On Tuesday 12th January 2021, we welcomed Nick Emmons from Upshot into DEFINFTs Gems telegram chat. Nick Emmons is the CEO of Upshot, he was formerly leading Blockchain Development at John & Manulife where they created one of the first public blockchain projects done by an incumbent.
Upshot is a question & answer protocol where people get paid to be honest. Upshot’s approach is fundamentally unique in the sense that: it can, without assuming a pre-existing ground truth, efficiently supply accurate answers to questions with discrete answer spaces.
In this post, we have compiled key questions and answers from the event.
Q1. Hello, Apes! We are glad to meet here @nickemmons from Upshot, and he will start by introducing himself, giving us a short pitch of Upshot and his role in the project!
A. Hey everyone! My name is Nick Emmons and I’m the co-founder/ CEO of Upshot. We’re building a question & answer protocol that leverages a powerful, new field of mechanism design called peer prediction to incentivize people to answer subjective questions honestly. Before this, I was leading blockchain development at John Hancock & Manulife where we created one of the first public blockchain projects done by an incumbent.
Q2. What inspired Upshot and the idea of a question & answer protocol!
A. As you might’ve guessed from my background, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about decentralized insurance. I found that the hardest part by far is the claims assessment. Claims are often subjective and require a group of people to agree on whether or not some insurable event has occurred. In trying to come up with a solution to this problem, I found peer prediction. It’s a new field of mechanism design that uses information theory to incentivize honesty when we don’t have access to ground truth. It works by comparing people’s answers to questions against each other and gleaning some insights from the correlation between their answers. Not only can something like this provide some pretty promising results for decentralized insurance, but also for a number of other applications like pricing NFTs, resolving prediction markets, content curation, etc. Thus, the idea of a question & answer protocol was born.
Q3. Can you give us a simpler text note of fewer sentences explaining what Upshot is about?
A. Upshot is a question & answer protocol where people get paid to be honest. Our approach is fundamentally unique. Instead of relying on ambiguous notions of credibility, we gather community insights and study the structure of that information to identify and reward honesty.
Q4. Do you consider the Upshot project a DEFI + NFT project? If yes, state why, and if no, also state why!
A. I would consider Upshot a DeFi + NFT project because many DeFi+NFT products can benefit from what we’re doing. We’re a very useful precursor to more exciting DeFi+NFT projects. We ourselves are also creating products at the intersection of NFTs and DeFi. For example, with our NFT appraisal product, it’s finally possible to efficiently create NFT synthetics, debt underwritten against NFTs, art collection DAOs, etc. We are working on some cool insurance products powered by our platform and NFTs as well. All these things rely on having accurate prices for NFTs.
Q5. Give a short pitch of Upshot Hot or Not, for NFTs.
A. NFTs are notoriously difficult to price. They are a type of asset that is both non-fungible and low-velocity (they don’t change hands often). That means that we can’t rely on the open market to accurately price them. There are “real-world” assets, however, that are also non-fungible and low-velocity, but are priced anyway. I’m thinking of real-estate and art. Both of these types of assets rely heavily on appraisals to discover their value. Appraisals let us query experts’ opinions regarding an asset’s worth without relying on market transactions. Users of Upshot One answer questions about what they think an NFT is worth and get paid for how honestly they answer those questions. As a result, we can discover the prices for NFTs much more efficiently than if we relied on market transactions alone.We’re essentially creating crowdsourced “Zestimates” for NFTs.
Q6. What kind of partnership do you think is possible with Upshot and DEFINFTs projects like charged.fi and nftx.org
A. Upshot plugs in really well to these projects. With interest rates, having more real-time prices for NFTs enables us to determine more granular and accurate interest rates. In the case of NFTX, NFT indices are great at providing floor prices for a type of NFT, but coupling index prices with appraisals can provide a more robust picture as to what any given NFT is worth (as opposed to just the floor price). This couples the benefits of open-market price-discovery and appraisal price-discovery in a powerful way; this brings non-fungible assets very close to fungible assets in terms of what they can be used for. Having efficiently derived prices through appraisals can also be used by traders in pricing the indices themselves.
Q7. Do you think Upshot will significantly improve the price appraisal and liquidity problems of NFTs? What other issues do you believe Upshot is solving for the DEFI and NFT space?
