PUBLIQ is a Swiss non-profit that was formed to battle fake news and misinformation in the media, using AI and blockchain to legitimize news and fight censorship.
CEO Gagik Yeghiazarian talked with Block Tribune about the company’s plans.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Say I’m a news person, and I want to go in your system. Walk me through the process of what I need to do to become a part of it.
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: It’s pretty simple. We make it very similar to an experience you would have by joining, let’s say, Medium. You sign in. The difference with Medium would be more vigorous password protection that we would ask you to do because this also give you access to your wallet, crypto wallet, or activity wallet which, is in the internal token is Publiq. We would ask you to just remember the phrase in case you forget your password, so you can retrieve it. The rest of the process is very simple. You sign in with your email, and then we send you a link, which gives you access to the platform, and you sign in as usual with your password, your [inaudible 00:01:32] password, and you secure it, and you’re well to go.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Tell me how you calculate the reputation score.
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: We take into account your work, how many times you post, and the large part of the reputation comes from the feedback of the readers, or your users for your content. We take into account mostly the views, likes, dislikes, and sharing, and this becomes your reputation which is been translated into the score, or your stake. Real time earnings, that Publiq distribute instantly, every 10 minutes to all community members with stake.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay, now you’re using community policing. There are issues on other platforms with conservative content being censored. How are you going to prevent that from happening in your platform?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: We are trying to make sure we don’t participate in most of the processes, we let the user guide the process by providing feedback so this is the most important aspect of Publiq ecosystem. It forms the reputation, which is the higher the reputation, the more rewards you get. This is one part of it, so the second part is author has no direct access to the users so there should be a publisher who has free access to content, but content Publiq is free and anyone can use.
Why we protect identity and why we protect rights of the authors to the content and his identity, so we make sure that whenever this content is used there is a credit that goes back to the author. I don’t think that we have this very big risk community interference into the content field, where others would suggest an AI mechanism that will highlight those content that has acquired say 7 or 8 flags and can be determined as somewhat not usable and be elevated to the community judgment where we can invite, let’s say authors with high reputation and subject matter competency, to just review the content and suggest whether this content is, let’s say, fake or unethical by it’s appearance and then suggest action.
But this is to come, I think what we are suggesting, we are creating a system, an ecosystem where community should take ownership as well as determine the behavioral policies that everyone should follow. So we don’t have anything imposed except for the reputation based mechanism to reward the author as well as the important aspect of it, is that no one can shy away from, or hide away from, any action because it’s timestamped and registered on blockchain any action that anyone takes within this ecosystem. So responsibility, accountability, and rewarding for good work and feedback of the reader is what makes the cleaning of the space from, let’s say, unethical content, fake news, or littering.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So what sort of content do you see triggering a red flag?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: I think it should be determined by the user. I think the AI should determine there might be content that will generate likes as well as dislikes, so this probably would be not a content that has the appearance of fake news, for example. But I think with the emergence of the awareness of fake news, more readers or users would be more alert and understanding what fake news looks like and defends this space from such action.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: But that leads me back to my original question, how are you going to prevent a certain ideological bent from taking over your community and, say, banning conservative content? If you have a community that’s filled with social justice warriors, won’t they be out to censor anything that disagrees with their worldview?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: You know, it depends on the publisher, so I think the first layer is the publisher and we understand that there should be quality publishing because we are freeing publisher from the need to go after the revenue, after the content, so this would be liberation technically from the censorship triggers like advertiser or any power that would come with money to kind of impose certain action. So this is space for independent publishers and authors, keeping the space independent, and letting the publisher earn for his talent of editorial work, and finding the right audience, I think should provide the right audience with the right content without censoring it.
So there is no space to alter the content, no one can alter it, no one can delete it, this is guaranteeing the user that whatever they read or use or see is authentic. Why we also invite the publisher to play a critical role by curating this content to the right user. And I don’t think that we can suggest that we are going to solve all the issues of media on one go, the most important thing is that we are creating the ecosystem of owners, and we believe that owners are the best guardians of the fairness and cleanness of any space. Your city, your community, your whatever. Whereas we are fighting against wild wild west type of environment where anything is possible without accountability and anyone can litter. And our new motto is to run after click baits and that just deteriorates the entire space and quality with content and no one can compete unless they follow the trend.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Now I noticed that you’re going to be presenting alternative views when certain stories are published. Can you explain that?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: Yeah, the AI will determine, for example, if I’m reading a publisher who is very centered on particular aspect of the story, it brings you very biased writer or journalist who is writing on one aspect of it, for example, you have US writer who writes about Syria on one side, and, let’s say, Syrian writer who writes, or I don’t know, Russian writer, and someone wants to know the alternative views on particular matter then once this content is on Publiq, Publiq would be able to determine that there are this much content that has similar appearance about the same subject, and bring to the reader what he wants to get this alternative view as well.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Are there any topics that are off-limits, that can’t be published on your platform?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: Well, of course, there are ethical norms that would prevent from publishing any content that goes against human rights, basic human freedoms, and so on and so on. So I think anything that’s wild as this should not have any space in Publiq. This could be the answer general, but then we are now implementing the code of conduct that we believe that any content creator should follow. And we ask the community to work on this, community journalists that we are working with, so there will be soon a story that will be published on Publiq that we believe everyone should follow.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay, so there will be topics that you can’t publish on your platform?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: Yes, of course.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How will your company make money? I know it’s a nonprofit, but what will be the revenue stream that will sustain things?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: Publiq is nonprofit, I think is the most nonprofit out there because we don’t have any cut. Not we, Publiq doesn’t have any cut in the advertising revenue that is being generated by the community work or enterprising of all members. So 100% of this revenue is distributed back to the community on instant basis, realtime. And Publiq believes that the appreciation model that is employed, so appreciation of the token would give Publiq enough resources to maintain the work of the ecosystem, as well as be active investor into the mission, building mission and supporting the ecosystem.
