Interview with Hackernoon
Originally published at Hackernoon
Harjyot Singh, Technology Director at HUMAN Protocol, was interviewed by Ishan Pandey of Hackernoon.
Ishan Pandey: Hi Harjyot, welcome to our series “Behind the Startup.” Please tell us about yourself and the story behind HUMAN Protocol?
Harjyot Singh: I have spent the last decade working as technical lead across quite a few projects, primarily focused on utilizing AI in the finance & distributed computing domain. I also founded two successful ventures, building infrastructure to tackle issues like misinformation, bias, and privacy. With that kind of background, HUMAN Protocol was the natural choice for me.
HUMAN Protocol began with the idea of taking the technology and crowdsourcing capability of hCaptcha, a partner application, and putting them on-chain. But once we achieved this with one type of task – namely, the labeling of images – we began exploring how the same mechanisms could tokenize any type of task, and what future of work that could make possible.
The gig economy is growing. Microwork is increasing. The ways we work are changing, and HUMAN Protocol provides new infrastructure to meet that change. All work tokenized, automatically (and securely) parceled out to global workforces, verified, and rewarded.
Ishan Pandey: Please tell us a little bit about the protocol and its underlying technology to support decentralized job markets.
Harjyot Singh: HUMAN Protocol is a permissionless protocol to facilitate the exchange of HUMAN work, knowledge, and contribution. More generally, it is a trustless layer that sits on top of existing blockchains within which any type of work can be represented, verified, and rewarded. This creates new decentralized job markets. Job markets in which there is no intermediary control, as can be seen on freelancing platforms such as Upwork, or crowdsourcing solutions such as MTurk.
Workers are free to access the work that suits them, and which fits their unique background and knowledge. Projects are free to access pools of global workers to have small or big jobs completed, or gather the necessary responses to build comprehensive datasets, and make informed decisions.
Key to HUMAN Protocol is the trustlessness inherent to blockchain technology. By building a system in which the primary exchanges are automated, guaranteed by software, we paradoxically enable both workers and projects to have greater trust in the job markets built on top. Trust that their contribution will be valued and remunerated, and trust that work will be completed to a project’s desired specifications.
Ishan Pandey: DeFi's emergence has been considered by regulators as posing a risk to the traditional financial system. However, DeFi participation was deemed to offer better risk-adjusted benefits than typical banking or investment services by a substantial number of participants. What are your views on this supposition?
Harjyot Singh: In fact, I think we’re starting to see the opposite; regulators in the West have begun to embrace DeFi. It’s rapidly evolving – which is most apparent in the increase of commodities trading on DeFi – and traditional banking will naturally need a few more years to catch up.
Regulatory pressure is an instinctive reaction to something new. Especially something that comes from the outside. This will change with time, and with new solutions that help create a middle ground. While the benefits of DeFi are obvious, the space still needs to find a way to pair with traditional banking, which a number of projects are actively working on. And it’s the same with HUMAN Protocol: you can’t change how the world works overnight. It’s about gradually introducing new and better solutions that complement existing ones.
Ishan Pandey: China has been actively cracking down on cryptocurrency trade and mining since May 2021, causing a tremendous blow to cryptocurrency exchanges, mining companies, and investors. What are the global implications of this intense regulatory measure?
Harjyot Singh: There will always be peaks and troughs. Bans, or talk of them, are common, but rarely amount to much. You can see how meme-worthy these recent bans by China have become. The history of cryptocurrency is a tug and war between fear of change, and awareness of its inevitability. That will continue to be the case for corporations and governments, but less so over time. In the case of China specifically, we see a lot of contribution from the Chinese community, which HUMAN’s lively Mixin community is testament to.
Ishan Pandey: The recent rise of “metaverse" refers to a new paradigm that has piqued everyone's interest within the crypto space. Can you elaborate on this fairly new concept that has emerged within this ecosystem?
Harjyot Singh: Metaverse, like blockchain technology, isn’t a new concept, but the mainstream attention on it is. Two things are happening: new technologies such as blockchain are making the metaverse a possibility, and recent societal shifts are making it desirable, if not inevitable.
The pandemic specifically has opened up space for edge solutions to relocate to the center stage. As the ways we work, socialize, and live change, so must the ways we interact and connect. Increasingly, companies will look to blockchain technology to enter this space and be part of the new paradigm; one in which intermediaries do not yield all the power, but rather help manage the digital and dynamic relationships between distributed parties.
Ishan Pandey: The parent organization of Facebook, Meta, is seeking deeper compatibility with blockchain technology. Do you think we are fast approaching mass adoption of Blockchain technology across all sectors?
Harjyot Singh: As we’ve already mentioned, yes: the mass adoption of blockchain technology is fast approaching. The dynamics of our world are changing. Blockchain provides a solution to a problem that has only really recently become apparent to most people. Companies and governments will naturally want to get ahead of this, and establish their first-mover position.
That said, there's more exciting things happening in the blockchain space than Facebook; the WhatsApp currency Novi has received little interest. These companies are looking to capitalize on the momentum that's already been built. HP & Dell tried to capitalize on Web 2.0, but weren’t key to its success. It'll be the same story here. What I am interested in is how companies from developing nations are building blockchain-based infrastructure and products that are getting mass adoption in their locale.
Interest from big-name technology companies may legitimize the technology in the eyes of a few, but the train towards mass adoption has already left the station, so to speak.
Ishan Pandey: What new trends are we going to witness within the crypto ecosystem especially in the post-covid-19 era?
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