which allows only experts in the field who are voted to upload their data. This is very different from Filecoin’s P2P model, which allows individuals to upload data as they wish. In your opinion, what are the advantages of the E2P model? If only voted experts can upload data, does that mean that the EpiK protocol is not available to everyone?
First, let me explain the advantages of the E2P model over the P2P model.
There are five roles in the DAO ecosystem: miner, coin holder, field expert, bounty hunter and gateway. These five roles allocate the EPKs generated every day when the main network is launched.
The miner owns 75% of the EPKs, the field expert owns 9% of the EPKs, and the voting user shares 1% of the EPKs.
The other 15% of the EPK will fluctuate based on the daily traffic to the network, and the 15% is partly a game between the miner and the field expert.
The first describes the relationship between the two roles.
The first group of field experts are selected by the Foundation, who cover different areas of knowledge (a wide range of knowledge here, including not only serious subjects, but also home, food, travel, etc.) This group of field experts can recommend the next group of field experts, and the recommended experts only need to get 100,000 EPK votes to become field experts.
The field expert’s role is to submit high-quality data to the miner, who is responsible for encapsulating this data into blocks.
Network activity is judged by the amount of EPKs pledged by the entire network for daily traffic (1 EPK = 10 MB/day), with a higher percentage indicating higher data demand, which requires the miner to increase bandwidth quality.
If the data demand decreases, this requires field experts to provide higher quality data. This is similar to a library with more visitors needing more seats, i.e., paying the miner to upgrade the bandwidth.
When there are fewer visitors, more money is needed to buy better quality books to attract visitors, i.e., money for bounty hunters and field experts to generate more quality knowledge graph data. The game between miners and field experts is the most important game in the ecosystem, unlike the game between the authorities and big miners in the Filecoin ecosystem.
The game relationship between data producers and data storers and a more rational economic model will inevitably lead to an E2P model that generates stored on-chain data of much higher quality than the P2P model, and the quality of bandwidth for data access will be better than the P2P model, resulting in greater business value and better landing scenarios.
I will then answer the question of whether this means that the EpiK protocol will not be universally accessible to all.
The E2P model only qualifies the quality of the data generated and stored, not the roles in the ecosystem; on the contrary, with the introduction of the DAO model, the variety of roles introduced in the EpiK ecosystem (which includes the roles of ordinary people) is not limited. (Bounty hunters who can be competent in their tasks) gives roles and possibilities for how everyone can participate in the system in a more logical way.
For example, a miner with computing power can provide storage, a person with a certain domain knowledge can apply to become an expert (this includes history, technology, travel, comics, food, etc.), and a person willing to mark and correct data can become a bounty hunter.
The presence of various efficient support tools from the project owner will lower the barriers to entry for various roles, thus allowing different people to do their part in the system and together contribute to the ongoing generation of a high-quality decentralized knowledge graph.
Deep Chain Finance:
Leo, some time ago, EpiK released a white paper and an economy whitepaper, explaining the EpiK concept from the perspective of technology and economy model respectively. What I would like to ask is, what are the shortcomings of the current distributed storage projects, and how will EpiK protocol be improved?
Distributed storage can easily be misunderstood as those of Ali’s OceanDB, but in the field of blockchain, we should focus on decentralized storage first.
There is a big problem with the decentralized storage on the market now, which is “why not eat meat porridge”.
How to understand it? Decentralized storage is cheaper than centralized storage because of its technical principle, and if it is, the centralized storage is too rubbish for comparison.
What incentive does the average user have to spend more money on decentralized storage to store data?
Is it safer?
Existence miners can shut down at any time on decentralized storage by no means save a share of security in Ariadne and Amazon each.
There’s no difference between encrypted presence on decentralized storage and encrypted presence on Amazon.
The 10,000 gigabytes of bandwidth in decentralized storage simply doesn’t compare to the fiber in a centralized server room. This is the root problem of the business model, no one is using it, no one is buying it, so what’s the big vision.
The goal of EpiK is to guide all community participants in the co-construction and sharing of field knowledge graph data, which is the best way for robots to understand human knowledge, and the more knowledge graph data there is, the more knowledge a robot has, the more intelligent it is exponentially, i.e., EpiK uses decentralized storage technology. The value of exponentially growing data is captured with linearly growing hardware costs, and that’s where the buy-in for EPK comes in.
Organized data is worth a lot more than organized hard drives, and there is a demand for EPK when robots have the need for intelligence.
Deep Chain Finance:
Let me ask Leo, how many forked projects does Filecoin have so far, roughly? Do you think there will be more or less waves of fork after the mainnet launches? Have the requirements of the miners at large changed when it comes to participation?
We don’t have specific statistics, now that the main network launches, we feel that forking projects will increase, there are so many restricted miners in the market that they need to be organized efficiently.
However, we currently see that most forked projects are simply modifying the parameters of Filecoin’s economy model, which is undesirable, and this level of modification can’t change the status quo of miners making up computing power, and the change to the market is just to make some of the big miners feel more comfortable digging up, which won’t help to promote the decentralized storage ecology to land.
We need more reasonable landing scenarios so that idle mining resources can be turned into effective productivity, pitching a 100x coin instead of committing to one Fomo sentiment after another.
Deep Chain Finance:
How far along is the EpiK Protocol project, Eric? What other big moves are coming in the near future?
