Introduction to Anti-rivalry MOOC recognised by Innoradar

The work by Aalto University researchers has been recognised as as an Excellent Science Innovation by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar!

The Innovation Radar has highlighted the innovative potential of the Introduction to Anti-rivalry MOOC created as part of the H2020 project, ATARCA. Aalto University, along with project partner Demos Helsinki, was recognised as a key innovator in the project.

The Innovation Radar identifies high-potential innovations and innovators in EU-funded research and innovation framework programmes.

The Introduction to anti-rivalry MOOC summarises what anti-rivalry is and what it means for business and community management. The MOOC also comes with links to a useful anti-rivalry toolkit that helps to plan and build communities and businesses based on anti-rivalry.

As proof of completing the course, participants will get an anti-rival expert sNFT straight to their wallet.

The MOOC can be found here: atarca.eu/courses/mooc, and you can visit the Innoradar page here: https://www.innoradar.eu/innovation/45884

Mapping a pathway towards regenerative digital economy – 4th ATARCA Policy Observatory

 Digitalisation and data have become the driving forces of our economic system with fundamental implications for human interaction and societal power structures. Yet technological development has created novelties which fit poorly together with institutional structures and governance architecture created in the previous era. Our current economic structures and institutions therefore need a fundamental reform to fully leverage digital, often anti-rival resources.

This tension was at the core of the fourth and final Policy Observatory of ATARCA, which brought together over 30 participants to discuss and scope a roadmap towards a more sustainable and regenerative data economy in Europe. The Observatory, which was held on 9 March 2023 marked the release of ATARCA’s policy brief that gathered the project’s policy recommendations into an actionable and forward-looking roadmap. The observatory brought together a high-level panel discussion, composed of:

  • Timo Harakka, Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland;
  • Lidia Pereira, Member of the European Parliament, EPP; and
  • Joachim Schwerin, Principal Economist in the Directorate-General Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) of the European Commission.

DIGITAL ECONOMY IN A TRANSFORMATION

To open the session, Mr. Johannes Mikkonen, Senior policy expert on digital governance at Demos Helsinki, introduced the context for the recommendations. He underlined the key premises of ATARCA, namely the anti-rival nature of digital goods; the mismatch between our current economic structures with anti-rival resources; and the potential of distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain to create new incentives and mechanisms for anti-rival sharing. Mr. Mikkonen pointed out that, by solving the efficient allocation of digital goods and their benefits in a socially optimal and equitable way, we can create opportunities for a more regenerative digital economy – an economy which would be ecologically and socially sustainable.

To illustrate what a regenerative digital economy could look like, Mr. Mikkonen introduced three shifts in the realms of new economic paradigm, new forms of economic collaboration, and novel approaches to value creation. The first shift, sustainable prosperity, refers to the emerging movement challenging the gridlock of growth-based models on our economic system. To mitigate and omit the socially and environmentally adverse outcomes of only using GDP as an indicator, we should instead utilise anti-rivalry to focus on prosperity as different from economic growth. The second shift, commons-based participatory economy would mean a more effective utilisation of digital technologies in support of commons-based economic governance as well as more participatory and inclusive economic interaction. The third shift, regenerative value creation models mean creating new incentives and mechanisms for capturing value from data and digital goods, such as peer-to-peer and freemium as business models. This can help to lessen the social and economic inequalities datafication of society has contributed to.

POLICY ROADMAP

The recently published policy recommendations and roadmap were specifically created to advance the above-mentioned shifts towards regeneration. As they consist in total of sixteen recommendations with subcategories, Mr. Mikkonen focused on explaining the five domains, under which the recommendations are clustered together. In addition, he highlighted one recommendation for each domain. The domains are complementary to each other in that they focus on different development areas with interlinkages:

  1. Regenerative economy agenda of the EU
  2. Sociotechnical R&I investments
  3. Anti-rival data governance
  4. New business and value creation models
  5. Local commons experimentation

The individual recommendations indicate which kinds of actions we consider to be of key importance in the renewal of our economies to foster their digital potential. First of all, as a paradigm level change, recommendation 2 states that ‚Äúanti-rivalry should be recognised and embedded in economic visions and policies of the EU in a cross-sectoral approach‚ÄĚ. More specifically this means understanding and approaching anti-rivalry broadly as a perspective connecting data commons, public goods, cooperatives, open-source resources and sustainability across policies. On the other hand, at the policy level it is crucial to steer our R&I investments in a way that would prevent public funding programs from ‚Äúfalling into techno-solutionism and instead promote inclusive socio-technical perspectives‚ÄĚ as recommendation 4 states.

