Monday 23 April 2018

I am NOT ashamed of this TRINITY: Christian Faith, Transformational Education and Blockchain

Arnaud Jean-Georges Beltrame
I am NOT ashamed of three things: My faith in Jesus Christ, transformational power of education and the future of Blockchain technology.

I was born a SINNER. BUT Jesus Christ, a total stranger to me, decided to step up and pick the punishment on my behalf. Forget about somebody picking a bill after dinner. Forget about someone paying your bus ticket. It is not anything close to someone coming to your rescue to pay your college fees or repay that bank loan to save your house from being auctioned.

All those are acts of incredible kindness. Very positive offers within human reach and acts of compassion that ought NOT be downplayed. Because those are acts of sacrifice. Someone has given up something for another. Someone has denied self some comfort to help another. It is human to be gracious and yet that pales in comparison with what Jesus Christ did for me. For us. Undeserving sinners!

That guy was flawless. He did not disobey his dad. He did not fight with some next-door kid. He did not steal a neighbour's cow or goat. He was without sin. From His vintage position He looked at the wretched of the earth. Condemned to eternal damnation by his Father. Nothing could change God's resolve to punish sin. I am not talking of error, or mishap or some casual family spat. I am talking of SIN. That type which is punishable by DEATH.

Jesus Christ knew his dad was mad at us, His creation. He (Jehovah God) made us in HIS image. He left us with some responsibility. But our Grandfather Adam SINNED by disobeying Dad. The punishment for that is Banishment. Being swept AWAY from the family. It is like a father who is irreconcilably distraught and unforgiving of a child who is incredibly disobedient. If that father is raging with anger and resolves to disinherit that child, even a mother's (or aunt's, as is wont to happen in most African setups) won't assuage the fathers anger.

God was MAD at us. He swore only one thing for Adam's sin: Eternal separation from God and condemnation to pain and suffering.

JESUS stepped on the stage. He stood between a father seething with anger and wrath and Adam and his progeny (you and I). Jesus Christ did NOT beg God for mercy. He knew his Dad was mad. He did NOT explain our plight. He knew his Dad was not going to listen to that storyline either!

He did something incredible. He surrendered himself to God and asked to be punished On MY (and YOUR) BEHALF! That is why this is bigger than helping a needy person. It is the ultimate sacrifice.
To God, only ONE form of punishment could pay the recompense. Jesus Christ, having chosen to take our punishment, had to die a shameful, painful and slow death. On the cross. Surrounded by convicts! For death on the cross was not a pleasure. It was humiliation. Which he took for you and I.
Do you know the story of Lt-Col. Arnaud Beltrame? Maybe not! On March 25, 2018, a cowardly lone gunman killed three people while wounding 16 others in Super U supermarket in Trèbes, southern France. In that incident, Arnaud, a lieutenant colonel with the National Police, offered to exchange himself for one of the female hostages being held inside the supermarket. He was fatally wounded and died later. The woman whose life he saved was unhurt. Arnaud offered his life to save the women.

That is what Jesus Christ did. He swapped himself for us. He took ALL our deserved punishment and paid the price for us.

Because of such a sacrifice, I am NOT ashamed to be a believer in my Friend and Saviour. I would not be ashamed of someone who pays my school fees, college fees, medical bill, dinner bill. How much more for someone who decided to go to the cross for me!

In a world where people think faith is an opium of the illiterate poor, I have news for you. I am VERY educated. AND I LOVE and BELIEVE in Jesus Christ as a PERSONAL saviour and LORD.

SECONDLY, I am NOT ashamed of the power of education. I was born ILLITERATE and helpless. Into terrible poverty. I was born ignorant. I went without food and clothing. I did not go to school until I was nine. I almost missed out on this incredible opportunity.

I had my first pair of shoes at 18. It was not even a pair of shoes. I picked two "footwear items" from an open air market, in a hurry and paid. I realised later that the shoes were dissimilar in design on the sole and didn't match in sizes. One was smaller than the other. But I was already 200km away. And in Kenya that was like two days of travel those days! Many years later, and a lot of sacrifices, education has changed everything in my life. From my family to my career to my friends.

I am blessed to work for a company ranked among the top in the Great Place to Work for. Because working for Mars has exceeded my expectations and continues to reward the pains I went through in my education journey. Not only does this give me the opportunity to do my best for the Pets we serve in order to "Make a Better World for Pets", my job exposes me to further opportunities to grow in character and explore new and exciting opportunities to develop.

Mine is not the only story. As Mandela said "Education is the most powerful equaliser". I believe it. It is the ONLY enabler that brings the son of a poor squatter to the same table with the heir to a royal largesse. Education is the best weapon against poverty.

