Three Most Underrated Blockchain Projects Right Now
Initial coin offerings are, by their nature, treacherous. Only a small number reaches its funding goals and fewer still ever reach production. With no requirements for an ICO’s provider to fully disclose the financial details of an ICO, most investors are not aware that an ICO is in trouble until after the ICO has passed the “tipping point.” It can be hard to sort the good from the bad.
There are ICOs, however, that are noteworthy, but get less press than they deserve. This may be a conscious choice or because of bad timing against a crowded release schedule or due to managerial issues. However, the low level of public notice makes these blockchain projects diamonds in the rough.
Here are three blockchain projects that are underrated right now.
When YouTube was launched in 2005, it was slated to be a game-changer. The first platform for user-created content, YouTube presents the opportunity for viewers to escape commercial content and be presented media on their own schedule, by their own will.
The problem is that YouTube is a commercial enterprise within itself. Created by three former PayPal developers, the platform was purchased by Google one year after its creation. YouTube is now the definitive user content platform, with one billion hours of content watched every day as of 2017. YouTube.com is the second-most visited website in the world, according to Alexa, with parent website Google.com being first.
Despite its size and market dominance, YouTube is bad at what it does. Manipulation of its “upvoting” mechanism makes it easy for fake news to receive top search listing, for example, allowing bad actors to spread conspiracy theories or slander. It is simple to rip a video from YouTube, making it difficult to protect one’s intellectual property. YouTube accounts – like most Google accounts – can be easily compromised and hacked. Most damningly, YouTube is advertising-forward, with non-paying customers regularly having their videos interrupted – usually, in mid-sentence. While this could be good for content producers, the creators must have more than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of view time in one year to monetize heir content, and only them can they claim 55 percent of the ad revenue.
A company that can break into the YouTube monopoly is poised to tap into a largely untapped market. One potential competitor is Viewly. “Centralized and advertising-based platforms have total control and put maximization of ad revenue above everything else,” the Viewly whitepaper reads. “Unfortunately, this is not in the best interest of all other parties and leads to the following problems: viewers are bombarded with ads and manipulated into fast content consumption and creators receive only a fraction of revenue from value they create. Struggling to sustain on ad revenue alone, creators are pushed into mass-consumer market. They have few opportunities to engage with fans and grow their community when binge consumption is inherently promoted. Furthermore, advertising businesses lose out due to inefficiencies in reach and rampant ad fraud. The ad-based business model exhibits inherently misaligned incentives between viewers, creators, and advertisers. It disproportionately profits the middlemen and it is the source of problems described above. Even incumbent platforms aren’t motivated to fix it as it would directly undercut their revenues.”
Developed by Steemit developer @FURION, Viewly has a remarkable pedigree. Backed by the COO of Bitstamp Vasja Zupan, Viewly managed to have a strong ICO performance with no money spent on advertising or promotion. This lack of promotion, however, left Viewly underreported and largely undiscovered by the casual investor.
Viewly seeks to create a Patreon-like sponsorship platform for content producers, allowing for monetization of content without the need of a third-party processor. While this is akin to Steemit’s decentralized media model, Viewly offers a smaller barrier to entry and more intimacy to creators’ communities than other video streamers.
“[T]he drive to maximize ad‐revenue comes at a great cost,” the Viewly whitepaper continues. “One method of dumbing down of content occurs via the exploitation of the dopamine reward circuit of the human brain. The fast delivery of diverse novelty triggers dopamine release, which increases total time spent on the platform and ultimately ad impressions and clicks. Such platforms employ devious ingenuity to effectively hack human vulnerability and keep attention locked in for as long as possible. We are now learning of the personal and social cost of this kidnapping of attention. Users are complaining of growing dissatisfaction in hand with social media addiction they nevertheless cannot break. Engineers who designed these mechanisms are breaking rank to regretfully speak of designing such exploitative systems. For creators with a broader scope of ambition, such methods are also a poor foundation for the building of communities around their work.”
“With Viewly, every creator has a platform to build their community. Our model stimulates the development of content with true quality and meaningful community interactions. The Viewly economic model thrives with positive community building.”
It has been particularly tricky to get blockchains to talk to one another. Like network to network communication prior to the advent of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, interfacing requires an agreement of protocols between the two blockchains, appropriate smart contracts, and willing system administrators to oversee the process.
HTTP formed part of a protocol suite that – with the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), the Internet Protocol (IP), and Ethernet – allowed computers to not only share data over a local network but allow data to travel from network to network in a predictable manner. Without this common protocol, there could be no modern Internet.
Theoretically, if there was a common protocol for blockchains, it would resolve most of the barriers of the technology’s mass acceptance. Scaling would no longer be a problem as new blockchains or sidechains could form once a blockchain has reached capacity. Tokens and smart contracts could be migrated from one chain to another, extending the functionality of both chains. Distributed ledgers could directly interact with each other, creating a virtual “world database.”
