Think Bigger. Aim Higher. Go Further.

Author: Dan Robles Page 2 of 22

Questions Related to Bitcoin Protocol For The Insurance Industry

There is no shortage of crypto pundits who’ll wax poetic over the imminent disruption that blockchain technology will render over the insurance industry.  A more likely scenario will be a slow and intentional transition between new and old technology.   The objective of this article is to present some questions related to Bitcoin Protocol for the insurance industry and begin laying out a strategy for mitigating these perils.

725_aHR0cDovL2NvaW50ZWxlZ3JhcGguY29tL3N0b3JhZ2UvdXBsb2Fkcy92aWV3L2QzNjA1NGQ3MDZmZDM2ZDQ0NDIxYWJhZWY3ZDk1NGEzLnBuZw==On a sour note, the Bitcoin protocol now provides a way for Insurance Company Executives to eliminate countless brokers and administrators from the balance sheet as computer algorithms are now capable of performing many of the same tasks.  On the other hand, these same executives are being asked to provide insurance to clients who intend to do exactly that; replaced countless brokers and administrators with a computer algorithms.   Can these companies identify the risk exposure to their selves and their client?   Can an actuarial scientist calculate the probability that any number of perils will manifest?  If so, does anyone truly understand the consequences of a crypto-block-coin meltdown?  I didn’t think so.

Meanwhile, regulators are faced with with a set of circumstances without precedent.  The purpose of regulations of any kind is to encourage or discourage certain types of human behaviors.  So if the human is removed, are these regulations still needed?  How will they be interpreted? What new regulations must be created?  What current regulations stand in the way of insurance innovation using the blockchain?

How different would it be to insure a decentralized organization than it would be to insure a centralized organization?  Where do the liabilities attach and where is dominion asserted by the owners where decisions and outcomes are determined by a computer algorithm?   Is bitcoin money? Can it be taxed like money? Does taxation make it money? Is bitcoin property?  Can I hold title to bitcoin?  Is bitcoin risky? Is there any actuarial data that provides valid historical trends to extrapolate from?   Are blockchains defensible in a court of law? Are their  currencies legal, illegal, or extralegal?

These are huge questions.  Fortunately, the world will not likely change as rapidly as the pundits will have us believe.  There will needs to be a methodical transition plan between current centralized structures and future decentralized structures.  The best way to start is be collecting an inventory of existing social institutions that are codified and acting successfully as an effective bureaucracy today.  Then we need to slowly add a blockchain to their clock and study the opportunities in that environment.  We need to understand the difference between where human decisions can be replaced by algorithm but to also be vigilant to preserve those human judgements that are not replaceable by an algorithm.

The outcome will be a new type of bureaucracy where humans act at a much higher level as adjudicators to smart contracts on a blockchain

Blockchain Technology and the Engineering Profession

Blockchain Technology and the Engineering Profession

Blockchain Technology and the Engineering Profession

Blockchain protocol and technology is said by many to be among the greatest accomplishments of human intellect since the Internet.  Blockchain is the underlying technology to what is commonly known as Bitcoin, however, the technology is not exclusive to Bitcoin.  Swarms of innovators are working feverishly to design and deploy new business platforms that incorporate blockchain technology.

The blockchain protocol

However, the implications of combining blockchain technology and the engineering profession may be among the most profound.  In short, a blockchain is a computational “machine” with vaults, gears, and locks that acts as a trusted 3rd party to secure a database that is mutually shared by banks, insurance companies, corporations, and private parties. They use cryptographic “keys” instead of physical keys to open and close doors. Blockchains also include a feature where computers (owned by “miners”) compete to solve a trivial puzzle (proof-of-work) in order to open new blocks in a chain and reveal the next puzzle.  This assures that the block cannot move backwards in time therefore forming an indelible seal, or “notarization”.   This process also generates an electronic token (coin) that provides people with incentives to work hard to maintain the network. With these components, the “machinery” can automatically verify facts and execute transactions between parties where nobody can cheat.

The Professional Engineering Protocol

By contrast, for nearly 100 years, the Professional Engineer too has acted as the trusted 3rd party to banks, insurance, corporations, and the public.  The PE stamp has served to secure the public ledger of accounts related to physical infrastructure upon which modern civilization depends.  In the United States (and other countries) the PE stamp is the node of assurance that validates time and fact. Each PE is a node in a system and is individually secured by education, experience, examinations and model law. Engineers solve real puzzles in order to reveal the next real puzzle in a chain – the engineering product can never move backwards and is therefore indelible. The combination of these components provides banks and insurance companies with assurance to execute financial transactions and payments whose value is, in fact, stored in public infrastructure and productivity.  Nearly all actuarial data used by banks and insurance companies is tied somewhere to the professional engineering stamp of assurance.

The problems with Blockchain

Part of the problem plaguing cryptocurrencies is that they are virtual assets and can never meet the intrinsic standard of representing a real physical asset. This problem may be solved if professional engineers were to adopt blockchain as their own new iteration of the PE stamp.

There is no shortage of crypto-pundits who wax poetic over the ideals of a decentralized universe thanks to the miracle of the blockchain.  Meanwhile, speculators fawn over Bitcoin’s potential as an alternate currency, possibly a black market currency, without really understanding the nature of currency itself.  The truth is that money must represent human productivity otherwise people would not be willing to work in exchange for it.  Human productivity is the domain of engineering, period. 

The Opportunities for Blockchain in Engineering

Needless to say, the opportunities to deploy blockchain technology in the engineering profession cannot be overstated.  The professional engineer represents a “smart key” that can open and close smart contracts on a blockchain.  All contracts ultimately must lead to a physical entity and more often than not, that physical entity is tied to an engineering stamp somewhere in it’s value chain. This is a fact.

What you will not find is a collection of experts who understand the direct analogy of blockchain technology to the institution of professional engineering as deeply at the researchers at Coengineers. It is almost as if the Bitcoin designers came to the conclusion that professional engineers had it right all along.  Coengineers, PLLC is now at the forefront of this industry, at the global level.

Give us a call and we will help you develop blockchain applications specific to your engineering business methods.  We understand the technology, the platforms, and the developers. Industry, government, banking, and insurance are all beneficiaries of blockchain applications adjudicated by professional engineers.  We are Coengineers, we build together.

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Coengineers, PLLC is currently leading the Financial Technologies Task Force for the National Society of Professional Engineers.  The objective of the task force is to research the implications and discover the opportunities to deploy Blockchain Technology to the Professional Engineering Disciplines. [Reference: The Bitcoin Protocol and Future Currency Impacts on the Engineering Profession ]

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Please forward this article “Blockchain Technology And The Engineering Profession” to others.

BidPool Adjudicated Smart Contract Game

coengineers.comProblem:  Many contractors say that their COGS (cost of goods sold) consumes 10-30% of their expenses. Obviously, this cost is passed on the customer.  Bidding can be made far more efficient with BidPool Adjudicated Smart Contract Gaming platform.

For example: 5 contractors may spend $10K bidding on a 1 million dollar project that only one will win. Further, each contractor may only win 1 out of 5 bids submitted. These losses are ultimately passed on to the market in increased cost, lack of industry collaboration, and influence peddling. As such, the cost of bidding is represented by the following relationship:

Cost of bidding = COGS multiplied by Number of Bidders

Adjudicated smart contract: Consider a process where a project owner and all 5 contractors (or more) each put a $10K promissory note into a blockchain  escrow account. An engineering firm such as Coengineers, PLLC will then perform a 3rd-party project definition report and Statement of Work that collects all relevant information that the contractors would need to bid on a job. All contractors are then invited to an electronic RFP.

