Crypto

Blockchain in the Commodities Marketplace

Private Blockchains are getting more functional.

Over this weekend, the first commodity (oil ) was traded via a blockchain platform released by ING and Societe Generale. What  is interesting according to this article is that Mercuria the company that implemented the platform saw through the trade of oil in real time as the tanker was travelling on sea. To quote from the article on Coindesk

“A cargo shipment containing African crude oil was sold three times on its way to China. Traders, banks, an agent and an inspector were all involved.”

Something like this – in the real world without a blockchain would have taken days if not hours to accomplish, especially in the huge commodities world.

Another example, the R3 consortiums blockchain implementation has proven to show some traction amongst banks. What this primarily accomplishes is a frictionless-execution of a contract verified by a network of nodes. Here’s a video of the same.

 

Re-blogging Expert Systems and Smart Contracts powered by Cryptocurrencies

When Expert systems i.e. actual use of AI, in solving problems in Engineering, Science and Social science reach that point in society where firms can create them; then we would see a dramatic increase in usage of contracting systems like ethereum. How can a program (or a system) set up a transaction with another machine or human, on behalf of its creator through a contract?

The best use of programmable contracts is when systems can charge for services they provide on the fly, based on the complexity of the problem they solve. For example, consider a scientist working in a biotechnology lab who needs to identify a particular type of organism ( a fungi, a virus , or a bacteria). in today’s world the process of isolation, DNA sequencing, PCR and other such processes such as thermocycling need prior knowledge or experience. A very small fraction of professionals will be able to know the entire set of processes needed to actually accomplish this task. More so considering the number of combinations of tasks such as usage of media, temperatures of media to be set in order to enable growth of these organisms, etc.

Search engines such as Google or even scientific search engines like “wolfram search” provide some hope – but the search space is large, and data dependent. The process of converting the large volumes of data (aka. in the previous examples) scientific papers in a particular domain, to information can sometimes be laborious and inaccurate. For example, the scientist who might have identified the microorganism during her research may not entirely state the full process. The search costs are large for the professional trying to increase his/her productivity. This is where expert systems will play a large role , in assisting knowledge workers with the right skills, based on the problem at hand.

If someone were to create such an expert system that is super generic, it would be very difficult to earn rents (or monetize) such systems, because both the complexity and the time needed to arrive at the right solution would be unknown. With “smart contracts” or programmable contracts such complexities can be handled on the fly and on a case to case basis. This is where we’ll see , in my opinion the largest growth for a protocol like Ethereum. We’re already seeing some of this work in online Prediction Markets, specifically the ethereum based prediction markets. Right now, the events and participation are small for these prediction markets since the events pertain to a small problem space.

When expert systems start participating in these markets, we’ll see a lot more accurate predictions. This is where we will start seeing massive adoption of such forms of contracting and payments.

The Long Tail of Crypto Markets

Crypto currencies, over the past year have exploded. Off the several ones that have been created, about 720 of them have been traded on exchanges. As of date more than 96 cryptocurrencies have a market capitalization of above $1M. The beauty of this form of economy is this – these crypto currencies are not only bearer bonds (or holders of value), as in the case of Bitcoin. Bitcoin of course has the highest market capitalization. There is even a coin called MudraCoin with a market capitalization of $48. These alt-coins can be bought and sold on shapeshift.io.

Several of these enable other forms of markets too e.g. Steem enables remuneration for social content (UGC), Ethereum enables creation and automatic enforcement of contracts amongst market participants, Ripple enables global payment settlement across currencies, banking systems and countries, etc. What we’re seeing in this ecosystem – all started by bitcoin – is this: A very powerful decentralized and yet fungible ecosystem that merges information systems and financial transactions in secure yet verifiable means. These will enable the next generation of internet applications. We’re already starting to see an outgrowth of Initial Coin Offers that are slowly disrupting the IPO/Venture/seed funding market. We’re seeing applications like ABRA for global remittances that use bitcoin in the background, so on forth.

Voice for “device” input

Voice is slowly replacing touch as a medium for device input. However, many common operations  e.g. starting an app , sending an email, replying to a phone call, even answering a phone call  are mostly done through touch.

It dawned on me that if you had voice capabilities on apps – specifically for doing things like reply back or to answer the phone without needing to physically touch the device, or your handset, or the headset it would be so much more convenient.

The “voice out” part of devices, by means of speakers are awesomely developed. The “voice in” is still being developed. I’m pretty sure that over  the next few years, as voice will become the key driver for device I/O it would develop significantly.

The brainwave driven device can wait – instead of leapfrogging “Voice” that sound waves as the primary interface to devices.

Overall, I think the human – device interface will progress from keyboard/mouse/IO peripheral -> touch -> voice ->brainwave…..