rubrik-fridge The Mechaics of Blockchains

Blockchain technology is like a three-trick pony. It essentially combines three slightly clumsy computer tricks to mimic decisions that a human administrator routinely makes. The difference is that, if done correctly, the computer can perform some of these decisions with great speed, accuracy and scalability. The peril is that, if done incorrectly, the computer can propagate an incorrect outcome with the same stunning efficiency.

1: The Byzantine General’s Dilemma

A scenario first described in 1982 at SRI International models the first trick. This problem simulation refers to a hypothetical group of military generals, each commanding a portion of the Byzantine Army, who have encircled a city that they intend to conquer. They have determined that: 1. They all must attack together, or 2. They all must retreat together. Any other combination would result in annihilation.

The problem is complicated by two conditions: 1. There may be one or more traitors among the leadership, 2. The messengers carrying the votes about whether to attack or retreat are subject to being intercepted. So, for instance, a traitorous general could send a tie-breaking vote in favor of attack to those who support the attack, and a no vote to those who support a retreat, intentionally causing disunity and a rout.

See also: Can Blockchains Be Insured?  

A Byzantine Fault Tolerant system may be achieved with a simple test for unanimity. After the vote is called, each general then “votes on the vote,” verifying that their own vote was registered correctly. The second vote must be unanimous. Any other outcome would trigger a default order to retreat.

Modern examples of Byzantine Fault Tolerant Systems:

The analogy for networks is that computers are the generals and the instruction “packet” is the messenger. To secure the general is to secure the system. Similar strategies are commonplace in engineering applications from aircraft to robotics to any autonomous vehicle where computers vote, and then “vote on the vote.” The Boeing 777 and 787 use byzantine proof algorithms that convert environmental data to movements of, say, a flight control surface. Each is clearly insurable in a highly regulated industry of commercial aviation. So this is good news for blockchains.

2: Multi-Key Cryptography

While the Byzantine Fault Tolerant strategy is useful for securing the nodes in a network (the generals), multi-key cryptography is for securing the packets of information that they exchange. On a decentralized ledger, it is important that the people who are authorized to access information and the people who are authorized to send the information are secured. It is also important that the information cannot be tampered with in transit. Society now expends a great deal of energy in bureaucratic systems that perform these essential functions to prevent theft, fraud, spoofing and malicious attacks. Trick #2 allows this to be done with software.

Assume for a moment that a cryptographic key is like any typical key for opening locks. The computer can fabricate sets of keys that recognize each other. Each party to the transaction has a public key and a private key. The public key may be widely distributed because it is indiscernible by anyone without the related private key.

Suppose that Alice has a secret to share with Bob. She can put the secret in a little digital vault and seal it using her private key + Bob’s public key. She then sends the package to Bob over email. Bob can open the packet with his private key + Alice’s public key. This ensures that the sender and receiver are both authorized and that the package is secured during transit.

3: The Time Keeper

Einstein once said, the only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. There are several ways to establish order in a set of data. The first is for everyone to synchronize their clocks relative to Greenwich, England, and embed each and every package with dates of creation, access records, revisions, dates of exchange, etc. Then we must try to manage these individual positions, revisions and copies moving through digital space and time.

The other way is to create a moving background (like in the old TV cartoons) and indelibly attach the contracts as the background passes by. To corrupt one package, you would need to hijack the whole train. The theory is that it would be prohibitively expensive, far in excess of the value of the single package, to do so.

Computer software of the blockchain performs the following routine to accomplish the effective equivalent process: Consider for a moment a long line of bank vaults. Inside each vault is the key or combination to the vault immediately to the right. There are only two rules: 1. Each key can only be used once, and 2. No two vaults can be open at the same time. Acting this out physically is a bit of a chore, but security is assured, and there is no way to go backwards to corrupt the earlier frames. The only question now is: Who is going to perform this chore for the benefit of everyone else, and why?

Finally, here is why the coin is valuable

There are several ways to push this train along. Bitcoin uses something called a proof-of-work algorithm. Rather than hiding the combinations inside each vault, a bunch of computers in a worldwide network all compete to guess the combination to the lock by solving a puzzle that is difficult to crack but easy to verify. It’s like solving a Rubik Cube; the task is hard to do, but everyone can easily see a solution – that is sufficient proof that work has been done and therefore the solved block is unique and valid, thereby establishing consensus.

Whoever solves the puzzle is awarded electronic tokens called bitcoin (with a lower case b). This is sort of like those little blue ticket that kids get at the arcade and can be exchanged for fun prizes on the way out. These bitcoins simply act as an incentive for people to run computers that solve puzzles that keep the train rolling.