Game Mechanics: Whoever wins the RFP pays (by escrow release) $10K to Coengineers, PLLC for the SOW report. The losers pay nothing. If the owner does not select a contractor, the owner then pays for the report and can use it to hold another contest in the future. These savings are ultimately wrapped into the discount of the projects according to the following relationship:

Cost of bidding = COGS divided by number of bidders

Aligned Incentives: Where there is no penalty for either winning or losing, the incentive to cheat is reduced. The Value Game realigns major incentives and the projects benefit from.

  • Improve matching of qualifications to the project
  • Improve quality and seriousness of owners (no “tire kickers”)
  • Eliminates bidding redundancy
  • Everyone bids “apples to apples”
  • Rewards collaboration and intangible assets
  • Reduces project variance (i.e., change orders)
  • Reduces marginal cost of additional bidders
  • Opens market to more bidders (prediction markets)
  • Increases transparency
  • Reduces project costs
  • Insulates conflict of interest
  • Resistant to corruption

Additional benefits:

A comprehensive project definition can be used for many purposes downstream:

  • Contractor RFI/RFP
  • Master Schedule
  • Bank Financing
  • Project Insurance
  • Statement of work
  • Contract language
  • Inspection compliance
  • Construction and Accounting Forensics

Scalability:

Future advancements in financial technologies such as the Blockchain protocol and Knowledge asset networks such as the Curiosumé protocol will allow BidPool to scale infinitely to many project types, markets, and jurisdictions.

Summary:

BidPool is a Value Game that reduces the cost of procurement, increasing project assurance, and realigning market incentives to reward high integrity and not reward low integrity. By introducing simple game mechanics and deploying modern financial and knowledge Asset technologies, BidPool may generalize procurement across markets and industries with direct lineage to the banking, insurance, and engineering sectors.

For more information contact Coengineers.com

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.

 

 

Introducing Quant

Introducing QuantWhat is Quant?

Quant is a digital token that represent human productivity. The total number of Quant that can be mined is 223.3 Trillion corresponding to the approximate dollar value of outstanding human productivity existing on December 15, 2015. This is the amount of future productivity that everyone in the world has committed to each other in the form of global debt obligations.

The flaw

What people may not fully understand is that human productivity is not stored in banks, corporate boardrooms, and governments – these institutions only maintain and control the ledger of future productivity, they are not the actual source of the productivity.

Rather, human productivity is stored and sourced in the combined education, experiences, talents, skills, health, community, passions, professions, careers, as well as works of engineering, artistic expression, and scientific achievements of humans. These are the actual stores and sources of human productivity.

Unfortunately for most people, it is very hard to see this distinction without a proper reference. Introducing Quant provides that reference unit of account.

Fixing the Flaw

Curiosumé represents a person’s talents, interests, and skills (i.e., future productivity) in a form of cryptography. In essence, fabricating smart keys that can open and close social contracts on blockchain. As a result, knowledge assets may become visible to an accounting system under the explicit control of the owner. Once built, Curiosumé will mine Quant from the “proofs-of-work” performed by real people solving real puzzles that maintain a real network. The Network will be able to allocate Quant using algorithms measuring fault tolerant network dynamics, thereby decentralizing production.

Building Curiosumé

The Ingenesist Project (TIP) has created the Quant Token on the Bitshares Blockchain.  TIP has issued to itself Q10,000,000 to be allocated to the development of Curiosumé.   All participants in the initial phase will be given a donation of Q100 per hour for helping build and disseminate Curiosumé to the public domain. Future levels, if founded, will re-value the earlier round on a ratio of 10:1

Introducing Quant as the internal token of the Curiosumé network will allow people to articulate knowledge assets in true decentralized corporations.

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Disclaimer: Quant is not a currency nor is it meant to represent value or security in any entity.  Quant is akin to a game token where the challenge is to solve a puzzle to a public domain ledger. There will be leaderboards, level-ups, and player interaction similar to any role-play game. Quant may be sourced and sunk only within the intended open-source game that it portrays.  The whole “Global Debt” thing is part of the backstory, not some sort of political aspiration or commentary.  C’mon, this is supposed to be fun.  

Zertify Zillow Zestimates On Blockchain

zertify zillow zestimate on blockchain Big Problem with Zillow Zestimates:

Perhaps the best example of metadata being imposed upon an unwary public is the “Zillow Zestimate”.  Zillow.com is a real estate website that aggregates public information and boldly publishes the value of your personal property while quietly disclaiming that invalidity of their own valuation.  In all fairness, RedFin.com and Trulia.com also provide similarly structured valuations of your most valuable asset with no physical verification. The slightest misrepresentation could cost the homeowner tens of thousands of dollars for which there is absolutely no recourse.

According to Homevisor.com: if your house (or a house you are looking to buy) has a Zestimate of $300,000 – there is almost a 25% chance that the house will sell for less than $240,000 or more than $360,000. That is a pretty wide margin of error. 

There must be a way to Zertify Zilliow Zestimates on blockchain

Implications:

The result is that responsible homeowners who have conscientiously maintained and improved their property at great expense of time and money may be punished in a market while those who neglected their properties may be overly rewarded.  Neither the buyer nor the seller has any way of inspecting comparable homes used by Zillow.  This causes market distortion that affects the buyer, the seller, and the community at large.

Root Cause:

Zillow, Trulia, and RedFin all scan from public data sources.  The problem is that there is no trusted public ledger where owners can register valuable improvements and amenities that may dramatically impact the value – and which lower the risk of owning a particular property.  If such a trusted ledger did exist, it is certain that data scrapers such as Zillow, Trulia, and RedFin would be happy to scrape the data at no marginal cost.

Solution:

An organization such as the National Society of Professional Engineers has sufficient authority to provide a blockchain based ledger where a licensed professional engineer could physically review major components of a property including structural, plumbing, electrical, envelope, energy efficiency, HVAC, Solar Installations, mold, corrosion, critical slope, tree liabilities, view amenities, etc., and formulate an annual cost of ownership statement (ACOS) over a standard period of time.  The licensed engineer will register the ACOS, along with recent remodeling permits filed with the city, on the NSPE blockchain where it may be accessed by Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, MLS, banks, insurance, and the public, etc.

Value Proposition:

The ACOS and the Professional Engineering condition assessment could be provided to owners for a flat fee or subscription fee with a ROI greater than 10:1. This means that viability threshold for engineering assessment is defined as adding more than 10,000 dollars to the average sales price of the property for every 1000 dollars that the homeowner spends on the engineering report.  Owners that don’t meet this minimum threshold would not benefit from an ACOS and could not be listed on the NSPE Registry.

Size of market:

Assuming that there are about 100 million private homes in the US.  The percentage of under-valued homes that would benefit from a 10:1 PE registry are characterized at over +1 standard deviation on a bell curve distribution and higher.  This is roughly equivalent to 14% of 100 million, or approximately 14 million properties.  If each of those spends a minimum of  $1000 dollars for assessments, the value of the market would exceed $1.4B dollars. According to Homevisor.com estimates, the market would bear an engineering cost of $6000 yielding a $60,000 ROI, or roughly a $10B dollar market.

