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Why blockchain?

Charlie Child
Mar 3, 2021

Why blockchain?

2 min read

Leveraging blockchain technology distinguishes us from similar digitized marketplaces. With all the noise surrounding blockchain, it is worth highlighting the necessity and practical nature of our blockchain implementations. Far from an aesthetic application, blockchain is a means to our end of bringing distributed, global, open marketplaces, which can deliver quality data at web-scale.

It is only through a system that is transparent, distributed, and decentralized that we can access the quantities of data we need.


Within the many marketplaces for Human Intelligence Tasks (HIT), the problem from which all others derive is centralisation. When a central authority operates as intermediary between buyers and sellers, the likely results are: higher transaction costs, slower transaction speed, a lack of transparency, limited and archaic systems established by and embedded within the central authority (who is often unable or unwilling to adequately innovate). There is also the growing problem of data ownership; central authorities own the data transmitted across their platforms.

Blockchain is disintermediated. It uses smart contracts (software algorithms) to ensure all parties fulfil the terms of the agreement. This is a trustless system — you don’t need to know who is on the other side of the deal, because the rules are coded into the software contract. Not only does disintermediation mean that no one central authority has rights to market data, it frees up possibilities for a smoother, faster, more cost effective and transparent service.

The bigger picture

There are many reasons we have chosen blockchain for settlement within the marketplaces, but blockchain is more than a clever accounting system for us. The qualities discussed above, while important, are only truly significant if contextualized alongside HUMAN’s goal: to supply the demand of machine learning practitioners for high quantities of data.

It is only through a system that is transparent, distributed, and decentralized that we can access the quantities of data we need.

Blockchain creates the foundations, by offering a system with:

  • Global transactions — to create truly global marketplaces, we need to make sure requesters can pay anyone, anywhere* for their work. In traditional systems, cross border transactions can be expensive, and often take days, in which your money literally disappears into the intermediary, who profits off the margins.
  • Open infrastructure — anyone can buy questions, anyone can sell their answers.
  • Transparency — an open marketplace only works if there is transparency between buyers (requesters), sellers (workers), and the life-cycle of a job from its launch, bidding, and completion.
  • One-to-many micropayments — a single requester of work can launch a job, which the exchange could decompose into millions of micro-tasks. Each worker must be paid, no matter the amount.
  • Security — blockchains are append-only, meaning data can only be added. Each block of transactions is embedded with a code which points to the block before it, making it very hard for fraudulent or disruptive activity. The blockchain also uses cryptographic keys to ensure that whoever is adding data to the database is who they say they are, and has the permission to write the data in.

Blockchain is the key to a decentralized marketplace; and only through a decentralized marketplace can we practically give machine learning practitioners access to the world’s workforce.

As we have discussed in this previous article, such a bottom-up approach to data science gives us the best chance of facilitating the data for inclusive AI projects, and a safer, fairer world for everyone.

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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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