Utu AMA Recap

Utu AMA Recap

CryptoDiffer team

Hello, everyone!

We are glad to meet here 

Jason Eisen  (CEO at Utu)

Bastian Blankenburg  (CTO at Utu)

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

Hi all

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

Hi everyone!

CryptoDiffer team

Q1: Can you introduce yourself to our community ?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

Sure, I’m Bastian, CTO and co-founder of UTU. Originally German, did a PhD in computer science/distributed AI using game theory, risk models, trust models etc. Later worked in industry, then moved to Kenya because of private reasons. Met Jason who convinced me to join his startup, the taxi app MARAMOJA, because he had this great idea for a trust mechanism. That’s because the taxi sector had traditionally a lot of crime here, and people prefer known drivers. Then from that we spun off UTU, to make its own product of the trust mechanism.

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

I’m Jason. I’m a serial entrepreneur. Grew up between Boston and Nashville. Spent 10 years in Washington DC, first at university at The American University (studied International Relations) then 7 years as a consultant for USAID, World Bank, and others. I started spending time in East Africa through that work in 2010 and moved to Kenya in 2013 to start (at the time) the first Taxi App anywhere in Africa, MARAMOJA

We realized in the process of building that taxi app that we were solving the wrong problem. We realized the problem was actually about Trust and began to focus our attention there, building better models of digital trust.

CryptoDiffer team

Q2: Can you briefly tell us what is Utu in 3-5 sentences?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

UTU’s vision is to become the trust infrastructure of the entire internet. Our mission is to bridge the gap between how people trust in real life and how they are asked to trust online. We believe in a more human friendly internet, data as a human right, and the need to avoid digital trust dystopias as we’ve seen portrayed and played out in various contexts around the world.We provide trust infrastructure as a service to make the internet a safer more trusted place to gather, work, share, trade, etc.

CryptoDiffer team

Q3: Let`s now talk about the milestones you have achieved and about your upcoming plans?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

So the heart of our trust mechanism is personal relationships between people. We want to learn who trusts whom for recommendations for what kind of service and in which context. So to do that, we need to learn a lot about users, i.e. get quite a bit of data from them, and then build models that work in different domains.

That is a challenging task, because it basically requires a very general AI, which isn’t really available yet. So our approach is to start by modelling sector-by-sector, identifying common properties along the way and gradually generalising our models where possible, or otherwise choose algorithms and models depending on the use case.

One motivation of using a blockchain platform is to incentivise users to provide that data, but also to allow them to verifiably control access rights and conditions. So coming up with a model that would allow this, under a lot of constraints, was quite the task. We have a good foundation for this now.

So far, on the business side of things, apart from the taxi use case we started from, we’ve been onboarding several pilot clients, such as p2p and other lending services, but have a pipeline with clients also from very different sectors, like medical service platforms. Some of these, like the medical ones, also have quite strict requirements e.g. relating to privacy, which is why this aspect plays a large role in our model.
And now we’re targeting decentralised platforms and DApps, by providing our services via Oracles as well.

CryptoDiffer team

Awesome, a lot of updates to come out!

Thank you for great answers!

I think it is time to start community questions round!

Cryptodiffer Community

DeFi and Dapps are two pillars primed to rule cryptocurrencies, what’s your strategy to DeFi and Dapps?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

We’ve written quite a bit about this in our concept note here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTbd7W2fEuHdNiZE372SSLYpcawHpAg1RB3sn6jls05qqg137WWVeCUGGnBpu_FdyKAmDRLIQlI5MCm/pub

Cryptodiffer Community

I see your watchword is trust. Why should I trust you? Knowing fully well that many projects have exit scam recently?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

Fair question. One indicator might be that our company has been around a while on the centralised side of things.

Cryptodiffer Community

•  What background does the UTU team have that allows them to be advisors in matters of trust? Have you had previous work experience before UTU? Is UTU cost-effective in building trust?

•  Is UTU intended for any type of person who wants to start a business or only for those companies already established? Why do we need UTU to be successful?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

We’ve got both practical and theoretical knowledge and experience in trust. As mentioned, we first built the trust mechanism from a need that we encountered with MARAMOJA, so this is not just some theoretical game for us.