Conclusion:

Such a blockchain would safeguard the health and welfare of people and property while increasing  the visibility of professional engineers as a public financial institution with real financial impact.  The NSPE data would reduce volatility in banking and insurance ledgers so that pricing becomes more efficient. Real Estate professionals, renovation contractors, and real estate appraisers would also benefit from the registry by delivering the right product to the right client at the right time. It will increase the demand for a retail professional engineering sector to defend the technical best interest of society.  It will signal high integrity rather than low integrity to the preventive maintenance market.  Most importantly, the homeowners who maintain their property and those who will buy those properties benefit from fair market assessment of property values at a far greater utility than the typical point-of-sale home inspection.

Notes:

  • The ideas presented here are the sole creation of the author and not meant to reflect the intentions or interests of the National Society of Professional Engineers, Zillow, or any other referenced entity. 
  • Zertify takes its name from a portmanteau between the word certify and the statistical z-test https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z-test

NSPE Launches FinTech Task Force

nspeThe National Society of Professional Engineers has formed a task force to research and review blockchain applications aimed at the banking and insurance sectors for applicability and impacts to the engineering profession.  The task force is made up of 8 visionary engineers from within the membership.  Daniel Robles, PE (this author) was appointed to lead the task force by the president of the NSPE and approved by the board of directors.

Today, Licensed Engineers serve an essential role in the economy as adjudicators to banking and insurance industry underwriting of our nation’s infrastructure, in effect, supporting the value of our currency.  The integrity of infrastructure is what supports the majority of assets on a corporate or municipal balance sheet. It is a natural progression that Professional Engineers would articulate their judgement in design, safety, process, and longevity of these critical assets on smart contracts in blockchain protocol.

For example; The design and construction process is comprised of a master contract and a long series of minor contracts.  Validations, inspections, compliance and defect assurance etc, can all be articulated as smart contracts on a project blockchain where the licensed professional engineer serves as an adjudicator to flip the switches that release payments, trigger insurance coverage, time stamp completion, or open the next contract in a series of work orders.

Further, Curiosumé is an application developed by The Ingenesist Project that converts a résumé into cryptography.  This may be used to fabricate smart keys to open and close smart contracts on a blockchain.  By decentralizing the adjudication process, moral hazard and negative incentives can be effectively eliminated from acquisition, commissioning, servicing, and maintenance of high value public and private assets.

There’s an old saying that “A fish does not have a word for water”. This is because water is so elemental in the life of a fish that they can’t even see it. The same can be said for public infrastructure.  We often take for granted the availability of clean water, warm buildings, and safe transportation that we do not often see it as a storage place for value.  In fact, infrastructure is the perfect store of value because without it, society is far less productive where, say, we had to ride a mule, grow our own food, or chop wood for heat, etc.  It is well observed that the value of a nation’s currency is directly proportional to the value of their infrastructure.

The Liquidity Crisis

Many people in the cryptocurrency space are coming to terms with the speculative nature of the current collection of crypto-coins.  They realize that a virtual asset cannot be represented as a physical asset without some intrinsic intermediary to store real value. Cryptocurrencies appear to solve part of the problem of transferring an asset, but suffer many new problems such as articulating quantity and quality of the asset. In essence, money must represent human productivity otherwise people would not be willing to work in exchange for it – this is the source of low mainstream adoption and poor liquidity of cryptocurrencies.  The social agreement required to form a true currency is, and will remain, elusive without intrinsic value.

The engineering profession is precisely the means by which that intrinsic conversion can be implemented. People need electricity, they need food, shelter, energy, schools, bridges, highways, and airplanes and are willing to convert their own productivity in producing these things in reciprocal exchange with others producing these things.  Blockchain transactions must be developed to represent stored value in infrastructure thereby holding intrinsic value from which supply, demand, and factors of production (markets) can behave as needed in a functional economy.

NSPE Launches FinTech Task Force

The NSPE task force is an extremely important step in bridging financial industries with the needs of people and society. This may be one of the most important developments coming out of the cryptocurrency domain since the Satoshi Genesis block one.

Municipal Governance On The Blockchain

treesviewAs a member of the City of Edmonds Planning Board, I hear a lot about what the public wants and what they do not want from their local government.  As a seaside town, property values can be greatly impacted by water and mountain views.  As such, there is an incentive to remove trees blocking views.  In other parts of town, the urban forest is extremely beautiful and there is great incentive to preserve trees from high density developers. So what happens when a town wants to regulate trees?  In our case, it was NOT an Edmonds kind of day. Perhaps it’s time to try municipal governance on the blockchain. 

Problem:

Many municipalities are adopting laws which may restrict the cutting of trees on private property in response to factors such as canopy loss, erosion control, wildlife protection, urban forest management, development, view amenities, climate change, etc.; or to enhance tree cutting to make way for new development and associated tax dollars. However, most models for tree regulation are unpopular with their imposing fines, permit fees, high density development, and government regulation on private property. Yet, these fines and permit fees are required to fund a bloated top-heavy tree code in the first place!!

Proposal:

Incorporate cryptographic and/or block chain technology to create a web-based public ledger and tree inventory that everyone can see and anyone can audit. By adding simple gamification features, the tree code may become self-regulating as players interact with the game. This may minimize government involvement, except in the most exceptional circumstances.

Discussion:

Think of it like a huge public accounting ledger that everyone can see, but can only edit their own data.  Instead of accounting for money, the ledger accounts for trees.  The game starts when a property owner registers his or her own trees on the ledger.  The city will issue cryptocurrency based on the number of tree units the property owner claims. These tokens would go into an electronic wallet on a blockchain associated with the property parcel number.  Each year, the resident will be issued more tokens by the city as their trees grow – the value of the tokens is derived from climate data or LIDAR surveys.  Some years may increase token values, some years may decrease token value based on estimated growth rates.

When a person wants to cut down a tree, they need to spend tokens to do so. Ideally, A property owner would not cut down more than they can grow. If they don’t have enough tokens, then they need to buy them from adjoining neighbors who are also trying to grow more than they must lose. If trading is restricted to adjoining properties (not commoditized like carbon credits), then community actions must be agreed upon by neighbors to settle any difficult situations.

The city would rarely get involved except to peg the value of the tokens on climate data. Algorithms programmed into the public ledger would manage the token values and electronic wallet exchanges automatically.

Shifts incentives

This sounds innocent enough.  But in reality, it changes all of the incentives that we are now attempting to manage with convoluted linear rules and imposing government regulations on private property.

For example,

  • It rewards tree preservation.
  • It rewards early and active registration,
  • It is self-enforcing because neighbors have a vested interest, and the ledger is public.
  • It is self-governing because neighbors need to agree on price.
  • It is self-limiting – an area cannot get rapidly stripped without progressive costs.
  • If a developer tries to take out a lot of trees, the neighbors can make it very expensive to do so – or negotiate concessions, etc.
  • If an arborist is needed, then the business case exists to hire one.
  • The municipality is able to referee disputes and establish coin allocations based on canopy quota or weather conditions, etc.
  • It provides tree liability (or asset) disclosure at property sale.

Business case

Today, proposed tree code regulations expose the citizens to cutting fees as high as $1000 dollars per tree. Violations for unauthorized cutting can approach $3000 dollars per tree. This money is required to fund a tree department that may consist of up to 3 arborists (for a small seaside town in Washington state; pop. 50,000), a permit reviewer, an enforcement arm, and possible court challenges. It could cost a million dollars per year to have an effective tree code for a city under 100,000 people, or 10 dollars per person per year just to regulate.

