Ubisoft’s entry into the maelstrom of NFTs, which has so far been comically inept, has also been received by the wider public with an enormous amount of outright hostility. And how has the company responded to this backlash? Exactly as you would expect.

Unlike some studios, which dipped their toes into the water, found their fanbases were not exactly thrilled with the prospect and bailed, Ubisoft is far too invested in this bullshit to go backing out now. And so, in an interview with a crypto news site, the company has instead explained how they intend on ignoring your concerns and pushing right on ahead with everything.

Speaking with Decrypt, a site literally owned by a crypto company and thus “dedicated to helping people understand this brave new world”, Ubisoft’s Blockchain Technical Director Didier Genevois said a whole bunch of stuff that basically boils down to “we’re doing this anyway, you just need time to get used to it”.

We have received a lot of feedback since the announcement, and we hear both the encouragement and the concerns. We understand where the sentiment towards the technology comes from, and we need to keep taking it into consideration every step of the way.

Fuck off! You didn’t get concerns, you got outrage, because NFTs are an enormous scam lying in plain sight, a pointless intrusion on existing systems designed only to enrich those hustling it and an environmental catastrophe, no matter what kind of hand-waving and PR laundering its advocates try. All in one thing, all at the same time.

Genevois goes on to say “This experiment is meant to understand how the value proposition of decentralization can be received and embraced by our players. We know it is a major change that will take time, but we will stay true to our…principles.”

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Power up your holiday
EcoFlow is offering deals on their portable power stations: to make it easier to feel cozy at home. Especially if you’ve overloaded yours with good cheer and accidentally knocked the power out.

People don’t want time, they don’t want to change, they don’t want to get used to this. This isn’t horse armour, or fighter skins, annoyances and inconveniences that people protested then begrudgingly got used to. This is a hard no.

This content was originally published here.

Ubisoft’s dive into the cold, murky waters of NFTs did not go over well with fans, who very quickly expressed overwhelming dislike for the idea. They’re not the only ones: The French trade union Solidaires Informatique, which represents some workers at Ubisoft Paris, criticized the decision in a statement calling blockchain technology “a useless, costly, ecologically mortifying technology.”

“Ubisoft has recently entered the blockchain and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) market. A decision that has been widely criticized by our players, bringing no improvements or benefits to our games,” the union said in a statement. “Many of us in the company feel the same way and say that blockchain is harmful, worthless, and without a future.”

It’s not just the technological side of NFTs that Solidaires Informatique has a problem with: Sketchy NFT creators and games, which have been rife with scams and rip-offs, also come under fire. “You like dividends, subprimes, financial derivatives, crises, speculation, fast trading, money laundering, etc?” the union said. “This is the assured and unspoken promise of NFT. We are far from the enjoyment of videogames.”

As if that isn’t enough, Solidaires Informatique also pointed out that the implementation of NFTs as collectible cosmetics in Ubisoft games really isn’t anything new: The big innovation of the blockchain, the union said, “is to do the same, but inefficiently.”

📢 UBISOFT and NFTBlockchain is a useless, costly, ecologically mortifying tech which doesn’t bring anything to videogames. pic.twitter.com/H3LPS94Q5yDecember 14, 2021

It’s vitriolic but not entirely unjustified, at least based on what Ubisoft has revealed of its NFT program so far. As Rich noted when it was announced, a hat that you could wear in Assassin’s Creed, Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, Riders Republic, and For Honor could at least be seen as leveraging the potential of NFT technology. But we’re not getting that: We’re getting cosmetic items that only work in one game, which is effectively something that game studios have been offering for years.

The union said the NFT strategy has been “questioned and denounced internally” at Ubisoft Paris as well. Management is apparently still trying to sell the plan, but the union rejected the entire premise outright, saying its members understand the technology and don’t need explanations because they’re opposed to it as a matter of principle.

“We don’t have concrete statistics, but in the internal Ubisoft forum, the announcement of NFTs was widely commented on, with something like a 5% ratio of positive comments. The rest were negative,” Solidaires Informatique chapter rep Marc Rutschlé, who is also a senior designer on Ghost Recon Breakpoint, told PC Gamer in an email today. 

“[Ubisoft CEO] Yves Guillemot made a video conference this morning to support the NFT project. I am not sure how many people attended the meeting ([Ubisoft Paris is] around 700+-plus people). Some friends checked and found four people who were happy. The rest were negative comments/questions. Devs are not happy.”

Despite the union’s strong stance, the likelihood is that we’ll see more of this sort of thing in the future, not less. Ubisoft is the first major publisher to incorporate NFTs into a game, but Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson recently described them as “the future of our industry,” while Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said he’s a “big believer” in NFTs, although not necessarily as they currently exist. Peter Molyneux, Dead By Daylight, and Funko Pops have also embraced NFTs.

Gamers don’t seem inclined to follow their lead just yet. The strong pushback against Ubisoft’s NFT plan was matched earlier today by the response to GSC Game World’s announcement that Stalker 2 will also incorporate NFTs. And that, more than employee discontent, may be what ultimately convinces game companies to change course. It’s one thing for people who make games to be unhappy, after all, but it’s something else entirely if that unhappiness spills over to the people who buy them.

Ironically, Nicolas Pouard, the vice president of Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab, recently said something very similar: In a post on VentureBeat about the importance of player buy-in, he wrote, “Blockchain is a game changer, but only if used the right way and with players at its core will we collectively harness the true potential of this innovation.”

However that ultimately shakes out, it appears for now that Ubisoft is fully committed to its NFT plan. 

“This morning, Guillemot has reaffirmed that Ubisoft will still develop blockchain/NFT,” Rutschlé said. “There are more things to come. He mentioned his continuous will and enthusiasm for Web.3, metaverse, and self-regulated virtual worlds. Just to compare, during the whole sexual harassment scandal, he didn’t make such a move. It’s crazy.”

Solidaires Informatique filed a lawsuit against the company over allegations of “institutional sexual harassment” in July.

This content was originally published here.

Bitcoin bounced toward $49,000 on Wednesday as traders reacted to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to accelerate its stimulus withdrawal. Some analysts suggested the Fed decision was already priced in, which means some traders already sold long positions, which created attractive price levels for short-term buyers.

The central bank will reduce its bond purchases by $30 billion every month to wind them down early next year, twice as fast as the current pace of withdrawal of $15 billion every month. Some crypto investors say the $120 billion-a-month program helped to bolster bitcoin’s appeal as an inflation hedge, CoinDesk’s Brad Keoun wrote.

“The most likely path forward is more choppy/sideways price action heading into year end, though any major risk-off event or volatility spike that punishes risk assets would likely drag on BTC and the broader crypto market as well,” Delphi Digital, a crypto research firm, wrote in an Wednesday memo.

