Corruptible NFTs and Proof of Care

INTRODUCTION

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are a digital version of something everyone understands in the physical world. If an artist paints a picture, and gives it to someone – no one else can have that exact painting. It is an original. It is one of a kind. Someone could photocopy it, but it still would not be the original. Indeed, a magnificent forger could make a nearly exact replica, even going so far as to use the exact same paint, the same material for canvas from the same maker of the canvas, the same brushes, employ the exact same style, but the original painting would still be the original. One might even say even if you copied the painting atom for atom, the original would still be different from the atomic duplicate. 

Now let’s say that someone’s father was friends with Pablo Picasso and Picasso gave this person’s father a painting. So the son inherited the painting and is now ready to sell the painting. To do so, the son would want to be able to prove it is an original Picasso. So how would he do that? He may have a picture of his father and Picasso and the painting. That would be decent proof. There could be paperwork – that’s good. Further, Picasso could have told someone else in a letter he gave it to the man’s father. Or perhaps an art expert could verify it is an original Picasso, etc. Maybe all or some of these are provided as “proof” that the son has an original Picasso. In other words, there are various ways to prove that a painting is not a forgery. (Paintings that are thought to be forgeries can lose value instantly, and can be a major chagrin for auction houses).

So, the question arises: how would we, in the digital world, make an original artwork? (A digital piece of work could be an mp3, an mp4, a gif, a jpeg, a png, etc.). After all, a forgery in the digital world is as simple as a screenshot or downloading a file – we don’t need years of practice as an artist to make a “forgery” of a digital piece of artwork. So how on earth would we make a digital piece of artwork unique, original, and have ownership? Enter the blockchain and NFTs.

 

THE BLOCKCHAIN

Using blockchain technology one can make a unique digital piece of work. Let’s stick with digital art, let’s say it is a jpg. An artist could make a digital jpg of an owl reading a book on a tree branch. The artist could then make it totally unique with the blockchain, that is, give it a unique hash which would be attached to that piece and that piece alone. A hash, in simple terms, means taking any input (a song, an image, etc.) and condensing it down to a single alphanumeric code. These hashes only go one way, and no image would give you the exact same hash. They are what is called “collision resistant,” that is, you won’t have a picture of a dog and a picture of a cat create the same hash, two hashes are highly unlikely to collide – it’s astronomically unlikely In fact, if you alter even one pixel in a jpeg, the entire hash is completely different.

So if the artist were to give his or her digital painting of an “Owl Reading a Book” a hash, that hash would be totally unique. Now, when that hash is in the blockchain, the blockchain would also have a time stamp, so you would have a totally unique piece that was provable the first to exist – the piece would exist on the blockchain in an immutable state as the chain is a time append only chain. That digital painting of an “Owl Reading a Book”, is now the first and only original. To keep it simple: the NFT has a unique hash at a unique time and that can never be duplicated. Even though anyone could simply screenshot it, they would not have an original. Again, even if it was an exact copy digitally, just as that painting by Picasso could be atomically duplicated, the original is the original – it is so in time and in “spirit.” The artist or creator has made, and has “signed” it with the hash, so to speak, at a specific time. In that sense, it is the first and only piece. (Note: there could also be “prints” or a series of 10 or 100 or whatever of a digital artwork, but the same principles apply. If an artist issued 100 images of his work, one of them would be the first image, that is, 1 of 100, and the second image would be 2 of 100 and onward to 100 of 100. The first print would be slightly earlier in time than the second print, and so on. But there would only be 100 official digital prints issued by the artist. More on this later). Once more, even though you could screenshot the digital painting of an “Owl Reading a Book,” the image would be unique because of the code. The non-fungible in Non-fungible Token means that your image cannot be exchanged for another copy, it is unique in all of existence. 

One more thing, the other reason the NFT is secure is that the hash of the “Owl Reading a Book” is not stored on one centralized computer. Instead, the blockchain has nodes all over the world, and for anyone to make any change to the ledger (say, someone tried to change the date of the original submission of “Owl Reading a Book”, a majority or supermajority of blockchain node operators would have to okay it – which is extremely, extremely unlikely to happen for a variety of reasons). In a centralized system, a hacker need only access the database of the exchange which held the artwork, with blockchain a hacker would need to hack thousands or tens of thousands of nodes simultaneously. 