The development of the EpiK Protocol is divided into 5 major phases.
(a) Phase I testing of the network “Obelisk”.
Phase II Main Network 1.0 “Rosetta”.
Phase III Main Network 2.0 “Hammurabi”.
(a) The Phase IV Enrichment Knowledge Mapping Toolkit.
The fifth stage is to enrich the knowledge graph application ecology.
Currently in the first phase of testing network “Obelisk”, anyone can sign up to participate in the test network pre-mining test to obtain ERC20 EPK tokens, after the mainnet exchange on a one-to-one basis.
We have recently launched ERC20 EPK on Uniswap, you can buy and sell it freely on Uniswap or download our EpiK mobile wallet.
In addition, we will soon launch the EpiK Bounty platform, and welcome all community members to do tasks together to build the EpiK community. At the same time, we are also pushing forward the centralized exchange for token listing.
Some KOLs said, Filecoin consumed its value in the next few years, so it will plunge, what do you think?
First of all, the judgment of the market is to correspond to the cycle, not optimistic about the FIL first judgment to do is not optimistic about the economic model of the project, or not optimistic about the distributed storage track.
First of all, we are very confident in the distributed storage track and will certainly face a process of growth and decline, so as to make a choice for a better project.
Since the existing group of miners and the computing power already produced is fixed, and since EpiK miners and FIL miners are compatible, anytime miners will also make a choice for more promising and economically viable projects.
Filecoin consumes the value of the next few years this time, so it will plunge.
Regarding the market issues, the plunge is not a prediction, in the industry or to keep learning iteration and value judgment. Because up and down market sentiment is one aspect, there will be more very important factors. For example, the big washout in March this year, so it can only be said that it will slow down the development of the FIL community. But prices are indeed unpredictable.
Actually, in the end, if there are no applications and no one really uploads data, the market value will drop, so what are the landing applications of EpiK?
Leo: The best and most direct application of EpiK’s knowledge graph is the question and answer system, which can be an intelligent legal advisor, an intelligent medical advisor, an intelligent chef, an intelligent tour guide, an intelligent game strategy, and so on.
“It’s right on the trend line, and I think it’s a good shot that by the end of the year, we hit that, and then if you just extrapolate that line out for another year, it’s $122,000 per Bitcoin and in one more year $356,000.”
“For 2020, we see several positive convergences that enhance the use case and also the economic model for crypto and Bitcoin – thus, we believe Bitcoin and crypto total return should exceed that of 2019. In other words, we see strong probability that Bitcoin gains >100% in 2020.”
“After next #BlockRewardHalving in Spring of 2020, new #Bitcoin output will drop again, to just 900 BTC/day. I predict #HashPower will continue to grow, with ever higher amounts of investment in mining (electricity costs). If that amount reaches $54m/day, we‘ll have $BTC at $60k.”
“Unpopular Opinion – Bitcoin halving in May 2020 won’t do anything to the price. It will be a non-event.”
“When I predicted Bitcoin at $500,000 by the end of 2020, it used a model that predicted $5,000 at the end of 2017. BTC has accelerated much faster than my model assumptions. I now predict Bitcoin at $1 million by the end of 2020. I will still eat my d\ck if wrong.”*
“The halving is expected to occur next year, and I think it’s reasonable to expect an increase in the price of Bitcoin. I won’t do any price predictions myself and this is not financial or other advice from me or from Bitfinex or Tether, but I don’t see any reason for Bitcoin not hitting $100,000 within the next few years. That would already be an amazing goal for such technology.”
“Technically, everything is in play until end of 2020, after that sub $5,000 is not likely. Worst Case Scenario: prices drop to $5k into the halving, then after halving 70% of miners shut down due to negative revenue, #Bitcoin spirals down in price but then rises from the dead!”
“My prediction: Bitcoin will reach $12,000 before the end of this year. And will reach a price of $50,000 – $100,000 by the end of 2020.”
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Link to our website: https://block.co/blockchain-in-the-public-sector-webcast-insights/submitted by BlockDotCo to u/BlockDotCo [link] [comments]
This article provides a summary of the insights provided during Block.co’s 4th Live Webcast on the topic of Digital Transformation Of The Public Sector & The Upcoming Legislation Of Blockchain Technology In Cyprus.
Adoption of Blockchain and other disruptive technologies has flourished particularly in smaller nations that represent interesting hubs where innovations are more easily tested and applied. With blockchain in Public Sector, we’ve already experienced the commitment of small countries like Switzerland, Malta, Singapore, and Cyprus more recently. In just a few years, the small island in the Mediterranean known for tourism and offshore bank accounts has become a desirable fintech jurisdiction for investors and global businesses, due to the vivid interest of the Cypriot government towards new technologies, blockchain and AI imprimis.
With a highly favorable tax environment and the financial incentives available, Cyprus is shining as a hotspot for blockchain businesses and entrepreneurs from all over the world. In 2018 a Declaration was signed by EU member states to promote blockchain in public sector use across its members. By that time, Cyprus had already expressed interest in the technology with a series of initiatives. Cyprus’s partnership with Singapore-based blockchain platform VeChain was sealed to push forward the development and adoption of the technology. In addition, the Cyprus Blockchain Association was created while the University of Nicosia was involved in the development of the technology by offering courses and Master’s degrees on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and by also practically using blockchain technology to validate academic documentation through block.co.
