Blockchain described in one sentence: A blockchain is really a kind of database that’s shared across loads of different computers that are each running the same software; each bit of data is secured using some complicated bits of cryptography that means that only people that are meant to be adding to or editing the data can do that job.WIRED Magazine, 2018
Recently, I had a job interview with a company that builds their business model on providing add-on services for their customers’ databases built upon the open source centralized DB platform known as PostgreSQL.
Probably the reason why I was considered to do digital copywriting for them is my previous experience writing for tech companies like PTC, Satcon, and L-1 to name a few. For PTC, I did a ton of writing for their PLM Product Marketing Group. PLM (i.e. product lifecycle management) is a massive technology platform and manufacturing methodology that relies heavily on data-driven digital thread content, product data management, and databases to name a few.
So as you can see, I know a thing or two about databases.
Also, I have written about Blockchain Technology (or BlockTech as I will be using this portmanteau from now on) in the past; therefore, I am well aware of the hot new trends for this distributed cutting-edge decentralized data-repository/processing platform.
During the interview, I asked a simple question:
Needless to say, the developer that I was interviewing with did not really like the question all that much.
His answer was more defensive rather than enlightening: “…decentralized DBs are not going away anytime soon, so people need to understand that Blockchain is more like a curiosity right now and not very useful for business and other applications—except maybe Bitcoin [crytocurrencies] of course…”
To which I counter with the following argument:
Here are seven hot and upcoming trends—aside from cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, etc.)—for Blockchain that could literally put PostgreSQL and other legacy DB-driven systems out of business.
Programmatic Digital Advertising has reached an all-time peak. In 2017 alone, nearly 40% of all product and service promotion/revenue was generated via the Internet. A revenue stream exceeding $200+ billion dollars!
Small to medium publishers and advertisers, attempting to tap into this vast source of capital, have neither the resources nor the brand recognition to make an impact via the old-model of open marketplaces—summarily inundated with a bevy of complicated issues and outdated standards.
Programmatic Advertising (an AI-driven system of automated buying and selling of digital media), needed to evolve and allow real-time-bidding (RTB) and valuation of inventory for both buyers and sellers (reducing exorbitant “middle-man” fees from private Ad Exchanges). BlockTech was the next logical step in this evolution.
Image a world-wide network that distributes advertising clout like currency (think: Bitcoin). This scaleable system generates ad ROI with the added benefit of an unprecedented level of transparency, trust, and fraud prevention.
Blockchain is changing the face of how publishers and advertisers interact in a distributed marketplace [SpringerLink EBook] utilizing the next generation digital eco-systems. With the power of BlockTech, greater RTB speed, security, and data-management to all the participants seeking to optimize their programmatic advertising investments can be achieved.
BlockTech is optimized for enterprises who were formerly shut out of the private programmatic marketplaces by giving them the advantage of decentralized data-management and full transparency without the necessity to invest a fortune into excessively expensive tools.
Whether an organization is a small or large publisher or advertiser, whose programmatic advertising efforts are getting thwarted by poor traffic, mismatched valuation, and excessive fees in the private markets, BlockTech could change all of that.
For supply-chain advertisers, the challenges of reducing over-priced inventory also has an answer. BlockTech’s transparency innovations, unique data-management system and mutually beneficial approach offer the platform participants a better way to maximize advertising investments.
This new paradigm of decentralized data being used in this way truly challenges doing business in antiquated markets that hold no value.
BlockTech is a game-changer taking closed programmatic marketplaces and turning them into open markets.
2. Art Dealing
So, recently Tom Brady (former quarterback to the New England Patriots, and seven-time NFL Super Bowl champion, as if you didn’t know who he was) announced that he’ll be launching an NFT company call Autograph.
What does this have to do with Art Dealing?
Well, NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens, are little bits of BlockTech encrypted data that accompanies a piece of digital art.
Why is this important?
Because in the rampant world of digital piracy (think Napster and BitTorrent), NFT artwork cannot be duplicated—at least where the unique identifier that accompanies that artwork is concerned. The identifier can be easily authenticated and ownership verified through the blockchain.
What this creates is a market opportunity borne out of scarcity and one-of-a-kind pieces that could sell for millions!
Case in point: a collage of images by digital artist Beeple for a whopping $69.3 million last March—causing NFTs to suddenly capture the world’s attention.
A lot of big name people are jumping on to this digital bandwagon (as you might expect). For example: Apple SVP Eddy Cue, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino, DraftKings cofounders Jason Robins and Paul Liberman among others.