In the context of anti-rival data governance, Mr. Mikkonen brought up the need to ‚Äúdevelop commons-based data governance such as data commons and unions‚ÄĚ, and to ‚Äúexpand the regulatory efforts around data commons such as Open Data Directive into the private setting to support sharing of data for the public good‚ÄĚ as per recommendation 7. Moreover, in support of new business and value creation models, it is be important that ‚Äúpublic institutions should promote and support digital public goods and digital open commons‚ÄĚ, as well as encourage the EU to ‚Äúpromote digital open commons by establishing a ‚ÄėEuropean incubator for digital commons‚Äô‚ÄĚ as per recommendation 11. And finally, indicating the need for experimentation, Mr. Mikkonen emphasised the potential of steering ‚ÄúDLT pilots and regulatory sandboxes towards community experimentation with platform cooperatives and democratic DAOs‚ÄĚ in accordance with recommendation 17.

DISCUSSION ON THE FUTURE

Dr. Schwerin from the European Commission started the panel discussion by remarking that DLT is not just any technology, but something that for the very first time has enabled a trustworthy and secure interaction between individuals and collectives all over the globe. The European Commission has backed DLTs such as blockchain since 2015 in an opportunity-driven fashion by declaring it as one of the breakthrough technologies supported across policy fields. As such, we should not be misguided by the fact that DLT started in the financial domain but also recognize the wider economic benefits of the technology for European citizens and SMEs. Moreover, DLT has an inherent social dimension to it because of its decentralised nature, which is tied with the history of Europe. This is opposed to the top-down approach that we have seen in many other parts of the world, currently driven by big tech companies that extract data from individuals users. From this perspective, DLT and blockchain is not only an enabling technology for economic opportunities, but it is also a social exercise on data ownership that is fully embedded in the European policy framework on data.

Minister Harakka provided unique insights from the perspective of a sitting minister, having recently written a book “Data Capitalism in the World of Crisis‚ÄĚ. He emphasised the need for a holistic approach to blockchain technology and policies, looking beyond financial instruments to more comprehensive data sharing solutions. The minister highlighted that trust, transparency and security always come first for citizen acceptance of these technologies and stressed the need for anti-rivalry in understanding the shift to web 3.0. Tokenization will likely be developed alongside traditional solutions, and interoperability is key for innovation and competition in data economy, as well as for building resilience within digitalized societies. Minister Harakka also noted the importance of digital commons and open standards as a way of promoting more democratic and citizen-driven development of the data economy.

Ms. Pereira highlighted the importance of Europe taking a lead in the digital revolution that is currently taking place through decentralisation. Europe cannot afford to be left behind on the web 3.0 as in previous digital revolutions, necessitating investments into technology and an innovation-friendly environment. This means a balanced legislative framework that takes into account proportionality, responsibility, and coherence of the regulation, especially from the perspective of SMEs. Ms. Pereira saw the need to focus on the underlying technology itself, blockchain, rather than on cryptocurrency and the recent scandals surrounding it. In fact, blockchain can be utilised as a solution in various industries, including financial and banking services, even down to modernising national tax systems if done correctly.

The ensuing discussion focused on the intensifying geopolitical competition surrounding digital and blockchain technologies and the role of anti-rivalry in the midst of it. The panellists emphasised the need for the European Union to enhance its common voice and soft power in the international system, in which regulations such as MiCA can play an important role. Fostering better transatlantic relations and building stronger alliances and partnerships around the world on digital commons and flow of data were also seen as positive pathways.

The event was concluded by Dr. Anna Björk, research area lead at Demos Helsinki, where she focuses on the societal impact of emerging digital technologies. She reflected on the past two years of the ATARCA project and its policy observatory process, which was designed to support the interpretation of the project’s research results from the perspective of digital and economic policies of the European Union. Dr. Björk noted how the discourse and audience for anti-rivalry and digital economy has gained more ground during this time, towards a greater recognition of anti-rival economic thinking. Finally, she gave an overview of recent and future activities at Demos Helsinki, which seek to further reflect and develop ATARCA’s findings and the concept of regenerative digital economy.

We wish to wholeheartedly thank everyone who has been involved in the Policy Observatory process.

 

You can watch a recording of the observatory here.