THE NFT MARKET

The NFT market place has exploded recently – with pieces selling in the tens of millions of dollars. Artists, athletes, musicians, actors, and even CEOs and their “tweets” have been in the game. NFTs are easy to make and publish. There is a small fee that is needed to post an NFT on marketplaces (paid in cryptocurrency, naturally), and major galleries and labels along with emerging artists and musicians are creating them. 

WHAT ARE CORRUPTIBLE NFTs and “CREASE”?

So one can take a digital piece of artwork and make it unique, that is what NFTs do. The same way one could own a Picasso, one can now own a jpg by the digital artist Beeple – it would be private property with an incredibly robust proof of originality and ownership. Again, it’s unique even if others have a copy of it or a screenshot of it (on my wall, I have a very convincing print of an Ansel Adams photograph, but do I really own an Ansel Adams – of course not). Once you purchase an NFT one has the original created by the artist, and one has the first one created by the artist – it is time stamped. (Once more, NFTs create ironclad proof of ownership and origin.) 

But what is one thing that NFTs are missing. NFTs cannot be corrupted, cannot be damaged, cannot lose value because a drainage pipe leaked on it, or one’s grandkids knocked it off the wall. The dog cannot pee on the NFT. But what if NFTs could be damaged? What if one had to “care” for their NFT the way that someone who owns artwork or a sports card or a sports car or anything collectible has to care for their items.

For instance, if one owned a Michael Jordan rookie card, one would have to put in a very good plastic case, keep it out of sunlight to avoid UV damage, avoid moisture, have it is a fireproof safe, have it insured, one would have to make sure people don’t touch it and expose it to the oils which are human hands, one would have to make sure certain it didn’t get water damaged, and also make sure it did not get bent or creased. If any of that were to happen, well one’s Michael Jordan rookie card would lose an immense amount of value immediately and irredeemably. If one didn’t take care of their collectible, it would likely depreciate – rapidly. (There are rare cases in which a damaged piece, because of the damage, actually increases the value of a piece of art – but those are extravanagely infrequent exceptions to the rule. Also, the same may be true for corruptible NFTs).

With that said, I propose the idea of corruptible NFTs, NFTs that can be corrupted if they are not cared for. The system we will use is called “Crease.” Crease is a system that brings the “corruptibility” factor into NFTs, one’s digital artwork or digital sports card or digital song can become corrupted if one does not care for it. It thus requires owners to care for their NFTs as they would physically tangible items. Negligent ownership would potentially hurt the value of the NFT. The following will explain more in detail.

PROOF OF CARE (PoC) and YOUR cNFT (AN EXAMPLE)

One way (not the only way) an owner of a cNFT (Corruptible NFT) would have to “care” for their cNFT would be that each week they would have to send the piece to a new wallet. (A crypto wallet “allows you to store your private keys, keeping your crypto safe and accessible. They also allow you to send, receive, and spend cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.” (REF) It would also allow one to send one’s NFTs from one account to another). Thus, in the system I am proposing, Crease, would track the piece and keep a percentage of the “condition” of the NFT on a public ledger or database. Thus, each week, or month, or whatever the cNFT contract stipulated to show Proof of Care, the condition of the cNFT would be updated. I call the “work” that must be done Difficulty of Care, or DoC. DoC could be from severe to casual, the owner would have to send their NFT to a new wallet on a daily or weekly or yearly basis. If it was yearly, then the DoC would be low; if it were daily the DoC would be high. This “proof of care” would have to be done manually by the owner, or it could be hired out. The PoC should never be able to be automated, it should require real human time and physical effort or some sort of cost. (Perhaps even going so far as to video the process and upload the video). Should an owner “miss” a transfer, the NFT would be downgraded from “mint.”

Let’s have an example: I have an NFT from the show Seinfeld. It’s a clip of Kramer saying “These pretzels are making me thirsty!” It’s a gif. It was created by Jerry Seinfeld. I buy it and now I own that gif, it is 1 of 1. It is on the blockchain – it hashed and time stamped, it is mine, it is in my crypto wallet.

Now, PoC and DoC can be set in one of a few ways: A creator of the NFT can set it if he/she wishes to. A creator, in this case Jerry Seinfeld, could say, “If you buy this NFT, then I expect you to prove your care for it once a month.” That PoC terms and the DoC could be set by the creator. Before you, me, or anyone buys the piece we would agree to the terms. So if the DoC is set to once a month, then once a month, the NFT of “These pretzels are making me thirsty” gif has to be transferred from one wallet to another. Crease would track whether or not these transfers were taking place and keep track of the “condition” of the NFT. If the NFT never missed a transfer, the mint would be 100% (or perhaps a 1 to 10 scale). But if the owner of the “These pretzels are making me thirsty” gif missed a PoC transfer, the NFT might be downgraded to 99% mint condition.