Despite higher losses, however, blockchain data suggests that some investors continue to hold bitcoin. For example, the balance of BTC on exchanges has continued to decline this year, which could mean investors prefer to hold bitcoin in their wallet instead of making it available for sale on the exchange.

Aave’s community votes to prevent forks: A governance proposal floated by the Aave community centered around the platform’s code licensing ended on Tuesday, with 55% voting for the ecosystem to apply for a “business license.” This vote “is essentially a signal on whether or not the Aave community wants to protect its Intellectual Property from unauthorized use, or simply allow anyone to use the code in any way they prefer,” the proposal’s pseudonymous author explained. Read more here.

Damanick is a crypto market analyst at CoinDesk where he writes the daily Market Wrap and provides technical analysis. He is a Chartered Market Technician designation holder and member of the CMT Association. Damanick is also a portfolio manager at Cannon Advisors, which does not invest in digital assets. Damanick does not own cryptocurrencies.

This content was originally published here.

Comments from Senator Ted Cruz underscore the potential that Bitcoin mining has to integrate with the Texas energy grid in a transformative way.

Recently, Ars Technica published an article from staff writer and environmental science PhD Tim de Chant, aiming to rebut Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s comments from the Texas Blockchain Summit earlier this month.

De Chant took issue with the following statement from Cruz:

“Because of the ability of bitcoin mining to turn on or off instantaneously, if you have a moment where you have a power shortage or a power crisis, whether it’s a freeze or some other natural disaster where power generation capacity goes down, that creates the capacity to instantaneously shift that energy to put it back on the grid.”

De Chant offered a number of responses, but generally seems to misunderstand the substance of Senator Cruz’s point. Additionally, he made a significant mathematical error (later retracted) that called into question his literacy on Bitcoin mining.

But first, it’s worth quoting Cruz in full, as the intent of his claims are lost without the full context. We have included a transcript excerpt of Cruz’s comments on mining from his conversation at the summit with Jimmy Song below, in which he referenced a recent winter storm that left many in Texas without access to power for days:

​​”There were lots of things that went wrong [during the winter storm] that I think are worthy of study, but I do think that Bitcoin has the potential to address a lot of aspects of that. Number one, from the perspective of Bitcoin, Texas has abundant energy. You look at wind, we’re the number one wind producer in the country, by far. Number two, I think there are massive opportunities when it comes [indistinct audio]. If you look at natural gas right now, in West Texas the amount of natural gas that is being flared — 50% of the natural gas in this country that is flared, is being flared in the Permian right now in West Texas. I think that is an enormous opportunity for Bitcoin, because that’s right now energy that is just being wasted. It’s being wasted because there is no transmission equipment to get that natural gas where it could be used the way natural gas would ordinarily be employed; it’s just being burned.

“And so some of the really exciting endeavors that people are looking at is ‘can we capture that gas instead of burning it?.’ Use it to put in a generator right there on site. Use that power to mine Bitcoin. Part of the beauty of that is, the instant you’re doing it, you’re helping the environment enormously because rather than flaring that natural gas you’re putting it to productive use. But secondly, because of the ability to Bitcoin mining to turn on or off instantaneously, if you have a moment where you have a power shortage or a power crisis whether it’s a freeze or some other natural disaster where power generation capacity goes down, that creates the capacity to instantaneously shift that energy to put it back on the grid. If you’re connected to the grid, they become excess reserves that can strengthen the grid’s resilience by providing a significant capacity of additional power to be available for critical services if and when it is needed. So I think that has enormous potential and it’s something that in five years I expect to see a dramatically different terrain, with Bitcoin mining playing a significant role as strengthening and hardening the resilience of the grid.

“It’s a weird point. A lot of the discussion around Bitcoin views Bitcoin as a consumer of energy. A lot of the criticism directed at it is the consumption of energy. The perspective I’m suggesting is very much the reverse, which is as a way to strengthen our energy infrastructure. And it also has – one of the exciting things about crypto also, is the ability to unlock stranded renewables. So there are a lot of places on earth where the sun shines a lot and the wind blows a lot but there aren’t any power lines. And so it’s not economically feasible to use that energy. And the beauty of Bitcoin mining is that if you can connect to the internet, you can use that energy and derive value from those renewables in a way that would be impossible otherwise. And I think we’re going to see in the next five years massive innovations in that regard as well.”

De Chant made a number of points in reaction to Cruz’s statements. We will tackle them in turn.

De Chant starts with the admission that “it stands to reason that bitcoin mining could create enough demand that investors would be enticed to build new power plants. Those plants could theoretically be tasked with providing power to the grid in cases of emergency.”

But this isn’t really the point that Cruz and the Bitcoin community are making. Instead, we are pointing out that power providers will have improved economics from the existence of bitcoin mining as an additional source of offtake. These improved economics could induce extra construction. But we haven’t come across the suggestion that mining would finance the construction of bitcoin-only plants that would be directed to the grid in emergency situations.

The other claim is that bitcoin miners represent a unique type of interruptible load, whose ability to dial back energy consumption can help safeguard the grid from instability.

De Chant continued by pointing out that the February blackout in Texas was caused by significant winter storms in conjunction with a poorly weatherized grid — although Cruz completely acknowledged this in his remarks. This doesn’t score a point against Cruz — he’s fully aware of why the grid failed: significant winter storms in conjunction with a poorly weatherized grid, alongside other contributing factors such as natural gas delivery. What happened was that, alongside power plant failures, the natural gas infrastructure was unable to deliver natural gas to power plants. Additionally, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) underforecasted its high case peak load scenario by around 10 gigawatts (GWs), which was a huge miss.

Cruz was not claiming that Bitcoin would prevent a black swan weather-driven grid meltdown. Ultimately, only better planning can do this.

De Chant continued by pointing out that Bitcoin miners wouldn’t spend extra cash to winterize their operations. But this is a confusing point: De Chant appears to be conflating miners and energy producers. In practice, the two are distinct. General grid failures have nothing to do with Bitcoin, and no one is suggesting that Bitcoin will cause power plants to fully avoid two-sigma tail events.

The Economics Of Accepting Lower Uptime

The main line of argument from De Chant is simply his claim that the economics of mining don’t support curtailment, even when prices are high. In his words: “Bitcoin miners would be unlikely to offer their generating capacity to the grid unless they were sufficiently compensated.” In the first version of his article, he originally claimed that miners would need to be paid $31,700 per megawatt hour (MWh) during the February 2021 winter storm to turn off their machines, an estimate which he revised to $600 per MWh later on. But both estimates are erroneous.

