AMA with Brendan Eich

by | Aug 17, 2018 | Announcements, Brave Insights, Community, Features, Privacy, Research, Security

On August 16th, BAT Community hosted the first in an upcoming series of AMAs (Ask Me Anything!) with Brendan Eich in the r/BATProject subreddit. Over the course of the AMA, Brendan answered a mix of pre-submitted and live questions from Redditors about Brave and the Basic Attention Token.

Highlights from the AMA with Brendan are listed below. A link to the full transcript can be found at the bottom of this post.

The next AMA will take place on Wednesday, August 22nd, and will feature Brian Bondy, Brave’s co-founder & CTO; you can submit your questions already via Reddit. For a full list of upcoming BAT Community AMAs from this August 2018 through January 2019, see below.

u/cokechan: Can you talk about the machine learning model that serves ads? What features is the model trained on?
Currently betting on ELPH: Entropy Learning Pruned Hypothesis but all the Bayesian tools in the kit work. For proof of humanity (see last answer) we know of potential partners using RNNs. The key with machine learning is data feed quality. Browsers are juicy: navigation, tab clusters, opener/openee relations, scrolling of content, and (bigger) search query log, ecommerce log, form fill data. Plus info you volunteer when onboarding about demographics, brand loyalty, that stays on device and is encrypted with client key if you sync. We can do cross-device attribution via encrypted sync + blind tokens, without any data in clear on servers. This will be huge!
u/henryscepter: In what way is BAT free to use for companies? Is it legal for a company to accept BAT as payment for services? Or how about if some competing browser wants to integrate BAT, do they need your permission to do so?
Yes, but see the batify extension. It is not getting much adoption because we cannot release grants to it from the UGP. The BAT platform requires endpoint software standards, so see also the BAT SDK answer above. The roadmap already says we will bring BAT to other apps, and we have inbound pings from browsers, podcast apps, video apps. We'll get there. It will require some evolution on-chain, but off-chain services and client code unlikely to go away in time -- which means we will be building business relationships and a governance structure to ensure that no fraud actor or sloppy client gets in and befouls the pool.
u/WhaleFactory: What are you and your team most excited about right now?
The switch to brave-core is exciting to those working on or following our desktop browser architecture. BAT to Android, then iOS, super-exciting. Tipping and donating, other forms of instant-pay gestures, ditto. I asked our Telegram group whether a BraveVPN paid for in BAT would sell, got very positive answers.
u/JulesWinnfielddd: What do you think Brave/BAT's biggest hurdle will be in achieving success?
Getting to the scale where we prove the private ad model. If that performs, almost every browser and many other apps will be pounding on our door. Scale could be 10M MAU if 70% opt in, 15M if 50%, etc.
u/IholdBat: Brave has a ton of mobile users. Do you think it will be easy to integrate and move the ad platform to mobile? Will there be more resources and engineers allocated to work on the mobile app? Do you think mobile should be priority as everyone has smart phones and 75% users are using Brave on mobile devices?
Part of the roadmap (details in update) is a BAT SDK. Obviously it would be open source, but more: we would require Secure Remote Attestation (Intel SGX broken but ARM TrustZone as used by Trustonic may be ok) to prove integrity of the SDK code in app. We would also require proof of humanity, which is a challenge but we may partner with companies that can do (in the high-integrity-per-SRA SDK code) device event analysis to ensure a human is holding the phone and using it, rather than a bot (cloud or robot finger tapping phone in rack).
u/kklee74: I’m almost a 100% user of Brave. The only hold up is that I’m still using Gmail. Any plans for adding an email system so I can completely migrate off of Google?
Everyone wants us to build Rome in a day, lol. I hear good things about Protonmail. If we get to the scale where services such as gmail (but user-first, device-data-first, anonymous via ZKP and blind certs and such) could be done as BraveMail, we'll do it. People want BraveTube too. That requires boxes in POPs, all around the world, but I have a dark horse plan there about which I cannot say more. Much is possible in time. Big things start little. Users must choose Brave to get to these higher heights.
u/danylosstefan: When I'm on or (both verified publishers and pinned in my payments preferences) i keep getting the "support us for $"1 or "you are about to reach your free article limit for the month" notices/banners. I am contributing to them much more than 1$. This seems like some low hanging fruit that the team can address. How can the loop be closed on this?
Yes, it is on bizdev agenda to get them to relieve Brave users from seeing these. We also may block such nags if easy, as they do not convert well and (fundamental point) users have rights to block/filter web content. More to say on this later this year, I hope!
u/StrosPartisan: I've been thinking about the algorithms that will award BAT to users for viewing it based on click-throughs? Or time spent scrolling on an ad page even if there is no click-through? Will users get to see how their BAT is accumulating in real-time? (eg they can figure out what does and doesn't earn BAT)
We have user trials going but have not gone to market trials (selling anonymous audience to advertisers). When we do, we'll be looking for high-CPX ads that fit our user-private model. These are analogous to search ads but also Snapchat stories: longer form narratives you choose to view via a text-y or more concise call to action. High CPX video ads often have multiple events: delivery, each quartile viewed, user clicks on promo link at end. In an ad tab, the brand could form a longer lasting, even e-commerce (take that, Amazon!) relationship. We see attributable and payable events at multiple steps in the story. Users will see metrics for these in real time.
u/lukusdukus: BAT is an exchange of value focused on attention, if we imagine a scenario where it becomes widely used online, do you see an opportunity for this to become one of the first mainstream digital currencies by proxy or saturation? i.e. imagine that I could spend my earned BAT in most online stores - perhaps through the creation of standard payment gateway services for platforms like Shopify? Would you look to build these services yourself or just provide a payments API so that developers could create the integrations?
It is possible BAT goes big this way, although see Vitalik's post. BAT has had relatively low volatility. Our goal is to keep it valued on platform via MV=PQ or (T for Q, and H=1/V, C=1/P per Vitalik's post) MC=TH where M is capped by the sale, growing as we release UGP slowly from 1.14B to 1.5B, and H is limited by the time in users' ledgers to 30 days + faster/rolling settlement time. Sorry for math and pseudo-physics econo-b.s. but long story short, if BAT became useful for general payments, it would be competing with the big cryptocurrencies that are good for general use, and would face the issues Vitalik cites. One more thing: average folks aren't ready to lose coin (wipe private key via user data loss on OS or browser profile), send to wrong address. To overcome these issues requires more than BAT or LN or anything. For now we keep user BAT balances small, encourage backup of word list, and can restore lost coin given words.
u/Lunatic_Fringe_Phd: As the network grows, can you figure out a way to pay out BAT publisher payments in a rotation so there isn't a huge selling dump on, say, the 1st and 15th of each month?
Exactly right, we will make settlement roll as often as possible, randomized if needed, to avoid sell pressure and gaming.

Read the full AMA here:

See the transcript from Brendan’s December 20th, 2017 AMA here:

Follow the BAT Community’s Updates:

Upcoming BAT Community AMAs:

August 2018
Brian Bondy, Brave CTO and Co-Founder

September 2018
Johnny Ryan, Chief Policy Officer
Joel Reis and Sergey Zhukovsky, Brave iOS and Android

October 2018
David Temkin, Chief Product Officer
Yan Zhu, Chief Information Security Officer

November 2018
Jonathan Sampson, Developer Relations Specialist
Alex Wykoff, User Research and Testing

December 2018
Ryan Watson and Kamil Jozwiak, DevOps and QA
CBO Brian Brown, Luke Mulks, Jan Piotrowski and Brad Flora from the Business Development team.

Jan 2019
Tom Lowenthal, Security and Privacy Coordinator

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