And recently, an NFT work of art depicting the late actor Chadwick Boseman (i.e. the MCU’s Black Panther, T’Challa) was the focus of some heated controversy at the 93rd Academy Awards on April 25th of this year. Essentially, the NFT digital piece of art was never actually commissioned by the Academy of Arts and Sciences, yet it was promoted as a precursor to Boseman posthumously winning the award for Best Actor, which he did not; the award went to Sir Anthony Hopkins instead.
The artist Andre Oshea was commissioned by a third party organization to create the artwork and sell it at auction for a 50/50 split with half the proceeds going to Colon Cancer research (the disease that took Boseman’s life). The other half would go to the artist.
The idea was that attending members of the awards show (who received gift bags from another 3rd party organization) would be offered the chance to bid on the artwork.
Though this was a controversial use of NFTs for Art Dealing, it definitely depicts the undeniably new trend for this market.
It won’t be long before auction houses will include NFTs in their auctions along side rare Picassos and Basquiats!
3. Smart Contracts
Smart Contracts are BlockTech controlled digital agreements written in code instead of on legal stationary. The transactions executed thereof are trackable and irreversible as they are distributed throughout the decentralized blockchain. This has the added advantage of the contract being being both un-alterable and providing complete price & fee transparency.
Furthermore, fraudulent IPs & device IDs are summarily blacklisted generating a new level of open transparency for the marketplace where such contracts exist, with improved tracking, and fair proceeds distribution.
Smart contracts were first proposed in 1994 by Nick Szabo, an American computer scientist who invented a virtual currency called Bit Gold in 1998, fully 10 years before the invention of bitcoin.
One real-world example of this technology are Derivatives—such as stocks, bonds, and commodities. Derivatives trading is now mostly conducted through computer networks using complex term structures.
These complex term structures for payments are built into standardized contracts and traded with low transaction costs, due to computerized analysis of these complex term structures. And though there are many risks that can be inherent in trading derivatives (market, credit, liquidity, etc.), the decentralized blockchain helps to mitigate some of these with its clear and open transparancy.
But probably the most important benefit of Smart Contracts can be found in Voting Systems.
With all the shenanigans that went on in the 2020 General Presidential Election (and the aftermath of special Georgia run-off election in 2021), now more than ever the country could use a potentially un-hackable and fully transparent voting system that is powered by BlockTech.
Given how the Georgia State Legislature recently passed a series of controversially alleged voter suppression/restriction laws, which nearly every democratic organization denounces. These unethical attempts to thwart the will of the people could be nullified by a new national blockchain voting system.
This system could be so widespread and efficient that literally anyone with a smartphone or computer could securely place their vote—which in turn could exponentially increase voter turnout because now they wouldn’t have to stand in massive long lines, dying of thirst just to get the chance to vote!
The infographic below explains how it could work:
BlockTech could truly Democratize voting in a way the Founding Fathers could never have dreamed!
Look out Vegas, here comes the Blockchain!
Online Gaming has had a bad reputation for many years. And when I say “Online Gaming” I mean Gambling. First and foremost, there’s very little transparency when dealing with an online gaming organization. Case in point, DraftKings. This company is notorious for delayed and potentially fraudulent and misleading transactions and business practices that leave many of its members unable to access their entitled funds—even when said funds are tens of dollars instead of tens of thousands of dollars—and worse (such as playing against professionals, when the marketing hype says, “Anyone can win!”).
Customer service complaints are through the roof with DraftKings for a company that earned $322 million in Q4 of 2020, with a YoY of 98%!
Imagine if Fantasy Sports and other gambling enterprises utilized BlockTech for their transactions. Users would flock to those networks knowing that their funds would be incredibly secure and instantaneously accessible unlike the 8+ business days that DraftKings purports!
Now another type of gambling is the Stock Market. The best example that I can think of is the recent Robin Hood/GameStop stock debacle.
Essentially, inexperienced traders were fumbling around with a nefarious financial strategy called Short-Selling (or Short Squeeze) in order to drive the GameStock stock through the roof, and then sell it for a huge profit!
This was fueled by a SubReddit (i.e. WallStreetBets) that offered bogus advice to these highly-suggestible (many of them too young to know better) that ended up getting them in boiling financial hot water. One 20-year-old man, Alex Kearns, even committed suicide over the losses he thought he had incurred from this!