Even for the highest-end equipment (Antminer S19s), the “turn-off point” in February 2021 for miners would have been $480 per MWh. Older equipment has a lower turn-off threshold as it is more sensitive to electricity prices. When electricity prices reach a certain threshold, miners are no longer breaking even and turn off their machines — whether or not they are enrolled in a formal grid program to compensate them for downtime.

Miners are acutely aware of their economics and can adjust to grid conditions in real time. De Chant was off by a factor of 66 in his initial estimate. In his revised estimate, he maintained erroneously that miners would turn off their rigs at $600 per MWh, which is still an overestimate. Put simply, Bitcoin miners are highly price sensitive and engage in “economic dispatch” — meaning that they react to prices and simply do not run their equipment if electricity prices get too high. This is independent of whether they are participating in a “demand response” program, which formally employs power consumers to curtail their usage during periods of electricity scarcity.

In the below chart, you can see that miners would have turned off their machines well before the $9,000 per MWh price cap was reached for electricity in ERCOT.

Sources: Lancium, Historical BTC Community Data (CoinMetrics), Historical RTM Load Zone and Hub Prices (ERCOT)

The precise threshold at which miners curtailed their usage depends on the types of machines employed — higher-end machines have a higher opportunity cost, and are hence kept online through more expensive periods of power pricing.

Electricity is generally cheap in ERCOT, which might imply relatively few instances in which miners would curtail their usage. But of course, the average doesn’t tell the story. The nature of the spot-driven grid is that much of the time, energy is cheap or even free (depending on where it’s being consumed), and a small fraction of the time it’s very scarce and expensive (this is a feature — the high prices are a signal to incentivize new generation to be built).

It’s during those right-tail events that Bitcoin miners can significantly benefit the grid by interrupting their load. Running the rest of the time means that energy is generally more abundant, because the presence of miners is an economic pressure that improves grid economics, making it more worthwhile to build new energy projects (who can now for the first time have the option to sell their full generation capacity to the grid or to Bitcoin).

For example, Lancium is a Houston-based technology company that is creating software and intellectual property solutions that enable more renewable energy on the grid. In 2020, it was the first company ever to qualify a load as a controllable load resource (CLR) (more on these later).

As of today, the company owns and/or operates all load-only CLRs in ERCOT with approximately 100 MWs of Bitcoin mining load under control for CLR. These mining facilities are being optimized on both a daily and hourly basis to mine when it is economic to do so and to turn down when it is not.

It’s worth diving into the distribution of power prices on a grid like ERCOT to fully understand how miners engage with the grid. Much of the time, energy is abundant and cheap. In West Texas, prices are routinely negative, as the supply of wind and solar periodically vastly outstrips demand, and there’s a limited ability to export the supply to load centers elsewhere in Texas.

Source: Lancium, Historical RTM Load Zone and Hub Prices (ERCOT)

What the miners do is provide a load resource which eagerly gobbles up negatively priced or cheap power (everything on the left side of the chart), while interrupting itself during those right-tail events (you can see the winter storm to the right).

On the one hand, this improves the economics of energy producers who for the first time have a new buyer to sell their electricity to, beyond just the inflexible grid. This promotes the construction of more renewable energy infrastructure and improves the prospects for existing installations. On the other hand, a highly interruptible load that can tolerate downtime means there’s more power available for households and hospitals during periods of scarcity, when supply trips offline through weather or other interruptions.

From the miner’s perspective, accepting interruptions to their service is actually an economically rational decision, for two reasons:

  • They avoid paying extremely high prices for electricity during a shortage
  • In some cases, they are actually paid for the service of providing “insurance” to the grid

The below table shows the average yearly electricity price for consumers willing to tolerate various amounts of downtime. You can see that if you strategically avoided high-priced periods (as miners are motivated to do), you dramatically saved on power overall.

In 2021, with the right-tail event due to the winter storm causing prices to spike, if you reduced your uptime expectation from 100% to 95%, you were able to drive your overall power cost for the year from $178 per MWh to a mere $25 per MWh. So, the grid does not need to rely on the beneficence of miners to expect them to turn off their machines during times of grid stress: as profit-maximizing entities, they have a clear economic motive to do so.

Source: Lancium, Historical RTM Load Zone and Hub Prices (ERCOT)

For a more holistic look at what prices in ERCOT have done during the last five years, we have included a chart showing the cumulative distribution by year below. Given that it hosted the winter storm, 2021 has the “fattest” right tail, with 5% of hours being priced over $100 per MWh.

Source: Lancium, Historical RTM Load Zone and Hub Prices (ERCOT)

You can see that wholesale spot prices are low much of the time, but are characterized by extreme spikiness as you get to the last 15% of the distribution. Neither tail is desirable: negative or low prices indicate an excess of supply causing a mismatch, and imply poor economics for energy producers; extremely high prices are indicative of blackouts and households not getting the energy they need. The presence of flexible load on the grid chops off both tails of the distribution. It is not a panacea and it cannot stop poorly-winterized equipment from failing during once-a-century storms, but the net effect is positive regardless.

Demand Response And Controllable Load

Additionally, the existence of flexible load is so useful to grid operators that they have designed specific programs to pay these load centers for a type of grid insurance. Broadly, these programs are known as “demand response” (DR). This term covers a range of load responses that generally reduce load at the instruction of the grid operator. Virtually all independent system operators maintain demand response programs, but most of them have programs that require 10 to 30 minutes of response time on the load.

In fact, on a percentage of peak demand basis, ERCOT lags its peers like MISO (the Midcontinent Independent System Operator) when it comes to enrolling utilities in demand response.

Source: 2020 Assessment of Demand Response Metering (FERC)

As ERCOT is a single balancing authority interconnection that is not synchronously connected with any other interconnection, it is essentially an islanded electrical grid. This means that ERCOT cannot lean on its neighbors for help when faced with an expected energy shortfall and instead must balance on its own.

Source: NERC Interconnection Map (ERCOT)

Texas leads all states in having the highest levels of installed wind generation capacity in the country and is expected to double its renewable capacity over the next three to five years. Being an islanded grid with a significant portion of energy supply coming from renewables requires ERCOT to procure and utilize more responsive DR products, with requirements to respond in seconds or even at the sub-second frequency in addition to the more traditional 10-to-30-minute response times.

What De Chant simply failed to mention — but Ted Cruz hinted at — is the remarkable ability of miners to act as these controllable load resources.

In ERCOT parlance, this is a type of power consumer that can dial down their consumption and back up again in response to grid operator commands on a second-by-second basis. Most data centers can’t do this — in fact, the selling point for many data centers is precisely their high uptime and non-interruptibility.

