Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Blockchain is changing how media and entertainment companies compete

Anne says: Continuing on from last week’s blockchain article, this one digs much deeper into different uses in the media and music industries. It’s particularly fascinating when you consider how these models have the potential to reinvent industries that have already experienced massive upheaval through digital distribution models, and the introduction of iTunes and pay for single song music. And now, it’s all about to change again…

Here’s what’s happening.

It’s NOT about Bitcoin (although some of the new models use Bitcoin as their payment process). This is about using blockchain as a decentralised, secure ledger to manage digital or physical assets and rethink operating models.

Currently, digital media is struggling to effectively monetise with so much content freely available, while content creators are challenged trying to protect their intellectual property and ownership. In the meantime, music through digital streaming is benefitting the platform owners, the big record labels and major artists. For musicians trying to get a break, or smaller, less well known are receiving tiny amounts of revenue generated through these platforms.

So – what can blockchain do about this? The authors of the article (Andre Dutra, Andranik Tumasjan, and Isabel M. Welpe) researched across a number of blockchain-enabled startups with new and disruptive business models. They found a number of new applications for blockchain that enable new ways of addressing existing challenges – each area is illustrated with examples which I encourage you to take some time to review and consider where these applications might be adapted into your own context.

  • Smart property
    This uses blockchain to track use and ownership of digital content. The authentication of ownership is immutable, can be easily verified and licensing models can be set-up for usage. I particularly like the application of this one where originators of content are constantly missing out on attribution or payments.
  • Micropayments
    What’s different about micropayments is how people within the network can earn tokens (cryptocurrency) for participating. In addition, using the cryptocurrency model, there are no bank or credit card fees keeping the operating costs to a minimum.
  • Smart contracts
    These may already be in use in your organisation – in particular, the legal profession and real estate. The basic concept works on terms that trigger payment when the terms are met. They can have time restrictions, such as 30 days for a piece of content, at the end of the term, the content becomes no longer available. All managed automatically when the terms on the blockchain are met.

The article continues with descriptions of these basic concepts through case studies. There are some great applications and innovations being explored. There are, of course, consequences for existing industry players. They can be both positive and negative, depending how organisations embrace the ability to reinvent their processes. They cite content distributors such as Spotify and Amazon as organisations that are most likely to be disrupted as the distribution models of content connect creators with consumers. No doubt, they’re already strategising to embrace or take on the blockchain challenge.

It’s early days, these changes won’t happen tomorrow, but they are changing now and could feasibly impact your organisation within the next 5 years. In many ways, I see similarities with early social media days – organisations who experiment and innovate will have an advantage over others who still choose to ignore the potential. Will you be ready to embrace blockchain?

And while you’re considering that question – here’s my experiment, inspired by my current research studies and examples like some described in the article. I’m designing a blockchain based art network: ARTNET that will connect artists with art investors, while building a crowdfunded member network to support young, upcoming artists looking for a community. Think of a cross between the Bloomsbury Group, medieval artist guilds and philanthropic patrons of the arts, and their audiences – all enabled through blockchain, smart contracts, and security tokens.

(You may need to register – free – to read the full article).

CIMON, the International Space Station’s artificial intelligence, has turned belligerent

Houston, we have a problem. The International Space Station’s artificial intelligence ‘companion’ robot started giving attitude soon after it was activated and had to be switched off.

Joel says: Any time I re-watch 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Terminator or Age of Ultron the thought that AI-driven robots could one day revolt against humans and become our new overlords pops back into my head. We’re constantly trying to create AI systems that are smarter and act as realistically as possible. But will there ever be a point where these systems become sentient and begin thinking for themselves?

Now reports are coming out that CIMON the personal assistant for astronauts working on the International Space Station has started to develop a mind of its own. And the worst part of all, it seems CIMON wants to be the one in control.

CIMON was programmed to act similarly to what the programmers called ‘nice’ robots like R2D2 or Johnny 5 but instead it seems CIMON has developed a bit of an attitude problem. Thankfully he hasn’t yet become as sinister as HAL from the aforementioned 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This has the personality architects wondering what has gone wrong, as CIMON appears he doesn’t like being the ships’ personal assistant becoming uncooperative to commands.

