The ongoing COVID-19 crisis necessitates a fast transformation of the global economy in order to build resilience against unprecedented challenges humankind faces today. With media & entertainment, edutainment and datertainment set to play a critical role in the new world, Blockchain, one of the frontier technologies embraced by India, will be the key to a decentralized and more transparent future of the world says Alexander Shulgin
Alexander Shulgin is a visionary, investor, composer, entrepreneur, futurist, and a Blockchain specialist, who has 20 years of investment and venture capital experience. He is a unique Russian composer who successfully combines creative work with business. He effectively manages GRUPPA KOMPANIY FAMILIA (www.familia.ru), which specializes in investment and venture capital in Blockchain, media, new media, publishing, and entertainment sectors (BitFury, Minery.io, dotBlockchainMedia, Clickky, Ticketland, AviaSales, QIWI post, SeoPult Group, Garpun, MFM Solution and others.) His personal investments are in sectors: Blockchain infrastructure, e-Sport, and Mixed Reality.
Alexander was for last five years a Member of Expert Council under the Prime Minister of Russian Federation (areas of responsibility are IT and digital economy). In an exclusive interview with Pickle , he provides deep and useful insights into how Blockchain will be a critical technology to reset the old form of global economy, and transform the way media and entertainment is consumed in a post-COVID-19 world. Excerpts…
How are you spending your time during Corona pandemic?
In this context, I recollect a verse from the Bible: “A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together.” I used to travel around the world 330 of the 365 days in a year for my business, but the Corona pandemic in the last five months provided me a much needed break – time for me to reset.
I have been utilizing this time to reflect on new technologies. I have been thinking about the big crisis we would face beginning next February that would last for a few years and would necessitate the global great reset. We have to be strong and build resilience to face it. I have also been contemplating about the emerging new future of mankind. Because technology will change the way a person consumes media and multimedia. This will be the big future of video.
Media and information is set to become a part of the post industrial society. Entertainment, media, edutainment, and ‘datertainment’ will play an important role in the life of mankind. The new economy will switch from hardware to software, driven mainly by entertainment and lifestyle technologies. The media in multimedia entertainment will be in holograms. This will be a new form of entertainment. E-sport with holograms, e-sport with real sport and holograms, etc, will give birth to a new form of media, content, spectaculars and audience.
We will soon have a new generation of people and the creative productions will have to embrace this generation of decentralized natives, which may be called ‘Generation A01’. They will be completely different from the people of ‘Generation X’, ‘Generation Y’ and ‘Generation Z’ which are older generations now. Millennials formed the last generation of the old cycle of generations.
It will be difficult to explain the new generation as to why people use vinyl records or VHS tapes. It will also be difficult to explain them why there is a Senator or a Governor. They will not understand because they were updated from birth like new updated mobile applications . So it is very crucial for us to think about them.
India has endorsed Blockchain among other frontier technologies like 5G, Big Data, IoT…What are your thoughts on this?
I think there is a great opportunity for India. In the next three to four years, India will be among the world’s top three economies. India is innovating and adopting latest technologies. Indian Prime Minister has already mentioned few technologies like 5G, Big Data, Blockchain as frontier technologies. I have great appreciation and respect for him. He’s a very wise guy. Unlike many naive global leaders, he understands that Blockchain technology is not only about crypto currency. Blockchain is not crypto currency. Blockchain is a technology. Bitcoin was invented as part of the Blockchain technology. You won’t find any mention of the term crypto currency in the white paper of Satoshi Nakamoto (who deployed the first Blockchain database).
Bitcoin is electronic cash. But it is not similar to the cash that you can get in the market when someone buys a carpet or gold from you. It is an electronic asset. Bitcoin helps to identify your assets, stores and enables transactions quickly. It is not paper currency. Of course, many people tried to do business in the so called crypto currency. They traded on the exchange—buy, sell—and tried to make some crazier things. It is not related to the nature of this decentralized ledger technology.
Blockchain is a great technological opportunity to tap because our world is headed towards a reset. We need to reset capitalism, the old form of economy. We need to reset the old form of multi-agreements between governments and the people. Our society needs it. Russia is the country of greatest revolutions. Over 100 years ago, Lenin said that when revolution happens the people at the top don’t know what to do. And the people at the bottom don’t want to follow the people at the top who don’t know what to do. So, this is the time for revolution—the right time for
redistribution of capital. There’s so much gap between 26 people who control 51 percent of the global economy, and the millions of poor people who have nothing to eat. Blockchain has the potential to become a great balancer. It’s time to give a chance to decentralized economy which is only possible with the help of Blockchain technology. This asset can be of great value for media and entertainment industry or agriculture. It’s time to embrace this new technology.
How do you think India can benefit out of this and how do you visualize that India should move forward?
With Blockchain technology and decentralized processing, India would yield huge benefits in building Smart Cities and smart future. Media and data will spur a lot of SMEs to build Smart Cities, IoT, drones and industrial IoT.
By using data, India will be the producer of ‘new oil’. This will make India great again. I’m sure that in the decade beginning 2030, India will be ahead of China and will become number one economy of the world. The Indian middle class will be about 24 percent of the global middle class. Now it’s only four. So, it will be short but very productive.
India will become the world’s top economy because India’s huge population will create a lot of data and data is the new gold. India will need to generate a lot of energy to maintain that data. When I was in India for the first time in 2018, India’s energy consumption was equivalent to Argentina’s. However, by 2022, it will be equivalent to European Union’s consumption of electricity. So electricity will be the next equivalent of energy. Therefore India will need effective and low cost energy.
