Archive for November, 2008

What is the incentive for entrepreneurship in profit-donation capitalism?

Profit-donation capitalism relies on people are potentially motivated by rewards other than the promise of unlimited wealth.

Take me, for example. I’m a reasonably good software engineer. I enjoy working with complex systems and see the design of computer systems and how they affect the development of human society as one of the major ways that I create. I would want to work on such systems of thought for their inherent beauty in the same way that an painter creates through color or a musician through sound.

I also have a sense that the systems that govern the world are highly inefficient and as a result many people starve and countless others spend their days doing work they dislike simply so that they can put food on the table.

Because I believe that there is a better way, I want to work on it. I do want to make money in that I like eating and not sleeping on the street, and I want my eventual children to be clothed and fed as well. Making money is simply the means to that end though and I am more than willing to make less of it if it means that I can have a job that I really care about.

That is, in many ways, one of the basic gambles of the Department of Happiness is that there are enough people like me who want to create more than they want to be rich and that we will be able to shift some of the fundamentals of society.

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What is a profit-donation business?

Profit-donation capitalism is identical to normal capitalism except that the profits beyond a certain specified amount aren’t used by the business but are instead put in the control of some exterior organization — generally a charity.

The owner of a profit-donation business is paid a salary like all the other people working for the business.

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What will TagItAll look like?

TagItAll will be an application that permits people to easily enter opinion data into the Ideapool.

At this point, thumb a year from beginning development, mind I envision the first time experience as:

  1. Bob gets an e-mail telling him someone has said something about him in the Ideapool.
  2. Bob logs into a website.
  3. Bob enters the authentication information for his e-mail account.
  4. For all the e-mail addresses in that Bob has, he can see information that other people have entered: pictures, blog posts, preferences, opinions in the form of tags, whatever information has been entered into the pool that the interface can display.
  5. Bob can tag people either free form or have the system prompt him with a random collection of existing tags and terms deemed interesting by a learning algorithm.
  6. Bob can enter pictures of himself or other people to be displayed when people search for him.

Think of Facebook except the data is open and the relationship data is nuanced. Because the data is shared, other applications could be developed for managing photo collections and business relationships and whatever else. Sharing is integral to the system rather than added after the fact.

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Why won’t people people just lie?

Other than a very small segment of the population, everyone will lie.

Existing societal pressures for the maintenance of relationships (being nice) and manipulating for position (playing politics) will still exist.

Lying is certainly a desirable characteristic of the emergent system. As Emily Dickenson said, “The truth must dazzle gradually.” Were interpersonal opinions simply released uncensored on a large scale, it is easily conceivable that someone on the edge of suicide might find their worst fears confirmed and take their own life.

I have a computational theory of identity formation that I am interested in working on, but I don’t want to focus on developing it until I’ve attempted to deal with the resource allocation problems that prevent it from being applied.

To understand it in brief, begin by considering egg salad sandwiches:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Why won’t hackers just flood the network?

Imagine this scenario. Alice is in a bar and a guy comes up to hit on her. His phone is broadcasting a signed ID that identifies him as Bob and he has 50 friends who agree with 90% reliability that he is funny, reliable and smart. I’ve been talking to his for a bit and he seems genuine, but it’s loud in the bar, I can’t talk to him well and I’m not sure.

She’s knows it’ll take her a couple hours to figure out if he’s just running game or not, and if he’s good he may not reveal his true colors till after she’s slept with him. She’d like to know if those 50 friends of his actually exist or if they were just generated by a computer program.

She is a fan of the Department of Happiness and so she has them listed as a validator. The DoH in term released signed documents certifying Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross and the Mozilla Project as time verifiers of identities.

Alice tells her system to only use the opinions of IDs that are certified with at least 50 hours of service for a certified organization. Bob’s got 15 friends that have done work for DoH-related projects and another 8 certified through the EFF which Alice also trusts. Things check out and so Alice, gives him a shot and at end of the evening marks him as a good dancer and funny guy.

Hackers can, and likely will, flood the network. I’m sure that as soon as the network goes live some inventive spammer will create associations saying that their Viagra ad is the picture of tens of thousands of people. By requiring physical time for the verification of identities, the system will both encourage volunteerism and make it prohibitively expensive to spam since once spamming starts the identity will get labeled as a spammer.