For example, we have started building centers for Publiq Media with partner universities and these are kind of think tanks where we invite students, academia, media community, and other media related forces within a local community to come and start discussing the media of the future as we see it, or as everyone says, gathers around the concept. So there will be student grants, fellowships, and so on and so on that Publiq will support once it has the power of the economy that it creates with the support of the community.
It’s mostly related to the certain number of tokens that will be in possession of the foundation and this will be the sources of funding and development for the foundation, there is no stake in any revenue generated by the community it all goes back to. As well as the newly issued tokens, so the regularity by which it is issued, also suggest that is to be open to everyone in the community with the stakes.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: When is your token sale taking place?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: We did have a small token sale earlier, we did close it because of the noise in the environment, it was last year, 2017. We haven’t used any funding that we received from the token sale, so most of the funding is coming from the founders. I would say all of the funding is coming from the founders. There is no usage of the funds. We are open for future investors but we have few supporters, so far we haven’t used any of the funding that comes to Publiq, again, but we do have an open call for [inaudible 00:16:12] contributors who can join to support Publiq.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How much did you raise in the initial token sale?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: I think it’s open, you should see from the IPO, I think it’s different because of the fluctuation with the prices with coin and [inaudible 00:16:38] so we had several currencies listed. I can [inaudible 00:16:41] over a million dollars or something like that.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Is there anything else that you wanna tell me about that I didn’t ask you about?
GAGIK YEGHIAZARIAN: I think the most important message that I would suggest to have is this is a possibility to bring in trust to media, which is at the lowest level, by creating the ecosystem of trust where everyone can join with understanding that they have full protection of their rights and property which is content. Publiq is a very content-centered environment. Publiq itself is a property that is separated from the owner, earns in reputation and dividends as it is being used, so if your content is copied and used elsewhere and you are deprived from the revenues that they generate, you’re rather happy that your content is used by others.
I would say that this is one environment that takes into account the pressing issues of identity, so in many countries, journalists and content creators would try to hide their identity, in Publiq they can come as mutual person while having the access to fair earnings with their words. And this is a space for everyone to come and own and build and manage. I think that this will be… The more it goes it will more become a mutual space rather than a space linked to any country, because given its global nature, and we will ensure that there is no man interruption or bias into any processes that goes into Publiq.
One aspect of it is, you should consider Publiq as open protocol level solution on which you can do any media enterprising. So Publiq can be used to build media ecosystems, very much like you are using blockchain to build smart contracts and build any coins and so on and so on. Publiq is a unique protocol level solution that is built from scratch, and the blockchain solution that we have is somewhat different from all existing blockchain environments, it guarantees not only independence of the network, no matter how big stake one has, the consensus is not proof of work, it’s proof of state, and it is even further proof of distance which is the architecture that we put in place that guarantees practically both that you will be able to issue blocks based on participation rate, but at the same time it guarantees that no one can control the network.
And it takes into account that P2P transactions and network, as well as, [inaudible 00:20:31] storage capacity so we don’t overwhelm the network with heavy content. Rather, we store most of the content on blockchain storage by the providers and we only store a [inaudible 00:20:48] of the content on blockchain.
And the toggle rate helps to locate and find the content with ease. So I think AI has a big play here to suggest the alternative content sourcing as well as the placing of advertisements, so target advertising should cut almost 80% of the cost that other advertising networks consume in terms of interest that they collect, and like 30% or more and the bots that operate throughout these networks that take much of advertising costs of finding advertiser. And here, advertiser comes with native content and is also part of the community, so businesses that come to Publiq, they own Publiq. They are owners, along with other authors, and also earn with the content as long as this content is consumable or usable by the others, and they can spend this to boost the content as any other users can generate in Publiq.
So I think we have a unique working ecosystem that you will not find in many other blockchain practices or networks that are being built unless they are, let’s say, servicing the index industry. So we also have built our proprietary exchange which is licensed now in Estonia, crypto to crypto exchanging, so Publiq will have free access without fee, our community will have access to this exchange to convert whenever they wish, they will earn into cryptocurrency. And we are now building the decentralized exchange within Publiq so again this will be linked to all the markets and exchanges that will provide [inaudible 00:23:05] base. So we have a solid team that is very focused on building just Publiq’s ecosystem and we just have a very major crypto project from Japan, migrating from Terrarium to Publiq network because this network is providing real life implications, scalability, transaction speed, accountability, and dependence, and so on and so on.
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