Dr Chris Rowell — The Fundamentals and Potential of Blockchain

06 May 2020 | Episode 2
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Dr Chris Rowell is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Sauder School of Business, and the Head of Education and Professional Development at Cyberium Group. Chris has been researching and working in the blockchain field since 2017. In this episode Chris explains in simple terms what Blockchain technology is, and provides some examples of current use-cases.

He clears up some common myths and misconceptions around Blockchain and Bitcoin. And discusses how Walmart is using a Blockchain to keep track of every bag of spinach and head of lettuce sold through their network.

 

About Chris:

Dr Chris Rowell is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, and the Head of Education and Professional Development at Cyberium Group, a Vancouver-based technology and innovation consultant. He has a Doctorate of Science (DSc) in Technology, majoring in Strategy and Venturing, from Aalto University in Finland. His research, teaching, and consulting work centre around digital disruption and transformation, and strategizing in volatile and ambiguous environments.
Chris has been researching and working in the blockchain field since 2017, and is especially interested in how blockchain enables new forms of organizing, value creation and value capture.

At UBC, Chris coordinates the Blockchain@UBC Summer Institute; a two-week program held annually that brings together industry and academic experts to discuss current issues around blockchain technology and its applications. Chris has also designed and delivered a UBC Sauder Executive Education course on the strategic management of blockchain technology, and routinely runs workshops on blockchain from a business perspective for undergraduate, graduate, executive, and professional audiences.

Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

 

Episode contents:

  • Chris explains the fundamentals of Blockchain technology is, and some current use cases.
  • He clarifies some myths and misconceptions about Blockchain and Bitcoin.
  • Highlights some examples of Enterprise Blockchain Applications.
  • Chris explains ‘Smart contracts’ and how they could be used.
  • We discuss how Blockchain technology could reduce fraud and wastage in Digital marketing.
  • How it could help artists get fair remuneration in the music industry.
  • And how Blockchain could help individuals protect their own private information.
  • Finally how Blockchain technology could decommoditize commodities.

Read Transcript

Dan:
Hi, this is Dan Rowell, founder and brand strategist at DSR Branding. And you are listening to Discover Someone Remarkable – Conversations Worth Sharing. Join me as I interview passionate founders and industry experts, people who think differently. Challenge the status quo and are building a legacy. People who I consider truly remarkable.

Dan:
In today’s episode, I sat down with Dr. Chris Rowell to discuss blockchain technology. Before I go on, yes, Chris is one of older brothers. And yes, he’s far more intelligent than I am. To give you a bit of background, Chris is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business and the Head of Education and Professional Development at Cyberium Group, a Vancouver-based technology and innovation consultant.

Dan:
He has a Doctorate of Science (DSc) in Technology, majoring in Strategy and Venturing, from Aalto University in Finland. His research, teaching, and consulting work centre around digital disruption and transformation, and strategising in volatile and ambiguous environments. Chris has been researching and working in the blockchain field since 2017, and routinely runs workshops on Blockchain from a business perspective for undergraduate, graduate, executive and professional audiences.

Dan:
In this episode, Chris explains in simple terms what blockchain is and some current use cases. It clarifies some myths and misconceptions about blockchain and cryptocurrency, discusses what smart contracts are and how they could be used. We discuss how blockchain could reduce fraud and wastage in digital marketing and how it could help individuals protect their own private information. I hope you enjoy Discover Someone Remarkable –Discovering Blockchain with Dr. Chris Rowell.

Dan:
Chris, thanks for coming on. You do a few things at UBC and you also do consulting. But what made you focus on Blockchain?

Chris:
So yeah, like you said, I’m sort of focused on disruptive and emerging technologies and digital transformation in general. So that’s more broadly. But blockchain in particular is, I think, one of these technologies that’s fairly quite transformational. It’s quite foundational. Just as the Internet sort of changed, the way we access and share information, blockchain is something that can change the way we access and share value. So the kind of interest that drew me to it in the first place, because what it’s capable of doing is actually fundamentally transforming what a lot of the things we do and quite a lot of things we do online. The other part of it is that because I am teaching at the same time and a lot of consulting work I do is actually just education and professional development. So blockchain is something that’s really poorly understood. There’s a lot of myths, a lot of misconceptions. It’s inherently confusing. Disruptive technologies are in general inherently confusing when they come out. They’re often inferior to other types of technology when they first come out. And, you know, that’s kind of the definition of what disruptive technology was when it was originally conceived. So they come out, they’re a bit inferior. People can’t quite grasp them and they sort of such discount them. And then we build this sort of hype around them at some point and become disappointed. So I like being able to sort of demystify and help people understand things, clear up some of these myths and misconceptions. Those kinds of things. So, blockchain is kind of good for those for those two reasons, basically. And one is in the nature of the technology itself and what it means for organizing and for business models and industry. And the other is it’s interesting to explain to people it’s kind of fun.

Dan:
What type of people would you explain it to and what audience do you speak to about blockchain?

Chris:
Yeah, so. Well, obviously, students at UBC and different places that are quite a few public talks. Just because people are generally interested in this, especially when there was kind of the crypto bubble and after that there was a lot of interest. But the other audiences, especially my consulting work, I talked to professionals so professionals like lawyers and accountants and on behalf of professional organizations. So what they’re really interested in is what’s going to change our profession, what is going to happen to accounting these technologies and blockchain does certain things incredibly well that accountants be doing for a long time. So what does that mean for the accounting profession? And the other is obviously executives. So executives are kind of wondering, what does this mean for me? When do I have to care about this? Executives are busy, so they’re thinking, what does this mean for my industry? And when should I start to think about adapting or adopting based on what these technologies are capable of doing?

Dan:
Yeah, right. So before we go much further, can you just, um, explain what blockchain is?

Chris:
Yeah, I’ll give it a crack so blockchain in its essence. Well, first I can explain what blockchain isn’t to clear up one of the major misconceptions. So blockchain is not Bitcoin. I think most of us kind of understand that already. But the two are conflated for a long time because Bitcoin was the first sort of application of blockchain you could kind of think of it as if email was the first kind of big application of the Internet, but they’re not the same thing, obviously. So Bitcoin was you could think of that in the same way blockchain is the technology that enables things like Bitcoin. But they’re quite different. One is the sort of technology of a nation and the other is the application on top. So what is blockchain? Blockchain is just a different way of recording things. So we’ve been recording things for millennia. We ledgers and records are integral to how we organize and coordinate actions in business and society. So over the millennia, we’ve changed the way we record things. You know, we used new things and Clay moves to paper, move to digital spreadsheets. But up until now, what these things have have in common is that we’ve generally relied heavily on one or more record keepers to keep accurate records. So if you think about something that is data level, but it’s still fairly simple is a land of registry.

Chris:
So you know what I mean by land of registry? It’s sort of the records of who owns what property in a country.

Dan:
Yeah.

Chris:
For that, we have a government sponsored sort of central record keeper. And so we have a central institution, a land title registry that’s maintained by government and they keep track of who owns what. So if you want to transfer ownership of your property to someone else, you have to go to the lender industry and say, hey, I’m selling this. Can you transfer ownership to someone else? Right. Other types of record keeping sort of arrangements might be, you know, if we have a central intermediary record keeping. So we have banks that are basically now a cloud for money. So banks will communicate with each other. If I want to send money to your bank. Banks would talk to each other and then they would coordinate the change in the records. So we’re reliant on intermediaries there. We have other arrangements like supply chains. So if we’re talking about something like fish coming through a supply chain, you’re where it’s caught then where it moves through to the wholesaler and down to then to the store and to whoever buys it. There’s all these different record keepers that are keeping their own records and they’re sharing that relevant information with each other. So there’s a lot of trust that has to go on along the supply chain in these networks that keep records.