A price point of 1 dollar per citizen per year would therefore not be an extraordinary amount of money for a city to resolve a difficult social problem with modern technology.   Several thousand small cities dot the American coastline making this a strong candidate for private entrepreneurial partnership simply to maintain and audit the public ledger.

Conclusion:

A new generation of web applications and cryptographic technologies would allow this activity to happen autonomously. No new labor is required. No regulators are needed, no special penalties or enforcement mechanisms are required.  The city can stay out of the private property tree business completely.

Technically, this is called a multi-agent algorithmic game on a decentralized autonomous platform.  The difference is that today, these things can be made to look and feel like a game that is fun to play – people may play it. How many other Municipal Governance functions can be self-governed on a blockchain such as motor vehicles, animal control, gun control, schools, parking, water rights, energy, executive power, or any intrinsically valuable shared community asset.

 

Gun Control On The Blockchain

The following discussion related to Gun Control On The Blockchain is a thought-exercise only inspired by new and emerging technologies for decentralized self-governance and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the author. It is not intended to favor any single political position. it is not presented as a comprehensive solution to all scenarios. This article is intended to invite readers to imagine new approaches and constructs to resolve complex governance issues using blockchain technology on public ledgers.  

Gun Control On The BlockchainProblem: According to some sources, 280,000 Americans have died from guns in the last decade.  Even opponents of gun control acknowledge that there is a need to assure that a gun owner is qualified to operate each specific type of firearm that they possess. Even proponents of gun control acknowledge that registering a gun with a central authority (government, insurance, gun schools) constitutes a loss of civil liberty. Everyone knows that “blanket legislation” accomplishes little more than punishing a large number of responsible people in order to deter a relatively small number of irresponsible people.

Proposal: A person who seeks to acquire a gun may create an anonymous Curiosumé persona that includes their training, qualifications, mental health record, police record, and personal references from other qualified gun owners, etc. This anonymous information can then be encrypted and time stamped on a blockchain. Any changes in these conditions must be added to the persona by one-way edit.  The identity of the persona remains on a private key held by the owner.

Gun dealers would be able to sell the level of armament commensurate with the threshold of competence evident by a quasi-anonymous persona. In the event of a disputed gun discharge, the actual identity of the person and their gun becomes known, therefore, their private key can be revealed without loss of civil liberty.  If the gun owner’s persona is accurate, then they will be protected under the 2nd amendment and receive an isolated incident judgment.  If the person lied on their persona, they forfeit some protected under the 2nd amendment and receive broad penalty and liabilities.

Alternate: Gun Owner Insurance:

Without revealing identity, the gun owner’s Curiosumé persona may act as a proxy identity for the person. The proxy would then be assigned to a risk sharing cooperative pool based on similar Curiosumé personas of the other people in the pool. The gun owner would pay insurance premiums commensurate with their persona – i.e., corresponding to the correct risk pool of their persona. In the event of a claim, the identity is unencrypted and revealed. If the person cheated on their premiums, they would not be covered. If they were truthful, they would be covered for accidental discharge.

Discussion:

Disciplined and experienced owners will pay a trivial amount for gun insurance while beginners would pay substantially more. This is an incentive to become educated in the rules of firearm ownership. If an individual has demonstrated severe shortcoming of responsibility, judgment, or prior convictions, then they will be pooled with others possessing the similar characteristics. As such, their insurance would be exponentially more expensive, perhaps prohibitive. Therefore, they would need to pay more to own a gun and or complete a rehabilitation program.  The market will reach a new equilibrium of relative safety.

This type of arrangement applying a Curiosumé layer to a blockchain effectively preserves the identity of the gun owner while also providing essential data to a public ledger that may be assessed by gun dealers, gun trainers, insurance companies, mental health professionals, personal references, legislators, and the public at large.

Again, in the event of a shooting, the gun owner and their gun are discovered anyway, therefore privacy no longer exists. Only at that time may the public ledger be reviewed.  There is a negative incentive for all people in the chain of possession in a community to allow an unstable person to possess a gun.

In the event of a worst case scenario intended by our founding fathers requiring for a protection by a trained citizen militia, then the blockchain can be shut down until such civil order is restored.

The Curiosumé layer on a blockchain satisfies the 2nd amendment on all points while protecting the public by filtering incompetent owners without punishing competent owners through fair market forces.

***

 

Introducing Intrinsic Coin

From Wiktionary: INTRINSIC

Untitled

Nothing economic can happen until two or more people get together and build something useful.  In a global human network that is facing global constraints, the core function of the economy must be to find each other.  This is made extremely difficult by the existing “factors of production” that now classify and allocate your productivity and mine.  The true intrinsic value of money resides in the social, creative, and intellectual capacity of people who design, maintain, and support those factors of production.

Early cryptocurrencies solve only part of this problem by providing a indelible ledger and medium of exchange. But true money must store (represent) human productivity, otherwise people would not be willing to be productive in exchange for it. To reconcile these shortcomings, The Ingenesist Project (TIP) is building a new class of cryptocurrency with the defining characteristic of storing and exchanging social, creative, and intellectual value intrinsically, i.e., within the currency itself.

By integrating a Curiosumé layer with an efficient and robust blockchain backbone, people can exchange a currency that represents the intrinsic value of their own productivity in collaboration with that from their community.  Curiosumé converts the résumé into cryptography that allows people to control their own identity as “smart keys” where they can interact with each other using “smart contracts” on a “smart blockchain” such as Bitshares and others.

It is well known that the value of a nation’s currency is backed by the productivity of its citizens. The same is true for states, communities, and even individual persons. Money must have intrinsic value. There really is no way around this except by developing an Intrinsic Coin with these specific characteristics.  This already works on a small scale with community currencies and in co-ops. The challenge now is to scale broadly it to a point of voluntary generalized reciprocity.

Introducing Intrinsic Coin solves this problem by decentralizing productivity of a community prior to the exchange, not after.  This allows people to take control of their identities and the market place for their social, creative, and intellectual capital. From decentralizing so-called ‘human resources’, to putting a tollbooth on big data, to hedging debt instruments, the implications of an Intrinsic Coin are sweeping and vast.

There is no shortage of work that needs to be done, but there is increasingly scarce money to pay for it. There are abundant social, creative, and intellectual assets in people that are not articulated in any traditional accounting system.  If we can create that accounting system, we’ll be able to tap into a ground swell of hugely productive makers who are misallocated in their jobs and careers by the silos they are placed in … or excluded from.

People need a new form of money that they can trade among their selves which helps them find each other and represent their true unadulterated productivity. They need a decentralized ledger and a local exchange. This is where the promise of blockchain technology started. This is where Intrinsic Coin will serve.

The Ingenesist Project Team is comprised of multi-disciplinary experts in Engineering, Insurance, Banking, Philanthropy, and Blockchain Development. Interested partners and financial technology media are encouraged to contact the Ingenesist Project at http://www.ingenesist.com

References: Curiosumé – Reorganizing In the Era of Social Capitalism

 

The Bitcoin Protocol And The Future Currency Impact On The Engineering Profession

Beginning with the failure of the NAFTA Mutual Recognition of Professional Engineers followed by an introduction to modern cryptocurrencies, this seminal presentation specifies a future where engineering knowledge represented by a virtual asset may store true intrinsic value.