Bitcoins (all crypto currencies) MUST have value, because, if they did not, their respective blockchain would stop cold.

A stalled blockchain would be the crypto-currency equivalent of bankruptcy. This may account for some amount of hype-fueled speculation surrounding the value of such digital tokens. Not surprisingly, the higher the price, the better the blockchain operates.

While all of this seems a bit confusing, keep in mind that we are describing the thought patterns of a computer, not necessarily a human.

The important thing is that we can analyze the mathematics. From an insurability standpoint, most of the essential ingredients needed to offer blockchain-related insurance products exist as follows.

1. The insurer can identify the risk exposures associated with generals, traitors, locks, vaults, trains and puzzles.

2. The insurer can calculate probability of failure by observing:

  • The degree of Byzantine fault tolerance.
  • The strength of the cryptography
  • The relative value of the coins (digital tokens)

3. The consequences of failure are readily foreseeable by traditional accounting where the physical nature of the value can be assessed, such as a legal contract.

We can therefore conclude that each of the tricks performed by this fine little pony are individually insurable. Therefore, the whole rodeo is also insurable if, and only if, full transparency is provided to all stakeholders and the contract has physical implications.

Markets are most efficient when everyone has equal access to information – the same is essential for blockchains. So much so that any effort to control decentralized networks may, in fact, render the whole blockchain uninsurable. It is fundamentally important that the insurer is vigilant toward the mechanics of the blockchain enterprise that they seek to insure, especially where attempting to apply blockchain to its own internal processes.

Adapted from: Insurance: The Highest and Best Use of Blockchain Technology, July 2016 National Center for Insurance Policy and Research/National Association of Insurance Commissioners Newsletter: http://www.naic.org/cipr_newsletter_archive/vol19_blockchain.pdf


home-fireAre blockchains insurable?  This question was posed to us as a topic for presentation by the Center of Insurance Policy and Research, a research arm of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (CIPR / NAIC)

The trigger appears to be that some insurance companies are being asked to insure the business operations of blockchain enterprises. This same concern would apply to legacy business operations that may choose to deploy a blockchain – basically, a shared database managed by software.  If one listens to the blockchain activists, this could basically apply to everyone in the near future.

The Ingenesist Project volunteered the following opinion to the question; Are Blockchains Insurable?  The article was published in the July 2016 CIPR Journal

Article available here

This article is comprehensive and staggering in its implications.  It begins by shaping the given landscape of finance and entrepreneurship in terms of insurability.  It follows with, in essence, a mathematical proof that arrives at a conclusion that blockchains are insurable, but business processes using blockchains may not be.   Luckily, the technology offers sufficient mathematical underpinning to calculate and adequately pool risk exposures of its components.  However, the trouble arises where digital assets can neither be treated as money nor property.  This extralegal condition may exist which would be categorically non-insurable in mainstream finance.

“Extralegal” refers to a condition in which something is neither legal nor illegal. Economist Hernando De Soto writes about how the extralegal sector in many parts of the world grossly inhibits economic growth because people are unable to secure “title” to property and businesses that they create.  They are unable to bridge the capitalization gap – that is, the ability to borrow “money” against tangible assets or future returns.

Blockchain technology appears to be languishing in the extralegal domain as courts and governments have little uniform ideas about how and where this tech fits in society.  That is, until something goes wrong like a major hack where important people lose a lot of money.  Then some patchwork of blanket legislation will likely emerge to favor those of one sector over another.  The running joke in crypto-space is that any effort to control blockchain technology would negate any benefits of having it in the first place.

There is a third option.

This article raises the possibility that the pairing of blockchain tech with professional engineers (as the decentralized adjudicators of smart contracts) would achieve a state of insurability and thus bridge the capitalization gap required for mainstream financing of blockchain enterprise.  This arrangement applies primarily to basic infrastructure and derivatives of basic infrastructure which may not actually be a bad thing at all.

Ucritcal pathOn a critical path.

The Earth is an epic case study in deferred maintenance.  There are very real and serious global problems that impact every living creature on Earth that we need to attend to immediately.  Critical path methodology is a technique familiar to all builders as a set of instructions specifying where one action must precede the next in order for subsequent actions to occur.  Millions of business plans that provide basic human needs and protect our natural resources, and that are currently unprofitable, will suddenly become hugely profitable.

These outcomes could be accomplished with the recommendations provided within.  Please read this article and forward it to others who are interested in this technology.  There is very real money to be made in the next economic paradigm that is currently at our fingertips.