The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) launched a blockchain innovation hub with other organizations and associations to support the development and implementation of technologies that can facilitate administrative operations and improve citizens relations with authorities. In 2019, Cyprus’ cabinet published its National Strategy on Distributed Ledger Technologies in order to provide a platform for both public sector and private initiatives employing blockchain applications. With such an exciting background in mind, Block.co arranged its fourth webcast that was held on Tuesday 21st July at the presence of prominent guests, who are all helping the government of Cyprus, develop and adopt the disruptive technologies in its administrative, economic and legal activities.
How are corporates, governments, and citizens impacted by the changes in legislation?
Hosted by brilliant Christiana Aristidou, a Technology Lawyer and Digital Transformation Specialist, Block.co along with Cyprus’s Deputy Minister for Research, Innovation & Digital Policy, Mr. Kyriacos Kokkinos, and international Blockchain experts Jeff Bandman and Steve Tendon joined forces in the webcast to discuss the enormous potential of Blockchain technology in both the public and private sectors.
The guests’ common path into blockchain was the early and skeptical discovery of Bitcoin followed by years of research and a more in-depth understanding of the technology which led them to embrace it in different ways.
Jeff became interested in the legal implications and the regulatory framework that would arise with the technology. His firm Bandman Advisors has recently been appointed by the Cyprus Government to draft its legislation on Blockchain & DLT.
Steve was a software engineer who moved to a management consulting role and had founded TameFlow when he learned about technologies like Ethereum and how its smart contracts could be used in governance. He became a consultant for Malta to help the country benefit from blockchain adoption and gave a major contribution to the drafting of Malta’s National Strategy on Blockchain.
The Deputy Minister, Mr. Kokkinos is the person responsible for the design and implementation of Cyprus’s Blockchain and DLT strategy:
“We want to convert the innovation researching tools into pillars for our economy to encourage more prosperity for our society. Blockchain and DLT are essential for digital transformation, a key player in a globalized economy. In June 2019, the Council of Ministers of Cyprus approved a strategy for DLT and blockchain, and part of my job is to facilitate the detailed implementation through both technical and legal perspectives. Jeff Bandman has worked to help with the legal, I help with the strategic side.”
The strategy document indicates that “The Republic of Cyprus, in line with the European and global trends of change and progress, strives to create the right environment for enterprises, companies, services, and investments by adopting innovative practices and procedures.”
“We’re all closely monitoring discussions at the EU level -continues the Deputy Minister- in order to meet regulatory standards and we’re considering them for our strategy. We’re working on achieving maximum compatibility with the EU legislation and encouraging all members to arrange a deployment of blockchain in all fields.”
Governments have come to realize they must provide all tools available and needed for digital transformation in the public sector, to ultimately best serve its business communities and citizens alike. The intricacies of bureaucracy speed up the need for new technologies, and in the pandemic era, access to digitalization is proving crucial to meet future challenges especially in areas where blockchain can help like healthcare, supply chain, and digital identity implementation. Jeff believes that blockchain can start by keeping consistency between democracy and trust, through the transparency that it can provide. “For example tracing the origin of funds and their allocation, will facilitate trust which is the basis of a distributed and decentralized environment”.
According to Steve: “Blockchain can be interesting from different perspectives and I also believe trust is crucial. While we normally trust governments and authorities to manage most of our public and private life, with blockchain we have the chance to take it all back and shift to a sovereign approach. Starting with your own identity, with healthcare records, licenses, voting, and so forth, self-sovereignty will identify who you are, not a government. We’ve started building SOV, a stablecoin that will soon be legal tender, detached from a central bank but built on the chain and established by the algorithm. For the first time, this new monetary policy will remove the discretionary power of central banks, something that was not even conceivable before blockchain. The power is back to the people”.
With the first upcoming legislation in Cyprus, Christiana asked Jeff if he could share what this new law will involve, and what will be regulated.
“We’ve been working very hard on drafting and evaluating the different perspectives. Most efforts and resources are being dedicated to a definition and classification of the different digital assets, to the legal certainty around smart contracts, and to protect vulnerable consumers. From a business perspective, we’re still evaluating company laws, how blockchain can assist the full operational process, which criteria will help mainstream adoption of blockchain in Cyprus”.
The results of the 2019 strategy plan were supposed to be released in April but the Covid-19 crisis has delayed the works and they’re now expected in September this year. “The lesson we can learn from pioneer Malta -informs us Steve, who played a pivotal role in shaping Malta’s blockchain reputation- is to set up the right expectation and find a balance between the level of ambition and what is practical. Malta became a blockchain island because it made efforts to regulate the technology, but the challenge is to make regulation fair and accessible to everybody, the community, and the professionals so that innovation is encouraged at all times.”
What will the future hold for Cyprus? Will it be the new blockchain island?
“We have a promising technology -continues Steve Tendon- and collaboration between countries should be encouraged in terms of legislation and regulations, and the EU should take a more active role. It’s not a competition but a collaboration between Malta, Cyprus, and other geographies where a regulatory framework that promotes innovation should reflect and embrace the changes that new technologies bring to a globalized world.”