Chris:
And they’re all responsible for keeping their own records and sharing that relevant information. But, yeah, it opens it up to all sorts of things like fraud, just missing records, bad record keeping, things like that. So blockchain, in its essence, is just a different way to keep records where in these networks we would have a single source of distributed digital ledger that everyone can access. So you could think of it as like a Google spreadsheet where everyone has access. So at any time you can see what is the status of the ledger. So for that government example, for the land title registry, it would be who owns what property at what time, and everybody would be able to say this common ledger. And then if you wanted to transfer it, everybody is actually maintaining a copy of the ledger. And when something on the ledger updates everybody’s copy updates. So it’s always exactly the same. The difference between that, though, and a Google doc or a Google spreadsheet is that you can’t just go in and change it if you want. So the data structure in a blockchain is such that it’ll only update based on pre-programmed rules. So it becomes very difficult to tamper with. That’s a whole kind of other conversation about how that how that data structure actually works. But fundamentally, what it is, is that it’s a shared ledger that everyone can see.

Chris:
And, you know, the information is sort of immutable and accurate on that. So if they only compare it to what we have with banks, instead of having, you know, intermediary banks sending money between one another, we would have a single shared ledger with records of who owns what. And then I could send money to you. So I would try to initiate a transaction on that shared ledger. If I follow the rules and I do it from my kind of account to yours, then everybody was legit. Will update. And because it updates on everybody’s ledger, there’s some act as a kind of doing some work to update it. They provided some computing power to update Ledger, but there’s no single intermediary that controls that. There’s no single bank that will initiate that transaction or can hold it up or, you know, there’s no single point of failure. So therefore, we can have this, again, sort of single spreadsheet that everyone, you know, all that happens is my columns updated and your columns updated with the new figures and then sending in supply chain. Right. So if we have that supply chain with instead of having all these different record holders maintaining their own set of records, we have a single ledger so we can see exactly where that fish has been transferred at different points along the supply chain. Am I making sense?

Dan:
Yeah, yeah. So you touched on the security measures or, you know, the idea that it’s hard to tamper with. Have people tried to tamper with it?

Chris:
Yes, absolutely they have. And it’s kind of a testament to the Bitcoin blockchain specifically. So it’s closest to that second example that I mentioned. So what they did was they said, we want a distributed ledger that kind of we can use for money transfer and instead of using fiat currency, instead of like kind of making it close to American dollars or Australian dollars or whatever. They said, we’re gonna make something up. We’re gonna create a digital token. I’m gonna call it Bitcoin. And then if it you know, if we decide it has value, which we kind of decide at some point that had value, we can use that. And that’s basically all it is, is just this set of digital tokens that get recorded and updated. But have moves around on the ledger. Yeah. And people try to break into it all the time. The reason that it’s secure is because it’s distributed essentially. So because everybody is maintaining the copy. You would have to control more than half the network to try to change something on the ledger. You know, try to corrupt it. So if you wanted to hack more than half the network, you’re breaking into thousands of computers at a single time rather than just going into and breaking into a single bank and then changing the data on this particular servers. So that’s one thing that makes it secure. The other thing is the thing that actually makes it a blockchain, which is blocks of data.

Chris:
So updates the ledger are created over time so that everything is sort of solidified and timestamped in a single block. And then you move on to the next block. So it becomes incredibly difficult over time, you know, once blocks have been created and they go further and further back. These blocks are linked to each other in such a way that if you were to change something in the past, you would have to change all the subsequent blocks because they’re all kind of connected through called a cryptographic hash. But basically, it just means you’ll be able to see if someone was trying to correct something in the past, it would become really obvious. So they would have to not only hack the network, you know, these thousands of computers at one time they would have to do it multiple times because they have to change every subsequent block. So the Bitcoin blockchain, it updates around every 10 minutes. Other blockchains could update, you know, it’s customizable so they could update every few seconds, every one minute. So you’re really kind of doing a lot of work to mess around with these records once they’re there. And as the chain becomes longer, so as you go further back in time. And as network becomes more distributed, it becomes increasingly difficult. So, yeah, the short answer is, if you have a blockchain and only three actors are updating it, then you have to break into two of them. So that’s easy enough. So smaller blockchains have been hacked, but larger ones.

Chris:
It becomes really difficult. And I would distinguish here so it would you know, you might say, what about these cryptocurrency hacks? We hear about them all the time. So what typically happens there is they are hacking into people’s accounts. They’re not changing the data on the blockchain. They’re finding people’s passwords to their particular account and they’re using that account to send money to themselves. So what you have, if it’s a cryptocurrency network, you have for an individual. If I want to use something, I’ll have what’s called a wallet, which is basically the way I access my account. And it has kind of a password that I can use to access my account and send money out. When you hear about these cryptocurrency hacks, it’s usually the exchange cryptocurrency exchanges that have a lot of this money that facilitate, you know, buying and selling. They’ll have a lot of currency just sitting there. This cryptocurrency is just sitting there so they can facilitate their market liquidity. And what’s happened is usually someone’s gone in, hacked the exchange to find the passwords and then use those passwords to send themselves money from the exchanges account. So they’re actually using the technology as it’s intended. There’s nothing wrong with the blockchain there. It’s it’s working perfectly. It’s the crappy organizations that set up these exchanges and then sit there with piles of money and then don’t keep their passwords secret from anywhere else.

Dan:
I remember a few years ago there was a case, I don’t know if it was in Canada with the exchange, the owner of the exchange, he’d died and there was money and people worried about it. It’s terrible he died. But he was also had heaps and heaps of money in that exchange. And people couldn’t get access to that, right?

Chris:
Yes. So that was what they said at the time. Now, I don’t know where that ended up, but definitely at the time. So what they said was an exchange like anyone else would have to have these. They call it a private key. So your wallet will have a public key, which is kind of like the address of a mailbox that’s happy, will find your your wallet and put money in. The private key is what allows is the password. So it allows you to get a look inside and get money out when he died so we can talk about whether he died in a bit. But when he passed away, he umm, the organization was and he was the only one with the private keys to the exchanges accounts. So it’s kind of like, again, it’s not a fault with the technology. It’s a fault with the organization. Because if your Coke and you have you know, there’s a secret, perhaps a secret ingredient to coke, I dunno is that real. Maybe there is.

Dan:
No.

Chris:
Anyway, whether it a secret ingredient to coke, like do you give to one person and say, you know, you fill your boots. What happens if something happens? That person. Right. You have these things in place. So it is kind of a crappy way of sort of managing an organization.

Dan:
It be like herbs and spices, 11 herbs and spices.

Chris:
Yeah, exactly. So who do you give them to? It’s got to be some kind of backup plan if something happens. That’s why companies don’t let their C-Suite sort of traveled together. So basically that happened. They said that, yeah, he was the only one that was close to. Two hundred million dollars, they said, is equivalent to American dollars in crypto currencies in their accounts. And he was the only one with access. So it’s not like that money is lost. It’s not that, you know, nothing’s wrong with it. If it’s there, it’s there. It’s just that we can access it because without that private gain, there’s no way to reverse engineer that short of quantum computing. Maybe we’ll get that in a few years. Is it disputed whether or not he did or did not die? Yes. So that’s the next thing. I mean, there’s all this kind of talk around that. So they died and Rajasthan, which is a state in India. And he died in a private hospital, which I was told if you were going to die and you wanted to, that was sort of a convenient way to do it. It’s sort of happened before that people tried to fake their deaths using similar kind of ways. But that’s I mean, of course, you know, no one wants to speculate, right? You know, it’s it’s it’s not a good thing. I was actually interviewed a few times at the time, and it was the first thing everyone asked that a few media interviews, you know, like, is he really dead? You know, I’m not really here as an expert on that.

Chris:
Not that I’m going to comment and talk shit about a dead guy. So, yeah, that’s. But there is I mean, I’m only saying this because a lot of people were sort of. Yeah, there’s a lot of speculation on that. But like, I don’t have an opinion either way. But the other thing was that a lot of the money that they said was in those accounts was not because I know some blockchain forensics companies. So if if you know this ledgers open, if everyone can see all the transaction that have happened. Previously on The Ledger. Once you identify what the wallet is, you can see everything that’s ever gone in and out of it because you can see those transactions on the shared ledger. So if we can identify what wallets, QuadrigaCX, his company had, then we can see how much money is in them because we can see when they were created. Everything that’s ever gone in and out. And then the balance turns out they didn’t have most that money that they said they had. So it was sort of filtered out and then moved around. So, yeah, it does it does a lot of sort of a lot of loose ends. But again, like I mean, I don’t know the full story by any means.