The Bitcoin network is a much more forgiving client: it doesn’t really care if you interrupt the action of mining, because each successive hash is statistically independent of the last (this is known as “memorylessness”). Aside from making slightly less revenue, nothing adverse happens if a Bitcoin mining data center only runs at 60% or even 0% capacity for a few minutes or hours. Compare that to a hospital, a smelter, a factory, or commercial real estate. These sources of load need constant uptime, and cannot tolerate interruptions.

Due to the statistical properties of mining and the physical tolerance for mining hardware to deal with interruption, Bitcoin data centers can therefore dial up and down their consumption on a highly-granular basis and on short notice.

For a grid operator, such a load type is a dream, because it gives them the ability to balance supply and demand from the demand side, rather than having to tweak supply (typically by spinning up and down natural gas turbines). There have historically been some semi-interruptible loads that grid operators relied on for similar programs, like arc furnaces, wood pulp production, cement mills, or aluminum electrolysis, but none could provide the flexibility or response times Bitcoin miners can.

The industries mentioned are industrial loads which cannot easily power up and down, and certainly not on extremely short notice, as is necessary for a modern CLR. For context, CLRs have to be able to curtail their targeted load reduction by 70% within 16 seconds. Before Bitcoin mining, no load type qualified in ERCOT.

You can think of a CLR as a power generator in reverse. Instead of adding expensive power to the grid during a period of scarcity, the CLR receives a real-time price signal from the grid operator and if it’s above its economic turn-off point, it will automatically “dispatch down” (curtail consumption) to make way for other, more critical loads. Therefore, instead of only having flexible (and CO2-emitting) thermal energy from a coal or natural gas generation available to the grid operator during peak demand periods, the CLR capacity not reserved as grid insurance is offered into ERCOT’s security-constrained economic dispatch (SCED) and will automatically dispatch down when the real-time price is higher than the turn-off point for the bitcoin mining load.

An added benefit to ERCOT in having bitcoin mining loads as a “load resource” is that during local shortages or system emergencies, ERCOT can directly turn down the load. This is a very big deal. For the data center, it’s a great deal, because they can sell “ancillary services” (basically, a bundle of products that give the grid operator the right to curtail the data center’s production should they need to), collect a premium for doing that, and mine the rest of the time. So, they collect a premium on an ongoing basis (even if not called upon to curtail their usage), effectively lowering their all-in power cost, while also providing a valuable service to the grid.

In contrast, a generation resource which sells ancillary services has a real opportunity cost: it has to run below its maximum in order to retain some slack in case it is called upon to increase its power.

So, when Cruz mentioned the possibility of Bitcoin mining “playing a significant role as strengthening and hardening the resilience of the grid,” he is likely referring to the strong benefits that interruptible load offers to a grid operator. The existence of qualifying CLRs means that policymakers can target structurally-higher renewable penetration and feel comfortable in the grid operator’s ability to procure more insurance against adverse events. As grids become increasingly renewable and move from fossil-fuel-powered steady baseload to more volatile wind and solar power, these kinds of controllable loads will become increasingly critical.

Additionally, the ability of Bitcoin miners to colocate with renewable assets and act as an independent buyer when the grid has no demand provides a base level of monetization which was not available previously. This incentive means that intermittent energy sources like wind and solar (which are often curtailed, as they are frequently distant from load centers) have improved economics.

Indeed, an analysis from Dr. Joshua Rhodes and Dr. Thomas Deetjen with IdeaSmiths LLC demonstrated that flexible data centers would actually promote the stability of an increasingly-renewable grid and allow for more renewable penetration than the grid could otherwise support.

The analysis from Rodes and Deetjen found that “operating data centers in a flexible manner can result in a net reduction of carbon emissions” and can “increase the resilience of the grid by reducing demand during high stress times (low reserves) on the grid.”

Under the scenario where 5 GWs of flexible data center growth was added to the base case with a range of uptimes between 85% to 87%, the flexible data center “consumes about 35.5 million MWh, but supports the deployment of an additional 39.5 million MWhs of wind and solar energy.”

In simple terms, the incremental MWh output from solar and wind is greater than the incremental MWh consumption from the flexible data centers — hence, carbon negative.

For a visualization of how the intermittency of wind and solar affects electricity pricing, we have assembled real data from earlier in October in West Texas in the chart below:

Source: Lancium, ERCOT

Between October 8 and October 10, wind and solar generation averaged over 20 GWs with the power lines that connect West Texas to the major load centers in the east being at maximum capacity. With so much wind and solar online, West Texas power prices averaged $3 for these three days with several hours settling negative. On October 11, wind generation was 20 GWs at around midnight, 2 GWs by noon and back up to 20 GWs by end of day. As wind dropped, power flowing across the West Texas power lines also dropped, which caused West Texas prices to be on par with the rest of ERCOT.

This drop in wind means natural gas must yet again pick up the slack. A grid with even higher wind and solar penetration would face these problems in abundance. Having a significant quantity of flexible loads on the grid to dial down consumption during rapid drawdowns in renewable generation would help attenuate spikes in power prices, without requiring as much support from less efficient combustion turbine peakers.

Conclusion

In our view, contemporary industrial Bitcoin mining has four key properties that make the industry an extremely suitable buyer of energy for increasingly renewable grids. These are interruptibility, unconstrained location agnosticism, scale independence, and attenuation:

  1. Interruptibility: This refers to the ability of miners to tolerate downtime with a merely linear worsening in their economics. Other load centers cannot tolerate interruptibility, and certainly not on a second-to-second basis. This enables Bitcoin mining data centers to qualify for advanced grid insurance products like Ancillary Services as Controllable Load Resources in ERCOT.
  2. Attenuation: Bitcoin mining data centers can reduce their energy consumption on a fractional basis, dialing down from a full load to a small percentage of ASICs online at any point. Aside from the hit to their economics, they suffer no adverse consequences from doing this. This makes them suitable for participating in highly-configurable demand response programs.
  3. Unconstrained location agnosticism: Bitcoin miners can participate in the network anywhere, mining with limited data overhead over cellular data or satellite internet. This is completely unlike most other load centers like households, which require expensive transmission from generation resources to centers of load. This property means that Bitcoin miners can colocate with renewables even prior to grid connection; can exploit fully off-grid assets like waste natural gas; and can consume otherwise-curtailed energy in places with abundant resources like West Texas.
  4. Scale independence: Bitcoin mining is strongly fractionalizable, and does not maintain extreme economies of scale. This means that a shipping container of miners can be perfectly viable exploiting a sub-1 MWh source of energy. This property means that miners are highly portable and can attack stranded energy assets which would otherwise not find a buyer. Other industrial centers of load like aluminum smelting plants cannot be fractionalized.