There are a number of emerging companies using BlockTech to do transparent trades all in cryptocurrency. Imagine a company like GameStop taking itself off the traditional stock exchanges (if that were even possible) and only trading crypto-stock like the aforementioned programmatic advertising clout mentioned in the first Use Case/Trend.
Think of how virtually impossible it would be to manipulate the market with slimy schemes like short-selling if stocks were traded openly and securely on the blockchain.
It might even save lives!
Though, I do not see casinos going away anytime soon—and the last thing we need is to create more gambling opportunities for people to lose everything over through uncheck gambling addiction—but humans will be humans, and maybe more decentralized and democratized gambling might help to alleviate some of these financial disasters.
For more on how insidious the Short Squeeze can be, watch The Big Short starring Ryan Gosling and Steve Carrell.
Check out the clip below.
Having worked for PTC, a predominantly SaaS company that makes engineering software for its industrial manufacturing customers, one of their main technology platforms is IoT (A.K.A. Internet of Things). What this means is that a manufacturer like Volvo makes a car and it gets sold and goes out into the world. Probably unbeknownst to the owner of said car, their little Volvo is constantly sending data back to the engineers that designed the car and to the service techs who would maintain the car—and probably the sales people who could use this data (like fuel economy and wear & tear resistance on the open road) to sell more cars.
When the car needs to go into the shop for routine service, the techs there are going to know exactly why its there and what needs to be done—even if there’s a previously undetected potential problem with the car.
The engineers are also going to know if the car needs to be recalled due to a design flaw in a part, and be able to produce a better model in the future because of all this data.
That’s IoT in action. At least from an industrial point of view (which my last company was all about).
The video below is a speech given by PTC’s CEO Jim Heppelmann at the AWE Conference in 2017. He discusses the convergence of the physical digital worlds in the coming years that showcases the power of IoT and AR.
But what about Blockchain, how does it benefit IoT?
Well, there’s two main ways it does: Security and Scaleability.
IoT devices (cars not withstanding) such as smart homes, wearables, and mobile devices all suffer from a gross lack of security. This is due in part to dependence on centralized databases (such as what you’ll read about in the next section on Ride Sharing).
Image all of your smart home devices (door locks, HVAC system, refrigerators, lights, etc.) being un-hackable because each device contains that indefatigable ledger of data that cannot be hacked. Could a single hacker compromise billions of these devices in order to gain unwanted entry into one’s home?
And with improved security comes speed, reduced costs, and reliability.
Centralized databases are notorious for data bottlenecks and latency issues (see next section in Scaleability). This is especially true when data has to be authenticated several times over, and God forbid there’s a system error! I don’t know how many times Microsoft would fail to text me the verification code I needed to access my company’s Teams, Office 365, and SharePoint drives to get my work done and collaborate with my colleagues!
Decentralizing this database over the blockchain can vastly improve the speed with which these functions can occur. If all that’s required are a certain threshold of nodes on the blockchain to verify user credentials against their ledgers, then that’s going to get done licky-split!
Costs rack up with systems go down. Just look at any outage for Comcast or Verizon. Even when my kid’s Roblox servers go down, there’s hell to pay!
When the system is everyone’s system (within that eco-system of course), then the chances of a catastrophic crash are greatly reduced, and so are the costs.
This also includes hardware savings as well. Who needs ridiculously expensive centralized data hardware when an infinitely larger network of personal devices (that a company DOESN’T have to pay for) can do the job just as good, if not better?
That’s a real reduced cost!
This is pretty straightforward: a centralized database system is a single point of failure. It will inevitably go down or get hacked. In either case, a lot of people will be really upset when their Poshmark accounts are inaccessible.
Ensuring that your Etsy storefront is up and running 24/7 is critical to a small business owner (and some large ones as well). Heck, I bought my javelin that I’m training for a Spartan Race with off of Etsy and I know that guy selling them needs his storefront up and running constantly with no interruptions. He just cannot afford the cost of downtime.
BlockTech networks distribute the data workload across multiple systems meaning if one goes down, others simply rise to take its place—and the end user is never the wiser!
There’s power in numbers, and BlockTech has the numbers for sure!
And that leads to the next benefit:
As networks grow (such as smart homes), providing secure authentication through centralized databases can cause serious data bottlenecks and latency issues.
Offloading the data workload through the blockchain can effectively eliminate or greatly reduce these bottlenecks. Think of the whole SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project that utilized everyday people’s home computer’s idle time (called SETI@Home) to crunch the vast amounts of data that global and low Earth orbit observatories were parsing out. All of this was provided through a simple screensaver on a personal computer! It was like a BlockTech network even before blockchain existed.