Dan:
I’d love to talk a little bit about Bitcoin while we’re on the cryptocurrency because I remember reading like the first time it was used, you know, or hearing terrible cases of people throwing out old computers, you know, from two thousand and thirteen or something, and then having to go to the rubbish tip to try to get it off that hard drive or something like that. So what are some things with Bitcoin like? What are some funny sort of old stories about it that might be interesting for the audience?

Chris:
There’s a couple you sort of mentioned. So one was the first time Bitcoin was ever used was a programmer in 2010. Paid 10,000 Bitcoin for someone to bring him two pizzas. So, I mean, look at us, pull it up so that 10,000 bitcoin today is one hundred and fifteen and a half billion Australian dollars. So I don’t know. I mean, the pizzas are pretty good. You know, whether they still have it. Who knows? They call it pizza day today now. So that was the first time Bitcoin was used before it had no value. Again, this is something that we made out. So it’s it’s something, you know, you invent an asset.

Chris:
Like I said before, so Bitcoin blockchain can record anything. And I think the fixation with cryptocurrency is that Bitcoin was the first example of it. They made something up to a record. So a lot of people thought that this is this is the ledger to record money or this a ledger to record pretend assets or, you know, tokens or something that’s purely digital. But it can it can record anything you want. Bitcoin itself was made it sort of came out of the 2008 financial crisis. A lot of the motivation behind it was it’s nothing new. There’s been these kinds of people looking for this kind of digital money and decentralized currencies for a long time. It’s called the cypherpunks. And there’s a few iterations of it. But there’s this goes back to like the 80s and 90s as well, even before that. So they’ve tried to have these kinds of digital cash beforehand. The problem was that the technology wasn’t there to support it. So there wasn’t any way that you could actually guarantee that if you said you held value previously, we’d have to rely on a trusted third party to authenticate that. And if you wanted to send value to someone else online, you would have to rely on a trusted third party. Now we have the blockchain, which can update automatically and it doesn’t require and there’s no single point of failure there. So, of course, it lends itself to that kind of a monetary application. Let’s create a currency. We could even I mean, instead of Bitcoin, we get to say what the U.S. dollar or the Australian dollar a blockchain and many central banks are actually looking at doing that.

Chris:
So you can sort of access your account and then send money around without having to worry about intermediaries. I think it’s an interesting prospect. And yeah, it’s something that’s I think China’s going to do that quite soon, actually. The other thing you kind of touched upon there was what happens if you lose your passwords like Quadriga did? So what happens when you lose this private key and people. A lot of people kind of acquired or, you know, got sent to a bought or, you know, somehow got a bunch of Bitcoin in the early days and didn’t really take it seriously and didn’t really know what was happening, had their private keys somewhere and sort of. Yeah. The awareness wasn’t really there. So they perhaps save their private key on their laptop or something. And then a few years later, when Bitcoin is worth a thousand dollars, you can think, shit, I could actually be pretty wealthy here. So when you hear about people like rubbishy rummaging through the tip, looking for looking for their own hard drives and things like that, if they can recover that private key, they can get that money out. But if they can’t, then, you know, it’s just going to sit there and that wallet forever. There’s been a lot of Bitcoin lost in that way just because there’s no you know, at the same time, if if you’re not reliant on any third party intermediary, if something goes wrong, there’s no one to go to. Like you’re taking responsibility fully for accessing.

Dan:
Winning the lottery, but throwing the ticket away. And having not record of that.

Chris:
It’s that yeah. And there’s no lottery to go to to say like, hey, yeah, we printed you this ticket. Like, there’s just it doesn’t work that way.

Dan:
So, I mean, moving on from crypto currencies and bitcoin, what industries do you think blockchain will become very relevant to or what industries are currently utilizing blockchain.

Chris:
Yeah, and that’s a good question. I think for that, there’s a couple more things that I could bring in here. So one is that, you know, we’re talking about we talked about Bitcoin quite a bit and things like Bitcoin, they’re meant to be sort of a sense of proof version of money that anyone can access. And, you know, you can’t be kicked off the network or whatever. That’s an example of a purely public blockchain. That’s that anyone can join. Anyone can participate. Since then, we’ve had what’s called permission blockchains or private blockchains that are installed in private networks. So if you’re the business network, we talked about the supply chain, for example, you want anyone to join and you don’t want anyone to be able to see exactly what’s happening on your blockchain. You know, want everyone to see exactly, you know, every transaction or every sort of instance where that fish moves along but along the supply chain.

Chris:
So we have permissions and we have permissions can be customizable. So you can have permission to join to access that ledger you in the first place. You have permissions to write, sort of new updated information on the ledger. You can have permission to read different aspects. So perhaps if you’re, you know, overseeing it, if you’re sort of the fishery, you only might see those transactions that you’re directly involved with. Why do you need to see what’s happening with the supermarkets, you know, all the way down the supply chain? So this customizable permissions and it’s customizable things that you can see, and that’s when it starts to get interesting business, because that’s when you have the ability to record and know that information is trustworthy and access the information you need to, but not kind of overshare and not just give up all this data that’s actually strategic for you. So I think that’s when it becomes relevant. And that’s what we see as enterprise blockchain applications are typically in business networks where they’ve already been sharing information sales.

Chris:
But now there’s kind of a more secure, more trusted way of doing it and then sort of customizing those permissions so that you don’t get to give up strategic data. So to contrast that with the Bitcoin example, you could have, like our banks might do this. They’re kinda doing this anyway. And a lot of places. But if a network of banks, you know, has to reconcile transactions between them by sending money to your bank instead of them using their own record keeping process, they could have a private blockchain between the banks themselves, which would then reconcile those transactions. So they have a shared ledger of who holds what. So I’m sending you money and we don’t know any different. But our banks all of a sudden have this really efficient, kind of secure way of reconciling this payment to the back end. That’s where the difference is, right. So there’s a private blockchain solution to transferring money. But then they probably won’t pass cost saving on us. So there’s different ways in which you can do this is kind of different solutions. One’s kind of augmenting existing process where those banks are still sort of acting as intermediaries. And the other is saying, well, if we can make that private blockchain between the banks public, what do we need the banks for? So, you know, obviously there’s other things, you know, the points of access.

Chris:
How do we get in? How do we know? What does the common person know about having a wallet? You know, how do I get that on my phone or this kind of stuff? This is obviously your intermediary services available, but there’s no single actor or group of actors controlling the plumbing. Basically that basic infrastructure. So I think there’s a combination for businesses. There’s a combination of like can we do something to augment what we already do? No. Can we just trace this fish along the supply chain or can we reconcile payments between banks? And that’s kind of that’s sort of a fairly incremental solution. And it’s really just about chasing efficiency gains. So let’s try to get traceability, transparency and greater efficiencies in data access and data transfer and recording things. And then when you start to get really sort of disruptive is when you think about it, we’ll say in the future we have, you know, this really kind of scalable public blockchains, customizable missions at the individual level, and then different ways of automating the transfer of value. You know, if certain conditions and met. So you can bring in other technologies as well. Then can we start to actually transform how organizations work? So the other piece, again, very long winded answer. The other piece to this, so we’ve got permissions right and so we can, you know, customize what people see.

Chris:
So this is something called a smart contract. And that’s when we say, all right, I want to send value to you. But if we have a contract in advance and certain conditions and that we could actually trigger something that happens on the blockchain where I send money to you as soon as those conditions are met. So it’s you starting to automate the transfer of value there. And I’ll give an example in a minute. But basically, there’s sort of real world analogy for this is a vending machine. So if I would have worked on this sort of if then logic. So if I put a certain amount of money in, then I press these buttons. My drink will come out or whatever it is that will come out. So it’s pre-programmed logic that as soon as certain conditions met, something will happen and no one has to make any decisions for that. If we were to linked this to a block chain, then we would say, all right, you’re an artist and you put a video online. And I watch your video. Then as soon as I watched your video, you know, we can see that that’s happened. Then something moves from my account to yours. You know, a few cents or whatever the video is worth to you. Or if I watch the first 10 seconds, maybe one smart contract executes and then if I watch the whole thing.