This presentation was filmed at the 2015 National Society of Professional Engineers Annual Conference, Advanced Leadership Track, July 16, 2015 in Seattle Washington. Daniel Robles, PE, MIB is the founder of Coengineers, PLLC and The Ingenesist Project

Abstract

The Bitcoin Protocol And The Future Currency Impact On The Engineering Profession

In a Wall Street Journal essay, two authors wrote, “The digital currency known as bitcoin is only six years old, and many of its critics are already declaring it dead. But such dire predictions miss a far more important point: Whether bitcoin survives or not, the technology underlying it is here to stay.” This session will cover what digital currency means for the engineering profession.

“Decentralization” is a term being applied to platforms that use the Blockchain Protocol pioneered by Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin.  As a cryptographic currency, Bitcoin remains problematic.  However, as an algorithmic protocol, blockchain technology will enable society to cheaply perform common business processes that are now controlled by institutions such as banks, insurance companies, corporations, government, etc.  Today, rapidly emerging platforms are under development to bring “smart contracts” (algorithms based on blockchain technology) into the mainstream.  

An important and essential variant of smart contracts is called an “Adjudicated Smart Contract” that requires an independent 3rd party adjudicator that would “flip the switch” on algorithmic agreements in finance, insurance, and decisions of governance.  There is a staggering opportunity ahead for the engineering profession to position itself for the role of the adjudicator in a wide variety of important and high value transactions.  The caveat is that we too must change the way that we organize ourselves.   

This presentation, Decentralizing the Engineering Profession, begins with the failure of the NAFTA MRD followed by an introduction to blockchain technologies, and ending with specifications on how our profession can jump to the top of the value chain in the era of Social Capitalism – if, and only if, [the engineering profession] can choose to change. 

Intrinsecus – The First Intrinsic Cryptocurrency Platform

Wiktionary Definition Intrinsic

The Ingenesist Project is excited to announce the launch of a new class of cryptocurrencies with the defining characteristic of storing and exchanging value intrinsically, i.e., within itself.  

Intrinsecus is a Blockchain 3.0 platform that combines Curiosumé with the Bitshares blockchain ecosystem to form a class of cryptocurrencies representing the intrinsic value of human productivity – the intrinsic merit of an action.   Simply put, Curiosumé converts a résumé to cryptography to create “smart keys” that can interact with “smart contracts” on a Bitshares “smart blockchain”. 

Recent experiments with Blockchain technology have demonstrated the difficulty in representing physical assets with virtual assets, leading to an enduring liquidity crisis in cryptocurrencies.  Intrinsecus solves this problem with a currency that directly represents and immediately decentralizes human productivity prior to the centralization effect of banks and corporations.  

From decentralizing “human resources” to putting a toll booth on “big data” to hedging human debt instruments, the implications of an intrinsic cryptocurrency are sweeping and vast.

The Intrinsecus team is comprised of multi-disciplinary visionaries from Engineering, Insurance, Banking, Philanthropy, and Blockchain Development industries.

The Ingenesist Project will be available for limited media inquiries pending further details of a crowd funding program.  Please use the contact form on this site for quickest response.

References:   

17:00 Curiosumé, Fintech Seattle:  https://youtu.be/m_-JkUI5ATE

29:00 Bitshares User Issued Assets https://youtu.be/yzruOULgmng 

Bitcoin Protocol Future Currency Impact On The Engineering Profession

Beginning with the failure of the NAFTA Mutual Recognition of Professional Engineers followed by an introduction to modern cryptocurrencies, this seminal presentation specifies a future where engineering knowledge represented by a virtual asset may store true intrinsic value.

This presentation was filmed at the 2015 National Society of Professional Engineers Annual Conference, Advanced Leadership Track, July 16, 2015 in Seattle Washington. Daniel Robles, PE, MIB is the founder of Coengineers, PLLC and The Ingenesist Project

Abstract

The Bitcoin Protocol And The Future Currency Impact On The Engineering Profession

In a Wall Street Journal essay, two authors wrote, “The digital currency known as bitcoin is only six years old, and many of its critics are already declaring it dead. But such dire predictions miss a far more important point: Whether bitcoin survives or not, the technology underlying it is here to stay.” This session will cover what digital currency means for the engineering profession.

“Decentralization” is a term being applied to platforms that use the Blockchain Protocol pioneered by Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin.  As a cryptographic currency, Bitcoin remains problematic.  However, as an algorithmic protocol, blockchain technology will enable society to cheaply perform common business processes that are now controlled by institutions such as banks, insurance companies, corporations, government, etc.  Today, rapidly emerging platforms are under development to bring “smart contracts” (algorithms based on blockchain technology) into the mainstream.  

An important and essential variant of smart contracts is called an “Adjudicated Smart Contract” that requires an independent 3rd party adjudicator that would “flip the switch” on algorithmic agreements in finance, insurance, and decisions of governance.  There is a staggering opportunity ahead for the engineering profession to position itself for the role of the adjudicator in a wide variety of important and high value transactions.  The caveat is that we too must change the way that we organize ourselves.   

This presentation, Decentralizing the Engineering Profession, begins with the failure of the NAFTA MRD followed by an introduction to blockchain technologies, and ending with specifications on how our profession can jump to the top of the value chain in the era of Social Capitalism – if, and only if, [the engineering profession] can choose to change. 

New Factors Of Production

From classical economics, we are familiar with land, labor, and capital (money) as those things that the benevolent merchant class allocates as a means of producing all things useful to society.

Today, we observe that the new factor of production in an economy is data. Data is the dominant factor being allocated, or constrained, by the merchant class as a means of producing some useful and some not-so-useful things that society may or may not need.

Yet, the collection, processing, normalization, distribution, interpretation, transmission, integration, differentiation, and segmentation of data are the domain of the engineering profession.

Data are the fundamental building blocks of information, knowledge, innovation, and wisdom.  These are the new factors of production upon which new Capitalism is based.

It would seem then that there is an opportunity for the engineers and technologists to claim this important factor of production as our own and thus allocate data to those things that safeguard the health and welfare of people and property while constraining data from those things that do not.

Blockchain technology allows society a quantum leap to leave abandon legacy data systems, not unlike cellular telephony allows society to abandon land wires. Engineers are at a critical phase right now. Either we ignore block chain technology, or we do not.

Engineering With Blockchains

Bitcoin uses Proof-Of-Work (POW) to create a new block in a blockchain.   This is analogous to the kidnappers taking a photo of the victim holding the daily newspaper to establish that they are still alive.  Consequently, no proof can last more than a few seconds until the next newspaper is printed.  In other words, the solution to the last puzzle becomes part of the solution to the next puzzle.  In the case of Bitcoin, if we assume that the newspaper has no other reason for existing except to prove that the victim is still alive, it is easy to see how POW can becomes energy and labor intensive.

Proof-of-Stake (POS) is a bit more like Poker. Only after a player shows their cards can a determination be agreed upon by the community of players permitting a payout and allowing the next round begin.

The information required for proof of stake is as follows: 1. the result of the last round of the game, 2. the identity of the card holder, 3. the timestamp that the poker hand was revealed.  4. The account balance of chips on the table, and 5. the result of the playing-card algorithm.