Certifying agencies are discouraged against being permissive in their certifications since with time patterns of certifying unreliable people will show and eventually cause the decertification by the parent organizations or, if the issue is high enough, by the actual users.

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How do I keep people from saying things about me?

In short, you don’t. Anyone can say anything about anyone. The only bounds on discourse are those that govern normal relationships: common decency and fear of reprisal.

Consider, however, the semantic network that will be formed. It isn’t only what is being said about you that is known. Everything the other party is saying is known. If that person is simply spitting vitriol about everyone they know then that will show up and people will be able to deduce that the problem isn’t with you but with the other person.

A certain number of people could possibly dislike you and say so since no one is universally liked. This is true of everyone, however, and so when someone is checking your identity all the people you are in competition with will have similarly mottled records.

To effectively tarnish someone’s record unfairly, a group would need to conspire to say uniformly unfair statements only you. While this is possible, it is not likely, and since the system is unconstrained it is possible to add connections to written explanations so that interested parties can access them.

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Why not simply create the application directly on the network?

Unlike traditional peer-to-peer systems which are primarily end-user applications, viagra Ideapool will have a large component which is server-to-server nodes.

Developers will create web applications based on the aggregation of XML documents and the data model will, asthma in turn, abortion be used to supplement the information available in the pool.

No technological innovation, no matter how well-conceived, is going to propagate unless it is at least as easy to use as the existing tools.

The Templ system will focus on creating efficient data modeling and presentation tools using the Ideapool as storage.

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What is the Ideapool?

The Ideapool is a peer-to-peer network for the distribution of cryptographically signed XML documents.

Documents are inserted into the pool and clients can search for documents based on their semantic characteristics. A blog aggregator might search for blog posts signed by a particular author or organization. Comments on the blog post need not be entered on the author’s site, they can be inserted into the pool and retrieved by interested readers.

Information is easy to create, but difficult to suppress. Unlike Freenet which focuses on anonymity, Ideapool focuses on allowing the identity verification of the creator of information.

Ideapool is also the Masters thesis topic of Will Holcomb, the founder of the Department of Happiness, and the first step in his plan to save the world.

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Why use a peer-to-peer network?

The dominant distribution method for distributing XML documents on the web currently is the HTTP client/server.

The entrepreneur needs some reward for developing their ideas and the consumer needs to be able trust that the information they are consuming is reliable. The creation of reliable branded endpoints allows for both of these things to happen.

There are a couple disadvantages, prostate however, that a peer-to-peer network would address:

  • Innovation — The web currently relies of third party companies search control the discovery of information in the network. This extremely valuable service is the domain of a few companies which collect huge amounts of data that improves their systems and which they are competitively disinclined to share. A peer-to-peer system where users specify a release on their data means that companies can provide useful aggregates, but the basic information is open for further innovation.
  • Efficiency — In a client/server model, the more popular a particular piece of content is the more resources are required to provide access to it. In a distributed system, caching through the system, such as those employed by Freenet, can be used to remove resource strains for popular items.
  • Decentralized — Centralized systems have centralized points of weakness. Algorithms can be developed to attempt to recognize the activities of compromised of malicious nodes in a peer-to-peer network and steps taken to mitigate the effects.
  • Push Model — The web is inherently a pull model where information is made available and consumers access the information. A properly constructed peer-to-peer system could allow the distribution of information delivered to consumers based on their published interests rather than requiring them to poll the sources.

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What is ontological markup?

Metadata is simply information about information. Consider the statement: “A cat is a mammal.” Metadata for this statement might include:

  • The statement is a complete English sentence.
  • The statement is a fact — it is verifiable as true of false.
  • The statement is a part of a biological taxonomy.
  • The statement is used in an example of metadata in the DoH FAQ.

A popular method of representing metadata in modern computer science is extensible markup language (XML). This page, for example, is marked-up with a language that describes the display semantics so that <i>italic text</i> is displayed as italic text.

Ontologies are simply systems of metadata that focus on contextualizing data within a particular domain. It describes how information relates to other pieces of information. For example, to say that “A cat is a mammal” is a complete English sentence relates it to a set of known rules for constructing English sentences.

There is quite a bit of interest currently is generating a complex semantic web of ontological documents. The Ideapool project doesn’t focus on the distribution of any particular structure of documents beyond XML.

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