Chris:
Another smart contract to and I pay more. But all of a sudden we have this model where you’ve got the ability for an artist or a producer to connect directly with the consumer on a distributed network where no one owns or controls. So the protocol itself. And then this money is flowing automatically. So now we can start to have you know, what does that mean for these online business models that I talked about before, before we needed some intermediary there to say that yet. These are both real people. And I’m going to send the money from one to another once these conditions are met. We can start to change the scope of intermediation here. I’m not saying we can fully get rid of intermediaries. That’s kind of a very long way away. If it ever happens. But we’re changing the scope for needing that middle man to do all those activities there. So I think that’s when it becomes quite transformative for business. When you start to think about what can we automate here? How can we actually not only access this shared information and know that it’s real. How can we start to automate the transfer of value when such munitions met? So, yeah. Am I still making sense or?

Dan:
I mean, that’s good. Mind mind’s just racing in in terms of how marketers could use it? I mean, you say like if a musician put a music video up on the fan, watch the whole thing, then the musician gets paid directly. Like that could potentially cut out, like you said, cut up intermediaries, cut out spot, you know, someone like Spotify or Apple Music. It’ll be interesting in the sense of do you see this as being something that advertisers could start to use where, you know, if I was a company and I want person like you to watch a certain product video or something like that, I could then target you directly rather than going through a network or something like that. Is that where you see it potentially going for or where do you see it potentially going for marketing or for marketers?

Chris:
All right. I’ll see if I can start with the more incremental model first, and then I’ll go to that more transformative model that you’re kind of describing if that works. If you think incrementally, like if you’re selling a product, say you’re a company that makes T-shirts at the moment, you’re marketing your T-shirt based on, you know, what it looks like. It’s sort of what you call the product attributes. So we know a lot about what the T-shirt looks like and how it feels because we can see it. We don’t know a lot about how that T-shirt got there at the moment. So one thing I think is interesting about having something like blockchain combined with sensory technologies and having this trusted source of information for a longer supply chain. Is it could actually start to capture what you might call process attributes of how that T-shirt was created. So was it created in a factory? You know, did it use sustainable cotton, organic cotton?

Chris:
Was it created a factory where the staff were happy? Like you could actually like Levis is doing this, Levis the jeans companies, they have a question and or survey for the workers in the Mexican factories. And because they know it’s sort of anonymous that data, and they can have direct access to the blockchain without anyone interfering with it. They know that, you know, there’s no fear of their managers kind of forcing them into responding a particular way. So you can actually get really accurate data on were these people in the factory satisfied? Was this transported with sustainable, you know, sustainable energy? So all of these things, how did this issue get here? All of a sudden, you have two versions, the same T-shirt made in different factories with slightly different materials. But one has all these process attributes that we care about. You know, maybe it’s fair trade, but we can actually verify exactly what were the conditions like in the factory. You know, all these different aspects of of how that T-shirt got there. So I would say one thing for marketing there is if people valued those things now willing to pay a premium for that T-shirt, that was a happy T-shirt. Basically, it’s the sustainable T-shirt. And then you could actually compete based on your value chain rather than just based on the product. So that’s something for marketing in terms of like what do you actually marketing? You’re not just marketing the final thing anymore. You’re marketing kind of every step along the journey, of which it’s made. I’m sure that that already happens in some cases. But I think we have an opportunity for sort of a more granular approach or sort of like this. It sort of expands the scope of that opportunity. Is that resonating?

Dan:
Yeah, yeah. I mean, you hear it now and there’s customers or consumers just trust a lot of what a brand will say. You know, they’ll say, yeah, where there’s lots of fashion brands now who come out and say these are all Fair trade or sweatshop free and that sort of thing. But having that trusted or I guess if it’s on the blockchain and it’s you’re able to actually verify it, it’s not just a claim from them. So I think food as well, like food traceability is like, you know, we do a bit of work with coffee and, you know, like having you could say it’s from a fair trade and organic coffee farm and and then it’s and you could track the process. So there’s a lot of claims that brands and marketers make. And then often they’re caught out because they’re trusting someone on the ground at the local level to say those things as well. Whereas if it was on the block chain, there’s there’s no way to sort of hide or. Yeah. Shy away from it.

Chris:
Yeah. So providing that the blockchain is distributed. Right. So anyone I could stand up a blockchain and if I’m the only one supporting it, then, you know, I could say this is on a blockchain. I’m the only one. All right. But. These you have to sort of audit the blockchain itself to ensure that it was distributed across the supply chain so that no single actor in the supply chain could corrupt something that was happening. That’s the premise. Right. So implement it correctly.

Dan:
So would it be industries then that it’s like take charge and say, you know, like the specialty coffee industry, for example, we’re going to set up a blockchain. And then all the farms and producers and suppliers would have access to that private network.

Chris:
They could do that. Yeah, there’s various ways you could do it. You could do it with an existing network so you could do it just with it, vertically integrated basically into a particular supply chain. And that’s typical like Walmart’s done that Walmart stood up a blockchain and that OK, with all these participants in a supply chain are going to be nodes. And of course, what Walmart did is say, you’re only going to see each supplier along the way. They did it with their fresh lettuce, that leafy green vegetables. That’s one that’s kind of prone to contamination and really expensive if you get it wrong. So they said you’re all going to kind of run nodes here, you know, participate in this blockchain and update the ledger. We see everything and you get to see the things that you’re directly involved with. And the difference with Walmart is that, you know, Walmart can say, do this or get out of my supply chain. Whereas in other industries it might not. You know, it really depends on the power dynamics, how you set that up and how it’s governed. So especially your answer in terms of like, does anyone actually own the IP, of the blocchain?

Chris:
Does anyone own any aspect of it or is it kind of do we sort of share that cost and then just ensure that you own the data? That’s a that’s attributed to you. And then, you know how like how do we manage those permissions? These governance challenges like that. It kind of really depends on on the case. But yet at the whole kind of can of worms. How do you actually design this often? And if you want to move quickly, it’s good to be Walmart because you can will do it and you can make them abide by your rules. Other industries. So there’s a the automotive industry has done this. They’re trying to have. So the idea would be that your car has basically a kind of you would call it a wallet as well. But basically your car has a unique history. So anytime that from the time the car’s manufactured or the parts that go into it, and then every time that it’s serviced, you would update the car’s like wallet. So that would carry that with you. The car would carry that wallet around with it and all the data that goes into the car as well. Then the car would be able to, you know, you would be able to share that with the next mechanic.

Chris:
So instead of having this, you know, piece of paper that that book that you keep him in the glove box and sometimes he will update it.

Chris:
And then when you buy a car you like, how the hell do I know this is real? Oh, that’s like 10 years missing. You would have something that’s kind of immutable. Everyone contributes to it. And, yeah, you can fully access it. So imagine kind of what that means for firstly maintaining the car where you own it and then the resale value because you know exactly where that car’s been Right. Same thing with any sort of big machinery like airplanes are doing this. Boeing is setting this up as well for for their thing because it’s quite complex and lots of robots, lots of things being replace.

Dan:
It’d be huge for helicopters. I was chatting to a mate who talked about, you know, helicopters and the servicing. And, you know, you have to service them every certain amount of kilometers or something like that. And there’s there’s people who sort of wind back the clock and things like that. I mean, the classically that Ferris Bueller with the Ferrari and put it up on blocks and put it in reverse, stops any of that?

Chris:
Yeah, exactly. So you can see that, you know, at least once those records are there, they haven’t been tampered with. It’s not to say that the mechanics, you know, doesn’t you know, of course they can bullshit when they put the data in like that garbage in, garbage out logic. But the certain controls, you can put around that as well. And, you know, if if the car’s logging exactly how many kilometers it has, you know, updated automatically, then there’s no human that has to. That can kind of mess around with that. Then, yeah. That said, there’s ways to get accurate record and put controls around it. So I guess some I’m coming back to this sort of how do you actually set up these networks? Well, they did in the Automotive industry was they got all these automotive manufacturers and then lots of the OEM. So the equipment manufacturers and they basically said, all right, let’s create a unified standard for everybody so that we can have this basic blockchain standard so that when we know that data is going to be, you know, everyone can kind of access and read the same data. We need a sort of coherent data structure so that we can actually do this across different providers. It’s not just like if you have a Ford, then you have to get service in the same place if you want your records to be updated. But, yeah, there’s sort of the downside of that. It’s kind of the opposite. The Walmart scenario. Right. You’re dealing with lots of competitors and you’re trying to create a network. It’s great that everyone’s there, everyone’s invested, but it takes a long time to move anywhere with it. So I think this past year, the main achievements after a couple of years were they’ve got a common standard for when a car is born. They can record the birth of a car and everybody’s on board with this. That’s common standard. But everything that happens afterwards hasn’t been worked out yet. So there’s a way to go.