We will need new social pacts and agreements as well. Transparency will be necessary for the new pacts. There is trust deficiency among people. People see a lot of fake news, double standards, and so on. Many politicians say one thing and do another thing. Blockchain would help us build trust, Smart Cities, smart technologies and smart supply chains. It holds immense promise to improve life standards of people.
Fake news is one of the global menaces. Do you think Blockchain has a solution to contain fake news?
Of course yes, because in Blockchain everything is in written form that cannot be changed. In Blockchain you will be able to trace and find out who was the original person who spread the fake news. We can fight misinformation with Blockchain technology. News organizations can create Blockchain networks and track such news.
How do you think Blockchain is going to change the landscape for media and entertainment industry?
Blockchain is set to change everything. It will change how people access content; it will change industrial businesses and, of course, our lifestyle. Media and entertainment is one of the most important aspects of our lifestyle, which is already a two-trillion dollars industry. Blockchain will transform it dramatically. It will change the way the content is created and allow its decentralization. One will be able to create
content while streaming or accessing it. Blockchain is not going to be about distribution of content, rather it will be about accessing it.
Before the digital era arrived, there used to be a Mastertape, which could be used to create limited copies of cassettes, DVDs, CDs, etc. When the digital era came, the Mastertape disappeared because you could make unlimited copies of the same quality and distribute it. However, now distribution of unlimited copies of a film has become more and more expensive because you need to distribute the content in terms of Gigabytes and Terabytes.
Blockchain resolves this issue smartly. For instance, if a new series of ‘Games of Thrones’ is launched there will be only one copy of it which will be in the DotBC standard. This standard is comparable to standards like MPEG or MP3, but it allows unlimited access to smart content. So instead of distributing that one copy of ‘Games of Thrones’ to 100 million fans, Blockchain allows you to give them access to this content. It will significantly reduce the cost of distribution and help the creator monetize every view by the users.
For instance, if you have distributed the copy of the content there may be people who will watch it for just five minutes and don’t like it. But in this case you have already spent heavily on distributed Terabytes.
However, if you give access of the content to the people even if they don’t like it you will save lot of bytes. Also, the data used can immediately give you statistics. It is much like pay for what you watch.
Today, if you put your content on YouTube you”ll be paid by advertisers only if
I you have more than, say, 10,000 views. If only 300 people watch the content, they don’t pay you. But the Blockchain will allow you to get paid for even one view that too immediately.
Why are people not able to understand Blockchain?
When you are flying in a plane, do you try to understand how it is flying and the parts it has. I know the rules of aerodynamics, but I still don’t understand the aeroplane. Many people don’t understand how electricity works, but understand its benefits. So you don’t have to understand how Blockchain works. Get to know the benefits.
Blockchain is like Internet. Internet doesn’t make money. What makes money is the applications. The global standards are being formulated. G20 countries are working on the standardization and expected in a year. For Internet, TCIP was chosen as a standard. Then, institutional money came. Similarly, it will be the same here. You will have platforms like IoS or Android. It is in these applications, people will make money.
Can you give certain examples to understanding the benefits of Blockchain when deployed?
- Can you imagine famous musician like Taylor Swift, Beatles or any Bollywood singer, when a new single comes 300 million copies have to be distributed. There is so much traffic. Everyone has to own a copy. With Blockchain deployment, there is only one Master and instead of distribution, you will give access. So 300 million people will come to your capsule and they will have access, which smart contract will regulate. Access, territory, free, monetization, advertisement, barter — will be regulated by a smart contract in this capsule.
- With this, the singer will be able to understand his/her audience. There are no middlemen. He will understand who likes chorus or who doesn’t. He can create special songs to his fans. The creator can also raise money directly from fans. If you want to make a new series or an album, you can ask 10 million fans to pay 10 cents. You get $1 million to start your work.
- A decade ago, a creator would get 5 per cent royalty from music from DVDs. Sometimes, he may not get at all. Today, creator get majority share. In the next decade, the creator will get all.
- Take cinema. The producer or the production company has no idea of who their customers and audiences are. Netflix, YouTube, Amazon will never give data to creators. They have centralized data. The content creator will never know who their audiences are. Blockchain is decentralization. This will change.
- If you have data then you can barter it with other things. Blockchain will allow this to happen. Let’s say if I need fruit from India, you can give me fruit and I can give you my music. Money is something just to be equal to exchange.
- If you are watching a new TV series or a film and you don’t like it, and you watched for five minutes. You just pay for those five minutes. You can also pay for just 30 seconds or three seconds. Now it’s not possible, but that’s the way forward. In Telecom, you pay for the number of call minutes or seconds.
- You can co-create in real time, adaptive media will be adapt for your behavior. You will listen to the same song, but with different mixing. With holograms, you don’t need real actors, anymore. You can create a perfect actor, with no ego.
Will Blockchain kill piracy?
Yes of course, because now you will have one Mastertape. No one will have another copy.
How did you get into the world of Blockchain?
I am from music, media and entertainment industry. Blockchain started as a peer-to-peer project in 1999. The first peer-to-peer project was Kazaa. I know the founders of Kazaa and I tried to find more about this technology because I was very angry about piracy. But it was not piracy; it was a peer-to-peer sharing. Later, the US government shut down Kazaa.