If an account has all of these components, then a new block may be formed. If one draws a rough analogy between POW and POS and compares that to the Professional-Of-Engineering Stamp (POE) Model – and by extension, all scientific validation marks – an interesting similarity emerges:

In an environment of construction, product development, or even research and development, the following is observed:   1. It is relatively easy to use the results of a test, inspection, or observation to establish that a condition exists.  2. The condition the prior event defines the state of play for the next event. 3. the identity of the adjudicator is established in their qualifications (or licensure or Curiosumé) 4. The value of the project is established contractually, by pro forma, or prior block 5. The design of the project represents the algorithm of the game.

Once this information can be established, a signatory can create the new block. The difference between POE (Proof-OF-Engineering) and PWO/POS is that POE has an intrinsic value which is stored in the asset being created (road, bridge, software, security, energy, education, medicine, etc).  Where multiple players engage with a shared asset, they are all intrinsically motivated to preserve the asset rather than consume or destroy the asset.  They will interact with each other accordingly.

Perhaps the bigger question is: Should society emulate cryptocurrencies or should cryptocurrencies emulate society upon our shared asset Earth?

 

 

Engineering as Adjudicator Of Smart Contracts

The opportunities for the future of Professional engineering are just staggering.   Banks and insurance companies are investing heavily in blockchain technology in order to both head off a threat of decentralized cryptocurrencies and to release fantastic efficiencies for their own centralized processes. However, no matter how big or how powerful these institutions are, they must contend with the issue of representing a physical asset with the virtual asset.  This is the source of widespread liquidity issues across the cryptocurrency movement and a problem that remains largely unsolved.

Adjudicator stoolFinancial institutions will need, more than anything else in the world, some provision to identify, the quantity, quality, and variance in  all physical assets represented by virtual currencies. There is simply no way around this.  Sure, crypto-pundits will try to explain this little fact away by claiming that intrinsic value of a currency is no longer a requisite for money.  They are wrong.

The Professional Engineering Community is in a very unique opportunity to serve this extremely important function, in part because of the legal structure that they are associated with as well as the simple fact that the PE stamp already performs a similar function in legacy finance.  As a third party adjudicator of traditional contracts, the engineer flips the switches of money transfer to infrastructure projects (and much more), upon compliance with a legal contract.  This same structure can be readily adapted to the virtual currency domain via engineering as adjudicator of smart contracts.

Engineers need to think about their role in society more like a financial instrument than a commercial service or job function. Only then can they have a direct and profound influence on what is built when, and how.  It is in this capacity that engineers can increase effectiveness in their historical doctrine to safeguard the health and welfare of people and property (planet).

Today, a great many decisions that impact the safety, health, and welfare of people and property (planet) are being made by non-engineers, blind shareholders, financial institutions, and short-term politics.  Yet the majority of the future challenges for civilization will be technical in nature.  The integration of a technical policy in finance is precisely the balance that the global economy needs to transition into the next millennium.

NSPE and A Platform

In order to take advantage of these opportunities, the engineering profession needs to reorganize itself.  The NSPE constrains itself to a mandate that serves only State Licensed engineers.  Taken alone, this makes the PE less of a physical science and more of a political science.  The NSPE, precisely by their State Registration, is also in a unique position to act as the decentralized platform for all engineers.  All engineers must be elevated to the position of financial instruments and interact directly with the Banking and Insurance companies.

Bitcoin 2.0 Smart Contracts About What ?

– Nick Szabo

The advantages of cryptocurrencies have the potential to be immense.  The first thing that people notice is that there are no transaction fees.  If one wants to email someone 20 dollars, all they need to do is convert 20 dollars to bitcoin, send the bitcoin, and exchange back to dollars – no brokers, no bankers, no fees, no taxes.

People also realized that by keeping their money in Bitcoin, they could buy and sell goods and services without credit card fees, bank fees, or sales tax.  They could even send micro-payments directly to an artist for a copy of a song – no record label, no iTunes, no banks, no taxes, etc.

This functionally resembles the ease with which a corporation can transfer resources internally.  It didn’t take long for people to realize that any kind of contract can be entered into a block chain and irrevocably time stamped. This includes patents, and trademarks, notary, and business agreements, etc.

Szabo 2

– Nick Szabo

Now people are looking at the possibility to transmitting even more complicated contracts across block chains; such as an escrow service and insurance.  For example, a buyer could convert cash to crypto coin, and lock it to an escrow contract. If the product checks out, the program passes the payment to the seller. If it does not, the algorithms sends it back to the buyer.

Next, an insurance product is not much more than an escrow account between multiple persons.  Theoretically, people can form their own insurance pools – good drivers can team up and self-insure, no longer needing to subsidize poor drivers.

The blockchain can scale magnificently with near zero marginal cost per transaction.  It is easy to see how this innovation would have profound implications for Banking and Insurance.  This brings us back to the engineering profession and the 3-legged stool.

Banks and insurance companies fought bitcoin at first.  But now, they are rapidly trying to incorporate blockchain technology into their business system. This allows them to make a quantum technological leap out of legacy data systems while also enabling them to eliminate their own legions of brokers.  The potential profits for the banking and insurance industry are staggering.

Bitcoin 2.0 Smart Contracts About What ?

- Nick Szabo

– Nick Szabo

Unfortunately, they will eventually run into a problem which would be extremely difficult for them to solve. Crypto-currencies are virtual – they don’t actually exist. They can only represent something that actually exists.

It is precisely this “representation” that is the domain of the engineering profession.  The engineer, in their capacity to design and build things is the proxy that can bridge this extremely important gap.  A some point, a crypto contract needs to interact with something that does actually exists.

The Digital Engineering Stamp

PE StampThe Professional Engineering licensure is holding on by a thread – albeit a very strong thread – called State Government regulations supported by the Banks and Insurance companies.  However, that may change soon –  not because of something that the government or the engineers are doing, rather, there is a huge technological changes occurring in Financial Services sector.  This article describes how changes in the financial system may impact Professional Engineers.

How FinTech Impacts Engineers

The change is being driven by something called Bitcoin – well, not actually a coin, but the cryptographic process – called Blockchain protocol (BCP).  The Blockchain Protocol is being called by some one of the greatest achievements of the human intellect since Calculus.  Don’t take this lightly – anything that impacts finance, impact engineering, and vice versa.

While the mechanics of the blockchain protocol are extremely complex, an easy way to understand the impact begins with a short history on databases.

Early on, data was stored on tape machines and the computer told the machine to retrieve a bit of data, say, 11 meters down the tape and another bit of data 18 meters in the other direction so that some computation can be performed.

Today modern databases contain all sorts of data about every aspect of their business such as accounting, financial, HR, vendor, client, product, sales data, etc.  Modern data systems are incredibly efficient except when one database needs to talk to another database, then things start to get resource intensive.

But over time we have adapted to this problem with a burgeoning service sector that helps databases communicate.  These include mortgage brokers, insurance brokers, real estate brokers, multiple layers of management who bring the data to market.  Then we developed APIs that help convert the data so that Google, Amazon, or Facebook, can of sell certain parts of their database to partners.  Finally, platforms such as Uber and AirBnB are pure brokers of data.

In fact, Uber is the world’s largest Taxi but owns no cars, AirBnB is the worlds biggest hotel but owns no property, Facebook is the worlds biggest media company but writes no content.  These are the mega brokers because they can withhold information from a market and are worth Billions upon Billions of dollars.  Meanwhile it is impossible for me to email you 26 dollars because the fees to do so are 25 dollars.  Money can be withheld at will.  So if you can withhold information, you and create scarcity which drives price.

