New blockchain technology to spur "new data economy"

Ocean Protocol's general technology platform will facilitate the world's first borderless data sharing platform, which would aim to bring the closed and shadow data economy "into the light"


Ocean Protocol, a decentralized data exchange protocol to unlock data for AI, has announced its intention to launch phase one of its borderless data sharing network by the end of March.

The company behind the technology, which was revealed at the Token2049 conference in Hong Kong this week, claimed it "could kickstart a global and borderless data economy". Ocean Protocol has committed to kick-starting a new data economy designed to return power to data owners by bringing together decentralized blockchain technology, a data sharing framework, and an ecosystem for data and related services.

Ocean Protocol founder Trent McConaghy explained: "With Ocean Protocol, people with data can be connected with people who need data. This is the start of a new data economy and Ocean Protocol is the means to promote liquidity and ultimately a financial value for data."

The company, which aims to connects industries, startups, governments, and data and AI experts, claimed that it would use blockchain technology and smart contracts "to enable safe and secure sharing of data for the first time" through a process which it said could guarantee people "control and auditability" over their data, while also protecting their privacy.

With 1.7MB of data set to be created every second for every person on the planet by 2020, the company said the ability to access and use that data would remain fraught with challenges – especially in the face of Google, Facebook and other players that have built enormous global businesses worth billions and billions of dollars on the back of data. The new platform will attempt to quell the concerns of users afraid to share their data due to control, privacy and security concerns.

"For them (Google and Facebook), data is money," noted McConaghy. "More data means better AI models, means better-targeted ads, means more ad clicks, means more revenue. Follow the money; it leads back to data.

"AI is the linchpin, and the current data economy is lopsided with only handful of companies having the data supply and the expertise to mine it," he added.

Ocean Protocol explained that its technology would enable organizations to put value on, own and control their data, while smart contracts would allow data owners to program the conditions of access.

To support and start a new data economy, Ocean Protocol has already partnered with a number of industry incumbents and startups to demonstrate the safe sharing of data, including Aviva and ConnectedLife in the insurance sector, with whom it has applied data analytics and AI on smart home data. In the healthcare sector it has joined forces with Roche Diagnostics to explore ways to improve care for patients on blood-thinning therapy.

"Our goal is to remove frictions in data sharing, breakdown data silos and equalize access to data so that it can be applied to advance industries and solve societal problems," stated McConaghy. "It's time that people gain back control and actively participate in an open data economy."

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