Among industrial load centers, these qualities are unique. Prior to Bitcoin, there simply wasn’t a load resource that satisfied these four qualities. Some industrial consumers of load have some of these features, but none with such fidelity. Aluminum smelting, for instance, has a degree of location agnosticism, as has been well-documented with Alcoa smelters being colocated with abundant energy resources, effectively exporting energy via the refined metal.

Certain types of factories like aluminum arc furnaces and paper mills have a degree of interruptibility, but only for short periods of time, and only with significant latency. Certain power companies offer households and industrial consumers the ability to participate in demand-response programs, but only in a reduced capacity and never as a Controllable Load Resource. Non-Bitcoin data centers also exhibit location agnosticism to a certain degree, but require high throughput internet and cannot tolerate interruptibility.

By satisfying these qualities, Bitcoin represents a truly novel industrial load center, and offers superlative benefits to grid operators and policymakers aiming to decarbonize the grid. This permits Bitcoin miners to effectively sell high-quality insurance into the grid by participating in the ancillary service market in ERCOT, something that was mostly limited to the supply-side previously (through thermal generation resources).

Even without these more advanced CLR products, it’s clear that miners have a strong economic motive to curtail their consumption during periods of high prices, allowing households to get more power during periods of scarcity.

A joint realization is currently underway. First, Bitcoin miners are learning that there are significant economic benefits to accepting reduced uptime and going from “dumb” load to “smart” load. Beyond the merit of economic dispatch, participating in formal demand response programs is an additional source of revenue — and hardens the grid, too. Additionally, independent system operators are beginning to discover the possible importance of Bitcoin miners as a flexible load resource, one most unlike those they have historically considered for demand-response programs.

We hope and expect that many more grid operators will realize the significant benefits offered by flexible data centers and begin to design with Bitcoin mining in mind. Their ambitions for increasingly renewable grids may well depend on it.

This is a guest post by Nic Carter and Shaun Connell. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.

This content was originally published here.

LONDON, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Bitcoin hovered just below its record highs on Wednesday and the first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) looked set to open firmer after surging on its debut on Tuesday.

The world’s leading cryptocurrency was at $64,257 at 1236 GMT, modestly higher on the day and within a short jump of the all-time high of $64,895.22 it hit on April 14 this year.

It reached as high as $64,499 on Tuesday, late in the U.S. session.

Tuesday was the first day of trading for the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF — a development that market participants say is likely to drive investment into the digital asset.

The ETF closed up 2.59% at $41.94 on Tuesday, with around $1 billion worth of shares trading hands on Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s ICE.N Arca exchange. read more

It was trading around 0.2% higher before the market opened.

Trading appeared to be dominated by smaller investors and high-frequency trading firms, analysts said, noting the absence of large block trades indicated that institutions were likely staying on the sidelines.

James Quinn, managing partner at Q9 Capital, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency private wealth manager, said the launch of the new product was “meaningful” for bitcoin.

Theoretically, any licensed brokerage firm in the United Stateswhich wants to take on this ETF can do so as easily as any other ETF, which “should make it available to a lot of folks”, said Quinn.

While the ETF is based on bitcoin futures, Quinn said the trades and hedges underpinning the ETF means activity will flow into the spot market and the bitcoin price.

Crypto ETFs have launched this year in Canada and Europe amid surging interest in digital assets. VanEck and Valkyrie are among fund managers pursuing U.S.-listed ETF products, although Invesco on Monday dropped its plans for a futures-based ETF.

Ether , the world’s no. 2 cryptocurrency, was up 1.5% on the day at $3,926, near to a six-week high, but some way off its all-time high of $4,380, hit on May 12.

Reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Elizabeth Howcroft in London; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Gareth Jones

This content was originally published here.

Nov 5 (Reuters) – Kroger Co (KR.N) is looking into the publication of a fake press release, claiming the acceptance of bitcoin cash at its stores, the grocer said on Friday, after becoming the second major retailer in recent weeks to get entangled in a crypto hoax.

The release, which said the grocer would accept the cryptocurrency this holiday season, appeared on Kroger’s investor relations page and was later deleted.

The company said the page, which gets automatically updated, receives a direct feed from PR Newswire (PRN), where the fake release also appeared.

“This communication was fraudulent and is unfounded and should be disregarded,” a company spokesperson said in an emailed statement, adding that Kroger was in touch with PRN on the issue.

PRN pulled the fake announcement and said it was “urgently investigating the incident including looking into any criminal activity associated with this matter”.

Bitcoin cash is a fork of bitcoin’s underlying software code formed in 2017, and was an initiative headed by a small group of mostly China-based bitcoin miners. (https://reut.rs/3bL8MNO)

Walmart Inc (WMT.N) was subject to a cryptocurrency hoax in September when a fake press release was published, announcing a partnership between the world’s largest retailer and litecoin. The news had briefly sent prices of the little known cryptocurrency surging. read more

Despite a string of hoaxes, cyptocurrencies are gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies such as theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (AMC.N), which said in September that it would accept bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash and litecoin for ticket purchases in the coming months. read more

Bitcoin prices turned slightly negative after Kroger said the release was fake.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said the agency would not comment on “the existence or nonexistence” of a possible investigation into the fake press release.

Reporting by Uday Sampath, Kanika Sikka and Nishara Pathikkal Karuvalli in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Bernard Orr and Anil D’Silva

This content was originally published here.

We made it through another international break! Celebrate by sending us an email: theeditor@football365.com…

Not one of your own
Harry Kane is the best England striker I have seen in my life time and I could argue ever.

There seems to be a lot of revisionism around Rooney lately which surprises me. The guy was dine at club level by 2013 and at international level by 2006 yet he is becoming more and more reverred. Harry Kane is simply better than him.

Add in the fact that outside of wanting to move to a bigger club there have been 0 controversies around the man.

The only reason I can suggest that people hate him is because he isn’t one of their own and its fashionable to dislike the opposition. Anyone who tries to convince others otherwise just needs to stop.

Also Spurs fan, I think some perspective is required around your club. When Levy took charge you were lower mid table fodder. Under his guidance you are now top 6 regulars, with a world class stadium and world class players cross the pitch. But yeah Levy out.
Dale Leeds

…On the hating Harry Kane thing, I suspect it’s a bit like Bono.

He does lots of great things, seems like a nice enough guy, but for some reason you can’t quite put your finger on, somehow winds everybody up so much that they end up actively disliking him.

I think South Park covered the Bono thing to an absolute tee – it’s a good thing they know nothing about English football else I expect Kane would get the same kind of (sh*t)kicking.
Bladey Mick (Does Bono have a totally crap brother too?)

United’s pioneering NFT

I was struggling to explain NFT’s to my football fan friend and suddenly a textbook obvious example crystallized in my head: Paul Pogba!

