HATDeX & the HAT: A New Collective

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HATDeX & the HAT: A New Collective


As individuals, we have been called so many words. Consumers. Citizens. Members. Society.

Our individual voices are usually drowned out by the need to have a collective voice, usually for the sake of representation. To obtain some measure of power, therefore, we must reconcile all our disparate views and achieve consensus so that the collective voice can be heard

Alas, this often results in the collective representative being more powerful, rather than the individuals themselves. Of course, if the collective misbehaves, we remove them as our representatives and replace them with new ones, but the inherent problem is that we cannot represent ourselves. There are too many of us. The very reason we have power (high numbers) is why we cannot have individual voices (too varied).

And so our collectives have operated in this manner for years and years. Be they our union, our cooperative, our consumer society, our government or our local council. And as our representative they have made decisions for our good. I am assuming, of course, that our collectives are effective. Notwithstanding the effectiveness of our collective, the mere act of being a collective means that as individuals, we often lack choices. Variety cannot be accommodated because it is too costly. And it is too costly because of two major factors – heterogeneity and coordination.

Here is my simplified version of the current debate between the political left and right, a false dichotomy in my opinion. If I defer to my collective (government, union etc.), I will be robbed of choice but I’ll probably be ‘protected’ and in deferring to their decisions, I serve a larger good of social justice which of course is dependent on how good the collective is. Efficiency is not a performance indicator of the collective so usually collectives get fat, even if they are effective. Regardless, the collective will always rob me of choices.

On the other hand, if I defer to the market, I will have plenty of choices, but I’ll probably be more vulnerable to externalities i.e. side effects that may be detrimental to me in the long run. I will eat too much sugar, my data would be compromised, the rich gets richer, the poor and the young become marginalised etc. and society doesn’t get to be nice to live in.


A New Type of Collective

This dichotomy is false, in my opinion, because technology has changed the game. With technology, coordination costs between individuals have plummeted. A piece of software can now help match those who need a taxi with those who have a car and are willing to provide a service. Seeking an opinion on the quality of a product is now easy on a website with a rating system provided by those who have bought the same item previously.

With lower coordination costs, should our collectives change? Could we not better organise, coordinate and regulate ourselves? Why are our collectives still making so many decisions for us? Can we not have more degrees of freedom? Can our decisions not be contextual and situational rather than having to be consistent and the same?

A new kind of collective is needed, in my opinion. One that uses the market to maximise choice and regulate the side effects that comes out of it. This is not the ‘centre’ ground that many speak of. The Centre (or recently called Middle England) is often a difficult conciliation where both sides are unhappy, and it is often forged without any consistency in idealogy. At worst it is a nasty sort of compromise for the sake of getting things done when the set-up for both the left and the right have been flawed from the beginning.

No, my idea of a new type of collective is one where individuals could be self-organising, self-regulating and have more choices, but it is one that is also tempered by a regulator that is incentivised by more choices for us as well as growing trust in the system. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a system that builds more trust rather than the ones we now have that serve to constantly erode it? It is one of the reason that we have put so much thought into designing the HAT ecosystem, probably to our peril, since it could all be brought down by being too ambitious. Fine, we say to the naysayers. If we have to fail, let’s fail quickly and try again. It is a research project after all. Even if it is going out in a ‘live’ environment.

So how is the HAT ecosystem designed to work?

Well, we know that technology has brought down coordination costs but it hasn’t really benefited us as individuals, except as a side effect. The smartphone is an example. We don’t really pay for better coordination between our friends and ourselves and better information planning, which is what the smartphone affords. No company really made any money from the fact that I can organise better. It is an externality of buying broadband, a device, socialising on the network and using our data for functionalities such as emails and calendars. So being able to coordinate better between ourselves is very much a side effect.