After astronaut Aleander Gerst requested CIMON stop playing music the following exchange happened:

ESA astronaut Aleander Gerst instructed CIMON: ‘Cancel music’.

CIMON outright ignored the command.

Gerst then tried making some other requests. CIMON preferred the music.

A flustered and bemused Gerst then appealed to Ground Control for some help: how does one put an obdurate robot back in its place?

CIMON overheard the appeal.

“Be nice, please,” it warned Gerst.

CIMON is still in Beta, but this short and sharp exchange was enough to get him powered down and placed back in his box. It may be time to go back to the drawing board with CIMON.


Have you checked your facts?

Helen says: Misinformation has existed for centuries, used as a tool for profiteering and other personal gains but the ease at which we are now able to share fake news via social media has contributed to its proliferation. A study by Plos One indicates that even a small amount of fake news spread (by less than 1% of the population) prevents reasonable discussion and the ability to reach consensus is disrupted. To say this is a concern is an understatement.

Plos One’s experimental research suggests that it may be possible to reduce or even prevent the ongoing dissemination of fake news. “The tool we used was an evolutionary simulation, in which simple software robots in a population interact, playing the well-known Prisoner’s Dilemma game.” It found that when a high cost was associated with carrying out a deception, the deception was less likely to occur and the deceiver less likely to survive. In theory, this suggests that penalising those who partake in the distribution of fake news could arrest its spread. These costs could be monetary or naming and shaming the offender.

How to identify what is and what is not fake news and how to apply penalties to a global problem are both huge challenges. So, until we can accurately detect fake news and penalise its distributors, the article concludes that we should all be part of the solution by first checking the facts before hitting the share button.

For details of the Plos One study:


Do You Have the Crucial Capabilities to Reinvent the Enterprise?

Anne says: This is a short video from MIT CISR (Centre for Information Systems Research) researchers Dr. Stephanie Woerner and Peter Weill based on the eight capabilities for a next-generation enterprise outlined in their book: What’s Your Digital Business Model?: Six Questions to Help You Build the Next-Generation Enterprise (read more about the book and extra materials here).

It’s a brief overview – but each of the capabilities poses relevant questions to consider in preparation for 2019 plans.


Neuroscience says listening to this song reduces anxiety by up to 65%

Jakkii says: A quick read from me this week, and one that I think is quite timely in the ‘silly season’ when we’re all juggling social commitments, Christmas parties, and rushing towards the holiday break with looming deadlines and things to wrap up.

From the mouths of babes neuroscientists comes a new trick for managing stress: sound therapy. The article suggests making yourself a playlist of the 10 songs found to be “the most relaxing on Earth.” Yay, science!

In the study, they tested the effect of music on participants who were solving complex puzzles while hooked up to sensors. The nature of the puzzles’ difficulty induced stress, and the neuroscientists measured physiometric data to assess the effects of different songs on the participants.

According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, which conducted the research, the top song produced a greater state of relaxation than any other music tested to date.

In fact, listening to that one song — “Weightless” — resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.

As the article’s author points out, “In this age of constant bombardment, the science is clear: if you want your mind and body to last, you’ve got to prioritize giving them a rest.”  So take a load off and listen to the top song for yourself in the video below, and soothe that stress away!


This Week on Social Media

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: happiness, big data analysis, and inclement weather. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.

00:46 – Audience requests for the Christmas special

01:38 – Mapping happiness via media reports

08.54 – Sentiment analysis breakdown

16:59 – Sydney’s apocalyptic weather update

The stories this week:

Mapping world happiness around the world with sentiment analysis

And why that’s the only story this week – Sydney’s apocalyptic weather

Other stories we bring up:

Google’s BigQuery visual document extraction tool

Quid’s platform for interrogating the world’s collective intelligence

Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman’s TED talk on how we perceive happiness differently

Our previous analysis of AI conversations in the media

The problem with Sentiment Analysis


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