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Blockchain technology makes Priceless Art thanks to Ascribe.

So we’ve touched upon this new and strange idea about dig­i­tal scarci­ty in the past with a com­pa­ny called Neon­mob. It turns out anoth­er com­pa­ny, a recent­ly fund­ed start-up called Ascribe allows writ­ers and artists to make unique copies of their work that can be bought and sold. The con­cept is it can­not be dupli­cat­ed because of blockchain tech­nol­o­gy. Bruce Pon, Trent McConaghy, and Masha McConaghy have a his­to­ry in bank­ing, hard­ware, and cura­tion and have found­ed this com­pa­ny which has recent­ly raised $2 mil­lion in seed from Early­bird Ven­ture Cap­i­tal, Free­lands Ven­tures, Dig­i­tal Cur­ren­cy Group, and var­i­ous angels. Giv­en the impor­tance of IP and dig­i­tal per­ma­nence Ascribe seems like a fas­ci­nat­ing idea.

The com­pa­ny stakes itself as a “notary and time­stamp for intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty and cre­ative works.” Which basi­cal­ly means if you claim it as an orig­i­nal and upload into the soft­ware, then it is. You can even down­load a cer­tifi­cate of authen­tic­i­ty, with it you can track where on the inter­net that image is trav­el­ing. You can loan it out to peo­ple or even trans­fer it to anoth­er user. You could even make anoth­er copy your­self and send it about, but Ascribe would know about it. Using blockchain to allow artists to cre­ate dig­i­tal scarci­ty ger­mi­nat­ed in mid-2013 when Trent and Masha asked ‘Can you own dig­i­tal art, like you own bit­coin?’ In 2014 they decid­ed to leave their jobs to devel­op Ascribe full-time, since they’ve been improv­ing the tech­nol­o­gy with ear­ly users.

The sys­tem uses the blockchain (jobs for blockchain) to store and sign each image, cre­at­ing an immutable record of its exis­tence. Pon says “We are work­ing on secur­ing copy­right, giv­ing cre­ators a means to eas­i­ly license and trans­fer their work and we’re swal­low­ing the Inter­net to give cre­ators vis­i­bil­i­ty on what hap­pens to their work”. The most inter­est­ing aspect of the tech­nol­o­gy is the company’s web crawler. They can search the inter­net for any dupli­cates of your images and can let you know where they appear, allow­ing you to take action. “We’ve set our devel­op­ment team to build the tools to crawl and index all dig­i­tal arti­facts on the inter­net and then per­form a sim­i­lar­i­ty search using web-scale machine learn­ing. This means that with­in a rea­son­able amount of accu­ra­cy, we can tell you where your stuff has end­ed up,” he said.

It’s still hard to tell if artists want this, but know­ing that it’s an avail­able option can give some real com­fort. For those of you inter­est­ing in work­ing with blockchain and dig­i­tal scarci­ty ide­olo­gies, con­sid­er Ascribe as a poten­tial place for employment.

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