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Blog:

How crypto unlocks job markets

HUMAN Blog
Crypto & Blockchain
HUMAN Protocol
Nov 30, 2021

How crypto unlocks job markets

2 min read

The final article in a three-part series, following our pieces on knowledge workers and job markets, deep diving on the role of crypto in unlocking these markets.

Freedom. Transparency. Autonomy. Ownership back where it belongs. There is much to admire in the principles of cryptocurrency, but so often the conversation stops there. The principles are important, the foundation of the popularity and the power of this technology, but in practice we need to define what these principles mean, how they are used, how they are realized to bring new value to users.

It is not the principles, but what they represent, and what they allow for, that will bring about global transformation.

Transparency is power, but what does it facilitate?

Because HMT is digital currency maintained on a blockchain ledger, it can support an automated system in which intermediaries are replaced by technology. Briefly, on HUMAN Protocol:

  • Requester submits work in a smart bounty (contains HMT, held in escrow)
  • The work - images, videos, contracts, text - are sanitized
  • The Protocol intelligently manages the work, distributing it across the relevant Job Exchanges. These are tools required to complete a job, standardized to ensure quality control
  • Workers complete the tasks
  • Oracle network checks the work and updates the smart bounty to release funds to given Workers’ wallet addresses

Automation works because of cryptography. Because there is no intermediary – no processing fees, delays, or cross-border tax jurisdiction complications as antiquated, archaic financial institutions try to keep up with automation – computers are free to unleash their potential. In essence, that’s what cryptography does; it unleashes the power of computers, bypassing encoded systems and rules that no longer serve the user. The benefits of technological progress will be limited so long as the systems, structures, and processes that define how we operate remain in place. 

Cryptocurrency for work is a new idea

What is HMT?

HMT is a utility token. It is the fuel of HUMAN Protocol, a way for Requesters to fund work, including the validation of the data they upload, and the verification of quality response from Workers. Finally, it is the reward given to Workers for completing jobs. HUMAN is a new use of crypto-technology; the first of its kind to reward people for work, meaning they can earn remotely, operating, if they wish, as their own boss, without the need to go through intermediaries.

Who does it disintermediate? What are the benefits?

Individuals can work on HUMAN Protocol through an intermediary, or choose to deal directly with the company they are working for.

Initially, HUMAN Protocol is being applied by ML practitioners to gather the data they require to build representative AI products. The data they require is published as work on the Protocol and, currently, millions of Workers are labeling data through the Protocol. 

There are many intermediaries who offer similar solutions to ML, such as Scale.AI or Mechanical Turk. These take requests from ML practitioners and distribute it to workers, but any comparison with HUMAN Protocol is limited, because the job markets offered by them are closed, centralized, and limited to data labeling alone. 

On HUMAN Protocol:

  • Anyone can request or complete work. 
  • No one decides what work can be put on the market.
  • New tools can be easily integrated. 
  • Enterprises who want to manage and pay their users for work (including micro work) can do so, using HUMAN Protocol as a back-end solution. For example, if Yelp wanted to pay its users for leaving a review, that process could be managed through the Protocol. In this example, Yelp is a Requester.

The benefits of disintermediating this process are endless. Lower costs, speed, and automation are just some of the practical benefits; not to mention the further benefits of data privacy, asset ownership, transparency, and everything else associated with blockchain.

While there are many benefits to a peer-to-peer system, it is important to note that MTurk and Scale.AI can work with HUMAN Protocol. Many of their current limitations, whether they be by diversity of respondents or applications, can be solved by working with HUMAN's open-source technology.

The price of intermediaries

Intermediaries are a consequence of a world that needed them. They have done most of us well for a long time. They make sure each participant in a trade fulfils the terms of the agreement. They’re enforcers, bookkeepers, securing the market. 

But they come with a price. Intermediaries need to take a cut to stay alive, shifting the cost to users at either end of the market (and also, fundamentally, contributing to market inefficiency). Also, it only makes sense that, if you are responsible for trades, it is in your interest to control who trades, to control the flow of money and determine the rules of the market. But whether this comes out of concern for the market is up for debate. Regardless, with control comes limitation.

A controlling central intermediary limits the flow of supply, demand, and innovation as governance happens on a top-down basis. It is exclusive; it determines who can trade, and who can’t. It determines what can be traded, and what can’t. Market efficiency is directly correlated to the size and freedom of a market. Opening the doors can mean new opportunities for old markets, and the potential to create markets that were previously pragmatically impossible, such as those reliant on micropayments. 

Intermediaries were the best society could offer, but with an increasing development of cryptography, they are no longer the only solution. Here’s why.

Cryptography - what does a blockchain ledger allow?

An ERC-20 token means that users can check Etherscan to see where funds are moving on HUMAN Protocol contracts. It may seem needless to many, but this self-checking capability is essential in a decentralized network; in a centralized network, users must simply trust the numbers they are given, and trust that there is no collusion, trust that bounties are being fairly distributed. This is hardly fair – and certainly not sustainable with growing markets of autonomous workers. Trust can take us so far, but when it comes to your rewards for work, and when it comes to rewarding a workforce, blind faith cannot be the answer.

Of course, it is a hypothetical to assume collusion, or foul-play, but it is a dangerous possibility that is better prevented. In a sense, this benefit may be overlooked, because it is only when things go drastically wrong that a call for change would be required; HUMAN is designed to offer the transparency required to make collusion either impossible or very difficult – and, because culpability is traceable via blockchain, pointless.

All of this culminates in a trustless system. The very structure of a cryptographically secure token changes the way we can work; and while the principles of such a token are powerful, remember to ask the important question: how does this change things for the better?

For the latest updates on HUMAN Protocol, follow us on Twitter or join our Discord. Alternatively, to enquire about integrations, usage, or to learn more about how HUMAN Protocol supports machine-learning technologies, get in contact with the HUMAN team.

Legal Disclaimer

The HUMAN Protocol Foundation makes no representation, warranty, or undertaking, express or implied, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or reasonableness of the information contained here. Any assumptions, opinions, and estimations expressed constitute the HUMAN Protocol Foundation’s judgment as of the time of publishing and are subject to change without notice. Any projection contained within the information presented here is based on a number of assumptions, and there can be no guarantee that any projected outcomes will be achieved.

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