Testing the Splitstream for funding through attribution with NFTs

Matt Stephenson
Matt Stephenson
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April 29th, 2021

We have proposed a novel model for funding open innovation called the SplitStream. In addition to describing the model, we are also testing it live on a piece of open innovation in progress. Specifically we are auctioning off an NFT of an Independent Data Analysis from our test of Seth's Appetite Theory. This was conducted in part using a novel cryptographic method for open science called "Zero-Knowledge Data Analysis."

The two professors of statistics who ran the independent data analysis, Harry Crane and Ryan Martin, have produced an elegant violin plot of the results to be auctioned off. You can see (and bid on!) this auction directly below this paragraph, but you are welcome to keep reading beyond if you'd like to better understand the SplitStream and, thus, where the proceeds will be going.

The SplitStream

You might know the quote “If I have seen further, it is from standing on the shoulders of giants”. You might also know that it’s from Isaac Newton, a giant if there ever was one. So in science, giants tend to look down and see other giants. Citations, when they work, map those dependencies backwards through time.

Citations on citations.

Giants all the way down.

If you send funds through these citations, you get a cascade. A stream of splits. A SplitStream.

The SplitStream is a system in which portions of an NFT sale may flow to some or all of the works the NFT cites, with those cited works then sending some of their funds further along to the works they cite, and so on.

Here’s what it looks like:

Independent data analysis is a really valuable thing, and it is a cutting edge Open Science best practice. Thus we value Professors Crane and Martin's contributions greatly and have requested that they keep 50% of the NFT sale from the auction above. They have also agreed to test the SplitStream and for the purposes of this incentive test, their analysis “cites” two NFTs:

  • The NFT of the Open Science Test of Seth’s Appetite Theory (currently owned by Molecule)
  • The NFT of this Essay Outlining the Protocol (owned by Planck)

Planck will then split our proceeds further to what we are citing:

-Mirror because we are using their amazing platform and tech.
-This Artwork is Always on Sale, suggested by Simon De La Rouvier as the proper target for the citation of his shared idea of Harberger taxes for NFT ownership (which is an important aspect of our protocol.)

And so the Split you saw in the Block above also Splits to this:

And we encourage the recipients of these proceeds, if they are at all substantial, to split back to those they would cite. Let's also note that this is a simple test of the mechanism and certainly does not represent the full range of actual citations we would use.

Special thanks to Patrick Riviera for his help in implementing this. The NFT SplitStream design goes back to a 2018 paper co-authored with Michael Zargham on DAGs for attribution networks, e.g. see this excerpt :

It's a thrill to begin testing it live. If you'd like to read the full essay that describes more about Planck and the creation of the NFT, you should check this out.

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