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Link to our article: https://block.co/blockchain-in-healthcare/submitted by BlockDotCo to u/BlockDotCo [link] [comments]
There’s never been a better time to provide proof-of-health solutions in the healthcare system globally. While it’s difficult to comprehend the significance of the role that technology may offer in such difficult times, essentially it can be nailed down to its basic concept of simplifying work and coordinating activities, which could have helped avoid the worst crisis people have experienced in their lifetime. If the healthcare system would adopt technological innovations in the early stages, it could have benefited and saved many lives.
Although the healthcare system has traditionally been slow in embracing the latest digital solutions, just like many other industries, we’ve observed in a previous article how the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies on a global scale in several industries, including healthcare.
The latest webcast brought to the audience by Block.co hosted some high profile experts from the industry. They illustrated how blockchain especially, together with other technologies such as IoT, and AI could in the future help elevate prompt responses, and provide more secure and efficient storage of data, something that has been missed in the recent pandemic.
Ahmed Abdulla from Digipharm, Dr. Alice Loveys from EY, and Dimitrios Neocleous from VeChain were hosted by Georgina Kyriakoudes, one of the first in the world to hold an MSc in Digital Currency, founder of Dcentric.Health and creator of the permissioned blockchain ecosystem app called Aria, which aims to transform the patient healthcare experience by giving individuals full control of their medical records.
Blockchain’s benefits in healthcare are primarily identified by efficiency, specifically on the transfer of data, facilitation of goods transport via the supply chain, prevention of counterfeit medicines sale, secure storage, and exchange of data around ID management. The impressive projects all the webcast guests have developed in the industry enable just these features, from the digitization of patient records to storage and exchange of medical data as well as easier processing of funds.
Ahmed Abdulla founded Digipharm with the idea of issuing tokens to allow patients to be in control of their medical records at all times. Moreover, tokens are issued to be paid for anonymously sharing personal medical data to help research; pay for healthcare based on how it has improved quality of life.
“We have experienced a disparity in Covid-19 tests costs around the world. For instance, getting tested in Cyprus costs around €60 while in the US it may add up to a few thousand dollars. This is due to the way countries arrange payment setups from payers to providers. Blockchain empowers people to take ownership of their records and funds while providing transparency of processes. This is where blockchain can be robust, by increasing transparency and allowing the patient to secure money transfer and hold their own records”, stated Ahmed.
His work as blockchain advisor at the UN Economic Commission for Europe is helping set up standards for the blockchain ecosystem, namely how the system should be used safely, and in a way that benefits all stakeholders.
“I lead the blockchain and healthcare team at the UN center for trade facilitation and e-business where we developed a blockchain and trade facilitation white paper; the second phase will soon provide an advanced technology advisory board to advise private or public stakeholders on what’s the best technology to use. It might not always be blockchain, hence we first understand and then advise if the tech is right for them or not. Blockchain is clunky, expensive, and not always proper for the organization we work with”, continued the blockchain expert.
Most people may prefer public and permissionless blockchain because it has major advantages over a private and permissioned one. Transparency stands out for the way the ledger is shared and for due diligence becoming unnecessary as a result. This means costs are also cheaper, in the range of 100% lower. On the other hand, a public decentralized blockchain has a major disadvantage since no legal framework is laid out. This means uncertainty as there is still a grey area in the legal field that might create confusion.
Dimitrios Neocleous is Ecosystem Manager at VeChain Tech and directly supported digital and technological solutions provider I-DANTE with the creation of the E-NewHealthLife and the E-HCert for the Mediterranean Hospital of Cyprus. Both apps give patients control over their health records, improve medical data sharing, and increase hospital operational efficiencies by simplifying the process of visiting a hospital.
E-NewHealthLife is a complex ecosystem solution that starts from a patient’s visit to an emergency room. A card with the reason for a patient’s visit is issued; it gets time-stamped; the patient is sent to the waiting room; once the patient’s turn comes and the medical check is completed, the card is scanned and the visit is closed. Patients can digitally access all diagnoses that took place anytime at the hospital.
“The platform produces a digital health passport, which is an encrypted non-fungible card that patients can use to identify themselves automatically when registering at the hospital’s emergency room. The passport is stored within a mobile app called E-HCert, which keeps track of each patient’s medical data and can be shared as needed”, announced Dimitrios.
E-HCert App is a Covid-19 lab test electronic wallet and pushes up the results of a patient who’s been tested for COVID. It has been proven to be very successful so far; currently, 2000 people who transited through the Larnaca airport in Cyprus have downloaded the app. With time-stamped records, it’s able to provide data such as the day and time when the sample was collected, it offers immutability, security, and integrity of data.
“Covid-19 showed a deficiency in healthcare. The spread of the virus could have been prevented if we had digitization of processes and transparency of data through blockchain, and transfer of data through an authorized share of records. An open permissionless decentralized blockchain helps bring ownership of medical records back to the patient, and that is not possible in a centralized system”, continued the VeChain representative.
Dr. Alice Loveys is EY ‘s healthcare blockchain leader in the US and has been at the forefront of emerging healthcare technologies for her entire career including being a pioneer in electronic health record adoption, health information exchange, and privacy and security.
She believes that “blockchain technology is like a plumbing system that brings clean and transparent trusted data that can be used. It’s not proper for a track and trace system as it invades privacy unless there is the consent from patients, in that case, blockchain transparent share of data would be extremely useful for medical research and testing”.