So what if you could eliminate the brokers?  Not because they are bad or wrong, just because they are inefficient and introduce a great deal of friction to a free market.  well, there are basically 2 ways to do this.

You can combine data bases of two or more organizations.  This happens with many mergers and acquisitions and nearly always result in surplus labor (i.e., brokers).

The other way is for many organizations to share a common database. This is the general idea of decentralization – it all happens outside the construct of what we now know of as a Corporation.

The Digital Engineering Stamp

The new problem that emerges with decentralization is how do you secure the data? Who is going to take responsibility for maintaining the database? What is to keep someone from giving themselves a raise, or double spending an account entry, or accessing private information, etc.?

This is precisely the problem that the Blockchain protocol solves. In fact, the blockchain protocol, is the digital analog to the professional engineer’s stamp, signature, assurance, or design.  So this is clearly not trivial.

The Engineering Asset

The professional  Engineering licensure system has developed a qualification system that serves to define the engineer as an asset much in the same form as any financial instrument would format an asset.

Asset slide

Engineers need to understand how this design empowers them as a financial instrument otherwise, they can easily be sequestered in the domain of the “intangible”.   In the mind-eye of Wall Street, the engineer acts as a proxy for the physical asset that is being capitalized.

The Engineering Asset:

engineering asset

In general, engineering licensure is a function of three components where each is represented in the parameters of the licensure process.

1. An accredited education represents the quantity of the asset being described, be it mechanical, electrical, civil engineer, etc.

2. Documented experience represents the quality of the asset as verified by a comparable existing asset.

3. Finally, the examination minimizes the variance in the quality and quantity of the engineering asset.

Since there is some flexibility in the parameters.  For example, it is fairly easy to substitute a bit less experience for a bit more education. Similarly, it is possible to increase education and experience in lieu of an exam.

However, in each and every case, the asset is preserved as a function of quantity, quality, and variance. Otherwise, it ceases to be a stand-alone asset and requires a corporation to house it.

A great deal of engineering falls under the under the corporate exemption. This is neither right or wrong – it is simply another delivery mechanism for engineering services.  There are many different delivery systems that perform essentially the same function such as venture capitalists, university affiliation, grant writing, oppression, and quite predictably, bank loans and insurance contracts.

As such, there is no limit of possible delivery systems as long as they fulfill the governing equation for Quality, quantity, and variance.

 

The Definition of Asset

The definition of Asset is broadly overlooked in discussions about finance and cash flow.  The definition of Asset must be upheld on the accounting sheet or else the “asset” ceases to exist, is classified as an “intangibles” or becomes a liability.

In the prior post, I make the claim that engineers are money. On certain types of projects, such as construction or product development, there is a period of time between expenses and revenue.  During that period of time, the asset does not actually exist.  Instead it is being supported by the engineering that is actualizing the future asset.

All assets are described by two components; quality and quantity. For example; it is insufficient to say that “water” is an asset without also specifying the quantity and the quality of the water – is it 6 oz of drinking water or is it 6 liters of cooling water in your car.  A value cannot be ascribed to an asset without these two pieces of information – and each has a hugely different value proposition.  Likewise, if either of these two bits of information are missing from the definition of the Asset, it ceases to exist on the accounting statement. During construction, maintenance, renovation, or replacement, either of these two information points may be temporarily compromised.  The term for this is Accountability.

In this case we say that the value of the asset is a function of Quantity and Quality:

Asset slide

In order for that to occur, the asset value needs to be projected upon the engineer as a proxy for the asset.  As such, the engineering assurance must also be described in terms of quality and quantity.

Our next lesson comes from insurance 101: in order to manage risk, you first need to know pieces of information:

1. Can you identify the risk exposure

2. If so, what is the probability that risk exposure will manifest

3. If so, what are the consequences of that manifestation

These are the governing equation for the Accountability of engineering assets; definition, transmission, accounting, and resolution of an asset.

Likewise, the best way to an intangible asset or even a liability, is to impact Quality, quantity, and variance.  This is the domain of engineering

To Control Engineering Is To Control The World

No Global EngineerEngineers are the critical component in Global finance.  They are needed to keep the electricity on, the Internet running, to fight wars,  to provide food, shelter, warmth, and transportation to all mankind.

However, economies are segmented by political boundaries, not necessarily engineering boundaries.  The political laws vary, but the physical laws do not.  It is precisely the ability to sequester engineering behind political, corporate boundaries, and ontological boundaries that gives unfettered prioritization and control of our Planet’s resources to non-engineers and non-scientists. To control engineering is to control the world.

As we saw earlier, V=F(Q,q) relation did not hold for NAFTA engineers but it flew right through for financial services.  Pretty much every trade agreement after NAFTA copied NAFTA and passed along this flaw.  Today, there is no such thing as a Global Engineering system anywhere near comparable to the Global Financial System.

Money Must Represent human productivity otherwise nobody would work in exchange for it. Productivity can include factory production, but also social production like kindness, empathy, parenthood – the things that people normally are by definition part of an economy.

Unfortunately, Money has been largely divorced human productivity through the intricacies of financial exotica and the great speed at which money can travel which productivity cannot. There is a precarious situation where money no longer represent the underlying human productivity asset that underwrites it.  This is dangerous because people will refuse to work in exchange for it, unless forced. Forced liquidity has been known by many names over the course of history.

Money is a social agreement, As soon as a viable alternative currency arises which truly represents the essence of their productivity, they will switch over to use it.

Until then, we must endure non-engineers/scientists making decisions on what is best for our planet.  Non-engineers decide if and when electric cars will replace fossil fuels.  Non-engineers decide what neighborhood gets the best schools or how much desert property is worth 100 yards across the US border.  Non-engineers set technical priorities and allocate engineering – in doing so, they are in fact performing engineering for which they are unqualified.  This is simply another form of forced liquidity.

The laws of physics tell us that the greatest electrical “potential” is defined as the difference between two nodes.  The greater the distance, the greater the potential and the brighter the spark that can jump the node.  By analogy, less developed countries would therefore have the greatest economic “Potential” precisely because the gap is so wide. Poverty ridden cities would have a greater economic potential than exclusive gated neighborhoods. Impoverished peoples would have the greatest potential due to the distance between the rich and the poor.  All of this potential is lost due to a tiny flaw that can be easily corrected.

Technological change must precede economic growth.  We are going about the process of Globalization as if economic growth can precede technological change.

In short – we got it backwards.  The tragedy is that we got is backwards.  The opportunity is that it can be so easily corrected.

 

 

 

 

The Death of Global Engineering

The North American Free Trade Act was unique in that it provided for the free trade of professional services such as financial services and engineering services.  Unfortunately, international trade in financial services was accomplished without also achieving international trade in engineering.  This created a vacuum on productivity (The actual giant sucking sound). Most trade agreements that followed NAFTA were modeled after NAFTA.  As such, this flaw was inherited by modern globalization worldwide.  To correct the flaw could reverse much of the misalignment between money and the fact of productivity.

Here is how NAFTA Failed. This diagram comes from an obscure paper that I published in 1996.

Mobility Model 1

 

From prior posts on this topic, The US PE is a function of education which defines Quantity of the asset, Experience which defines quality of the asset, and Examination which reduces variance of the asset.  Education is defined and standardized by ABET, the examination is defined by NCEES, and the experience is defined by an adjustable peer review standard. There is some flexibility such that little more or a little less of one factor can be absorbed by a little more or less of the other factors. This is rational.

