Michael Braverman portfolio / personal site

Prototype I: Personal Data Miner

Fig.1: Exploring the decentralized nature of cryptocurencies

The first exploration of a prototype explored the idea of decentralized currencies and how value becomes generated out of a decentralized network of individuals (Fig.1). My influence for this idea was the way in which browser miner uses the user’s web browser to generate cryptocurrency to provide resources for the up-time of a website. The concept behind this was that a user gives the computing power of their device is exchange for the up-time of this website. What interested me in this precedent, was the way in which there is a kind of consent between the user and the website for providing access to a website. The user submits something and in return their aid the function of the service he/she is accessing. The fact that browser miners are built on a relatively decentralized network of cryptocurrencies, is made me consider as an example of fair technology usage.

The idea that I wanted to further explore in this example, was how personal data can be used for something that is not just expropriated user data, but a service that has potential to offer fair use; even thought the context of cryptocurrencies consists of computers that mine these currencies and not individuals per se. But the idea is that even something material like servers and computers can be organized in a manner that is based on decentralization and fair use. It was striking to realize that in the age of big data, human bodies are accounted as mechanistic agents almost on par to the way cost and energy to run these servers and computers is determined and calculated.

The exploration into cryptocurrencies, led me to discover a set of other projects such as Harvest (2017)1 and Respiratory Mining (2017)2. The project Harvest employs a wind turbine that powers a weatherproof computer that mines the Zcash cryptocurrency in order to fund climate research. I found this project interesting particularly because it attempts to use wind energy to mine currency that would then be used for the benefit of the environment from which the wind derives from in the first place—the Earth’s climate.

  1. Visnjic, 2017 

  2. Dovey, 2017 

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