A. I might be biased, but I think Upshot and peer prediction are a significant improvement in how we efficiently price NFTs and how we improve their liquidity. These appraisals can happen regardless of market transactions, which removes a significant hurdle in existing pricing applications. And knowing what one should pay for an NFT removes an implicit cost we all incur when we buy NFTs, so that should in theory make NFTs more liquid as well. Proper incentives for pseudonymous people to share their subjective opinions honestly have a bunch of other use cases as well. With it, we can create more robust insurance solutions, more exotic DeFi+NFT products, improve decentralized governance, provide nuanced oracle solutions, and more.
Q8. Any funding achievement and milestones you can share? Does the project have a platform token or tokens, and has Upshot offered some of these tokens for sale? Do you think there will be another token offering event for the platform token in future?
A. Earlier this year, we raised a seed round from some prominent investors in the space. We’ll be sharing specific details around that shortly. The project does have a token and a large percentage of it will be available to the various users of the platform. 5% of the total token supply was sold in the seed round and a very large percentage of them will be distributed to various users of the platform. We will be releasing more specifics around this in the coming weeks/ months.
Q9. Can you give a list of the areas of application of Upshot?
A. Upshot is applicable in the areas of NFT price discovery, insurance, content curation, governance, prediction markets. Basically, anything that relies on a source of truth to function. We are actively thinking about and working on products across these verticals. Part of our goal is to make peer prediction a ubiquitous primitive that is leveraged across the crypto space.
Q10. Is Governance an aspect you are considering, and in what way do you think you can introduce decentralized governance to the Upshot platform protocol? How soon do you think governance will come along?
A. Governance is absolutely part of the Upshot platform. Upshot is composed of many groups, each with their own focus. Some groups may focus on appraising Rarible NFTs where others focus on resolving insurance claims. Our goal is to let groups govern themselves. That means that users in each group could experiment with any decentralized governance mechanism of their liking and tune their groups to maximally benefit their specific use case of Upshot One (by optimizing parameters in a certain way, choosing who is allowed to appraise, etc.). This means that we’ll eventually have every part of Upshot managed via decentralized governance. We are taking an incremental approach towards this end by first allowing only specific groups to be self-governed. Later, we’ll be broadening this permission.
Q11. Do you think Artists will welcome the idea of Upshot, and how do you intend to get this adopted in the NFT Art world? What other NFTs sectors do you find Upshot useful?
A. Having efficient prices for NFT art improves UX when interacting with these assets considerably. This means that more people can easily interact with your pieces, purchase them, sell them, etc. We’ve seen some early excitement from the NFT art world both from creators and collectors and think that what we are providing benefits everyone. Our plan for adoption is to work with existing NFT market places by providing them appraised prices to display alongside NFTs (improving UX), creating incentives for creators and collectors to appraise art on the platform, and creating adjacent products on-chain that are uniquely made possible by an efficient NFT price-discovery mechanism (art collection DAOs, NFT synthetics, debt underwritten against NFTs, etc). Outside of art, we are planning to use Upshot One to price NFT collectibles, NFT insurance policies, resolving claims around NFT insurance policies, etc.
Q12. Any roadmap you can share? Any Alpha or beta test Upshot launched?
- We will be opening up the alpha version of the platform in the next few days to a closed set of NFT appraisers. This can be thought of as the first “testnet” phase of the app. Shortly after (a few weeks), we will open up this “testnet” version to the larger public. Through the rest of Q1, we will be doing the following:
- Moving to real-monetary incentives for appraisers
- Releasing some of these adjacent NFT products I’ve been alluding to
- Expanding the set of NFTs we are appraising
- Considerably improving the price analytics our platform provides
- Partnering with leading projects in the NFT space who could benefit from efficiently-discovered NFT prices
- Releasing some new tools that we have been working on for improving how decentralized platforms are made (we have something really cool related to decentralized databases coming out in the next couple weeks)
- Beginning to map out our entrance into other applicable verticals (e.g. insurance) and creating products for those vertical.
To find out more about Upshot, please see:
Website — https://upshot.io/
Blog — https://medium.com/upshothq
Twitter — https://twitter.com/UpshotHQ
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