But I also used trust models in my own research, and we’re collaborating with academia in this respect. E.g. we’re a partnet in TAS, the UK Trusted Autonomous Systems research center.

Cryptodiffer Community

Recently you announced a collaboration with Hacken, can you explain more about this collaboration, why Hacken and how’s it going to impact Utu and it community?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

On the technical side, they’re auditing our smart contracts. But we’re also co-marketing with them.

Cryptodiffer Community

I see your watchword is trust. Why should I trust you? Knowing fully well that many projects have exit scam recently?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

Great question! We have always said that as a trust company it starts with us. Embracing radical transparency about our trust model (descriptive vs. prescriptive trust) means that ultimately you don’t have to trust our word, you can verify. As for the team ourselves, we are not anonymous nor newly formed. We are working on building this vision for 7+ years since we first conceived it in the taxi app. @databu has been working on this issue even longer as his PhD thesis was about distributed AI for trust. This is our life’s work…there’s nothing else and no place else we’d be than building this.

Cryptodiffer Community

The internet is sick, what’s UTU cure to it and strategy to achieve human friendly internet

Explain more about UTU trust and UTU DeFi onboarding

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

The way I see it, digital trust has three problems:

1. wrong theory of trust:  digital trust currently is basically a legacy of what Ebay gave us in the 90s when we were just buying some beanie babies or whatever and some aggregated, averaged, anonymous feedback was ehhh.. good enough. Meanwhile the whole internet as evolved around us and digital trust mechanisms have stagnated. We abandon this one size fits all model of a universal score card for trust, and instead seek a descriptive model of trust, filtered by our own networks of trust and evaluated dynamically based on the options available…you could think about it like best fit vs. highest rating

2. wrong delivery mechanism of trust: Trust has been hitherto delivered as a product – either as a consumer-facing review platform (yelp, tripadvisor, google reviews, etc) or as an afterthought inside products (“let’s throw a 5 star system on it and call it a day”). But trust isn’t a product…its infrastructure. It should be delivered as such. We serve up our Trust Infrastructure via API/Oracle so platforms and marketplaces can consume them as infrastructure. This also eliminates that massive manipulation ability on consumer platforms where I can create limitless fake accounts with fake reviews.

3. perverse economic incentives of digital trust: All of the economic incentives around digital trust are for the abuse/manipulation thereof. Fake reviews, bot armies, they all manipulate trust and tend to yield rewards for those that buy (and sell) such services. Meanwhile, projects/peoplee that only focus on organic metrics might languish on the side. We designed our token model to address both sides – to eliminate the ability to “buy Trust” while creating a positive economic incentive to build trust – defined as facilitating good outcomes

Cryptodiffer Community

Q1) I have understood that UTU use a deflationary model, but the Major of this models have a limit, so can you tell me how many Percentage ( % ) of the Total supply Will be burnt?

Q2) To archieve the success any Project needs Incentives to increase the use of a token, so what are the benefits for be an UTU Holder?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

1. UTU Coin supply is capped at 1 billion, but we’re not burning tokens. Instead, the goal is to get them into a cycle of use. It should be noted that there is a 2nd token, UTU Trust Token, which can only be earned by participating in the platform, but not bought. It can be converted to a limited extent to UTU Coin, which can then be traded or staked for governance.

2. UTU Coin will be used by apps for accessing our services, which might pass on such cost to their users (or not). We will incentivise services on our platform, i.e. which integrate our service, to themselves charge in UTU Coin. UTU Coin holders will also be able to stake them (together with UTU Trust Token) in order to participate in governance.

Cryptodiffer Community

Is your project peculiar to Africa alone? And how does your hybrid business model works?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

While the model was born in Kenya, and there are arguably more use cases for which it is relevant in African and other developing countries, it is applicable to any use case where people view the provided services not just as commodities. For example, even in Western countries, most people would ask people they trust to e.g. recommend a babysitter, or even an auto mechanic.

As for the business model, we’re currently experimenting with different strategies on the centralised side. On the decentralised side, we will start with fees for our services and oracles. But business models typically evolve with actual uptake and usage of a platform, so we will likely be adapting this a lot to evolving markets.