One problem we experienced during the crisis is the confusion that arose with divulged information and the frustration that comes with it. People do not understand anymore which information can be trusted; at first, it looked like COVID-19 symptoms were not dangerous, then it came out that they actually were. Masks were not useful at the beginning, then they suddenly became necessary.
“Blockchain could have prevented lockdown and economic crisis through data management in that a much faster response would have been provided to tackle misinformation because blockchain can help manage data from different sources”, continues Dr. Loveys. “Moreover, it’s a great way to protect the database. Instead of moving any private sensitive medical data through the more traditional digital systems, blockchain simply allows us to send an algorithm, encrypted data that safeguards the information. It’s not a great use as a database as it does not scale, therefore we would not be able to store information for billions of people in it. But for the data that is in the blockchain, using algorithms, makes it very convenient and secure”.
Another topic discussed during the webcast was the GDPR compliance for blockchain. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was created before blockchain therefore it doesn’t account for decentralized technologies. Generally speaking, it all comes down to how the technology is used and what kind of data is incorporated in it. Timestamping data without invading anyone’s privacy, or timestamp of consented data, should determine no issue at all. This is what privacy by design stands for, taking human values into account in a well-defined manner throughout the whole process.
Block.co, powered by the University of Nicosia, is establishing itself as a global leader in the issuance of digital immutable and secure certificates timestamped on the Bitcoin blockchain. In the field of healthcare, it could include medical records, prescription issuance, insurance disputes, supply chain documentation, and any type of verifiable certificate that requires authenticity at its core.
For more info, contact Block.co directly or email at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]).
Tel +357 70007828
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Last week we talked with our adviser and CEO at Nusantara Trust Dr Walter Tonetto. He answered a number of questions that interest our customers.submitted by digitalgoldcoin to golderc20 [link] [comments]
How did you land in the cryptocurrency / blockchain space?
I was advising startup businesses in the technology space, and when 2016 came around, I asked Scotty, the feisty chief engineer of the U.S.S. Enterprise, to beam me into the heart of the finance system; I felt more and more the irresistible tug towards remodeling the current toxic financial system. Purposive remodeling, of course, is going on all the time, and it’s a knife that cuts into two directions. The vast majority of the ‘woke’ crowd actually believe that they can ‘disrupt’ the power of the elites that control all money flows. Bathing limestone statues – registering about 4 on the Mohs scale and 0 on the scale of reason -- of past leaders in district waters may give you a feeling of breathing the air of revolution and tiring unknown muscle-groups in your shanks, but think of it like a father watching his child toss around shovels of soil in a sandbox; he smiles benignly from afar, knowing it won’t change a thing; all the luxurious appointments at home won’t get touched. It is a grave illusion to suppose that by playing around with payment systems and technologies we will actually change the role and the emission of money. You may be permitted to become the shoe-shine boy in the royal household, but don’t think you will marry the princess and dilute the royal blood! But understanding the constitutive parts of power aggregation, and working over significant time-frames, allows for approaches and solutions; -- but these should come not from another adversarial position, thus merely marking a displacement of the incumbent, a change of guard, but from an authentic re-orientation, of making benefits much more widely possible and not creating monetary systems that are grossly imbalanced and highly destructive. That, and not building tech stacks, is the challenge!
What was your initial reaction to bitcoin?
Well, I was following the file-sharing service Napster since it started, around 1999 – when the U.S.S. Enterprise was sitting pier-side at Huntington Ingalls Newport shipyard, rusted and gutted, and to me the P2P sharing paradigm was always present in my mind, shining buffed and radiant, so even the centralized Napster was something wholly natural to me – Dr Sheldrake calls it morphic resonance. We live with a great deal of blurriness, though. On the one hand, we think of the virtues of sharing; on the other, there is a seemingly indefatigable impulse to control and dominate. Sean Parker, after founding and floundering with Napster, became a cocaine-snorting egotist and president of Facebook. Collecting money for a charity, he gets aggressive with people who do not follow suit. A control-freak in overdrive. Notwithstanding the technical variations, BTC, seemingly freeing us up from fiscal controls and yet showing our craving for money, exemplifies the flawed perception at the root of things. Monero, which sounds like a much faster, highoctane vehicle, a CV8-Z of the crypto-track, beats BTC in regard to privacy and fungibility, though BTC has advantages in other areas.
Which is a much more common trend nowadays?
It’s hard to make out the shapes of wild-life in the current kangaroo market we’re in. The bulls and bears have mauled one another, and the kangaroo, bereft of oxygen on account of wearing a tight mask, is hopping wildly everywhere. But clearly the possibilities of digital currencies became un-tethered via Bitcoin and the querulous and hidden Satoshi. I like to think of him more as an idea rather than as a person; an idea is generally more malleable and consequential. For instance, rather than laud the benefits of crypto for FX and cross-border payments, the possibilities of a central-bank issued digital currencyENCOMPASS THE POTENTIAL to inscribe new roles for programmable money; for how money is issued, how it is used, and what role custodial mechanisms (traditionally in the hand of commercial banks) might have. I see HUGE potential for private firms to enter the equation here, but we need more open-minded and intelligent regulators that do not always look for the rungs of the career-ladder in any move they make! A DAO could be most helpful here, but we are currently under the terror of algorithms that are not concerned with the welfare of the greatest number of people. If I had the time I would coauthor a book on this theme with a skilful mathematician (perhaps with my son, who is completing a Ph.D in near-term Quantum Algorithms).