Scale that up to just about everything, and you have global network of networks that can do the job of a single datacenter, only exponentially greater on orders of magnitude.
And if you add in 5G plus AI plus IoT (or 5G+AIoT), then you have a brand new way of delivering ala carte data for absolutely every use under the sun in a smart-connected eco-system of products that such players like Xiaomi Corporation, Samsung, and (dare I say) Apple are doing.
Every smart light bulb, every smart ceiling fan, every Apple Tag, every ear pod, every fitness tracker, and even every smart sneaker to name a scant, scant few can be a node (all with their own unique identifier using IPV6) on the blockchain because data weights nothing but is worth everything!
6. Ride Sharing
With the rise in ride sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft, the entire so-called livery service market has been thoroughly disrupted by this new tech paradigm—just like how Airbnb has done for hospitality. In 2017, Uber took home a whopping $51 billion in net value, with Lyft coming in second at $11 billion. And that’s just the tip of the Ride Sharing iceberg!
Using BlockTech to facilitate ride sharing is ideally suited for this task. The business opportunities here are astronomical. There could literally be an explosion in this industry that could leave the “old-timers” like Uber and Lyft in the dust. Check out the list below and you’ll see what I mean:
- Peer-to-Peer Ride Sharing — In other words, eliminating a centralized third-party like Uber to manage transactions between drivers and riders (along with eliminating the “cut” that said party takes for their trouble, i.e. more profit for the drivers). What this really comes down to is that driver’s do not have to live below the poverty line, giving up a percentage of their hard-earned money to a faceless corporation that does not have the driver’s (or the rider’s for that matter) best interests in mind.
- Transparent Transactions — This goes without saying. Blockchain is ideal for allowing full transparency between parties (as in Smart Contracts mentioned above). This means that both parties know what it’s going to cost and there’s no hidden fees or inconsistent pricing—just solely based on the rider’s needs and the driver’s available resources (car, gas, mileage, maintenance, etc.).
- Secured Perpetual Leasing — Renting a car is always a third-party pain in the butt! The paperwork alone is like buying a house, never mind adding insurance to the mix. However, with BlockTech the rider can easily rent the vehicle from the provider (who doesn’t even have to be the one doing the driving!). Just fire up the app, use your own insurance, agree to the smart contract terms, and then wait for the driver to deliver your vehicle. How they get it back is entirely up to them! In other words, every driver can also be a freelance rental agency and every rider doesn’t have to wait for an available vehicle, with a virtually inexhaustible supply of vehicles to choose from. Plus, the rider can simply drop the car off at the next rider’s pickup location (say near the first rider’s hotel or at the airport’s cellphone parking lot), and then the next rider can take the vehicle, and so on and so on! And just wait until autonomous-driving vehicles become ubiquitous.
- Rock Solid Data Security — Both the rider’s data and the driver’s data are secured within the virtually un-hackable blockchain. Data pirates will not be able to steal valuable and irreplaceable payment and personal information on the ride sharing BlockTech platform as they could from a centralized Lyft database.
- Customer Identification — Identity Theft is rampant in today’s society: just look at the TJX or Equifax hacks a few years ago. As you will see in the next section on Vaccine Passports, blockchain along with multi-level biometric authentications can create a virtual realtime background verification platform so that both riders and drivers can feel much safer when doing business with each other. For example, a rider will know whether or not the driver is who they say they are and have the licensed and vetted (as in criminal background checked) credentials to do business as a driver. And, the same goes for the driver as to whom they are picking up. Hey, if you want to use these services in the 21st Century then you have to conform to certain safety standards or just stay home!
7. Vaccine Passports
One look at what is happening in India (as of this writing, May 2021) with regards to the raging COVID-19 virus surge over there, and you will see that there is no way countries are going to allow rampantly infected travelers to enter into their borders without proof of vaccination.
However, one of the biggest arguments against proof of vaccination is that they could be very easy to forge.
You know it’s coming, no matter what the conservative media might have you think: Vaccine Passports.
And, they are not forgeable with BlockTech backing them!
Already, people’s smartphones utilize a bevy of biometrics to allow its authorized user to access it—everything from facial recognition, fingerprint authentication, to voice activation (“Hey SIRI” on my iPhone only responds to my voice, and my voice only), with more on the way.