Image with ATARCA logo and text stating February 2023 Newsletter

ATARCA Newsletter 2/2023: Opportunities to learn more about anti-rivalry

What a start for the year it’s been! The new year has begun with the launch of new open-access online courses. We are also ready to share reflections from our 3rd Policy Observatory, and our shareable NFTs are in the final stages of development. We are also busy planning a week of ATARCA seminars on anti-rivalry beginning in early March.

What should the European Union do to leverage DLTs for a more fair and sustainable data economy? – 3rd ATARCA Policy Observatory

Digitalization has created a new resource class: anti-rival resources. This has large ramifications for the data economy and digital markets. While anti-rivalry remains largely unrecognized in public discourse, new commons-based initiatives and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) are gaining ground. This grassroots development is happening alongside the Commission’s efforts to implement  digital strategy through initiatives like the Digital Services and Data Governance Act and regulatory framework for blockchain. Yet these policies are still largely based on artificial scarcity, hindering the full potential of digital goods and a functioning data economy.

The third policy observatory session of ATARCA focused on these as part of The European Big Data Value Forum (EBDVF) in Prague, Czech Republic on November 21-23 2022. With a central theme of ‚ÄúAt the Heart of the Ecosystem for Data and AI‚ÄĚ the EBDVF enabled the Observatory to exploit synergies with wider stakeholders of the European big data community. The goal of the session was to:

  • Present the potential of anti-rival digital goods in solving extractive practices of the contemporary data economy
  • Explore blockchain and other DLTs as tools to build a more fair and sustainable data economy and present use cases of DLTs for good
  • Validate and co-create together the policy recommendations for the EU in order to move towards a digital economy which serves the needs of society and the planet.

DIVING DEEPER

The event started with a brief introduction to anti-rival digital goods, followed by a commentary on how anti-rivalry relates to the European Data Act by Leevi Saari, an political advisor to MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri. He emphasized that anti-rivalry is quite well-aligned with European values and data policies, even if not explicitly recognized. Creating artificial data scarcity leaves the benefits of data in the hands of only a few agents. Mr. Saari noted that with the Data Act, the EU aims to promote a flourishing data economy and to grasp the positive externalities of data for the wider society. This is exemplified in Chapter V of the Data Act and its focus on business-to-government data sharing as a public interest. The Anti-rival properties of data is also refelcted in  other European legislation such as the provisions of data altruism within the Data Governance Act.

Following this, the event explored provisional policy recommendations for anti-rival economics and European data policies through a presentation by Anna Björk, a research area lead at Demos Helsinki. The recommendations contribute to a fair, sustainable and well functioning digital economy by:

  • Identifying the nature and benefits of anti-rival digital goods; and
  • Pointing out the opportunities of DLT and tokens to promote new incentives and mechanisms for anti-rival economy

The recommendations encompass two dimensions in particular:

  • New socio-economic approaches, models and practices; and
  • Leveraging DLT for the desired societal changes.

The recommendations are divided into five distinct domains:

  1. REGENERATIVE DIGITAL ECONOMY OF THE EU: Incorporating values, conditions and approaches of a commons-based economy to the digital and economic policies of the EU and experimenting with new governance methods and models for digital economy
  2. SOCIOTECHNICAL R&I INVESTMENTS: R&I investments to support inclusive sociotechnical approach to anti-rival economics and technologies
  3. ANTI-RIVAL DATA GOVERNANCE: Data governance and regulation to support the incentives, mechanisms and coordination of anti-rival resources
  4.  BUSINESS AND VALUE CREATION MODELS: New business models to enable anti-rival compensation mechanisms in order to incorporate societal benefits in the value creation of digital economy
  5. LOCAL COMMONS EXPERIMENTATION: Utilising DLT for decentralised, democratic community collaboration and for promoting grass-roots cooperatives through education and resources

Each domain consists of three to four recommendations for a total of 17 recommendations. The recommendations themselves also have multiple, more specific sub-recommendations within them. At the event, participants could offer more detailed comments on the policy recommendations through the online platform Mural.

DECIPHERING ANTI-RIVALRY 

After introducing the recommendations, they were opened up for a panel discussion led by  Marten Kaevats, the Co-Founder of GovStack and former National Digital Advisor of the Government of Estonia, and Joshua Davila, a Blockchain Solutions Architect at Settlemint. Davila has been researching novel economic models inspired by cooperatives through the use of decentralised technologies while Kaevats is an expert on open-source and re-usable building blocks for digital governance.