THIRDLY. The third item in my pride-list is Blockchain. It will solve corruption for Africa. It will simplify life for so many other things we do each day. It will eliminate the need to build trust. It will democratise stuff beyond our imagination. From food safety to drug integrity. From engineering to elections monitoring. From data storage to crime fighting and fight against terror. Any imaginable need which requires artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning. It is huge and unstoppable.

I am NOT ashamed of my faith in Trinity of Jesus Christ, Education and Blockchain.

Sunday 22 April 2018

Will Photochain and Copytrack chain KodakCoin on its tracks?

Photochain and Copytrack are two powerful entrants in the image rights space powered by Blockchain
When it comes to image rights and honour and reward for photography, there are challenges to the photographers and users alike.

I am a scholar and a typical private sector powerpoint addict. Those ppts that carry line of text kill me. So I prefer to make, and clearly admire presenters who have less text and more images.

And it is not without a reason.

An image is worth more than 1000 words, so they advise!

In real life, when one chooses to stick to the 5-by-7 (or 7-by-5) rules on powerpoint slide designs, it means one has to employ a good selection of relevant images to convey the message.

That is where trouble easily sets in!

It is easy to know protected images because most are watermarked and even cropping them won't quite remove the watermark. Fortuitously though, one may be "lucky" to have such a clean copy of an image.

The consequences of copyright violation are dire.

BUT that is half the story. Because the process and costs of copyrighting an image are time-consuming, complex and out of reach for most average photographers who upload billions of images to social media daily.

So, two problems need urgent solutions. Simplify the copyrighting and simplify the monetisation of those images as well as allowing the OWNER the power to track the usage.

Current image rights providers are tailored for corporate consumers. The everyday photographer has no means to enter that space.

This means that sometimes, a great photoshot made by a novice photographer ends up being usurped and copyrighted by IP thieves.

The solution is Copyrighting powered by Blockchain.

Copytrack is developing an own Blockchain to power copyright, tracking, and monetisation of images.

Photochain is taking this to the next level. Photochain is going to utulise the Copytrack Blockchain. In fact, Marcus Schmitt, the CEO of Copytrack is on the advisory board.

What I have seen on their Whitepaper so far, Photochain promises to offer a platform for armature photographers and artists to sell their images to potential consumers, with impressive returns of >90% of the price going to the image owner! Today's situation is heavily tilted towards benefiting the image-rights operators. The artists and photographers have little to celebrate for their work today. From brazen thefts to exploitation by the image-rights companies, the artists basically waste away unappreciated.

That is sure to end.

The Photochain model uses PHOTON (PHP) to power the purchases of the images. Tokens are meant to simplify transfer of the benefits because this solves the problem of international money wire transfers while allowing the recipients to convert their tokens to fiat currency through token trades in exchanges.

As with every utility token, the value of PHP (like that is Copytrack) is bound to spike once the blockchain is up and the model is running. One would expect that with time, there would be fewer PHP in circulation with increasing demand. That would lead to a relative increase in prices.

The run for image tokenisation has attracted KODAK as well! With KodakCoin, the reluctant adopter of the digital photography is trying to reinvent itself. With KODAKCOIN, Kodak is teaming up with WENN Digital to try and steal the thunder from the combined muscle of Copytrack & Photochain.

Whether that will happen is a matter of time. What is clear is that Kodak will be trying to chase a model which left the staples a long time ago with Copytrack and which is being fast-tracked by Photochain.

Will KODAKCOIN even take off? From reading their introduction, it seems like a WENN Digital initiative borrowing on the "branding" of KODAK to sell.

Will a photography and artist community that has grown increasingly suspicious of "big corporation" trust their art and efforts to reap benefits with young entrepreneurs who would grow with them, like Photochain, or would they hitch a tired horse like KODAK which sees appending "Blockchain" to their name as an effort to resurrect their tired brand?

Time will tell!

Obviously the Blockchain-powered Photochain would simplify the interaction between the "seller" and the "buyer". This is because the copyright belongs to the contributor while Photochain only provides a "shop-front" while Copytrack blockchain helps track the copyright. This means that the art is OWNED by the artist as opposed to today's model which "transfers" ownership to image stack companies. That is €mpowerment and I love it. That is recognition for the small-time artists and they should welcome this.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are my own. I am NOT qualified to advise on financial investments. Investing in Crypto and ICOS is a risky affair. Only invest what you are ready to lose.

Scholarships in US & Canada (Mathew Birgen, Gilbert Kiprop & Maria Chemeli Sang)

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