The problem is that there have been no movement to get the powers that be to agree to one standard. With competing blockchain standards on the market, conceding to a single protocol may allow a competitor breathing room, denying a platform a chance to secure its market share. Many of the firms involved in the chase to be the premier blockchain platform – such as IBM and Microsoft – missed the boat when it came to mobile apps. They would be hard-pressed to miss out to the next Apple or Google in what likely will be the next computing frontier.
AION is seeking to be this protocol. “Mainstream adoption of blockchains has been limited because of scalability, privacy, and interoperability challenges. Aion is the first multi-tier blockchain network designed to address these challenges,” the AION whitepaper reads. “Core to our hypothesis is the idea that many blockchains will be created to solve unique business challenges within unique industries. As such, the Aion network is designed to support custom blockchain architectures while providing a trustless mechanism for cross-chain interoperability.”
What AION would do is create a bridge between blockchains that are fully transparent. Tokens would be created and destroyed on their respective blockchains in response to the various transactions, so that there is but one instance of a token anywhere in the compound system. This introduces security and flexibility. As the bridge itself is a blockchain, all transactions would be recorded. The core of the AION team include former Deloitte employees who are well-versed in decentralized applications.
AION is not the first blockchain to try this approach. Ripple’s interbank protocol works similarly, as does the Interledger Protocol. AION differs as it “federates” or join disparate blockchains without the need to alter their codes significantly. This allows for “on-the-fly” joining of blockchain networks. However, if the AION Network was to work, it would be the first publicly-accessible step toward an “Internet of blockchains”.
“Core to our hypothesis is the idea that many blockchains will be created to solve unique business challenges, within unique industries,” the whitepaper continues. “As such, the Aion Network is designed to support custom blockchain architectures, while providing a trustless mechanism for cross-chain interoperability. At the root of this system is the world’s first dedicated public enterprise blockchain, Aion-1; a state of the art blockchain that introduces a new paradigm of security, and fair, representative crypto-economic incentives.”
Like the Internet, though, what this could create is “private Internets” seeking to compete for marketspace. In the 1990s and early 2000s, there were rival networks competing for Internet users, such as AOL and MSN. While these faded away considering the “public option,” that public option only existed because the underlying protocols had no copyrights on them – making them public works – and because there was a loud call from the public to keep the Internet free.
The necessity of a free Internet is still a debate being hashed out today, and for blockchain to exist as a public necessity, a similar debate must happen with the technology. In other words, there must be a moment where the public can catch up with the technology without consideration of profits and bottom-lines. Only then can blockchain technology reach Internet status.
It is not easy to get analysis-level advice for crypto. Unlike traditional securities where analysists can call up information from their Bloomberg Terminal or any number of other sources.
“The data on crypto markets is arguably even less developed than financial data was at the dawn of the PC age,” Cindicator wrote on its Medium blog. “When Michael Bloomberg set out to create the Terminal at least there were regulated and verified data sources, like SEC filings and exchange feeds. Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor went through many editions and everybody understood how to value a public company. Today’s crypto world is in some ways more similar to the turn of the 20th century, when reliable data was rare and valuable, and its interpretation was far from trivial.”
While the state of crypto information is not as dire as Cindicator suggests, it is still rare and hard to find. Worse, there is little agreement on what is good advice. Many analyst firms have their own standards and metrics and an ICO can score well with one firm and poorly with another. What Cindicator suggest is to take the opinion of the masses, present it with insights from its AI, and blind the investor with data.
“Hybrid Intelligence Is the combination of human intelligence and machine intelligence, and their interaction in resolving various tasks. One sort of intelligence supplements and strengthens the other,” the Cindicator whitepaper reads. “The symbiosis of these two types of intelligence could, in this case, efficiently downplay the disadvantages of human ’emotional’ approaches by strengthening the decision-making signal with a number of decentralized data analysis points. Using such a method is reasonable in systems with higher uncertainty and highly complex of tasks, for example in biotechnologies. In a renowned scientific paper, researchers created a game in which each player with a different degree of knowledge could take part in molecular docking (a process that helps predict the structure of a future chemical element with certain desired properties). Each project participant could bind a molecule of the protein together in any way. Using this crowdsourced data from a variety of experts combined with virtual screening (computer modeling and machine learning) enables scientists to create new medicines by combining a molecule (medicine) with a target protein (cancer target). The synergy of the two types of intelligence allows humanity to invent medicines for diseases that were once incurable.”
Cindicator proposes paying users tokens for their analyses. Based on this, the system’s artificial intelligence will formulate a predicative market model that will be used to manage the Hybrid Intelligence Portfolio. Based on the return-on-investment of the portfolio, one can easily judge the effectiveness of the model. Contributors will also be rewarded a share of any revenue from the sale of resulting products from the model.
This type of community modeling, if successful, can redefine how financial analysis work. Instead of hiring professional analysts, for example, Bloomberg or Forbes could just poll its readership. This, in theory, can make investment criticism a more responsive and less biased system.