– Virtual item that has no actual use in real-life
– something to flaunt only in social media, not in real life
– external bodies assess the high worth of the nft, but when one actually tries to realize the worth, one realizes it may not be worth all that much.
– Generates more publicity than utility
– owners of the nft are still trying to figure out, of what use is an nft
– NFTs’ main uses for now seem to be to troll or flaunt on social media
– are NFTs even real? Because all we see is the virtual “asset”

Don’t get me started on the other Man U virtual footballer NFTs such as Donny vdB, Ant Martial… etc

Man U is certainly a pioneer in digital currency and NFT. All hail Ed Woody!

Gab YNWA

Ole’s performance appraisal
Even as a Man Utd fan, I’ve gotten sick of the “Ole In / Ole Out” bipolar swings, so having just gone through my annual appraisal at work, I thought I’d offer a different spin that has, I hope, a little more structure to its approach.

Trophies – C
OGS is the first manager since Moyes I believe to have NOT won a trophy. Assuming this is the ultimate benchmark, he has clearly failed. In fairness to him and the evaluation, there are only so many trophies available and Liverpool, City and Chelsea seem to be hovering up most of them, so his track record of a few semi-finals and finals are not that bad. It does not matched expectations but does reflect reality.

League Position/Progress – B
I do not beleive there is a MUFC fan alive who believes we deserved to finish second last season. The away form was an anomaly and may have had a lot to do with the lack of crowds. I doubt there is a fan who believes we will finish higher than 4th this season.

Style – F
Perhaps one of the most fundamental issues, OGS has designed the team to maximize pace with fast counter attacks. This is ok for a mid-table team but the elite teams are more likely to face defensive teams who will reliquish ball possession. United are clearly unable to exploit this. While Liverpool, City, et al have developed styles to address this situation, MUFC more closely resemble my local pub team, with 5 or 6 players wanting to play up front and unwilling to track back, leaving a sub-par defense exposed.

Maximizing Potential – F
I can’t honestly think of one player who has improved under OGS. In fact they all seem to play much better when they are NOT playing for MUFC and playing for their national teams. Fernandes was lighting it up before he came to MUFC (which is why he was bought in the first place!) and even he has gone off the boil.

Player Development – F
OGS may spout all the right soundbites regarding “youth is always given a chance at this club” but the reality is, when push came to shove, he turned to his senior players, exemplified by a forward line of a combined age of 70! No youth player has broken through since OGS took over, as Greenwood was already on the verge of the first team. (on a side note, I can’t for the life of me understand what the fuss is about him. It seems his only skill is two step-overs then a shot).

Player Recruitment – C
For every Fernandes there is a VDB. Even the positive acquisitions have either not been played much (VDB), played out of position (JS), or are injured a lot (EC/RV). On paper the recruitment has potential but this is not the game FM!

Tactics – D
If you put enough talented individuals on the field, every now and then they do something amazing and win you a game. But I doubt, if pressed even Gary Neville could tell you what tactics are bieng deployed. Case in point, MUFC currently possess two of the games most lethal goal poachers and headers of the ball, yet have no one who has the ability to cross the ball accurately. What’s the plan Stan (Ollie)?

Charisma / Pulling Power – F
If you were a hot commidity at the moment, would you genuinely go to MUFC so that you could develop under OGS? Would you instead prefer to under Klopp, Guardiola, Tuchel… the list goes on and on.

So why is OGS still there? In my opinion, it boils down to one thing – he provides the owners with a stable and profitable revenue stream. As long as he maintans that (e.g. making the knockout phase of the CL, chance of a top 4 finish in the league), he’ll be retained.

So, for a change of pace for anyone sick of hearing about MUFC, maybe you can conduct a similar analysis on your club!
Adidasmufc (Or maybe he’s being kept on simply to acquire Haaland!)

Diving defenders
This has been annoying me for years but writing only now for 2 reasons. 1) the quite correct calling out of Harry Kane for being a pre-eminent cheat and 2) that it seems to have become worse every season, and who can say if it’s anything to do with one Spanish manager that rhymes with Shep?

Defenders that dive. Why is this not considered cheating in the same way as attackers who dive to gain an unfair advantage? Has anyone ever, ever seen a defender being booked for that oh so frustrating cheat move when the defender is under pressure at the back, and simply turns his back on the attacker and throws themselves to the ground? Vidic was an absolute master of the art until he met Torres.

It’s so obvious and infuriating and yet I can’t remember a single example of a ref who bothers doing anything about it, not to mention the assistant referees who are invariably standing 3 yards away. I thought VAR was introduced to overturn clear and obvious errors, now what could be a clearer and more obvious error that is easily picked up on replay?

Either cheating isn’t OK full stop, or it’s OK in some instances, in which case it would be nice to let us know. If the second worst crime in football is to wilfully prevent a goalscoring opportunity then it’s bizarre to let defenders do that just because they’re under pressure near their own goal.

Regards
Joel

Tuchel v Southgate
Interesting article, but the equivalence is (currently) limited.

Even though the personnel could be the same, Tuchel plays with aggressive wingbacks – de facto midfielders – with a focus on creating width and overloads high up the pitch.

Southgate rarely lets his full-backs cross halfway – Shaw in the first 10 mins of the Euro final was an aberration and Tripper (particularly at left-back) and Walker generally added no attacking threat.

Another core difference is attacking midfield. Tuchel essentially plays with two No.10’s with the wingbacks providing the width. Southgate plays with wingers, which gives the wingbacks nowhere to go.

Three centre backs is a defensive formation – on a like for like basis with two centre backs, you add an extra body behind the ball, usually at the expense of a forward.

However, with England’s abundance of attacking talent, the Chelsea 3-4-3 could work very well for Southgate. He has a group of outstanding wingbacks available, and the attacking talent at 10 is increasingly out of this world. If he ditches the double pivot anchor, allows the wing-backs to cross halfway, and instructs Pickford not to twat the ball away under pressure…it could work, really well.

No more Trippier, no more Rice/Phillips anchor, a little less Mount, and a little more Bellingham and these guys could really be world-beaters.

Just sayin…
Matthew (ITFC)

Unseeded Euro draw
I was interested after reading Johnny Nic calling for an unseeded totally random draw for European qualifying to think what would that actually look like, so I ran a draw through a random number generator and came up with these qualifying groups. I’m not sure this is a great advert for the concept.