Cryptodiffer Community

1. Is it absolutely necessary to complete the KYC to have access to all the services that the UTU offer?

2. Can you explain why UTU needs to Cryptocurrencies? ( UTU token and UTU Coin) ? What is the role of Each one? Is possible Swap between them?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

1. To take part in the current sale, yes it’s necessary. Later there will be means to get them e.g. on DEXs. As for UTU Trust Token, you will be able to earn it without KYC. However, some functionality and converting to UTU Coin will require it (that’s because otherwise some parts of the mechanism could be vulnerable to sybil attacks; there might other solutions which we might implement later if applicable).

2. UTU Coin is a tradeable (ERC20 on Ethereum) token, and people should be able to buy (and sell) it because it will be required for consuming our services. UTU Trust Token (UTT) measures the positive participation in the system (trustability is one aspect of this), which therefore should not be buyable. However to further incentivise people to earn UTT, we want them to be able to convert it to UTU Coin to a limited extent. This will happen via an auction mechanism.

Cryptodiffer Community

In UTU the main strength is trust, how do you make UTU a reliable network? What tools do you use to control AML?

How prevent the fake reviews or innapropiatted behaviors into the UTU ecosystem? Which are the punishment to that users?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

AML is done for our sale by an external KYC and AML-check provider. We will apply it as necessary in the running of the platform.

As for encouraging “good”, i.e. truthful, behaviour on the platform, we desgined the reward and penalty structures of our mechanism accordingly. However we expect to further develop these functions according to usage of the platform. There are quire a few parameters which depend a lot on real usage, and we will fine-tune these as we go. We also budgeted some research projects (together with TAS/Uni Southampton, and potentially others) for some specific mechanism design questions in these matters.

Cryptodiffer Community

•  What background does the UTU team have that allows them to be advisors in matters of trust? Have you had previous work experience before UTU? Is UTU cost-effective in building trust?

•  Is UTU intended for any type of person who wants to start a business or only for those companies already established? Why do we need UTU to be successful?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

Here’s a link to our team bios: check it out! https://drive.google.com/file/d/1udGtnotg3cXRmwfKV1X-m1Z8XgXHUpgm/view?usp=sharing

Cryptodiffer Community

The mission of Utu is to promote trust in the Defi ecosystem. What mechanism will you use to achieve that? Which oracle services will you use to achieve your goals?

You mentioned your token is ‘slightly deflationary.’ How do you mean?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

I’d refer you to our Enabling Defi concept note: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1leSJCpJpF5cSbHehVuBpXUbDWVC4yGvOBPqaeqaRAxo/edit?usp=sharing 

 and our white paper -https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSn7d9BovABf8IxaK9uvvoUkRQKMMEsUqxvetEjovhq-F2Sw7czzbBV4Gghsoi1txn6ydSx3bqeAXst/pub

Cryptodiffer Community

After reading your lite paper as mentioned in your website. I would like to ask some questions:

1. Will this project only applied in Africa? Is there any possibility of penetrating other countries. If i look your mission as presented in litepaper, this concept should be applicable in many countries. Especially Asia (China, Japan and South East Asia).

2. Example if applied in husehold sector. Have you prepared for the worse possible effects that will occur? I mean like this. For example uber apps. As you can see, there are several crimes committed by passengers against uber drivers, such as robbery, mugging and others. So, can this kind of crime scenarios be minimized? Beside gives negative rating & AI use. Or you would like to applied the concept like you did in MARAMOJA. 

Btw, would like to give you thumbs for UTU tokenizing concept.It is very interesting, especially about “buy trust”.

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

Thanks for reading! 

1. We absolutely target other countries as well. The fact that we started in Kenya gives us, we believe, a very “direct” perspective on matters of trust, so we think that we might not have come up with this model in e.g. Western places. But we absolutely thinkg that it’s applicable to around the globe, just different use case in different places.

