The DCS Triangle

In this post, I introduce the DCS (Decentralized-Consistent-Scale) triangle as a way to compare tradeoffs among some of today’s popular decentralized systems, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, IPFS, and BigchainDB. Each system has its own complementary uses. As engineering progress is made, I envision systems that are fully DCS.

Full blog post is [here].


The AI Existential Threat: Reflections of a Recovering Bio-Narcissist

AIs could end up with control of all our resources. This is an existential threat to humanity. How do we prevent it? Safe AI is a mirage (sorry, Elon). There’s another way: join the machines. We can even do this incrementally using today’s market forces. But we have to get past our bio-narcissim.

Full blog post is [here].


Wild, Wooly AI DAOs

We’ve seen the rise of The DAO. On its heels are AI DAOs, which are more powerful than just AI or just DAOs on their own. If you thought DAOs were troublesome (e.g. The DAO hack), then consider what would happen if the troubles were 1000x worse. That’s the territory AI DAOs might take us into. Let’s start to explore the societal implications now, to see if we can mitigate potential downsides before real damage is done. How? Here, I use an “ArtDAO” to explore how to get an AI DAO soon, how it might become wildly more powerful (and more dangerous!), and why it really matters to think about it now.

Full blog post is [here].


AI DAOs, and Three Paths to Get There

DAOs have arrived. This post explores what might come next, and how we might get there. There are at least three ways to do an AI DAO.
  1. AI at the edges (of the smart contract).
  2. ...
Full blog post is [here].

Recent SF Readings on Singularity & Decentralization

When thinking about the future, I find it much easier to interpolate than to extrapolate. To interpolate, one needs some well-defined possibilities of what the future might hold. That’s where science fiction (SF) can help tremendously...

Full blog post is [here].


BigchainDB: Where it Came From, Where We’re At, Where We’re Headed

In summer 2013, we started working on a project that became ascribe: blockchain-based intellectual property (IP) attribution. When we described it to others, the response was usually “huh?”.


In late 2014, one potential ascribe customer with 20 million users had more than 100,000 works a day going through their system. That’s roughly the same number of transactions that the entire Bitcoin network had per day...


Full blog post is [here].


The Writings of Leslie Lamport (abridged)

If you’ve ever done even half-serious work on consensus algorithms, then you will know that Leslie Lamport is a central figure. Paxos, Byzantine Generals, TLA — if any of these are familiar to you, well, Lamport is behind them. (And LaTeX too!)

What follows is papers and nuggets from his homepage, biased to blockchain relevance. It’s as much for my own reference as anything:)

30. SIFT: Design and Analysis of a Fault-Tolerant Computer for Aircraft Control, 1978PDF

The origin of the Byzantine generals problem and its solutions, reported in[41].


Full blog post is [here]


Towards a Public BigchainDB

Some have asked: is BigchainDB private or public? The answer is: “N/A”. BigchainDB is a database technology. It is not a network. People have to deploy it for their own context. When deployed, it can be deployed for public use or more private use. It all depends on the permissioning.

BigchainDB can be, and will be, used for public deployments...

Full blog post is [here].


New paper: BigchainDB: A Scalable Blockchain Database

This paper describes BigchainDB. BigchainDB fills a gap in the decentralization ecosystem: a decentralized database, at scale. It points to performance of 1 million writes per second throughput, storing petabytes of data, and sub-second latency.

The BigchainDB design starts with a distributed database (DB), and through a set of innovations adds blockchain characteristics...

Full paper is [here].




New paper - "Towards an Ownership Layer for the Internet"

At ascribe, we've been working with DNS architect David Holtzman on technical strategy and more. David and I wrote a whitepaper. Check it out here.


PyData Berlin Wrapup: Video & Slides of Keynote

I was honoured to keynote the PyData Conference in Berlin on May 30, 2015. My talk was entitled "Rewiring the internet for ownership with big data and blockchains".

Here's the video:

And, here's the slides:

Note: this post originally appeared at

In Getting Work by Ella Frost, We Just Ate Our Own Dog Food!

We're big fans of Ella Frost's work, so we reached out to her about having work on our landing page.

We asked ourselves: how do we get the rights to use Ella's work for our page? And it struck us: use ourselves! So, that's what we did:

  • Ella and I agreed on numbers by email
  • I wired her the payment via PayPal, and
  • she wired us the IP via ascribe. (She registered her works, then transferred the ownership to us.)

That was it! Now we've got two great pieces by Ella on our landing page. [>>Full article]



Video: Impromptu Purchase of Digital Art, Digitally Authenticated

previously described an evening session at MAK Vienna among digital art thinkers. During that session, Valentin, Max and I decided to do something spontaneous...

  • Max bought digital art from Valentin (with Bitcoin on cointemporary)
  • Then, Valentin transferred the ownership to Max (with the blockchain on ascribe).

In two wickedly simple steps, Max got his edition of the work "The Love I Got". All the copyright and bitcoin stuff was taken care of, without a worry. It was recorded! Here's the video.

(Originally posted on


Berlin Art Prize - Wrapup on Submissions

These days, it's almost become a rite of passage for an up-and-coming artist from anywhere in the world to move to Berlin and learn and grow as part of the art community, for two months or two years or more. ... Which is why we were very excited to have the opportunity to help the Berlin Art Prize for 2015. Submissions just closed. 349 artists ascribed a total of 598 works... [>>Full article]




Berlin Love

We love Berlin. Each of the three founders of ascribe moved to Berlin not because we had to, but because we wanted to. We love the city's culture, with its amazing vibrant art scene with artists from all around the world, and its growing tech scene drawing engineers and entrepreneurs also from around the world... [>>Full article]




Born digital, authenticated digital, sold digital: Cointemporary + ascribe

As an art gallery, Cointemporary has been forging a unique path to raise questions about what an gallery and an exhibition can be. The brainchild of Vienna-based artists Valentin Ruhry and Andy Boot, it has unique characteristics: it's only online; it only exhibits a single work at a time; that work changes precisely once, every ten days; and you can only buy the work with bitcoin. Cointemporary often features digital art.

We're proud to announce that Cointemporary and ascribe have partnered... [>>Full article]


"The File as an Object" at MAK Vienna : An evening about artwork, status, and value in the digital age

This post is a wrapup of an evening session at MAK Vienna among digital art thinkers, which we at ascribe were honored to be a part of.

MAK is the world's oldest design museum ... [>>Full article].



Copyright on the Blockchain: SPOOL Protocol

Happy Easter! At ascribe, we've been working hard to make it easy for artists, collectors, and others to manage their intellectual property. 
Under the hood we use the bitcoin blockchain to time-stamp actions like registering work, consigning it, and transferring ownership. We designed a short "overlay language" for the blockchain. We call it the SPOOL... [>>Full article]

Blockchain & Blue Ocean

The Bitcoin blockchain is Blue Ocean Strategy at work... [>>Full article]


The Original Blockchain?

The top three DNS addresses are worth more than all the bitcoin addresses combined... [>>Full article]