Chris:
So I think, like you can imagine, like once there’s scale and once everybody has access to these records, it’s kind of that rising tide lifts all boats, all boats, kind of logic in that everybody will benefit from this accurate data, whether it’s a plane or a car or a helicopter or, you know, something along the supply chain. Everyone kind of benefits. It reduces fraud. Improves transparency and you get the date that you need. But, yeah, it just does take a long time to figure out where it is. So that would be sort of the Augmenting model. They’re talking about this sort of incremental model. This is something we do already. But can we do it better? The kind of the more transformational model? There’s a couple of things. Well, one in digital marketing. If we think about we take the analogy with music again, there’s a lot of so I don’t know a lot about digital marketing, got to say. But from my understanding, there’s a lot of fraud going on with a lot of money is lost when people actually look at ads.

Dan:
Yeah, I mean, there’ll be cases of if you’re running AdWords and you’re spending thirty dollars. If you’ve got a competitive industry. So if I was advertising our business Branding Brisbane or something like that, we might pay thirty dollars per click on a thing. And there could be like, what’s to stop a competitor jumping on googling and clicking on my ad that’s at the top three times. I just spent 90 bucks for, you know, for somebody spending no time on the site or something like that. So there’s a real risk there around either humans doing it or bots doing it. And I think there are programs set up. But yeah, there’s definitely an opportunity if you’re in a competitive and expensive industry for that sort of thing. There’s a real chance of losing quite a lot of money quite quickly.

Chris:
So I’m not exactly sure how I would address that problem off the top of my head and probably think about that a little bit. But let’s think about let’s go back to what blockchain’s really good at doing so. It’s really good at recording stuff. Well, you knowing that the data is accurate after you’ve recorded it. So if we take ads analogous to songs, it’s easy for me to talk about that. A lot of money goes missing in royalties. If I’m a music artist, I put my songs on Spotify, YouTube and wherever else I have to rely on Spotify and YouTube to track how many players my song gets. And if someone uploads it or if that, you know, yeah, it could be repeated multiple times and a lot of royalties actually go missing just through sort of faulty recordkeeping. They estimate between 10 and 50 percent of these royalties go missing. And I think perhaps it’s similar with ads. Right. Like, if you’re paying all this money for, you don’t exactly know. You’re kind of trusting these intermediaries, Google, whoever else that’s putting up those ads and saying, yeah, I got this many clicks and now how do I know that? Right. So there’s a lot of trust here in these single actors and perhaps they’re not incentivized to keep it to maintain these records as accurately as perhaps they could. So one option here would be to there’s a few companies trying to do this now is set up a blockchain kind of separate that that augments.

Chris:
So if your songs or ads or whatever they are, get tagged and then the blocks, you know, it gets tracked online. So any time that tag gets like something happens and someone at your out or some of this is your song, it gets logged on that sort of third party blockchain. So it’s still using the existing networks. So nothing’s happened. Nothing’s changed in terms of Spotify, YouTube, whatever. But you’ve now got this really trusted third party record. This third party ledger of exactly how many plays you’ve got. And then that that’s a way to kind of make up that 10 to 15 percent you might be losing otherwise. So that’s the sort of, again, like an incremental way of helping traceability and helping track and have sort of more accurate records. Again, like I said, you’d have to make sure that blockchain itself is unable to be tampered with. It’s sufficiently distributed and it’s kind of worked out whatever. But the next thing is so kind of what you were coming out with. If if I were to put something online and then enable smart contracts and there was some kind of cryptocurrency or there was like Australian dollars represented as tokens, and then everyone every time someone listen to my song, I can have it on separate platforms.

Chris:
It’s not this ad based platform. Every time someone listen to my song, they would pay me fractions of a cent or, you know, however much. And then we start to create that sort of fundamentally new type of market. So change the scope of intermediation. Obviously, we need someone to create the interface and all that kind of stuff. And that’s and again, like intermediaries disappear. But it’s it’s a different way of doing things. And you can can actually control or have more control over who listens to your music. You know, you can see when there’s like what happened when those plays and you can get that money transferred directly to you without Ness necessarily having to travel through a third party, through some kind of intermediary. And you could setup those smart contracts that it kind of pays your record label or whoever else needs to be paid in the process in that sort of automated. So let’s bring that that back to marketing. Imagine a browser and this exists. It’s called Brave Browser, where the users, the consumers could opt in to seeing ads and you could customize. Right. I’ll see this many ads and perhaps even, you know, between these times a day or whatever, and then whoever is putting the ads up.

Chris:
The companies that advertising every time someone looks at their ad or interacts with their ad, they pay the user directly. So you’d actually create a marketplace between the consumer and the advertiser or the organization that’s advertising. An the intermediary doesn’t it’s not Google anymore, right? It’s not that model where they’re kind of they’re playing matchmaker and they’re sort of, yeah, it’s a completely different way of linking them up.

Dan:
That’s pretty cool, if you could verify that that person was a qualified buyer. If it could sync in with their account history or like bank history, to know that they’re a real shopper and know that they’re like a certain they had a certain discretionary spending or something like that. I think brands would be really be interested in that. I think the risk would be spending money on people who literally just sit on Brave Browser all day and get paid to watch ads.

Chris:
Oh absolutely! It really is a problem. Right. And so. And obviously, Google has their own controls and Facebook controls has their own controls of trying to work that out. And you would just have to put in a lot more controls. This is why this is you know, this is this is distant future stuff. Nothing is going to happen anytime soon. But this is kind of theoretically possible. And this is if you in digital marketing, this is the kind of stuff that you would need to be thinking about. Like, is there a possibility over time when you’re like. Could some of this stuff be automated? And what is more likely to be automated first? Because if you’re hanging all your hopes on this, like, you know, being this giant intermediary model that can be chipped away at the time, then you can have to be thinking like, where do we fit in in this new world? How can we actually provide value rather than just collect everyone’s data and sort of. Yeah. And be a sort of…

Dan:
Plus it only takes Facebook and Google getting together and saying that actually, you know what? We’re happy to cut someone in on this or create a service of this. And then it just kills that new player potentially.

Chris:
Yeah, I guess it kind of depends on what it is, I think. I don’t know. Like, what sort of path this transition might take is. Yeah. Who knows. Right. I just think that conceptually, if the individual is able to own and control the data they produce through their actions, because at the moment the data that I produce is taken like harvested or that data or metadata is taken by the company. So Google, Facebook whoever else and they track it across sites and have tons of data points and they buy it from other providers as well. So somehow Facebook knows how much I earn. I mean, they buy that from someone, right? I’m not putting that on Facebook. So they have a ton of data about you and it’s theirs. So the difference the model that I’m talking about is if I were to own the data that I produce, so on my personal data and my identifying data, blockchain actually enables me to do that because, you know, I can store it via my wallet, perhaps not on the blockchain, because that’s if I want to be forgotten and I can’t take it off. But we can have it accessible through my wallet on the blockchain and then I can decide who gets access to my data. So if I want if I want to allow advertisers to promote stuff to me, then I could say, yeah, you can know something about me or I’ll actually give you some of my data and you can pay me for it rather than, you know, Google or Facebook or whoever else just harvesting it through surveillance and then doing what they’re doing, basically bundling it and then taking that behavioral surplus.

Dan:
So you’re saying blockchain could be used for like a huge opt in model for the person to own their data?

Chris:
Yeah, that’s right.

Dan:
For each individual to own their data and have a purely opt in model. Two brands.

Chris:
Yeah, I think that’s a better way of putting it.

Dan:
So I think a lot of people I know would love that thing. There’s a few people I know in the cyber security and I.T. space. who absolutely hate the idea of Facebook and Google. These different social media platforms having access to that. So, yeah, yeah. It’s a really resonate for them.

Chris:
So, I mean, I’m hoping so. Right.