In 2018 I was keynote speaker at the BlueWhale forum in Seoul, and I spoke about an Algorithm of Peace. I had a clutch of people approach me straight after the talk, some from Korea, others from the U.S., and ask me to develop my ideas in book form.
Where do you see the price of bitcoin going over the next few years?
I wouldn’t speculate, but since everyone is shilling it, it is bound to keep pushing north, occasional blockages otwithstanding. I always look for twists and incongruities in the usual narratives on offer. Many BTC fans talk about the unbanked, but BTC is held by what will become another elite in due course, and the unbanked will later be serving them the chilled drinks between innings, as usual.
Do you think that there’s a time for altcoins to break out and move away from the movements of bitcoin? What’s that tipping point that needs to take place?
I have some notions under which alt-coins can take the lead and leave bitcoin behind, but it’s too complex to explain the conditions for that to occur. Once very solid use-cases have been established with a clutch of alt-coins, bitcoin might begin quavering in his boots. That alt-coins should take BTC as a benchmark speaks volumes about the lack of maturity of this young and over-eager market. The fuzzy umbilical cord is always present like a foot-tangle; alt-coins must find their own ground, and clip the connection to a vagrant father. Finance needs clarity and not fuzziness. Keep in mind that many sovereign nations bridle at the calamitous influence of the US on payment systems, so nations are building their own messaging systems outside SWIFT, and their own securities exchanges are following. But remember: these are all crumbs: the U.S. can shut down payments to any recipient accounts by informing the payments company and doling out threats. And since all alt-coins and fiat currencies are connected to payment gateways in some form, the U.S. would have to begin reforming its archaic ACH structure to enable efficiencies in the financial pipes, which does not offer real-time payments functionality. This accounts for the relative simplicity (and success) of the PayPal business model (which Venmo and Dwolla later emulated without using credit cards). But understand that the elites will always protect the real crown jewels, and incite wars (or street battles and racial squabbles, as we’re witnessing in the U.S. in mid 2020) so that they can get away with major financial heists in broad daylight. It’s all smoke and mirrors, and scorched talons if you look closely: you cannot trust the reflection you will receive on a smoky pane. Only the big players know the predetermined outcome.
One fundamental misprision occurs amongst alt-coin apologetes: they fail to understand how markets move and what the designated role of money is in markets. Even if you want to displace something, you first need to understand exactly what you’re dealing with, but that is rarely the case. Yes, banks are structurally and constitutionally part of the problem, but no government will dare cross swords with them: there is still too much aggregated power. Ripple and Stellar are two Blockchains that are working with, and not against, banks, and that likely makes them much better candidates for wide acceptance.
What’s one must-read book you recommend to everyone?
That depends so very much on who’s sitting opposite me! I wouldn’t push what is not naturally aligned. But I would push a couple of films urgently, as essential viewing for everyone:
“Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe” (and a sequel), which profoundly shocked me, but confirmed my suspicions. Talking about books: one gets a good sense of the kind of books I would counsel people not to touch, unless an overweening impulse bade them otherwise. For instance Steve Pinker, a favourite author of Bill Gates. Pinker in Gates’ hands explains a lot about the character of the reader, the latter of whom I consider one of the most dangerous people on the planet at the moment. If we stay with Pinker for a moment, since he’s famous and fashionable (Harvard professor with a Medusa hairdo and an effete libertarian air, who in “Better Angels of Our Nature” has affirmed that man is not innately good), we note in his presentation in regard to his ineptly titled book “Enlightenment” that he falls prey to the very flaws he chastises, the classic Münchhausen trilemma (in Jakob Fries’ phrase). Picture Baron Münchhausen pulling himself out of quicksand by his own hair! That he is beholden to neoliberal befuddlement becomes clear when two of the opening images of his talk show Vladimir Putin with a rifle andDonald Trump speaking on a podium. The classic neoliberal Harvard think-tank shows reason to be failing and drowning in pious gestures to the cognoscenti and anointed. I like to look for effective counters for specious and shallow argument: for instance, Rupert Sheldrake’s “The Science Delusion” is a splendid book that bucks the Dawkins’, Pinkers and other materialists of this age. You see, if one listens to Pinker with the head alone, his pedestrian epistemology might not irk, and some ideas might appear plausible enough in a desultory encounter, but if you really want to know the meaning of things, and discover how it relates to the heart, you feel betrayed and given short shrift by him. Among the platitudes he gives out in carefully parsed syllables, the movement of his forehead and eyes betray the spirit behind the façade. Yet I always look, like Yeats, for those who “had changed their throats and had the throats of birds”!
What’s the rainbow trout of the year? Nut-like flavour, the eye still gleaming, with tender, flaky flesh? There are many books I could cite for different genres. The vast majority of modern writers, for all their accomplishments, lack genius, don’t really understand the art of writing, and so cannot hold my attention for long. For those who are open-minded and spiritual, “A Course in Miracles” cannot be bested, but don’t touch it unless you’re really willing to dive deep. There is no need to save the world, since it is nothing but projection; there is no world. You might experience the deepest sigh of relief, as if Atlas had cast off a burden after the Titanomachy. Paul Celan once remarked that “reality is not simply there, it must be sought for and won.” Snorkeling near the surface and blowing bubbles won’t cut it.