Luxembourg, Croatia, Belgium, England, Albania,

Denmark, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Israel,

Italy, Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany, Norway,

Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bulgaria, Romania,

Sweden, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Malta, San Marino,

Finland, Kosovo, Ukraine, Estonia, Austria, Ireland,

Cyprus, Lithuania, Scotland, Armenia, France, Poland,

Turkey, Portugal, Slovenia, Gibraltar, Netherlands, Georgia,

Wales, Macedonia, Faroe Islands, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Russia,

Latvia, Czechia, Moldova, Spain, Hungary.
Luke

Ole and combined XIs
F365’s recent article on how Ole would manage each of the big 6 and the usual articles on best combined 11 got me thinking how would Ole line up a best 11 of United vs Other big 6.
Few rules:
1: Ronaldo is a must, either as a CFwd or LFwd
2: The combined 11 would be representing Man United and should follow the patented “Ole’s United way of Playing’ (which means 3 forwards, 1 No.10, 2 DMs, and back 4 and English >> Others, Passion and Hardwork >> Talent)
3: No stats please, stats boring

1: Liverpool:

Ronaldo-LF – Firminho-CF – Salah-RF
——— – Bruno————
—-Fabinho — henderson
LB-Robertson – VDK – Varane – AWB-RB
————— Allison ———-

Salah gets in as RFwd. Ronaldo as LFwd, Firmino as False 9 (though I am tempted to still keep Cavanias proper No. 9). Bruno as No.10 DMs: Self Explanatory
Based on current form Robertson gets ahead of Shawberto, VDK and Varane get in, and Ole would 100% favor AWB over Alex-Trent-Arnold
Keep Allison over De Gea any day (except when they play West Ham.)

2: Chelsea

Rashord-LF – Ronaldo – Havertz-RF
———— – Bruno – ————-
—- Jorginho — Kante —–
LB-Chilwell – Rudiger – Varane – James-RB
———– Mendy ———–

Noway Lukaku plays again for United or Ole or both, and I think Rashford is better than most (fit) LF options Chelsea has (they have way too many No. 10s). Havertz gets in over Greenwood (though I would prefer to see Ziyech in a United Jersey)
Bruno as No.10 DMs: Self Explanatory
Chillwell over Shaw (on current form) CBs are self explanatory (no one wants Maguire) and James as RB because he is probably a better defender overall than AWB , plus has much better attacking output. And Mendy seems to be better than De Gea overall

3: City:

Ronaldo and any 2 of Grealish, Foden, Mahrez, Jesus, Torres, Silva, KDB
——— Bruno —————
—- Rodri – Fernandinho ——
LB-Shaw – Dias – Varane – Walker-RB
——- Ederson —-

For Forwards, you can pick any 2 to work with Ronaldo (wonder who’ll work though?, will KDB would as false no. 9. playing alongside Ronaldo ?)
At no. 10 lets be honest, Ole picks Bruno (just ask VDB).
Gundogan would be too attacking option for Ole (just ask VDB), so Rodri and Fernandinho
Shaw over Zinchenko, Dias and Varane, and Walker over Cancelo (too attacking for Ole, plus I doubt Ole will ever play Cancelo at LB)
Ederson >>De Gea

4: Spurs

Ronaldo-LF —– Kane —— Son-RF
——— Bruno ——-
——- Fred — Højbjerg
LB-Reguilon – Maguire – Varane – AWB-RB
——- De Gea —–

Forwards: You need to fit Ronaldo and Kane somehow and you cant drop Son. And only Son could be asked to move to the right.
No. 10 Brunooooooooooooooo
Would be fun to see Kane end up playing where Bruno should be, Bruno end up playing where Ronaldo should be, Ronaldo end up playing where Kane should be, and Son…. well he still is on the right.
DMs: Fred and Right Footed better Fred , I mean Højbjerg (Ctrl+C/V)
Reguilon over Shaw, and I dont know much about Spurs’ rest of the defense (does Aurier still play?, he could suit the comedy that is Ole’s defense)
De Gea > Loris (slightly)

5: Arsenal:
Ummm, does Xhaka still play there? I honestly don’t know much about Arsenal
so maybe just squeeze in Saka, Xhaka and whoever is their next Walcott ?
Rahil, MUFC, India (Wonder if anyone would combine United vs their team 11 with the perspective of their manager. Surely someone will have room for Van De Beek, Pep or Klopp? Maybe ? Please ?)

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This content was originally published here.

Add Brian Eno to your list of stars charmingly unimpressed with NFTs. When asked about today’s hottest economic scam in an interview with The Crypto Syllabus, the legendary musician said he wouldn’t be dabbling in the trend any time soon.

“I’ve been approached several times to ‘make an NFT.’ So far nothing has convinced me that there is anything worth making in that arena,” Eno said. “‘Worth making’ for me implies bringing something into existence that adds value to the world, not just to a bank account. If I had primarily wanted to make money I would have had a different career as a different kind of person. I probably wouldn’t have chosen to be an artist. NFTs seem to me just a way for artists to get a little piece of the action from global capitalism, our own cute little version of financialisation. How sweet — now artists can become little capitalist assholes as well.”

In an era when everyone from Snoop Dogg and JAY-Z to Interpol and David Lynch have hopped on the crypto bandwagon (and made anything from thousands to millions of dollars in doing so), Eno’s comments bring some healthy skepticism to the conversation. Elsewhere in the interview, the producer cast off cryptocurrency as another faux solution to systemic problems.

“I see a world absolutely awash with loose money and speculation because the various governments of the world, unwilling to make any serious structural changes that would threaten the present status quo, have decided to solve every problem by printing more money to throw at it,” Eno said. “This is presumably why stocks soar when there’s an emergency like COVID — because speculators realise that a new emergency means a new infusion of money, and they know that much of it will end up in their hands.”

Eno didn’t shy away from the heavy carbon footprint non-fungible tokens create, either. “In a warming world a new technology that uses vast amounts of energy as ‘proof of work’ — that’s to say, simply to establish a certain badge of exclusivity — really is quite insane,” he said. “All that energy is making nothing that we need. I know there’s ‘proof of stake’ but I don’t know if that can actually work unless everybody changes over to it. And even if it did, it doesn’t address the other issues that bother me.”

Read Eno’s full crypto conversation here. Over the summer, the artist launched his own Sonos radio station and contributed to a compilation album benefiting Palestinian medical aid.

This content was originally published here.

“We saw institutional buying in call options at $5,000 and $6,500 strike call options over the past two days,” Patrick Chu, director of institutional sales and trading at crypto over-the-counter (OTC) trading firm Paradigm, told CoinDesk in a Telegram channel. “In the past 24 hours, nearly 80% of the flow on our platform has been for calls.”

A call option gives the purchaser the right but not the obligation to buy the underlying asset at a predetermined price on or before a specific date. A call buyer is implicitly bullish on the market. Sophisticated traders often use call and put (bearish bets) options to hedges against long/short positions in the spot and futures markets.