Another option for PoC and DoC is if the purchaser of the NFT wishes to convert it to a cNFT. The artist makes no comment on whether or not PoC is added (though they could block a piece from being able to be degraded if they desired). If a purchaser buys the NFT of “These pretzels are making me thirsty” then he/she could elect to make it a cNFT and thus enable PoC. He/she could also set the DoC level.

TYPES OF PROOF OF CARE

Sending the NFT to a new wallet at a certain frequency is just one type of proof of care. There are several other ways to create PoC, and those options will be available. An example of this might be (and this is more passive and doesn’t require human effort), is that a certain amount of Crease coins will be paid out each year, or month, day. This would be, in effect, saying, “I believe in this NFT so much, I will pay to maintain it with my own coins.” For example, if someone buys a cNFT and says, “Each week I will pay 0.001 crease coins to keep it in pristine condition.” If they miss a payment, the piece deteriorates (more on this below). One could also have a store of value associated with the NFT. The NFT could have a balance of 1,000 Crease coins pegged to it, and the owner says, in effect, “To prove how much I value this piece, I will not sell any of these coins for 10 years.” If they did sell a portion of say 100 coins, the NFT would deteriorate 10%. One other way that we plan on making available, is to create a game in which one has to login via an app and “take care” of the NFT in a game. Your NFT will load into your Crease app and you must make sure that you “check on it” each day. More on what “check on it” means to come. If you did not “check” on your piece in the game, the NFT would deteriorate. There could also very easily be VR versions of PoC. 

COMPETITION AMONG NFT “PRINTS”

A creator that issued prints would thus give “later” edition prints a chance to be worth more than the original print. If prints 1 through 4 of the first 20 prints are not maintained via PoCs, then perhaps, print 5 of 20, which was maintained, could surpass it in value.

ACTUAL DAMAGE TO THE cNFT

So this is what is most interesting. If an owner does not maintain his/her PoC, the actual NFT will be damaged. The damage will be random destruction of pixels in all images. (Damage to music and video will come later). So if one does not maintain your PoC, CREASE essentially burns the original NFT – it is gone forever (sent to a wallet that has no access). A new NFT of the original is created, this time with damage to the NFT. Thus, if an NFT under PoC is not maintained, eventually the entire image could be lost. The artist still receives his royalty on any sale of the now damaged NFT. 

CREASE WOULD INCREASE VALUE

The value of a NFT could increase substantially if the NFT was maintained over time. Imagine, an image/song/card that has been doing a weekly or daily PoC for 10 years, the amount of human energy and effort or game playing or money, etc. that went into that NFT would add value to the NFT. It is the same as finding an old car from the 1920s that is in mint condition, that has been maintained, and so forth. It makes an item even rarer. It could be especially useful for emerging artists. Human energy that goes into an unknown artist could increase the perceived value of the piece and the artist.

CREASE SOFTWARE

The monitoring of the cNFT would be on chain, the PoC transfers to new wallets for the cNFT would take place on chain, but it is possible the data presentation of each cNFT could be shown off-chain (that is, the mint condition number.) The mint condition number would be calculated by the amount of random damage done to the piece by missed PoCs. The Crease software would simply track NFTs and whether or not the NFTs have been honoring their smart contract PoCs. Crease could be incorporated and integrated into Rarible, Nifty Gateway, Opensea, and other platforms. To begin, Crease will be its own NFT marketplace.

CREASE COIN

As stated, Crease coins would also be a way to show PoC. Crease would reward miners using Proof of Work to verify the Crease PoC transfers. As stated, it could also be that a NFT creator chooses that each PoC transfer would require an owner to pay a small fee in Crease to maintain their piece. Other PoC could involve owners engaged in computational problems to show their maintenance.  

TECHNICAL DETAILS

Details on this coming soon.

CONCLUSION

As a young kid, I collected sports cards and comic books. I was always worried about the cards and comic books getting creases, that is, damaged. Thus, I thought a good name would be Crease – one wants to avoid damage to one’s NFTs. NFTs are part of the new world, as things physical become digital more and more rapidly. One aspect of the physical world that needs to enter the NFT space is the possibility of corruptibility. Crease offers a solution for that. Soon, Crease will be running on a testnet, and more technical details will be available regarding coins and other protocols.

 

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