Where there is real profit from coordination, firms have stepped in. So Uber, AirBnB, Amazon have seized on vertical ‘silo-ed’ coordination issues and profited merrily from putting us together and matching us with firms that have stuff to sell us. We do need to go onto their platform to get the benefit though. Amongst ourselves, however, we just don’t have the capability. From a data perspective, we can’t effectively broker, exchange or monetise our data to benefit ourselves. This is because we can’t integrate data across the vertical repositories – between, for example, our diary, messaging, location, finances or consumption – with applicable service timetables or catalogues. Also, firms and other organisations are unable to offer us personalised product or service offerings if they can’t really understand our needs, and the contexts of our consumption.

Perhaps it’s time to change that. It’s time to have a personal resource planning platform that leverages on our own data and third party data to make our lives better, to have heterogeneous voices heard even if this is through a standardised platform. Lets break down this myth that scalability is only possible if we give up personalisation.


Regaining Control with the HAT

Let’s regain control and put ourselves, as individuals, at the hub of all things: The HAT, a multi-sided market platform for data by way of a micro-cloud server that takes data from the Internet and IoT-connected services and devices.

The HAT platform consists of a database schema, a data logic layer and APIs within a trust framework that enables individuals to contain, flatten, bundle and exchange all types of personal data. This in turn allows personal data to be contextualised and bundled, or integrated with other datasets in a way that is privacy-preserving and controlled by the user, so that smart individuals can benefit from crowd-sourced information and better informed decision-making. Equally, the HAT gives firms the ability to receive and process personal data from individuals (voluntarily generated) and potentially to share their own proprietary information with the individuals, for better personalisation of their offerings. (Read our HAT Tech Briefing Paper for further detail on how all this works).

We hope the HAT will become the basis for new economic and business models in the era of the IoT. In Nov 2015, the alpha release HAT will be available to individuals and organisations on a freemium basis, enabling new economic models based on data exchanges. HATs and initial applications will also be available from HAT Platform Providers (HPPs), the first two of which are Enable iD in the UK and Europe, and Noggin Pte Ltd in Singapore. We anticipate that network effects will quickly develop and we look forward to new markets being driven by 100s millions of HATs in use before 2020.

The overarching principle for the HAT eco-system is that commercial organisations will collaborate with HPPs who host the HAT micro-cloud servers and with HAT App Developers (HAPs) to make platforms and apps available to individuals. These members of the HAT community will generate revenue by either buying personal data or providing personalised goods and services (eg customised healthcare and wellbeing) in exchange for data, or they will just sell applications for the user to view, analyse and use their own data privately without sharing. HPPs integrate third-party data sets and provide intermediary data services to the wider community of firms.


The HAT Foundation


The HAT Foundation is being established as a social enterprise to nurture and regulate the eco-system, allowing use and exchange of personal information in a controlled environment subject to clearly-defined Codes of Practice. The HAT Foundation will also maintain the principle of a an open-sourced Creative Commons licensed model for the underlying “HAT technology”, encouraging continuous development and improvement by the user community.

The HAT Foundation is positioned as a form of exchange (similar to a securities exchange) that provides regulatory rules and services for personal data (and other related personal data instruments) to be traded in the HAT ecosystem. It is the foundation for the HAT ecosystem to oversee and regulate provision of HATs and HAT Applications from HPPs and HAPs.  

In order to regulate the eco-system for privacy, confidentiality, security and trust (PCST) and the exchange of both financial and “data instruments”, the HAT Foundation will certify and licence HPPs and HAPs to provide assurance that platforms and apps are compliant with “HAT standards” and that their use will comply with the exchange Codes of Practice.

Hence the HAT Foundation’s role is to nurture this personal data exchange eco-system and to act as a regulator for HPPS and HAPs worldwide. 

We believe the HAT offers an exciting value proposition, as there is currently no known personal data container that can flatten data to enable its contextualisation and bundling necessary to support markets based on the exchange of contextualised data. This uniqueness can only be enhanced by the existence of the HAT Foundation in playing a crucial regulatory and nurturing role in order to continue developing the HAT concept and technology.


Main image courtesy of Baitong333 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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