The $5,000 strike call expiring on Dec. 31 saw a trading volume of more than 12,000 in the past 24 hours, while the $6,500 strike call has registered a volume of over 10,000 contracts. These trades were done over Paradigm and booked on Deribit, the world’s largest crypto options exchange, where one contract represents 1 ETH.

“Aside from activity in the $5,000 and $6,500 calls, we also saw interest in calls at $7,000, $10,000, and $12,000 strikes,” Chu added. Ether’s options market has consistently seen bullish flows over the past month, barring Monday’s large trade in the put options or bearish bets at $3,000 and $4,000 strikes.

Put-call skews currently paint a mixed picture with one-week and one-month gauges flashing positive values, signifying increased demand for short-term downside protection or puts. Meanwhile, three- and six-month skews remain negative, implying a bullish bias, according to data tracked by crypto derivatives research firm Skew.

“Bitcoin has been looking tired in recent sessions after failing to extend the record run. There is now a risk for a double top on the daily chart, which, if triggered, would expose the possibility for a more profound drop towards a measured move downside extension target in the $48,000 area,” Joel Kruger, currency strategist at LMAX Digital, said.

“I think there are plausible scenarios where a range of factors could come together to significantly challenge the current fervor for cryptocurrencies so that the current speculative demand could begin to reverse and much of the price increases of recent years could be unwound,” Richards said a speech to the Australian Corporate Treasury Association.

“Households might be less influenced by fads and a fear of missing out [FOMO] and might start to pay more attention to the warnings of securities regulators and consumer protection agencies in many countries about the risks of investing in something with no issuer, no backing and highly uncertain value,” Richards added.

In the wake of high inflation, traditional market traders are pricing a higher probability of an early interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Money markets see the first rate hike happening in June, followed by another in November. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange data suggest a 50% probability of a 25 basis points rate hike by July 2022.

Balani added that “bitcoin’s appears exhausted, having failed to force a convincing breakout beyond the record high zone near $65,000 for almost four weeks.” The cryptocurrency topped the April high of $64,889 on Oct. 20. However, since then, buyers have struggled to establish a foothold above the key level.

This content was originally published here.

With reliance on AI-based decisioning and operations growing by the day, it’s important to take a step back and ask if everything that can be done to assure fairness and mitigate bias is being done. There needs to be greater awareness and training behind AI deployments. Not just for developers and data scientists, bur also product managers, executives, marketing managers, and merchandisers. That’s the word from John Boezeman, chief technology officer at Acoustic, who shared his insights on the urgency of getting AI right. 

Q: How far along are corporate efforts to achieve fairness and eliminate bias in AI results?  

Boezeman:  Trying to determine bias or skew in AI is a very difficult problem and requires a lot of extra care, services, and financial investment to be able to not only detect, but then fix and compensate those issues. Many corporations have unintentionally used biased or incomplete data in different models; understanding that and changing this behavior requires cultural changes and careful planning within a company. 

Those that operate under defined data ethics principles will be well-positioned to avoid bias in AI, or at least be able to detect and remedy it if and when it’s identified. 

Q: Are companies doing enough to regularly review their AI results? What’s the best way to do this?  

Boezeman:  As new tools are provided around the auditability of AI, we’ll see a lot more companies regularly reviewing their AI results. Today, many companies either buy a product that has an AI feature or capability embedded or it’s part of the proprietary feature of that product, which doesn’t expose the auditability. 

Companies may also stand up the basic AI capabilities for a specific use case, usually in that AI discover level of usage. However, in each of these cases the auditing is usually limited. Where auditing really becomes important is in “recommend” and “action” levels of AI. In these two phases, it’s important to use an auditing tool to not introduce bias and skew the results. 

One of the best ways to help with auditing AI is to use one of the bigger cloud service providers’ AI and ML services. Many of those vendors have tools and tech stacks that allow you to track this information. Also key is for identifying bias or bias-like behavior to be part of the training for data scientists and AI and ML developers. The more people are educated on what to look out for, the more prepared companies will be to identify and mitigate AI bias.   

Q: Should IT leaders and staff receive more training and awareness to alleviate AI bias?  

Boezeman:  Definitely. Both the data scientists and AI/ML developers need training on bias and skew, but it’s also important to expand this training to product managers, executives, marketing managers, and merchandisers. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing what you’ve always done, or to only go after a bias-centric approach like many industries have done in the past. But with training around alleviating AI bias, staff across your organization will be able to identify bias rather than trusting that everything AI produces is fact. From there, your company can help mitigate its impact.  

Q: AI and machine learning initiatives have been underway for several years now. What lessons have enterprises been learning in terms of most productive adoption and deployment?  

Boezeman: AI is not a panacea to solve everything. I have seen many attempts to throw AI at any use case, independent if AI is the right use case, all to enable a marketing story without providing real value. The trick to successful deployment of an AI solution is a combination of the quality of the data and the quality of the models and algorithms driving the decisioning. Simply put, if you put junk in, you’ll get junk out. The most successful deployments have a crisp use case, and well-defined data to operate with.  

Q: What areas of the organization are seeing the most success with AI?  

Boezeman:  There are many different stages in AI, but mostly they can be boiled down to three basic states: discover, recommend, and automatic action. Right now, the places I see it mostly used is in discover — insights, alerts, notifications — space. This is where the system tells you something is going on abnormal or outside of known patterns, or something is trending in a direction you should care about. People trust this kind of interaction and model, and can easily collaborate if they want proof. 

Marketers leverage AI in the discover space to determine how successful their campaigns are, for example. Another example is a merchandiser that may deploy an AI-powered solution to detect fraud or issues with the customer journey. 

Where I still see a lot of hesitation is in the recommend and action states. I used to own a product that calculated the best price for a product and order to display them in a web storefront, based on many data points, from quantity, to profitability, to time to markdown, to storage space used in warehouse. And even this product could, if you turned it on, automatically take action. What we found is many merchandisers like seeing the recommendation, but they personally wanted to take action, and also wanted to see multiple options, and finally, they wanted to see the decision tree on why the system recommended an option. When we first launched it, we didn’t have the “Why did the system recommend XYZ?” functionality. Until we provided a way to allow the merchandiser the ability to see what the recommendation was based on, they didn’t trust it.  

Q: What technologies or technology approaches are making the most difference?  

Boezeman:  There are many companies operating in this realm that are inventing new, impactful technologies every day. Spark and Amazon Sagemaker are two examples. The technologies that are making the most difference though, are those that enable you to identify bias in your AI models. When AI algorithms are biased, they can lead to unfair and incorrect results. By being able to see the bias in the system, you can then diagnose, and mitigate the situation. As the industry continues to grow, this will be a key baseline capability each technology stack will need to support. 

This content was originally published here.