We are living in times of great manufactured unrest, which will only heighten in coming months and years, and so I would offer a guernsey to Seamus Heaney. I had met him many years ago, alas cursorily, at a symposium at Waseda University where I was working as a Gaikokujinkoshi, an Associate Professor, where another Nobel laureate, Kenzaburō Ōe and he were giving a reading. Heaney was inspired to write “The Grauballe Man” on the basis of the bog man that he had seen in a book of prehistoric times, but the troubles in Ulster were alive in him, too:
As if he had been poured in tar, he lies on a pillow of turf and seems to weep
the black river of himself. The grain of his wrists is like bog oak, the ball of his heel
like a basalt egg. His instep has shrunk cold as a swan’s foot or a wet swamp root.
Talking of Japan here, methinks, is an aculeate observation of Japan:
Cross the intersection at Shibuya Station in Tokyo on a forbidding wintry evening — touted as the world’s busiest cloverleaf — and you will feel this is Eliot’s London Bridge revisited, with quaggas (think half zebras) preserved in the tar of the five crossings; — flattened ebon bones dreaming the dreams of Pleistocene mammoths — as the mass of the dead mill past you, chasing some mirage, and often accompanied by a revenant that must have been disgorged from a Pachinko parlour. Blanched lilacs float in minarets of light beyond these bituminous quaggas, bidding the odd-toed ungulates in their psychotropic dernier cri and fuddy-duddies in theirstygian suits to sup here or buy over yonder: all tethered to their devices. One might be surprised that no cracks are forming at these arced crossings with strange requisitions folding into the hiemal air. And yet it is still more odd that so few people see this as a primped and pimped potter’s field, a graveyard for those who’ve lost their way. We’re living in an age where the multitude of the dead are pacing among us in perdurable trysts with other zombies.
The above text is from one of my unpublished works; again it speaks to me – and perhaps to you – about the quiddities of this age. There is a distinct sense of zombification taking place on the planet at the moment. Is your lineage that of Dolly, or are you magnificent and free?
Do you have any theories about who Satoshi is?
I don’t really, though I follow the haughty chit-chat at times, especially in the jejune forums LinkedIN provides. I think the person has a good reason to remain concealed (forever), but that is also a major factor why I have never fully trusted bitcoin as an investment proposition.
Keeping the provenance concealed suggests a number of things, none of them conducive to embracing bitcoin as a common form of payment.
What do you think about the prospects of gold in connection with the uncontrolled money printing by different Central Banks?
Gold is what BTC can never become, especially when its provenance remains totally unclear – as well as its likely endgame! Central Banks engage in quasi-criminal activity – and one hopes the future prudent regulator won’t be making it too difficult for people to hold gold bullion. The Perth Mint might be a splendid little dot on the global map, but beware of holding your assets in the form of gold coins: many governments will regard them as forms of payment, and may impose all manner of restrictions on the possession of it.
Let's dream a little. How stablecoins can be used after 5 years from now?
I believe the great RESET is coming – even Davos and the U.N. are alerting us to that. The Covid19 panic has been declared by more than 1500 German physicians as a “global Mafia-style deception”, and while Big Pharma and Bill Gates will likely earn trillions of dollars by the useless and potentially dangerous vaccines that will be foisted on “free” citizens, the finance system as a whole will need to be RESET. We are already receiving an inkling of how draconian and void of reason and concern for the people most governments of the world are reacting to a harmless lab-manufactured virus (virologist Prof Luc Montagnier, Nobel Laureate in medicine in 2008, said that), so it’s possible that regulators may become more tyrannical, and under some pretext or other forbid the use of alt-coins. STABLECOINS can be over-collateralized, allowing absorption of pricing fluctuations, but it will be hard to call. I believe many are bound to fail, and that even earlier, despite all their most valiant efforts: as soon as the RESET comes, which is likely to come with all manner of encumbrances. There are many reasons for the issuance of stablecoins, some having opposing views, but all are dependent on trust – and we don’tknow yet if digital currencies that governments will issue will by regulatory over-reach (including absurd compliance requirements) displace other contenders, but you can assume that the tyrannical forms of governance we are currently experiencing suggest that all kinds of skullduggery are possible.
Do you see the problem of fiat stablecoins in the fact that annual inflation constantly depreciates them? An investor who bought $1000 USDT now and sold these tokens in 10 years for $ 1000 will receive much less money.
The problem occurs if we’re converting things back into payment forms that are fundamentally flawed. Inflation and Black Swan events are the major threats to stablecoins, and tethered crypto-values to natively burdened propositions recalls my earlier idea that we have not yet cut the umbilical cord to bitcoin. On the other hand, stablecoins in their current flavour are perhaps best viewed as transitional schemata that will need later revisitation.
You are a very successful Crypto and ICO Advisor, what is the secret behind this success?
I’m not sure if I’m very successful, but I always try to shoot a straight ball. Here are two instances where my input has not been heeded in any way.