Chris:
And it will happen incrementally and it will happen slowly. But it’s let’s dial it back a bit. So let’s take something as simple as healthcare. Right. So healthcare in Canada, at least I’m living in Canada the moment I don’t know if it’s the same in Australia, but in Canada, you legally own your healthcare data. So I actually own the data that that is relevant to me for all my healthcare data that’s produced in Canada. The unfortunate thing is that I don’t own the records. So I go to a medical provider and they keep records on me and I don’t have custodianship of those records and I don’t have the rights to access those records unless I ask for them. So if I go to one health care provider and then I go to another one, you know, I want to go to see a doctor and I wanna go see a physio. I need some medical records I have to ask them to send from one to another. So it really is data silos and that’s essentially how it works. You know how your data is kept online, except it’s less visible and it’s less kind of you kind of don’t really know what’s happening. It’s just sort, this stuffs been. You’re just being tracked by these companies. Right. So what a blockchain could do is give me the ability to own that data.

Chris:
And so I would keep it again, perhaps not on the blog chain, but somewhere else. Like, I could keep it like an a private cloud where it’s accessible to me. And then I could use my blockchain based permissions to provide access. You know, if I go see the doctor, they update my record just like that. So with the car or the aeroplane, then I go to the physio and I say, yeah, you can view this part of my medical history and I provide permission to do it or provide them permission to, like one run queries on it. Have you had this test or like when was last, I mean, a tetanus shot or something and it would answer it. So there’s different ways you can do it. Right. You have to share the data itself. You can just share aspects of it. And then all of a sudden I have control and I have custodianship and I have the rights to access my own healthcare data. So. That’s a pretty simple model, right? And it’s just, yeah, conceptually, that’s that’s what’s possible. And then we can take that to any other context. So instead of healthcare data, we have social media data or whatever else, you know, what you do where you’re walking around on your location, data on Google Maps and stuff.

Chris:
But then I would say instead of some other company collecting that for me and then selling it, you know, bundling it, analyzing it, then trying to sell me stuff. I would be able to donate it. Perhaps I could if I was to donate to research, or I could try and sell it. So it’s just a different model where individuals can play a role in that market rather than just being sort of the fuel for companies, or the raw material, for companies to kind of aggregate and then and then create markets out of.

Dan:
That’s really interesting with healthcare, because I think it’s something that they’ve done here with I think they had like MyGov of or there was a health record essentially, and a lot of people were opting out of it. I mean, I think the idea is brilliant in the sense of, you know, if you’re on a medication or a script and you’re traveling, you don’t have that script, you could go to any chemist or any doctor and they could pull up that file. I haven’t looked too much into it. And I opted out just because a lot of other people told me to, you know, essentially, instead of the government collecting that data and storing that information, you’re protecting it yourself. Is that right?

Chris:
Not exactly. So there’s a couple of things that I think this was. So, again, don’t pretend to be an expert on my gut. I am the same as you. I and it was like, well, I’ll wait till I can actually look into this. But there’s a difference between ownership, which is, you know, you can legally own something, but if you don’t own the records, then you don’t have custodianship. Right. So MyGov, they might be eventually looking to go to a distributed solution like a blockchain and having people’s individual health care records kept somewhere else. So actually, Tim Berners Lee is the founder of the Web. He’s trying to create something called pods, which would be something similar. So you keep your personal information in it, in what it’s calling a pod, and you can keep it on your own server or you can keep it in this kind of encrypted server that provide you. So the different between, what I’m saying, there’s a difference between where that data stored at the back end and your access to it. So if like what MyGov is doing, I think currently and this is maybe completely wrong. So grain of salt here, but they’re just consolidating all those records at the back end. So it’s still a big central institution that storing that data.

Chris:
And that’s what people are worried about from my understanding, because they attack the some many attack vectors. They’re like, if you could hack this big central organization, then, you know, you have everyone’s full medical history right? So if you were to take that and then distribute it, if you were to have, you know, sort of a distributed model for how that stored and split up and encrypted in different places, it would be far more secure. So it’d be really difficult to. There wouldn’t be one place to break into to get people’s records. But the outcome would still be the same. So if you wanted to access your records and then, you know, you would be the one that would be able to piece it all together and view it as normal. But at the back end, that data is split up, sent across the district. The network, an encrypted. Very different from having it all stored in like a single cloud. Now that, you know, a couple of warehouses. And, you know, the government server farms or whatever. So, again, like, I might just be talking shit. That was my understanding. But it’s most at the back end too centralized. And so, yeah, it’s this is where you start to get into sort of where the information is actually stored. Right?

Dan:
It’s always comforting when you’re doing a podcast with an industry expert. And they sign off with “Again, I might just be talking shit.”

Chris:
You asked me about specific examples, I’m not pretending know anything about it. Maybe we can pause and I’ll do a quick Google. Actually if you check afterwards and if I’m resembling anything, that’s actually what’s happening. It might be valuable because I think the point I’m getting at it is there’s a difference between

Dan:
It’s just like a single point of failure there, isn’t it? With the MyGov thing?

Chris:
Exactly. Exactly.

Dan:
If you hack that then you’ve got a lot of information there.

Chris:
Yeah. Yeah. So there’s there’s different ways of bringing them together and storing there. And so this distributed model. It’s like you can be sure that it’s really difficult to get hold of it. But if it’s if all you’re doing is consolidating records from the providers into one place, then you’re kind of creating a honeypot for hackers just to go after that one, one thing.

Dan:
Yeah. So, I mean, I guess I’ll move on to some personal stuff soon. Just to give the audience a bit of background on you. But, um, so based on what you said, I mean, there’s some really good examples for marketing, for food traceability. Are there any other industries that you can think of that would find blockchain, you know, really applicable to them? So we deal with a lot of people in heavy industry. So be it mining or agriculture, construction, things like that.

Chris:
So, yeah, there’s a few I can do about that if you want. It’s the conceptual it’s the same thing. Right. So I think construction maybe a little bit different. So let’s take mining and agriculture is like commodity type industries first. So again, if you’re tracking a commodity all the way along the supply chain and a lot of the early implementations of blockchain supply chain were commodities were the a high price of being wrong. And there’s high value for being right. So diamonds was it, was one of the early examples, because it’s worth a lot and it’s you know, it’s a big cost of being wrong. Like, if you have blood diamonds in your supply chain, that’s a really bad thing. Right? So one thing is that, yeah, any sort of commodity industry should be interested in this once the business case is there. So once it’s cheap enough and you can get everyone onboard again, like I said, there’s there’s complications with actually setting up the network, which is why you need to be very careful because you can govern different things based on what rules you put into the blockchain itself. Then you can govern things based on what rule put around permissions for information access and have things recorded. And then there’s rules around like who can join the network. So the network or the business layer, there’s different rules in one place for that.

Chris:
So anyone can. Yes, this is all happening in supply chains. Just that traceability and accurate data is kind of interesting. But I think one interesting implication of this that perhaps doesn’t get talked about as much is that supposing you had. Remember, we talked about the T-shirt. We have all these different types of information now that you didn’t have before. It’s not just where this thing came from. It’s like everything that happened on its way. Could we actually start to de-commoditize, commodities like if that makes sense. So if you’ve got, like, zinc from a really happy mine, transported sustainably all kinds of I don’t know how minerals markets work, I think that they’re price takers to be honest, so this is probably quite far away. So I take more on this or maybe maybe minerals isn’t the right sort of industry to be thinking about this. But supposing you had two commodities that were otherwise identical, but one had completely different. Like, well, like means being created. Could there be two different price points for what’s ostensibly exactly the same thing. We do with energy already? Right. Like, we do know the same thing. You’re whatever’s keeping the lights on. If it comes from renewable sources, we might be willing to pay more. So it’s just a more granular version of that. I think that’s what’s interesting.

Dan:
Yeah. I mean, it could have huge implications for and I think it could be either the shareholders or the customers who generate the demand for that or like, you know, create the demand for that. So if you could choose between, like, the same way you could offset carbon, offset your plane ticket, you might be able to make sure that your next iPhone is is produced in a is not only like the materials mined for that were were mined in a safe and, you know, fair environment. You know, all the way along. You could trace that that was done in an ethical matter.