Joshua Davila noted that the mainstream view still treats data as a commodity, which also characterizes the crypto and DLT scene. While DLTs can enable local experiments with real democratic input, they are most often  used to exacerbate exploitative market structures and speculative financial asset bubbles. This has been seen most concretely with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) such as Bored Ape Yacht Club which commoditize digital goods that are fundamentally anti-rival by their nature. New concepts and practices within the digital economy are therefore needed to overcome commodification. Kaevats pointed out that embedding anti-rivalry into the data economy requires using scalable open source data, as exemplified in Estonia and GovStack. Deploying DLTs at a granular level is therefore a key to enabling anti-rival Web3 services.

In terms of the draft recommendations presented, Davila noted the importance of local, bottom-up DLT experimentation through cooperatives. The European Union should continue to be more cautious regarding big platforms within the DLT and blockchain context as well, as they have been with the Digital Markets Act. For Kaevats, governance architectures are needed to improve the scalability of DLT solutions. One provocative solution would be to tokenize everything, down to people’s shoe sizes, as a way to lessen bureaucracy and enable more seamless services. For Davila, there’s a danger to this: tokenization and commodification of everything on the market would have adverse social effects. Moreover, having everything on the chain increases the chance of cryptographic surveillance and discriminatory profiling.

 

Looking into the future and how EU policies could foster a fair data economy, Kaevats remarked that while DLTs are not necessarily about ownership, digitalisation of rights enables one to bake anti-rivalry into the system. For example, full ownership over one’s data would give you power to grant others access to it in a more secure and seamless manner than moving the data to a different server. While this is based on an individualistic concept of data, it can create communities as well, as seen with the MyData movement. For Davila, there’s merit to technology neutrality, and the EU regulation should likely not favor a particular technology over another given the volatile nature of DLTs. However, fundamental technology such as zero-knowledge proofs could have an important role to play in the future.

The event was hosted by Johannes Mikkonen and Atte Ojanen from Demos Helsinki. We wish to thank everyone for their participation and will see you at the final policy observatory session during ATARCA final seminar week in March 2023!

Learning by doing: Solving the Tragedy of the Commons one Meal at a time

This is an adapted version of a post originally written by S.M. Amadae, Marianna Laine & Maija Harju and published on the Aalto University news site.

When we first began talking about anti-rivalry as part of ATARCA, we were met with confused faces. Everything we‚Äôve ever been taught about economics goes about anti-rivalry — how can something create more value without creating more product? This initial pushback is exactly why we proposed this research project — we‚Äôve spent the last year and a half gaining a better understanding of anti-rival properties so we can better explain it to you.

Food Futures (one of the anti-rival use cases within ATARCA), in collaboration with Global Politics and Communication, University of Helsinki, presents ‚ÄúLearning by Doing: Solving the Tragedy of the Commons one Meal at a time‚ÄĚ. Watch the video here.

In ‚ÄúLearning by Doing‚ÄĚ, we explain how the Food Futures app provides a means to govern our climate commons using applied data science and analytic reasoning. The app incorporates blockchain technology to measure, record, and recognise individual and the community contributions to a sustainable 1.5 degree C lifestyle.

To support sustainable consumption, Food Futures offers a community cryptocurrency in the form of blockchain ‚ÄėFoodprint tokens‚Äô.

These tokens are in the Ethereum standard and are awarded to users of the Food Futures app who have made sustainable meal choices.  Over time this community currency system can be expanded, and tokens mayl serve a utility function to receive donated surplus goods.

The Foodprint token itself is anti-rival: Food Futures is built on the concept of anti-rival value, in specific the externalities produced from sustainable choices.  This means there is not a limited total supply.  Tokens are minted when positive externalities are measured and recorded.  Tokens serve to indelibly and permanently recognize individuals’ contributions toward achieving lower greenhouse gas emissions.

To combine learning with practical applications, we have also launched the Open University course in Sustainable Consumption.  This course welcomes everyone from all stages of lifelong learning to participate and reflect on the root of the challenge of making sustainable choices.

This video is the product of an interdisciplinary collaboration between bright minds, demonstrating how individual consumer choices, innovations such as the Food Futures app and blockchain tokens, as well as practice-based learning, can be combined to empower collective action for the wellbeing of our planet: one meal at a time.

ATARCA publishes a quarterly newsletter, updating you on the latest findings, events,  publications and news. Sign up now to stay up to date on the latest in anti-rivalry. Our newsletters often include early-access to blog posts, videos and articles.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 964678. The content of this website does not represent the opinion of the European Union, and the European Union is not responsible for any use that might be made of such content.