The AEGIS platform will provide a concrete method for create micro-contracts for data, services, algorithms and intelligence reports sharing that will be used to validate transactions and safeguard the proper use of the platform by the different participating partners, forbidding the exaggeration in the data exploitation without contributing back. This service will be offered by the close cooperation between the Data Policy and the Business Brokerage Framework, hereinafter DPF and BBF.
In this assessment, we will investigate the state of the art of the main features of the Data Policy and Business Brokerage Frameworks, Data IPR, security, trust and quality features, Blockchain technologies and Virtual currencies.
The lack of the knowledge on big or open data policies is one of the main barriers for laypersons and businesses to maintain, produce, and use open data. According to the Open Data Institute’s data spectrum the different types of data are closed, shared, and open data. These types differ in terms of the following features:
- Volume: small, medium, and big data (for the latter adding their velocity, variety, veracity)
- Ownership: personal, commercial, and government data
- Access: internal, named, group based, public access, and open license data
Thus, it seems that while big data are worth opening in terms of access, not all the “open” data are necessarily “big” data. Furthermore, big data may be different considering their static rather than dynamic nature (velocity and variety dimensions) when considering digital data streams (DDSs) as “dynamically evolving sources of data changing over time that have the potential to spur real-time action”(Gabriele Piccoli & Federico Pigni, 2013).
Also, it is worth noting that one of the key issues is actually related to the accessibility of data and the license associated to each data, that can range from contracts typical of closed data to open license of open data or authentication required by shared data such as, e.g., the ones of medical research (The Open Data Institute, 2017). However, licensing is related to the requirement for open data to be legally open; whereas a further requirement for open data is to be technically open to be the data needs to be available in bulk in a machine-readable format (Open Knowledge International, 2017a).
Table 1: Big data features and key policy issues for the DPF and BBF
|Big data features||Key policy issues|
|Volume, velocity, variety, veracity||
The issues related to the Data Spectrum are strictly connected to three key challenges for big data exploitation by laypersons as well as public as well as private organizations as well as appropriate policy design (see Table): big data Intellectual Property Rights, (IPRs), big data security, trust, and quality.
The reason for the interest in Blockchain is its central attributes that provide security, anonymity and data integrity, creating a decentralized environment where no third party is in control of the transactions and data. In AEGIS we will exploit the blockchain technology in order to create micro-contracts. The AEGIS micro-contracts will be smart contracts, they will be made with a set of rules (the blockchain verifies the execution of performance related to the knowledge from the DPF) evaluated by an automated system (validation step) that implements terms of multiparty agreements. In other words one side chooses to perform an action (puts in coins) and the machine verifies that performance and responds (dispenses item and change) providing a cryptographic mechanisms for integrity. Before blockchain technology, this type of smart contract was impossible because parties to an agreement of this sort, would maintain separate databases. With a shared database running a blockchain protocol, the smart contracts auto-execute, and all parties validate the outcome instantaneously and without need for a third-party intermediary.
As the Figure 1 shows, one of the key point of blockchain technologies is their ability to provide a secure source of truth, that could be applied to smart contracts, with automated approvals, calculations, and other transacting activities that are prone to lag and error.
The following table resumes the blockchain-based smart contracts benefits.
Table 2: Blockchain-based smart contracts benefits
|Blockchain-based smart contract benefits||Description|
|Speed and real-time updates||Using software code to automate tasks, the speed of a wide variety of business processes increases.|
|Accuracy||The risk of manual error decreases.|
|Lower execution risk||The decentralized process of execution virtually eliminates the risk of manipulation, non-performance, or errors, since the network rather than an individual party manage execution automatically.|
|Limited failure risk||Since the blockchain technology uses a peer-to-peer network, if there is a failure in any node, the other nodes will continue to operate, maintaining the system’s availability.|
|Fewer intermediaries||The reliance on third-party intermediaries that provide “trust” services such as escrow between counterparties could be reduced or eliminated|
|Lower cost||New processes enabled by smart contracts requiring less human intervention and fewer intermediaries will therefore reduce costs.|
|New business or operational models||Because smart contracts provide a low-cost way of ensuring that the transactions are reliably performed as agreed upon, they will enable new kinds of businesses, from peer-to-peer renewable energy trading to automated access to vehicles and storage units.|
|Auditability and trust||All transactions on the Blockchain are visible to all its participants, with the corresponding increase in auditability and trust. In the meanwhile, changes to the Blockchain are extremely difficult and in the very rare case such a change occurred, it would be visible to the other users.|
The overall AEGIS brokerage service will simulate a virtual currency approach using cutting edge blockchain technology, in order to validate transactions and showcase how the platform can include monetisation services that may be put in place after the end of the project for compensating data providers.
From a technology perspective, existing monetary systems require paper-based cash or utilizing a private third party service (e.g. Visa, American Express) to send money at distances. From an economic perspective, holders of government issued currencies (e.g. United States Dollar, European Euro) are required to trust centralized authorities that overall monetary valuations will remain stable and that online transfers or holdings cannot be seized.
Many researchers consider cryptocurrencies as the next evolution of money; in their opinion, as many things in our world transition to becoming digital, so will our money. We can distinguish two basic kinds of cyber or digital currencies. Both are virtual currencies but serve different purposes. One is a pure virtual currency normally restricted to controlled environments such as inside of a social network or an online game. This type of digital currency is subject to a centralized authority that controls the supply of the digital currency. It can still be used to purchase items, but normally only within the confines of the centralized authority. Amazon Coins is an example of this digital currency. This type of digital currency does not use a Blockchain system since the validation is derived from the issuing entity.
The advent of cryptographic digital money has leapfrogged over this archaic system by using blockchain technologies to create a new truly person-to-person (Peer-to-peer) environment of money transfer. There is no need for a centralized party to control a cryptocurrency, nor is there any type of restrictions or rules of usage. Cryptocurrencies (also called a crypto-asset or crypto money) provide anybody with an internet connection, with global, nearly-instant, and frictionless money. This is possible by using advanced encryption and blockchain technologies to provide a robust and secure network of money management.
Cryptocurrencies use various timestamping schemes to avoid the need for a trusted third party to verify the transactions added to the blockchain ledger. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, uses a Proof-of-work scheme, which is also known as “Mining”. Other cryptocurrencies achieve the same result with alternative approaches that are often labelled Consensus Protocols or Consensus Platforms.
For further information, you may have a look at the complete analysis of the stakeholder’s questionnaire in the AEGIS Deliverable D2.1 “Semantic Representations and Data Policy and Business Mediator Conventions-v1.0”, available at https://www.aegis-bigdata.eu/public-results/.
- Gabriele Piccoli, & Federico Pigni. (2013). Harvesting External Data: The Potential of Digital Data Streams. MIS Quarterly Executive, 12(1), 143–154
- Vranken, Sustainability of bitcoin and blockchains (2017) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2017.04.011
- Open Knowledge International. (2017a). How to Open up Data. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from http://opendatahandbook.org/guide/en/how-to-open-up-data/
- The Open Data Institute. (2017). The Data Spectrum helps you understand the language of data. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from https://theodi.org/data-spectrum
Blog post authors: EGFT + EPFL