Chris:
Exactly. Yeah. So one thing is, I mean, exactly like you said, I hope there’s a demand for this because it will clean up the industry. You know, at first it might create a competitive advantage for the ones for the first movers, the ones that are doing this. And then as soon as you start to value that, then you can have different price points. But ultimately, I hope it just cleans up their supply chains and brings transparency and certainty to where you’re getting your stuff from. So it might eventually just become the new normal. But during that process, yeah, there’s massive opportunities for for competitive advantage if you if you do it right. And the other thing you mentioned was construction. And I think obviously this this is like the same supply chain stuff happening there. You know, we want to know where that’s coming from. We want to know if you can update where you’re getting your materials from it helps with planning and all that kind of stuff like, you know, accurate, you know, up to date records across providers throughout supply chain. But the other thing is payments in construction. So construction projects are obviously incredibly complex. You have to have whoever’s leading the project in the big construction company that basically has all their subcontractors that do most the work and then they take months to pay them.

Chris:
And they’re essentially building the buildings on the subcontractors, credit cards, because they’re you know, they’re the ones putting all this will work and then they get paid later on. So theoretically, what you do and I say theoretically, I’ll come back to this in a minute, is set up smart contracts that say one, certain parts of the building are completed and or once the, you know, the primary contractor gets paid, then automatically these smart contracts execute. And all the suppliers that are relevant to that part of the building get paid automatically. So it’s like you no longer have that kind of pay when you get paid mentality where there’s this opacity and it’s like, oh yeah, we just don’t have the money. Like, you can’t get away with it anymore. It’s like as soon as something’s , like signed off on, well, the checks are there, then the main contractor gets paid and then all the subcontractors get paid automatically. So this is theoretically possible. Of course it’s possible that that would be a nice, nice outcome for everybody at the bottom end. But it’s another kind of question around power dynamics in the network, like why the hell would you want to do that?

Chris:
If you’re the company at the top, why don’t you just hang onto that money like you do now?

Chris:
I mean, you can make money on that before you know for months, before you actually have to pay anyone. So, again, like, yeah, conceptually and like, it would bring a lot of efficiencies and, you know, bring a lot of transparency to that industry and construction projects. But in practice, like if you’re reliant on that large actor kind of implementing the project, like go implementing the blockchain based payment infrastructure in the first place, like what incentive they have to do that. It’s actually worse for them. I know of one that’s actually happened in BC, they set this up and it was the same logic like, can we do that and automate payments when certain conditions are met? Yeah. Great. It works. Then they went to a couple of construction companies and said, can we get some data from projects you’ve done in the past? And we’ll just test it we’ll test it using past it and we’ll see how much we could have sped up and what efficiencies we could have got using that past data. So comparing it with existing processes and these companies were like now are currently share anything with you. And the reason they don’t want to share anything is because there’s kind of a few skeletons in the closet and there’s probably a bunch of dodgy shit they were doing that they didn’t want anyone to kind of look at or scrutinize very closely. So, yeah, there’s probably a few applications in construction. So of some short answer. But again, you gotta consider like with it, you know, one of the value propositions for each actor that would be part of this network, because, again, it’s an intra-organisational play and it’s bringing efficiences to the network. And then, you know what of the existing power dynamics and how how much of an incentive is there for those really powerful actors to bother.

Dan:
I mean. Yeah. Presents a bit of a challenge because if you want to enter into these things, obviously you’ve got to show all the information. It’s only as good as the input sort of thing. So if you don’t sharing all the right information, if not willing to share and be open with it, then the quality of that will be, you know, be half baked sort of thing. So sort of like if you’re willing to get into it and share everything, you know, it has a potential to drive efficiencies, but it’s coming down to the company. And I think that’s where you touched on before. Like, I think it will take certain industries to be sort of forced into it, you know, like like that Walmart power dynamic. You know, Walmart says to their suppliers of lettuce, you have to report on these things if you want to sell through our thing.

Chris:
Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s a great point. And that’s kind of a lot of the. So as I mentioned before, a lot of the consulting work I do is sort of firstly this basic education. So, you know, what is this? Is this this is bullshit? A Scam? Is the price of Bitcoin going up or down. You know, that kind of stuff as the questions they get early on. The second thing is, you know. Well, the other questions like, OK, if I have this, you know, doesn’t everyone get to see my data? And you will know, you know, there’s ways of managing permissions and we can customize that. So once you get the heads across that, it’s still very difficult. Once you even get to that sort of trying to design how that network might work, you have to leave a certain mindset behind, which is all of that data is a strategic asset. And we can’t share it with anyone. Like we have to maintain control and ownership of these, you know, this core infrastructure or this protocol or we have to own the IP for everything that’s happening. That’s a pretty hard mindset for people to break out of. Because if you think about like those intermediaries, especially when I was talking about before, that is their business model. Right? They get as much data as they possibly can, become a bottleneck and control the conduits through which people transact and then dominate by doing that. And it is a totally different model. So even in networks where where it’s not so much, you know, your core resource might be data. It’s not necessarily like the main asset. It’s still very, very sort of strategically kind of important, or at least they think it’s very strategically important. So the willingness for people to give up different parts of information to gain these efficiencies that will benefit everybody in that kind of rising tide lifting all boats. So I think it’s pretty difficult to do because you still get people trying to behave opportunistically and saying, well, maybe you can just like carve out a bit more and people get really confused because it’s a different logic. Like, where are we actually collaborating and where can we compete? Because the places you compete are not the same as where you would be competing before.

Dan:
Yeah. I think it’s a great place to wrap up.

Chris:
An analogy here would be climate change. I think it’s actually a pretty good one. So if you think about the history of climate change, you know, first we had to decide that climate change was a thing and that happened like the 60s and 70s. But then the the initial approaches nations weren’t used to. Like nation states, the national governments weren’t used to collaborating at a level like this. So they weren’t used to this idea that if we all sacrifice something, if we all give up something, then we’ll all benefit. And it’s kind of this commons logic, right? So the tragedy of the Commons is, you know, there’s different ways of addressing that. But they had to come to this idea that, you know, everybody needs to give up something so that we can address climate change because this is a global problem. We can’t have national solutions for a global problem. We can’t try to be selfish. And we’ve kind of taken a step backwards in that and that logic in the last few years with certain governments. But the logic is the same. So we managed to change it at the time. And I think something similar might actually happen in business. Like we might start to say, once people realize what is technologically feasible and sort of the efficiencies that can be gained at a broader level, they’ll start to understand, OK, we can’t take this fully competitive approach to doing this. We need to make some concessions for this broader efficiency. And then what it means is we’re just compete in different ways than we’re used to. You know how this change actually takes place? Well, we it’s gonna be interesting, but it it’ll happen over time.

Dan:
So, Chris, thanks for taking us through that. Now, a bit on you like. What do you do outside of work? And I guess for you, like how do you take a break from teaching and from consulting.

Chris:
Yeah, I wish I knew. So part of what I do is also research. This sort of stuff I’m thinking about all the time. I’d love to be about to kind of touch on little bit more. But yeah, I exercise, I live in Vancouver, so there’s plenty to do around outside. I mean, when when you’re allowed to search, social distancing at the moment. Doesn’t lend itself to most those things. But yeah, try and get out much as possible. Pretty typical. I think you and I are quite similar. What do you do?

Dan:
Well, I realized I got a coffee shops and…

Chris:
Yeah, That’s what I do.

Restaurants, restaurants and bars. And go to the gym. Yeah. I’m not allowed to play golf at the moment. Yeah, pretty limited in what we do.

Chris:
Yeah. So all the stuff and I generally like to do, you know, get out and hike and explore BC and hang out with mates, go to gigs.

Dan:
Travel.

Chris:
You know, stuff or travel. Yeah, exactly. All the stuff. Basically not allowed to do. So really like I love the work that I do in terms of how it ties into my life, because I get to sit in cafes, one that’s you know, that’s what I enjoy.

Dan:
Do you have any favorite books, novels, business books, personal development books, that sort of thing. What are you reading?

Chris:
Yeah, what am I reading? Personal development, not not so much. Recently I got quite far into kind of psychology focused personal development a while ago. But I read I read stuff for work. I read books on tech. Which isn’t that exciting? But because it just gives me a different perspective.