2. Well, our mechanism cannot guarantee absence of harm. It can only inform people with relevant information for the right things at the right time. If you trust your sister to recommend a househelp, but your sister is wrong or the househelp changes their ways, there’s not much any vialble mechanism can do about it (I don’t believe in crime prediction algorithms — too many biases and ethical problems).

Cryptodiffer Community

Next phase of blockchain adoption will be coming from the Defi space. What is your view on this? What are UTU plans for Blockchain’s mass adoption?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

We agree that DeFi will drive mass adoption (if some of the problems we note in the concept note 👆 are resolved but we also believe that it will take more than DeFi to move the market from centralized to decentralized economies ann platforms. UTU deliberately works across both providing our trust services to both centralized and decentralized with the goal of helping to be the bridge that people cross toward decentralization. We provide our services to them on centralized platforms; they accrue tokens that will later bring them to the decentralized side to use them. This is not about “build it and they will come”. If the decentralized community wants these people, we have to go and open their eyes in the places where they are, not wait for them to come to us

Cryptodiffer Community

How was the machine learning adapted for the trust model developed and what are the advantages for the system?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

We’re using a couple of different AI mechanisms to identify relevant feedback for a given request situation. If we have enough data from a platform, we might use NNs. But otherwise we’re also using similarity matrices, clustering, Bayesian reasoning and other techniques. Basically it’s an adaptive choice of algorithms to deal with different situations.

Generally many questions about how we support DeFi and our general mechanism. Again I can only recommend to read our “Enabling DeFi” document here, where we’ve written all this up nicely,as we think 🙂 https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTbd7W2fEuHdNiZE372SSLYpcawHpAg1RB3sn6jls05qqg137WWVeCUGGnBpu_FdyKAmDRLIQlI5MCm/pub

And for the general mechanism and economics of the platform, our whitepaper https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSn7d9BovABf8IxaK9uvvoUkRQKMMEsUqxvetEjovhq-F2Sw7czzbBV4Gghsoi1txn6ydSx3bqeAXst/pub

Cryptodiffer Community

What is the long term vision of UTU bussiness model?

How does UTU gonna win chalenge against competitors!?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

Our vision is nothing short of being the defacto trust infrastructure of the entire internet…Our business model is different for centralized/decentralized applications but could be summed up as consumption-based pricing (per API/oracle call) with a plan to migrate in the future toward success based pricing where we’d charge a larger amount per successful call of our service rather than a smaller amount for every call regardless of utility

Cryptodiffer Community

Where does the project name come from? What does it mean for you and why did you choose that name for your project?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

It roughly means “humanity” or “human-ness” in Kiswahili, the lingua franca of East Africa. We thought it fits our ideas…

You may recognize the word as being similar to the Zulu word UBUNTU which has a similar meaning, humanity, or I am because you are. This idea of togetherness is the core of UTU

Cryptodiffer Community

We agree that DeFi will drive mass adoption (if some of the problems we note in the concept note are resolved but we also believe that it will take more than DeFi to move the market from centralized to decentralized economies ann platforms. UTU deliberately works across both providing our trust services to both centralized and decentralized with the goal of helping to be the bridge that people cross toward decentralization. We provide our services to them on centralized platforms; they accrue tokens that will later bring them to the decentralized side to use them. This is not about “build it and they will come”. If the decentralized community wants these people, we have to go and open their eyes in the places where they are, not wait for them to come to us

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

I’d also like to add to this that we still own the mobility app that started this whole thing. MARAMOJA is a subsidiary of UTU with it’s own dedicated leadership and team. With mobility as the low-hanging fruit of the sharing economy and the first such service that many consumers may interact with before they use more complex or intimate gig platforms. As MARAMOJA scales across Africa, with UTU’s trust infrastructure baked into it, UTU can acquire hundreds of millions of users for whom UTU serves up better trust into their daily lives. Furthermore, our scaling model for the mobility business, a tech franchising model, allows us to access the long tail of the continent (1B+ people, all spread out) in a way that centralized players simply cannot do as they are forced to focus only on the largest cities with the highest comparative ROI. We can (and will) go everywhere.

Cryptodiffer Community

In the bad situation of the Covid-19 epidemic, every industry was heavily affected

Does it affect on the growth of your project team and its ??

