• Bitcoin prices continue to settle on the weekend
  • Italy invests EUR 15 million into blockchain in an effort to fight fake goods and protect ‘Made in Italy’ brands
  • Alethea AI is a new blockchain marketplace taking a moral stance against deepfake media

Bitcoin prices remain in range and altcoins have not done much different today.

As Bitcoin and crypto markets settle down a little on the weekend, we take a look at how blockchain technology continues to develop amid market turbulence, picking two developments this week, both tackling the issue of authenticity in both physical and digital examples.

For the former, we turn to Italy, the home of famous luxury brands that have been the pride of the world’s fashion capital, and the source of much worry over the world’s burgeoning sector of fake goods.

‘Made in Italy’ is a byword for quality, rarity, and exclusivity, but with counterfeit goods now benefiting from improved technology and design, it can be difficult for regular consumers to distinguish fake products sold globally, from the real deals from Italy. And now, the Italian government has had enough, investing EUR 15 million (USD 16.2 million) to develop a solution using blockchain technology.

If it can solve the problem, it will have paid off in itself, as a report by dGen suggested that counterfeits incurred in 2016 alone a loss of EUR 12.4 billion (USD 13.4 billion), directly affecting income and survival of Italian artisans. Estimates say that the ‘Made in Italy’ tag, if quantified as a brand, would be the third most valuable property in the world, right after Coca Cola and Visa. Aside from intellectual property theft, fake goods also tarnish these brands’ reputations and artisans.

The new blockchain project will see artisans collaborate with IBM Italy to improve industry aspects such as goods authentication, supply chain raw material verification, storage on a secure ledger of IP rights, proving ethical and sustainable practices, and customer-brand relationship improvements.

If there’s one thing blockchain does, it is to verify and validate. And the next case study also looks at the tech’s ability to do just that, but in the realm of digital content.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Alethea AI CEO Arif Khan went into great detail into the ethical and moral issues surrounding “deepfakes” as well as other content generated by artificial intelligence (AI) to be consumed online.

Alethea AI is a blockchain-based marketplace that hopes to help “synthetic media” creators to self-regulate and keep a check and balance of morality and ethics. For Khan, if blockchain can provide the infrastructure to license, circulate and monetize creations that are legal and permissioned, they can be easily distinguished from media that is unlabeled and potentially malicious. He explains:

“We must distinguish between deepfakes (harmful, unpermissioned e.g. deepfake porn, deepfake misinformation political campaigns) and synthetic media (permissioned use of faces and voices, creating AI-generated clones of your soon-to-be-deceased parent’s voice with their permission to read an audiobook for your kids).”

Software makers Oasis Labs will be the partner to this project, labeling all content generated for the marketplace using its API, so as to give back more control to content creators, as well as those sources for media, whose likeness can be manipulated.

Akin to the blue ticks on a Twitter or Facebook account to prove authenticity, the marketplace hopes to use secure blockchain validation to put up a wall between legitimate and fake material, with legal permissions and consent crucial to allow synthetic media to circulate and be monetized. Khan gave the example of the Clearview AI scandal, which scraped facial images from social media to use in facial recognition apps, pointing out:

“Clearview AI stole people’s faces and sold them to security agencies without their consent. A person’s face and voice data belongs to the individual and no corporation or regulator should own this. With the Oasis Parcel API, the aim is to have this data be confidentially and securely stored and accessed through the Oasis blockchain. The user retains control of their data, who can access it […] and choose how to monetize this data.”

 

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