The State of Blockchain 2016

#NotesFromSXSW2016

Background: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Block_chain_(database)

HyperLedger – Blockchain project supported by the Linux Foundation. The objective is to create a kernel for the tech (like the Linux kernel). Companies will be able to build their offerings on top of a shared kernel. This gets launched at the end of the year and it will be the most significant software launch of the year.

Ethereum – Blockchain for contracts (and everything else). Andrew Keys calls it Facebook vs MySpace where Bitcoin is MySpace to Ethereum’s Facebook. In six months, the startup has hit a billion dollar valuation.

Blockchain is a new network of contracts and agreements. The smart contract is the killer app. The litigators of tomorrow will understand both Blockchain as well as the law to be able to handle disputes in the era of smart contracts.

The legal profession is about to be disrupted massively over the next 5-10 years as dispute resolution is baked into code.

 In the next 10-15 years, all payment systems are going to be replaced by Blockchain based systems. This will require, and drive, massive changes in financial policy at the local, national and global level. 

Blockchain is opening up a Pandora’s box of questions around the nature of a transaction, any transaction – from person to person to securities transactions.

This technology solves the trust problem: trust between people traditionally has been provided by a middleman (a bank or a notary for example). The Blockchain now provides that trust technologically – removing the middleman. 

This clearly has massive regulatory consequences.

As companies retool themselves for this world and a new regulatory environment, it represents a massive business opportunity for IT services companies that can bring themselves up to speed quickly enough to be able to provide transition services for everything from banks to airlines and schools.

Serious challenges exist for governments as they try to impose financial controls on a completely decentralized financial technology layer.

Programming a new life language 

#NotesFromSXSW2016

By Aaron Kimball

The panel submission deck:  http://www.slideshare.net/WhitneyJencks/zymergen-sxsw-2016-submission

Additional Background: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/evolution/crispr-gene-drives/

 

The problem: DNA is incredibly complex and it presents a data challenge. It is not possible to test every combination in which the base pairs arrange themselves.

While the cost of sequencing has fallen, it is not simple to figure out what any particular sequence of symbols does. Interpreting DNA is hard – the conventional method sees scientists try out different hypotheses, experimenting in wet labs, with potential combinations. The downside – of 10,000 attempts we might see a minor result in one. This makes this whole process hard, expensive, and time consuming.

Zymergen has built out a robotic process to automate this, allowing for many experiments to be run in parallel.

The problem is the amount, and kind, of data being generated. 

Fun fact: 93% of all chemicals in use comes from petroleum. Only 6% come from industrial fermentation. However as oil runs out, microbe-based chemical production processes becomes super important. But that needs us to be able to manipulate genes in microbes, designing better microbes.

Four phases:  

A new suite of software is allowing for high throughput microbe design and testing:  

Codon is a language that allows scientists to define a design idea – a gene manipulation within a microbe.  

A sequence looks like this – promoter + gene + terminator. The promoter defines how much the gene expresses itself. For example, how blonde will your hair be – platinum or just a dirty yellow.

The language allows scientists to very quickly create experiments that can test multiple permutations

The rest of the process allows for automation, speed and quick analysis on the data using a sophisticated software stack.

There are inbuilt decision trees based off previous non-machine test results.

The expected outcome is better chemicals that can lead to safer pesticides, plastics that break down, even better medicines.

The Future of User Interfaces and Interaction

Around a week ago, we were hanging around in the office talking about what would come next. My take on UI, especially on mobile devices, has stayed the same for a while. I said, at the time, that we will move from touch-screens, where you still need to physically touch the screen to being able to interact with a display without touching it, by waving our arms around in the air.

My assumption was that Microsoft’s Kinect technology was already tracking body movement. How long could it take before the technology went from video-games to more traditional software.

Today, I found this:

Mind Blown.

Video: Apple engineer builds the Antikythera Mechanism — an ancient computer — out of Lego

The Antikythera Mechanism, is, allegedly, the oldest version of a scientific computer (wikipedia entry). The Greeks built it around 100 B.C.

Andrew Carol, one of Apple’s software engineers, decided to re-create this fine mechanism using Legos.

Original Source: CNET