Article available here

 

 

 


Jericho Beach Walk

Face it, if the water was not clean, and if we did not have a warm place to sleep, or safe roads, or fresh food, reliable energy, Internet technology, bug-free software etc., something like bitcoin, let alone antibiotics, could never have come into existence. This is a fact, the value of all money is derived from the value of infrastructure that supports human productivity. For the avoidance of doubt, simply compare US infrastructure with, say, Haitian Infrastructure.

Infrastructure Finance with blockchain technology should be the financial system that society adopts. The entire planet is now an epic case study in deferred maintenance. The greatest threat to bitcoin, Ethereum, Steemit, and all future great innovations will not come from some oppressive government, it will come from a failure of basic infrastructure.

One of the problems in the cryptocurrency space is that speculation is needed to increase adoption. However, speculation requires volatility, otherwise there would be no spread or arbitrage opportunities and therefore little incentive to to make a bet. Conversely, a productive and sustainable economy requires stability – i.e., low volatility or no volatility. Stability and volatility are mutually exclusive and therefore the incentives associated with each of these crypto-methods are likewise mutually exclusive. At best, we have a zero sum game devolving to a race to the bottom, or at worst, we’ll wind up with the worst of each one, i.e., irrational stagnation.

There needs to be a completely different path. Finance DEPENDS on insurance (not the other way around) and insurance has long term objectives, not short term profit taking. Further, insurability decreases the cost of capital which allows for an organic portfolio of development to emerge. The highest priority applications will be those that decrease volatility. Invariably, these will include basic infrastructure, clean energy, universal education and health care, etc.


Hacker

The financial System is made up of 5 components that act as a system. If any of these components falters or is corrupted, the whole system becomes unstable. Therefore, it may not be a good idea to attack any one of these 5 components individually without understanding the consequences to the whole system. In fact, many economic shocks have been an attack on only one of these components.

The trick to hacking the financial system will be to alter it without disrupting the fundamental purpose of each component. In order to accomplish this, we need to replicate and integrate the functions of all 5 of these components. In that way, we may be able to induce what I call “The Big Flip” toward a more sustainable set of outputs.

These 5 components are as follows:

Entrepreneurs (supply — sources)
Markets (demand — sinks)
Accounting System (inventory)
Currency (storage and exchange of value)
Institutions (to keep the game fair)

Entrepreneurs: There is no shortage of entrepreneurs. To harness and release the vast stores of intelligent, productive, and creative people in the world should be fairly easy — all we need to do is give people a game that they can win playing by a consensus set of rules.

Market: There is no shortage of work to do, the entire planet is an epic case study in deferred maintenance. New energy sources, educational programs, safe food and water, transportation, civil liberties, community building and collaborative enterprise are all desperately in demand.

Accounting system: This is where we fall woefully short. Factors of production in the current economic model are scarce land, labor and capital — these are called “tangible assets”. Meanwhile, social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital possessed by all people are called “intangible assets” and do not appear on a balance sheet — yet are responsible for the value tangible assets!!

Guess what, this is how we are controlled. This is how we are held captive, this is how we are made invisible and how our identity is taken away. As long as we continue to buy into land, labor, and capital economics, we will remain imprisoned by an accounting system that clears our accounts of what is valuable leaving behind what is not.  For example; motherhood is responsible for all taxpayers, yet does not appear on the GDP. This may sound weird, but we are accustomed to it. We need to develop an accounting system where factors of production are abundant Social Capital, Creative Capital, and Intellectual Capital, then allocate that to a sustainable market.

Currency: The dollar will soon expire under the weight of compound interest on an impossible debt load. Cryptocurrencies offer the brightest hope for a new way to articulate value. We are all very excited about this, but cryptos cannot also be called upon as the vetting institution that keeps the game fair. The recent events with the DAO demonstrate this. There still needs to be human intervention of some kind.

Institutions: Today we have laws and courts and enforcement that articulate power to ostensibly keep the game fair. This system is falling apart. Smart contracts embedded in the blockchain do not work. The recommended strategy is human adjudicated smart contract articulated on the blockchain. The best way to keep the game fair is to decentralize the human adjudicators. This is the great advantage of the proof-of-stake algorithm — people can be arranged in many real byzantine fault tolerant systems to secure a network.

Curiosumé is an analog to digital converter for knowledge assets. Curiosumé serves two important functions; the new accounting system and the decentralization of smart contract adjudicators.

1] First it establishes an accounting system for knowledge assets. This allows people to reorganize around social, creative, and intellectual capital in existing communities. Productivity is associated with innovation instead of some increasingly irrelevant association with land, labor, and capital.