Chris:
It helps me explain it. But for myself, I know I love dystopian future books like 1984. It maybe sounds really cliche, but I think it’s actually increasingly relevant. And yeah, I actually love the way it’s written. That’s, I like Slaughterhouse five, Kurt Vonnegut, like that kind of stuff. I like those sort of. Yeah. And perhaps like relatively cliche classics. And ah what else am I reading? Yeah. And some of that sociological approach that I take. I love books on shared means. I mean, again, some other cliche one. But Sapiens and Homo Deus those kinds of books. I love that kind of stuff. Love the style of writing and.

Chris:
I actually had meetings and been able to question meetings and think around it like what are the assumptions are actually making?

Dan:
I think that’s a Yuval Noah Harari. Yeah. Yeah. I think we’ve talked in the past about how brilliant he is at contextualising, like, complex ideas and through stories and things like that.

Chris:
Yeah, exactly. So it’s actually again, if I go back to, you know, the reason I like looking at new markets and new tech is is one thing. It’s kind of inherently interesting to think about topic itself, but it’s and how we construct new meanings around it. I find that really interesting. And a lot of Harari’s work is, you know, how we open societies based on shared fictions and stuff that talks a lot about that. And the other thing is the way he explains it. So, as you know, someone is trying to get better, better at teaching. I love being able to get across something and understand it quite well. And you should be able explain it in simple words.

Chris:
I don’t know how I’ve done that throughout this entire podcast, but I think here’s something that I would aspire to and being able to do that could he does it incredibly well.

Chris:
Actually, when I wrote my dissertation, I was looking at sort of not just how new markets are constructed from a practical standpoint, but how stories and narratives and perspectives around new markets were constructed and how they were used to try and get funding and support for the new ventures. And because I was looking at a story and it was sort of part of the thesis, I wrote my introduction as a story non-store, not sure if I really hit the mark, but I was like, whatever.

Chris:
You know, this is not not kind of an evaluated part of the thesis. Then we care about the papers and others. So, yeah, I just I just took liberties with it. Ended up writing is a narrative with a tonne of references in there.

Chris:
And yeah, I tried to take a perspective, but it’s just sort of again, like always trying new ways to communicate things in ways that resonate with the audience. You’re actually thinking about what is the audience want to hear rather than just.

Dan:
Well I think you’ve done incredibly well today with the blockchain scenario.

Dan:
I mean, we’re recording this on Good Friday and you used fish as the food source of traceability. So that was pretty timely. Pretty relevant.

Dan:
So what does success look like for you? That’s a pretty big question, but.

Chris:
That’s another big question. Yeah. So I don’t know. I’ve been able to do what you love all the time.

Chris:
I think that’s success. Right. Like, I would want to put, I’d be remiss to put a figure on it because I wouldn’t have it. But but the success is to me has been out too. Like I said before, I’d be able to sit in coffee shops and think about stuff like this and think about like how we construct meaning and think about bigger problems. That’s why I’ve sort of taken this middle path between, you know, education, research and consulting, because it’s like focusing on one. It’s kind of the research is perhaps a little bit esoteric in some ways too long term to have sort of direct impact or measurable impact all the time. The teaching is it’s great fun, but yeah, you know, sort of a different way of getting things and you kind of reproducing or regurgitating knowledge rather than creating it. And consulting is fun but it’s very hands on. So I’m trying to get a different pace of each. And just the fact that I have time to think about the broader stuff and constantly question stuff through that combination has been really fun. So at the moment. Yeah. Success is kind of not. We’re here in Vancouver for the best part of this year and then perhaps we can move back. So yeah, I’m looking fairly short term in terms of success.

Chris:
It’s every day for me. Yeah.

Dan:
So that’s exciting for our audience because you could potentially bring some of the teaching and bring some of the education and information on blockchain back here to Australia for businesses here. But I mean, what are some things inclosing like? What are some things that you wish more people knew about what you do or what you study?

Dan:
I mean, is a you know, there’s a lot of sort of misconceptions or, you know, misinformation on there. I mean, is it stuff that you wish that the level of knowledge was higher or is it kind of good that there’s there’s a bit of misinformation on it?

Chris:
That’s an interesting question. So I wouldn’t say it’s actually the knowledge itself. I would say it’s the way that people acquire knowledge. Having done a PH and having done work in this area and various other areas and doing the new stuff, it’s how we come to and I don’t think it’s limited to technology or business. It’s how we come to learn or, you know, sort of acquire and trust information and then disseminate it. I think that process is a little bit broken. We live in a world where, you know, you can can anyone could say anything. And there’s sort of it’s pretty easy, right? We’ve seen it with COVID 19 bullshit just floating around on WhatsApp. And it’s like the the information itself. I mean, you can’t fault people for not knowing something. But I think the process of acquiring and sort of digesting and evaluating and critically analysing information is something that we could and will benefit from taking a step back and thinking like how do we actually do this? How do I know this is right? And you know what combination of things will help me trust this information? Is it like what is it? Who told this to me? And where did it come from the first place? But a lot of it is, you know, being able to critically think like, is this logically consistent? Is this is this something that’s real?

Chris:
Because you get a sense that it had a bullshit too.

Dan:
Seeing a headline on Facebook and then just I mean, it’s a simple sometimes copying and pasting something you read into Google and just saying who else has supported that? Or if it’s ah, there’s one headline, one one post that’s just been circulated. Tons and tons of times.

Chris:
Yeah. And that’s it I think. And it’s normal. Right. Like it’s well Facebook is designed that. Facebook is designed to prey on our cognitive biases. And then it’s kind of completely attuned to that. It’s a reflection of us. So, you know, we can’t blame people for that. And I’m lucky I’m thankful that I went through the PHD process, because you really are a massive part of learning about science is. You know how knowledge comes to be and what perspectives there are. You know, what kinds of lenses we can look at the world through, you know, as the world absolute or as you know, does don’t have a perspective that counts. And when do they count? Well, those kinds of things. And how do we how we sort of critically evaluate stuff. I’m thankful that I got that. So I think it’s it’s something that doesn’t come easily. And the ways in which we collect information, we obviously have an overload. We have we’re flooded with information all the time. And the way that it comes to us is it’s kind of designed to prey on our biases. I don’t think anyone is exactly at fault. I think it’s just the way that things are set up kind of lends itself to that, which I suppose is another way of thinking about.

Chris:
Like if we were to have, I am interested in what does the future of social media look like? What is the future of marketing look like? All those kinds of things, specifically for those reasons. Can we address bullshit information? Can we use blockchain to tag a video at its inception so we can tell we can check back to that, know to that tag later on and know whether it’s a deep fake, has someone to have with us to be made. Well. And stuff like we can use tech to be able to do that. So, you know, they’re working on it now. Like when something was created, if someone actually said something. Can we. Are there ways that we can actually use technology to to say that this hasn’t been tampered with since it came up? So, you know, this is all part of yes. There’s lots of different parts to it and a lot of it’s culture. And some of tech, can be augmented by by new tech. Some touches on a lot of things.

Dan:
Well, Chris, thanks so much for coming on and talking to me about it. It’s been really, really good. I think my audience will get a lot of good insights and information out of this. So to wrap up, how can people find out more information about you or where can they go to learn more about you or what you do?

Chris:
Good question. I’m pretty shit in promoting myself, and I’m largely absent on social media. So can I. I mean, how are you disseminating things? Can I just give you an e-mail address?

Dan:
I’ll put an email on the thing. If anyone give me a link, then that’ll be appropriate. I’ll tag you on LinkedIn. And if people want more information, they can reach out there.

Chris:
Yeah. And I wanna say thanks so much for having me. Obviously has been a pleasure looking forward to hearing the other guest as well because. Yes, something you could call format here and obviously love talking about this stuff.

Chris:
So if anyone does want to reach out, feel free to you can probably tell I like talking about this. Yes. Don’t be shy.

Dan:
Awesome, thanks Chris.

Chris:
Awesome. Thanks Dan.

Dan:
Thank you for listening to this episode of Discover Someone Remarkable. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your network to support us. Please subscribe and leave a five star review to learn more about us or the guests on this show. Visit dsrb.com.au/podcast DSR Branding exists to inspire people to love what their work represents. We hope that this episode has inspired you to think differently.

 

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