I recall one of the first ICOs I advised. I was sitting with the owner on a Telegram Channel, and after some power Q&A sessions online, we were literally hearing the millions of dollars tumble in neat digital hashes into the inbox within a couple of hours of the ICO opening. He had a bottle of Scotch on his table, and by the end of the session he had reached his hard cap and was besotted to boot! The age of digital money had placed the foolscap on his pate, but the script was no longer legible. I cannot determine if his sobriety ever returned. The prudential advice I had been giving him previously – and that we had discussed in great depth -- was over coming weeks thrown out of the window, and I assume other bottles of Scotch ended up on his desk and didn’t last long.
Here is another example. At one time a well-known ambitious individual in the U.S. cryptospace, a young lawyer, asked me if I wanted to start a crypto compliance organisation with him.
When I think of him now and the feathery assistants he congregated around him, I think of the lines in Dickens’s “Bleak House”: “Mr. Tangle’s learned friends, each armed with a little summary of eighteen hundred sheets, bob up like eighteen hammers in a pianoforte, make eighteen bows, and drop into their eighteen places of obscurity.”
Simply to continue serving wine from the same sour vats won’t do. I saw that as a prospective idea, and offered some important advice to get the ball rolling. Soon we had recruited many eager beavers to the exercise, and there was talk of it becoming an influential body. I was naïve enough to assume at the time that my co-founder, a black college asketballer with body tattoos who had a write-up in a major paper on account of his ambition and aggression, was actually interested in asking some fundamental revisionary questions about compliance in relation to the freedom of the citizen. When I suggested we don’t just copy the traditional compliance template and rather probe more deeply, he became insolent and very aggressive. That confirmed my instinct that most ambitious players in the crypto-space are actually dyed-in-the-wool bourgeois, and don’t care about improving the system itself.
What is your advice for upcoming Crypto startups and investors?
You might know the technology well, but do you know the business? Does it really deeply address, even solve, a problem? How much life experience do you have, and how well do you know the market? Can you create a market for your product or services? If yes, how will you do that? Have you only got yes-men around you, or are you willing to listen to those who speak Tacheles to you? If you’ve come to water the plant of your ego, your business will flounder. Most achievers keep their ego initially in check, and get the work done.
For investors the answer I would give is rather complex, but here’s a brief response: often the mandate of investors is very narrowly girded, and they trust their old boy networks, and rarely venture out and follow their instincts. That is foolish, and also the recipe for a dull life.
Perhaps a general observation that everybody might ponder with profit is the idea that we know really so very little of the world; that the news and information we are are offered and digest, even when it is tendered by so-called ‘experts’, is often seriously ignorant. It seems our perspective is getting narrower all the time, as if our mind is shrinking and we block out knowledge.
Let me give another current reference point. In 2020 everyone is fearful of viruses. Viruses currently have a bad rap! We have no idea what they actually are. We are always hobbling around with our fearful partisan gaze, and what is good today becomes bad tomorrow. Yet viruses are adroit and malleable messengers of inter-species DNA, in some sense regulating vast populations of organisms. Think of them as cellular simpletons: mere protein shells with few genes, but endowed with the ability to replicate easily despite their paucity of genetic instructions! They form alliances, you might say, with other forms of life. And they are deeply mysterious to our acquisitive and ignorant segmenting intelligence: how can the papillomavirus cause horns to grow on rabbits; and at the same time cause hundreds of thousands of cases of cervical cancer every year? Is one good and the other bad? It would seem so. Such simple summary, like Pinker’s reductionist view of the world, might becalm for a moment, but does not offer lasting satisfactions. To read the world along the axes of like and dislike, as the Buddha had warned us, leads to great suffering.
I’m told by someone who met Bill Gates a long time ago that the man was apparently even then obsessively fearful of viruses (imagine a pendant to Lady Macbeth, continually cleansing his hands). But do we have any clue what viruses actually are, and how they benefit us all in so many incalculable ways? When the child crawls around, it picks up antigens (bacteria and viruses) and on that basis builds its immune system. At various points of that contact and exchange new forms grow, and other forms decay and die. Like CO2, viruses are suddenly declared dangerous and that we need to shield ourselves against them. Yet how many people know that marine phages rule the world, and rule the sea? This was not discovered until 1986. An electron microscope showed that every litre of seawater contained up to one hundred billion viruses, almost as much in dollars as BillGates expects to make off vaccines in 2020. If you put these viruses end to end, they would stretch out forty-two million light-years! Viruses offer stunning genetic variety, and they are the very pulse of life! When viruses swallow oceanic microbes, they release a billion tons of carbon every day: imagine squalls of marine snowfalls, powdering the porous sand of the deep. Imagine the white nights of St Petersburg under water, celebrating the magic of life with the same skill and abandon as the Mariinsky Theatre, to an audience of gastropods, deep-water fish and lovelorn mermaids.
Seamus Heaney, when he passed in 2013, spoke the word Noli timere (“Do not fear”) to his wife as he breathed his last. Instead of being fearful, we might do well to assert that we understand nothing of the manifold wonders of this world! Let us cultivate the virtue of wonderment, and fear will find no habitation in our house:
And lonely as it is that loneliness Will be more lonely ere it will be less— A blanker whiteness of benighted snow With no expression, nothing to express.
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces Between stars—on stars where no human race is. I have it in me so much nearer home To scare myself with my own desert places.
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