   What are your plans to turn challenges into opportunities for #project DEVELOPMENTS

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

Covid-19 has pushed many businesses online — and therefore grew our potential market. We’ve had to make some adaptions in the last few months, and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank our whole team for being very supportive!

Sometimes Bastian is too humble…we actually spent a good bit of time thinking about how our trust model comes to play in something like the pandemic. @databu , supported by others, developed this Privacy-preserving Contact Tracing Model (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1awBY2r0T11LWBa8C-Uf1bNguSTT1-ZHw3NdTTTj-JUs/edit?usp=sharing) which has earned a top 100 endorsement from the African Development Bank (top100.africavsvirus.com)

Cryptodiffer Community

What is the structure of the company, is it a decentralised, open sourced protocol where everybody can contribute? If so, how does the governance plan on being handled?

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

We started with a centralised, proprietary product, and the core recommendation service will stay as such for now. However all the on-chain components and DApps will be open-sourced, and we do plan a governance protocol which will allow UTU Coin holders who stake to take part in it.

As the platform evolves, and capabilities for decentralised AI (such as built e.g. by Raven Protocol or SingularityNet) as well as privacy-preserving computation and mechanisms grow, we also hope to decentralise more and more parts of it over time.

Cryptodiffer Community

What is business model of your project? How it works ?

Who are your potential customers and which markets are you targeting on?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

Our potential customers are every marketplace, platform, and site for whom trust is a barrier their users as well as every user who has ever worried about trust in a digital transaction. We think about the key sectors as a corollary to risk. The more risk I feel, the more trust I want. What are the things we feel the most risk about? Our health, family, assets, home, and businesses. If one of these things is exposed to any sort of risk in a digital transaction, we have a big role to play.

Cryptodiffer Community

We are all aware on what happened to $SUSHI, wherein the team dumps their tokens to the investors. How can we make sure that this will not happen to UTU?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

Well all the team tokens are locked for 12 months after protocol launch…and if any of us did something like this we’d basically have to stop working on our life’s work. We are in this to bring better trust to people’s digital lives not to get rich. Anyone who knows @databu or I will probably tell you the same. We actually have an article that we may publish soon about exactly how UTU can resolve trust issues like this around the DeFi and crypto space in general

I might add that we will move the UTU Protocol (team) tokens as well as some of the raised funds into multisig wallets.

Cryptodiffer Community

Government regulation is a threat to some non-compliant projects. How well does UTU follow regulations?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

We are pretty hardcore about compliance. We have too much to lose by breaking rules and would rather accept some limitations and compromises in the short-term to protect the long-term viability of our project and mission. The world will catch up but we have to be careful to safeguard our vision until it does. Hence the strengthened KYC process we put in. We also have our own personal values around fairness, equality, and decentralization, which is likely evident in some of the choices you’ve seen us make in the recent weeks about the structure and format of our  movement.

Cryptodiffer Community

how easy and affordable is your platform for new projects to develop, especially for novice DApps developers?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

Our goal is to make this as easy as possible and affordable for any size project using consumption based pricing. Please reach out to the team in our group, t.me/ututrust to learn about how you could get priority access to our Oracle

Cryptodiffer Community

The latest focus and trend in blockchain is gaming and DeFi. How efficiently can UTU serve as a platform to serve these two functions?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

Interesting that you mention blockchain gaming, maybe I should point out that Blockchain Gaming giant Animoca Brands is one of our key equity investors. Indeed UTU’s trust infrastructure can make the gaming world more trusted as well… but more on this at later date 🙂

Cryptodiffer Community

How was the machine learning adapted for the trust model developed and what are the advantages for the system?

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

For you highly technical folks out there that are interested in the AI, check out @databu’s keynote presentation at World AI Show – https://youtu.be/KbfRm4zX4hY

CTO at Utu, Bastian Blankenburg

Thank you for having us! Please don’t forget to join: https://t.me/UTUtrust

Cryptodiffer TEAM

thank you @UTUman @databu for your time today, excellent answers

Thank you everyone for your questions

CEO at Utu, Jason Eisen

Thanks everyone!

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