Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Month: January 2016

Uber Airlines

Uber AirlinesAs the Uber/Lyft business model continues to hone its end-run around the heavily regulated taxi industry, many are now looking at the air transportation industry for vulnerability to Uberesque disruption. Enter Uber Airlines.

Long before social media, entrepreneurs have been trying to sell empty legs on private airplanes – almost 40% of all private jets fly empty as they return their pilots to base after dropping off their charge – and again for pick-up. Every few months I’d hear about some new start-up claiming to provide private jet service for the price of a commercial flight.  A few limited operations exist, but not many – and they can’t scale.

I spent about a decade in commercial aviation and later co-founded Social Flights, a jet-sharing service out of Nashville – we unsuccessfully tried to solve the same problem and learned a great deal in the process. I can say with great confidence that it is not possible to close the business case on Uber Airlines, YET.  A few more technologies need to be invented and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see an Uber Airlines achieve a scalable business model.

The aviation industry is heavily regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. There are mountainous regulations pertaining every detail of the air transportation process; the aircraft, the crew, the passengers, weather, DHS, customs, scheduling, baggage, the airport, etc.  Aviation is many times more regulation dense than automobiles and the costs associated with air transportation are many times again higher than automobiles.   In order to make the economics work, an operator needs to be a commercial airline with scheduled service flying big jets between hub and spoke airports or they need to be a private on-demand charter operator. You can’t just stand on a street corner and hail Uber Airlines to anywhere.

There are three technologies that need to happen first:

  1. Next Generation Air Traffic Control. NextGen ATC refers to aircraft management technology that uses space-based GPS instead of ground-based radar to manage air traffic around airports. NG-ATC could literally light up 500 municipal airports and eventually up to 5000 small airports with all-weather service. Currently, only 30-40 major hubs can handle such operations.
  1. Curiosumé is a concept that we first developed at Social Flights, LLC for determining the probability that a certain number of people within a certain geographic area would all want to go to another geographic location within a certain window of time – and again in reverse, on the same day. The reason that we wanted to take this approach was an attempt to manage 5 sets of FAA regulations statistically instead trying to do so preemptively.
  1. Blockchain Technology would then provide the database technology which could handle all of the pilot qualifications, flight logs, aircraft maintenance logs, passenger manifest, inter-party payments, ground transportation, hotel reservations, etc. A set of rules and adjudicated contracts could be developed to manage the rest of the regulations.

With these technologies, we estimated that an Uber Airlines service would need a minimum of 2.5 million registered users located within 10 miles of 500 small NG-ATC airports (5000 per airport) in order to fill 6-8 seats on a private aircraft traveling in both directions to and from any one of the other 500 airports within an 8 hour period at least once per day. If this puzzle can be solved for small airplanes, it is only a matter of time before you could disintermediate large carriers as well.  That is how to solve this problem.

Identity Verification On Blockchain

This Panel was formed at the Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on December 5, 2015 to unpack the issue of Identity verification on Blockchain.  One of the most powerful components of blockchain technology is the equal ability to disintermediate a person’s identity from their data, as to associate identity with a dataset. During this panel of experts, the lines were clearly formed around the notion of who “controls” identity and whether anonymity is considered as valid a form of identity in a transaction as full disclosure.

Dan Robles, PE – The Ingenesist Project (moderator),
Tim Swanson – R3
Paige Peterson – MaidSafe,
David Birch – Consult Hyperion,
Joyce Kim – Stellar.org

Background:

There can be no blockchain banking without verification of identity on blockchain.  While this may seem like an invasive requirement, it may also be considered a liberating requirement.  Billions of people are “unbanked” and cannot hold assets because there is no way to identify who owns what.  Where blockchain makes banking available to more people, so too must identity be verifiable among those people.

Even in the developed world, identity is deeply flawed.  Why would I need to show a driver’s license with address and driving record just to prove that I am old enough to buy a beer, or receive a senior’s discount at the movie theater?  Why can’t a person simply prove age, or prove driving ability, or prove residence, or identify any facet of trade without also revealing every other facet?  It is often such matters of identifications that can best secure privacy.

This brings to question who would maintain, manage, and / or control identifications.  Would it be a fully decentralized system or would it be a permissioned database system?  Would the identity institution be a bank or a private corporation, or a government or a decentralized organization?

Finally, what is the core objective of an identity system?  Will it project the ability to access something? Would it quantify and qualify the potential to produce something?  Does identity pertain equally to the object of commerce and the objective of commerce?   To what degree does the security of identity impact the durability of ownership?

Blockchain technology and those who seek to apply it are all encountering the identity issue.  From Banks trying to comply with KYC/AML to engineering societies trying to identify the right knowledge assets to solve a particular problem, the question of identity management is a paramount consideration.  These are exciting times because the subject is so new.  Please sit back and enjoy this rare opportunity for such a diverse panel of experts to drill into an important subject that impacts us all.

 

 

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