2] Curiosumé decentralizes the role of the adjudicator by converting a person’s résumé to cryptography that can open and close contracts on a blockchain. The algorithm can select the adjudicator anonymously until the point of transaction upon which their ID is sealed to the blockchain. You cannot corrupt what you cannot see.

By deploying Curiosumé to a blockchain with the distinct purpose of hacking the financial system via the five components of an economy simultaneously, we may stand a chance of inducing The Big Flip to an economy based on new factors of production. Maybe a lot sooner than anyone is expecting.


earthshot2The hallmark of a great society is the ability to capitalize it’s needs, not it’s arbitrage opportunities.  The Highest and Best Use for Blockchain Technology must be to reduce the cost of capital by decentralizing risk, not necessarily money…yet

Blockchain technology carries a promise of great opportunity, efficiency, and fairness in business operations and governance for an entire struggling planet. If that is true, then Blockchain technology should be integrated broadly and uniformly across society and within as many existing institutions as possible. If that is true, then Blockchain development should not be the exclusive domain of a single sector, such as banking. Nor should Blockchain development reflect priorities of highest ROI from VC start-ups. Likewise, purely Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) may carry the risk of operating in an extralegal sector without legal recourse, thereby increasing net volatility, not decreasing it.

A different track is required.

The primary objective of Blockchain technology must be to reduce the cost of capital by decentralizing risk, not necessarily money. The highest and best use for blockchain technology is therefore insurance, not necessarily banking. In doing so, blockchain innovation can then be applied broadly, evenly, and intentionally across the economy. This makes sense because when building anything complex or important, one logical piece needs to go in front of the next logical piece regardless of it’s individual ROI, because the collective ROI is the true basis of valuation. If people tried to build an airplane in the same manner we are now trying to build decentralized economics, a few may benefit, but an air transportation system, as a whole, would be tragically constrained.

We have seen this before.

Many of the issues currently propping up the narrative to the Blockchain phenomenon were also present during the time of this author’s participation in the NAFTA negotiations. Anyone who was around in the early 1990’s may remember the mantra of modern globalization was that decentralized markets were good and centralized markets were bad. The mathematics supporting the efficiency of free trade models such as the Theory of Comparative Advantage were, and still are, bullet proof. So what happened?

Unfortunately, decentralized markets were administered unevenly, disproportionately, and only partially insurable, at best. The act of trying to control a decentralized market eliminated many of the benefits of having one. Today, we face a similar peril, except we are playing with a far more powerful technology promising exponential efficiency, or exponential deficiency. Don’t let the pundits fool you. It can go either way.

The difference today is that we also have the knowledge, foresight, a technological tool kit, and profound responsibility to get it right this time.

Let’s begin.

The place to start developing blockchain technology is through a consortium of Insurance and Professional Engineering institutions for the creation of relevant infrastructure and the physical derivatives upon which everyone utterly depends. This includes renewable energy, clean air, safe water, transportation systems, health and welfare, housing, building systems, computer networks, etc. After all, bitcoins aren’t worth a whole lot when the power goes down.

Infrastructure projects, and all their beneficiary derivatives, require financial institutions that can bridge the capitalization gap between the inception of a project and revenue from the project. This period of time is rife with peril because the “money and title” precedes the delivery of the physical asset. The cost of capital is directly proportional to the risk associated with project delivery. Wherever the insurance industry is capable of pooling project risks, the cost of capital will fall precipitously. The insurance industry is therefore an imperative component to this objective. Banking is relatively simple, accounts can be cleared with a placeholder currency; a token, if you will.

Herein lie both the challenge and the opportunity facing Insurance and Engineering institutions related to Blockchain Technology:

First, as with all new technology, we need to recognize that society will reorganize itself around Blockchain Technology. We need to provide hundreds of millions of entrepreneurs and citizens the support systems with which to do so.

Second, if each component part of the blockchain system is insurable, so too should the entire system. We need to insure and reinsure each individual components of a blockchain business system(s) in order to lower its cost of capital.

Finally, once insurable, each component part of the new economy will have the same cost of capital as any other part. The relative value of an investment will therefore be ordered in time — the most important and valuable piece is the one that goes next in the critical path. This is how things get built.

Taken together, Insurance and Engineering are sufficiently disintermediated from short-term objectives and are ideally suited for the long game. Together, they can bridge the capitalization gap upon which everyone can then cross. They provide outcomes in the physical world that are essential to everyone. Together, they can deliver the projects that are most important — the ones that come next as we navigate our critical path into the future.


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 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.


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 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.


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.