Autonomous Objects

tape and tool

The sharing economy should be about sharing more than profits. At least that’s what the thinkers behind the sharing economy called for in the early days of the term; however we’ve seen it evolve into a profit-driven notion like rental cars and the ever-questionable AirBnB. Frustrated by this greedy turn in the sharing economy the people at Good Robot started Autonomous Objects (AO). AO is similar to the tool library except there are no physical locations for the service, instead the tools are listed and tracked on an ethereum blockchain. The tools live in the houses of the borrowers until the next borrow shows up.

Why Autonomous Objects?
Autonomous objects are objects with freedom: they can’t be owned because they are part of a commons. This is an important and deliberate choice, because while ownership and its assumptions have been very valuable for our society, these assumptions have also dismantled many a successful commons. We try and avoid that problem by ensuring the objects in our system have genuine autonomy. Every object even has its own web page and even a ‘bank account’ (more about that later). Autonomous objects are public goods that can be enjoyed, used and shared by anyone. But they also need kind-hearted people to help, care for, fund, and protect them too (a guardian). Anyone can help, and best of all, if you like an autonomous object enough to donate to it you can help it spawn new offspring. Once an autonomous object accumulates enough donations in its ‘bank account’ it will purchase new copies of itself (its children) to share with the world!

Check it out!

Using a Blockchain for a Smarter Energy Grid

Blockchain technology stems from Bitcoin and provides a platform for change greater than Bitcoin itself. Researchers in the renewable energy industry have realized that blockchains can be used to replace outdated billing and tracking. Presently when a company produces energy it requires verification form other companies and each step eats into profits – a more efficient system would be use blockchains to verify the system by cutting out the middleman. The blockchain also provides a transparent solution that makes for easier monitoring and accountability than what’s currently provided.

The blockchain being used the example below is powered using my favourite cryptocurrency Ethereum. It is another way that distributed ledger systems mixed with computing power can alter our economies for the better.

Keeping track of renewable-energy certificates is one of dozens of potential applications of blockchain technology that could solve data management challenges in the electricity sector without disrupting business as usual, according to Morris. He and many others believe that in the long term, the technology could help transform the very architecture of the grid itself.

To unleash the potential of blockchain in the energy sector, Jesse Morris’s team at RMI has joined with Austria-based blockchain startup Grid Singularity to create a new nonprofit called the Energy Web Foundation. Earlier this month, the EWF launched its own blockchain, which Morris says is “purpose-built for the energy sector.” Based on Ethereum, the network will be a test bed for promising use cases. To validate transactions during the test, EWF will rely on 10 major energy companies that have signed on as affiliates.

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