Each of the NAFTA countries has their own rendition of this. In the case of Canada – the education is equivalent to the US due to an accord between accreditation agencies.  The Canadian exam is different, however, the experience component is mutually recognized across jurisdictions.  Since 2 out of 3 factors are reciprocated, then the difference can be made up with minor adjustments.

However when you get to Mexico, both the exam and the education were substantially different with no accords with either of the other countries.  Since only 1 of the 3 factors (experience) were reciprocated, an extreme adjustment to the experience standard needed to carry all the weight.  In fact 15-19 years of experience was the only way that an engineer from Mexico could participate in NAFTA

So when you try to get a combined standard, we see that there is no way to assess the Quantity and Quality of the NAFTA Engineer. This is where the negotiations where breaking down when someone said, hey there are hundreds of Mexican Engineers passing the EIT. This is how I got dragged into NAFTA.

Our proposal was that all three countries accept each other’s experience requirement – they were already willing to do this.  Then we suggested that everyone take the same examination – assuming it could be published in Spanish.  Then, the feedback of the exam can be fed back into the education system so that they can be reconciled over time.

The purpose of this solution was not to toss a political hot-potato.  It was to preserve the formulation of the asset. In doing so, insurance companies would be willing to insure the asset and banks would be willing capitalize the asset.  As such, the flow of financial instruments could be applied to infrastructure and the process of economic development could begin for all participants.

Mobility Model 2

 

Unfortunately, this proposal was rejected for reasons far too trivial and irrational to dwell upon here.  The bottom line is that on a planet where the laws of physics are nearly identical at single every point, there is no Global engineering profession.

This is, and continues to be, an utterly tragic outcome.

Cryptocurrencies 101

aliceTo describe how Cryptocurrencies would be applied by Professional Engineers, we need to start with a brief discussion on cryptocurrencies and blockchains.

Cryptocurrencies 101

It all starts with something called a hash. Basically, a computer program generates a large random number.  Then a key generation program fashions the random number into keys that are mathematically related to each other – so the keys recognize each other.

One key becomes the public key, and the other becomes the private key.  As the names suggest, the Public Key is made available to everyone via a publicly accessible repository or directory while the private key remains in the possession of the owner.

For example, if Bob wants to send sensitive data to Alice, and wants to be sure that only Alice may be able to read it, he will encrypt the data with Alice’s Public Key. Only Alice has access to her corresponding Private Key and therefore is the only person who can decrypt the encrypted data back into its original form. Even if someone else gains access to the encrypted data, it will remain confidential as they should not have access to Alice’s Private Key.

There are many ways to arrange cryptographic keys in a relationship, or even among additional operations with Boolean logic such that: If A and Not B, then C.  Such logic statement are the basis of a new form of production delivery called “Smart Contracts”.

Blockchain 101

However, cryptographic key sets are only part of the solution.  In order for a contract to be valid it needs to be recorded or institutionalized to some type of ledger or accounting statement which is equally secure, protected, maintained, and most importantly, it must be consensus from the users that the ledger is valid.

A Blockchain is sort of like a metronome that marks time.  Once a block of time passes, a new block starts.  The motion is caused by what are called “miners”. Miners are computers tasked with solving a difficult puzzle.  When the puzzle is solved, a new block is formed and the solver gets a prize – often called a coin.  Once a block is closed, it can never be reopened – the contents can be viewed by the users (to maintain consensus), but they cannot be changed.  They are cryptographically Sealed for all eternity.

These coins are often mistaken for money because they have some of the characteristics of money such as like creating an incentive to perform work.  Unfortunately, they do not have all of the characteristics of money such as possessing an intrinsic “earthbound” value.  Neither is the value trivial – the etherial value of the coin is proportional to all the things you can do with cryptocurrency that you cannot do without cryptocurrency.

The Blockchain protocol moves along opening and closing blocks that form a long chain that records every transaction that ever occurred since the so-called “Genesis” block.  Users interface now being developed for various blockchains incorporate features such as personal wallets and exchanges.  The current problem with most cryptocurrencies, despite their utility, is the limited number of people who are willing to part with their dollars in preference for the coin.  This is called the “liquidity crisis” and remains a problem yet to be solved.

In short, the blockchain protocol solves the broker/handshake dilemma with cryptography and incentives.  Social behaviors are still adjusting.

 

 

Engineers Create Money

EIT GroupHere is a picture of one class of over 100 Mexican educated engineers sitting for the California EIT exams. During the 2 years that we conducted this program, we sent over 250 Mexican educated engineers to these US Board Exams. I must say that the whole process of making this happen was the most profound experience of my career. believe it or not, Engineers create money.

(Note: while professional engineering licensure reflects on a specific regulatory process discussed here, the use of the term engineer may be generalized to include all sciences and technical workers)  

But listening to the talk and banter of NAFTA, they were throwing around these words like money, value, risk, in ways that were simply did not match what I was seeing:

How could so many brilliant engineers be found in such a technologically underdeveloped country? The simple answer lies in the fact that for the developed world, modern finance allows for the capitalization of infrastructure projects. Engineering is, in fact, an extremely important financial instrument.

The Miracle of Capitalism

There is a large time gap between the moment that money flows to a project and the time that the project generates revenue. During this time gap, the profession of engineering serves to maintain the asset on the balance sheet. Engineering provides something called “assurance”. A bank and the insurance industry hedge each other’s risk, but without assurance the project cannot be capitalized. Again, capitalization and securitization FAILS without engineering assurance.

The 3-legged stool

3-legged stoolIn the preceding article, I said that the failure of NAFTA was that the financial service were successful in becoming a service of free trade while the engineering profession largely failed.  It is precisely the failure of the engineering profession to negotiate a meaningful Mutual Recognition Document which led the NAFTA to under perform. In essence, we kicked out one leg of the 3-legged stool.

Without the assurance of a viable professional engineering community, foreign direct investment in Mexico was limited to very high ROI investments, Government guaranteed construction, or partnerships with the Mexican oligarchy – in order to supplant an absent independent engineering sector.

Very large contracts for the sale of otherwise worthless desert land were being written contingent on 500 engineers being available to work in the foreign factory that would be built and guaranteed by the government.  Tacit or implicit, there certainly would be an incentive on all sides to not give engineers “wings” so that they could fly away, let alone enjoy free will.

I ran into trouble when the Federal Government found out that my program was doing precisely that – Mexican Engineers who passed the US Board exams were being scooped up by US Companies outside the jurisdiction of Mexico.  There was deep fear of a brain drain if the World learned that Mexican Engineers were as strong as we were measuring.

At one point a representative of the Mexican Federal Government negotiating NAFTA asked me to leave the country.  When the State of Baja California (governed by the opposition political party) heard about this, I was asked to stay and I lived in a private home under armed guard until the program could be completed.

The Big Flip

There is a great deal more to this story than I can not reveal in a short blog post, but the idea is clear.  Engineering productivity is an extremely important resource for the flow of money. Engineering assets play an important part in contractual agreements for tangible assets such as land and factories (factors of production).  They are central to the design and execution of international trade agreements.  Everyone wants to control engineering because to do so controls productivity.  In essence engineers CREATE money – money does NOT create engineers.

 

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