There are many more biometrics that could be added to this ID-ing process from retinal scans, vein matching, heart rate data, to even blood droplet DNA samples (like the kind that diabetics use to test their glucose). Plus, you can add a whole lot of personal passwords and security questions on top of that.
Therefore, a traveler with a blockchain-database government certified vaccine passport that requires several layers of virtually un-hackable biometrics delivered up on the user’s personal smartphone would be absolutely 100% secure and authentic.
And, it has the added benefit of being recoverable should the smartphone get lost or stolen. It’s all in the blockchain.
So, the traveler goes to the customs checkpoint, accesses their smartphone, fires up the USA Vaccine Passport app, an incredibly complex QR code pops up (like in the image at the top of this use case), and is digitally scanned by the customs agent. And then the magic happens as all the billions of nodes (representing the billions of vaccinated people and all of the worldwide checkpoint nodes) check the blockchain vaccine ledger for the proper vaccination credentials. Each vaccination is given a unique identifier that is only session specific (like the login codes you now get when you access your company’s VPN) based on an insane number system like IPV6 (which serves up 340 undecillion possible IP addresses or 3.4 x 1038!)—see the IoT section above.
Seeing as it would take 4.5 x 1030 years (literally up to the time of the Heat Death of the Universe) to hack an IPV6 number, there is no way a vaccine passport could be duplicated with that kind of transcendental numbering behind it all powered by BlockTech!
No possible way!
The infographic below details how this might be possible:
If the COVID-19 Global Pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our world has inexorably changed. Concepts like fully remote work and hybrid-remote school becoming the norm, the push for greater and more reliable broadband access nationwide, mask wearing and social distancing even after state restrictions have been lifted, wiping down food and packages for contaminants, and mass vaccinations (with the eventual boosters) that are crucial to re-opening the country (as we are now seeing thanks to mass vaccinations) and the world are all part of an undeniable and inevitable post-COVID reality.
And that reality will most certainly include vaccine passports—definitely for international travel but maybe even someday necessary to go to crowded places and events like restaurants, the movies, and concerts.
Don’t think it won’t happen in America or other countries: kids are required to show proof of vaccinations in order to go to public school and summer camps, healthcare workers in assisted-living facilities in MA are required to have Flu shots every year, and members of the US armed services are also required to receive a bevy of vaccinations during boot camp to name a few instances.
Case in point, some cruise lines are now requiring 98% of the ship’s crew and 95% of the passengers to be fully vaccinated before travel on one the those luxury liners (a floating “hot zone” waiting to happen if serious precautions aren’t taken). How can you securely prove that you, and those around you, are fully vaccinated? With a BlockTech vaccine passport!
Soon, the airline industry will follow suit, and then probably every other industry as well. That blockchain-powered vaccine passport will be the key that unlocks going to the movies, eating in crowded high-end restaurants, attending championship games, and even going to extravagant weddings (and everything in between)! This is coming—especially with those nefarious COVID variants on the rise.
Required vaccinations are not only a quotidian part of American society but also pretty much a requirement for existing as a human being on Planet Earth in the modern era.
Can you imagine not being vaccinated against Smallpox, the Chicken Pox, Meningitis, Rubella, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, and Polio to name a scant few! Any one of those diseases can devastate a young person and condemn them to a lifetime of needless suffering.
Yeah, I’m a card carrying Pro-Vaxxer who is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and I have my little CDC card to prove it.
But mark my words, the day will come when me and the rest of the vaccinated community will be flashing our BlockTech Vaccine Passports to get into Starbucks!
For More on Blockchain, Watch These Vids
And Of Course, A Bitcoin Vid
Bonus Vid: GameStop Stock Insanity Explained
And For My Legacy DB Friends…
To Sum It All Up
Anyway, I never got the PostgreSQL copywriter job. Probably for the better, as I’d rather be writing about the immense cutting-edge hot new power of Blockchain Technology (and the amazing industries it taps) than some boring old legacy DB tech collecting dust and showing its age!
Life as we know it has inexorably changed due to the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, but even before that, Blockchain Technology was poised to change the world anyway.
These trends represent the tip of the iceberg and the enormous potential for BlockTech.
Someday, society will be relying on blockchain for everything from medical records to decentralized micro-websites to point-to-point shopping experiences to even booking a trip with an independent tour guide while on vacation in St. Lucia.
Quite frankly, there is nothing that blockchain cannot do: it might even be the very thing that can prevent the rise of an Artificial Intelligence which decides to wipe out humankind.
Do you hear that Skynet?!
Who invented Blockchain Technology?