Like traditional legal contracts that are standardized -- think LegalZoom -- many smart contracts will be standardized. "A very large portion of contracts are not going to be the kind where two parties will end up negotiating the entire contract from scratch," Buterin said. Standardized contracts are expected to be available as templates that users can choose among. Panel members described the wide applicability of smart contracts. Speaking from the perspective of a technology vendor operating within the blockchain ecosystem, Mark Smith, co-founder and CEO at Symbiont, a blockchain software vendor, said: "There are so many possibilities. You really need to put your blinders on and decide: What am I going to be good at? We've decided to be good at financial instruments."
The first mechanism is tenets, which are basic principles that we all agree just make sense and should guide our actions. Tenets can be used within multiple contexts for a program. For example, we may have some tenets that help guide what work we do such as the product management decisions we make about whether to undertake an initiative or feature. Other tenets may be used to guide how we deliver software, such as constraints or guiding principles for the development process. The second mechanism is exit criteria, which specify conditions that must be met before moving on to the next activity in a value stream. Exit criteria serve as checklists to keep the team honest about ensuring activities have been performed with sufficient rigor so as to avoid re-work or other undesirable phenomena later in the value stream.
Overall, the shift the Tapscotts envisage – from hierarchies to networks, and towards a new era of “distributed capitalism” – sounds appealing. But each of the four examples mentioned above, like the numerous others in the book, raises the same two questions. Is this blockchain revolution likely? And is it actually desirable? In answer to the first question, the Tapscotts acknowledge barriers to adoption, particularly in the chapter on “showstoppers”. As regards the second, they allude to the possibly dystopian consequences as well as the utopian: at one point they suggest that blockchain technology could, if we get it wrong, allow institutions to entrench their wealth, provide a platform for a new kind of surveillance society, and even, together with related technological advances, get out of control and turn against humans.
What’s so disruptive about cognitive technology? To answer that question, let’s go to the source. Clayton Christensen – famous Harvard professor and author – is credited with the original theory of disruptive innovation. Forbes paraphrased Christensen’s work, saying that “disruption displaces an existing market, industry, or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile. It is at once destructive and creative.” Disruptive innovation destroys inefficiencies in order to create new, more efficient opportunities. Applying this to cognitive – where you transfer the embodiment of human touch points to a system – you can see numerous opportunities to both destroy and create – whether that’s happening at the person, process or product level. We’re going to see new business models created through cognitive systems, new processes that make transactions more efficient and products that alter how we think and interact with technology.
During the past years, banks and financial institutions have opened innovation labs in Southeast Asia and most particularly in Singapore to explore emerging technologies. Citi was among the first banks to do so, launching in January 2011, the Citi Innovation Lab in Singapore. Said to be the first lab of its kind to be established in the country, the Citi Innovation Lab in Singapore aims at leveraging cutting-edge technologies to engage Citi’s institutional clients and deliver innovation products. Citi Innovation Lab recently won an award for its Citi Working Capital Analytics solution at the 2016 FinTech Innovation Awards in London. Another front-runner is MasterCard, which launched in early-2012 a MasterCard Lab in Singapore focusing on researching and developing new payment solutions including emerging payments, chip, contactless, mobile and e-commerce.
From an operational standpoint, Groves insists that private blockchains will prove to be more “sensible” than public blockchains. “For a lot of what banks need to do, private blockchains are the most sensible and realistic option, and more than that it’s actually a technology that’s been around for quite a long time,” Groves stated. He was pointing to the work of computer scientist Leslie Lamport, a pioneer in the field of distributed systems and computing, decades ago in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Indeed, a lot of private banks, including the major ones from around the world have banded together as a part of the R3-led banking blockchain consortium, R3CEV. Under a common roof, banks, financial firms and investment houses are exploring blockchain solutions for the industry, together.
It all comes back to identity, said Doug Schepers, a W3C technologist and team contact that organized the workshop. "The reason people are so interested in it is because usernames and password and the existing way identity is done is so flawed and hard to deal with," he said. The idea is that transacting with a public/private key pair over a blockchain is more convenient and secure than today’s username/password identity schemes. Standardizing these identity iterations could move forward at a quicker pace because Microsoft is a powerful member of the browser-focused W3C already. Plus, the vendor has secured a number of partners for its blockchain identity program, and several representatives from Samsung’s mobile browser work spoke with Microsoft at the workshop about joining the identity initiative.
Just like Fortune 100 companies and other large enterprises, small businesses face a constant threat of cyber-attacks and data breaches from hackers all around the world. According to a 2014-2018 forecast report by the IDC research group, 71 percent of all security breaches target small business. The misconception that cyber attackers only go after large organizations to net bigger monetary gains or to steal more sensitive data—such as intellectual property or competitive trade secrets—is simply untrue. Cyber-attacks don't cost very much, so compromising any organization or individual typically results in profit. Moreover, cyber attackers usually go after computing systems they know well, so often times it’s more about compromising a particular technology rather than targeting a specific person or entity.
Subramanian sees OpenCellular as something that would allow just about anyone to set up a wireless network, even in rather rural areas. Measuring 19.5- by 8.5- by 4.5-inches, it’s something you could easily carry as you angle to install it on a tree or a telephone pole. “You could wear it like a backpack as you climb the pole,” he says. “Anyone who can climb a tree can put it up.” Yes, the device still requires power and some sort of “backhaul” connection to the Internet—a wireline cable or the like. But Subramanian and team are working to keep power requirements to a minimum, and separately, Facebook is fashioning antennas that could provide wireless backhaul, streaming Internet signals from cities out into distant rural areas. But part of the attraction of OpenCellular is that it can work even when a backhaul connection goes down.
Seventy-five percent of CompTIA's survey respondents said their businesses would be stronger if they could use all of their data. Conceptually, that makes sense. Practically speaking, it may not. After all, not all data is valuable. A lot of it is just noise so "all" is a slippery slope. Do the survey respondents think they need access to all their company's data or do they actually need it?. Tim Herbert, SVP of Research & Market Intelligence at CompTIA said in an interview that companies can do a much better job with what they have. "Doing more with what you have in some cases is not as interesting as adopting the newest big data tools. The other part is taking advantage of new opportunities. Even small businesses can tap into certain data streams without a lot of heavy investment," he said. In short, "more data" is probably a more realistic desire than "all data."
Quote for the day:
"Great effort springs naturally from a great attitude." -- Pat Riley