Category: Interviews

Interview with IOTA Core-Dev Paul Handy

Interview with IOTA Core-Dev Paul Handy

Paul Handy. IOTA Core dev for a long time already and valued community member.

His vita is as fantastic as that of his colleagues.

Hey Paul, I’m glad to have you here! How did you become a member of the Foundation?

I have been following IOTA from the end of 2015; at the end of 2016, I saw a need for someone with my skill set and offered to help at that crucial time. They invited me to join the Foundation soon after that.

What exactly was needed when you applied?

Ccurl in a weekend (GPU support took a bit longer).

I wouldn’t say that I “applied”, so much, though.

I didn’t ask to join the core team. I just offered to help, and they later invited me to join.

If people say: the future holds nice things for us: What exactly does that mean for you?

To me, that would mean ubiquitous availability of the Tangle, and the ability to use it as a tool to empower the individual. People could have fine-tuned control over their privacy, their data, their money.

Centralized systems are far easier to create than distributed systems, but can be more brittle. IOTA is the first of such distributed systems to my knowledge to take advantage of the physical limitations that cause other peer-to-peer systems to fail to work at scale.

I am also very excited about the possibility of fog computing enabled by the Tangle.

What’s your guilty pleasure song?

So I have a ukulele that I strum on occasionally; I really like Virtuoso, so if I sit down and need to twiddle my fingers, I’ll ape out Jake Shimabukuro’s cover of While my Guitar Gently Weeps.

But probably something like Bohemian Rhapsody.

 

What’s your main task in the dev-team, except listening to the best song ever and playing ukulele?

I wear a lot of hats, but I suppose my main task is making sure that the core components work.

I do what’s necessary, which can involve implementing proof of work for different platforms (like I have for ccurl and curl.lib.js)

Or writing new tools like MAM.

I’ve been increasing my focus lately on spearheading the Rust implementation of IOTA.

Rust is really nice, in that it’s essentially performance equivalent with C, but is more elegant, and enforces memory safety by default.

It can even compile to optimized Javascript, so the same source could be used, for example, to create a full node in the browser.

The same can also be used to target embedded devices.

Start Trek or Star Wars?

I have enjoyed both franchises despite both disappointing me at times. I do think that these are a fun way to go to fire up my imagination, but the vs question is like “science fiction or fantasy”? I’ll take both.

How is working as a core developer? Have you guys special names for everyone?

It’s great working as a core developer. Admittedly quite stressful, and I work very long hours.

I mean, I roll out of bed and check my messages on slack to see what broke while I slept.

There might be names behind my back, but I don’t know of any that the community wouldn’t already know about.

If people wanted to start coding/developing for IOTA, without coding experience -where would they have to start?

Without coding experience? That makes for a difficult proposition.

So they couldn’t learn at codeacademy for a month and jump right into it?

Oh, sure they could.
Are you familiar with the great wars of Vim and Emacs?

No, what’s that?

The great text editor wars. [laughs]

Some people use Vim, others use Emacs. (These are people who don’t mind using a keyboard to get stuff done rather than a graphical environment).

I use Vim, and I don’t touch Emacs.

Similarly, I admittedly have some bias in programming language recommendations because of my background.

So if people just want to get a little script off and running, they would do probably well to look at learn.iota.org, check out iota.lib.js, and write a client script to play with things.

But if anyone asks me what programming language they should learn, I’d probably point them to Rust.

And I try to withhold disparaging comments [laughs] -from inferior languages.

By the way, I’m listening to Queen songs, since you came up with this.

Sorry for that.

Is there something you want to tell the great IOTA family?

It’s been a pleasure to collaborate and banter with them; there’s a lot of very clever people gathering around IOTA. I hope that we can work together, and share our knowledge and capabilities to make this technology blossom. It’s already come so far, and yet there is so much more that can be done.


 

Thank you, Paul, for your time and thank you for all the work you’re doing!

Interview with Dr. Carsten Stöcker about the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Interview with Dr. Carsten Stöcker about the Fourth Industrial Revolution

As part of my coverage, I am trying to get important people within the IoT for short interviews.
Today I have the great pleasure to deliver a transliteration (translated from German) of a Skype call I had with IOTA-Foundation member Dr. Carsten Stöcker!
Before I get to the conversation a few lines about Carsten.
Carsten studied Physics (Dipl. Phys.) in Düsseldorf before he received the doctor’s degree in physics at the RWTH Aachen.
He worked for the German Aerospace Centre and for a number of international companies before he was Senior Manager at Accenture.
After that, Carsten was Head of Supply & Trading Infrastructure for RWE IT in Essen.
He changed position to Head of International Voice and Data Networks, also in Essen, before he was working in the Innovation Program Management for Innogy Consulting GmbH.
Since 2016, he’s a member of the World Economic Forum and is furthermore Senior Manager for the Innogy Innovation Hub.
Carsten is an innovative thinker with vast experience who began his career in the academic sector before he started to gain momentum in the innovation sector. There, he identified the potential of Blockchains and in particular IOTA as a possible turning point of the fourth industrial revolution.
I’m really happy to share his insight and thank Carsten for his precious time!



C. Stöcker: First of all: I have to admit, I’m a big big fan of IOTA [Laughs]. I always spread the word when I’m around other cryptographers and when I see them I ask for their opinion. I was at UC Berkeley in the valley and talked to a few guys and they found it pretty interesting from the beginning. Although they said that this idea is not really the newest because it was there before, on a theoretical level.

Limo: With the DAG?

C. Stöcker: Exactly! And there has been an old discussion before like the money is growing on trees, comparable to a potential Ponzi scheme and so on, every Blockchain had to face these allegations before. But in this case with the IOTA light node system, and the growing ecosystem overall, there is a huge potential and one important difference: IOTA is the first project where all preconceptions were cleared out right from the beginning.
One cryptographer mentioned also, that there are a few attack vectors in early stages, like Sybil attacks but the developers of IOTA found a good countermeasure to this problem with the requirement of a little computational effort when making a transaction. So all in all he believes that there can be a few vulnerabilities at the beginning but it’s quite possible to prevent them from happening. That depends solely on the size of the network which is getting bigger every day.

side note: The more nodes the tangle acquires, the bigger the hash power gets to prevent a Sybil attack from happening. A Sybil attack is based on the assumption, that half of all hash power is coming from malicious nodes. As of today already highly unlikely to happen because full nodes have been connected randomly to each other via personal node sharing. Once the tangle grows to a certain size, it’s nearly impossible to perform. The foundation established coordinator is a second mechanism to prevent the network from attacks as of today.

Limo: According to our developers, we will see (instead of the coordinator)  an integration of the Monte Carlo Random Walk algorithm soon, which will be the final solution for that.

C. Stöcker: That’s right, from that moment on, everything should be fine. I would like to see more collaborations with complementary technologies, though, but I guess we will see that anyway some day. I personally think that IOTA and things like Bigchain DB could work complementary. We would be able to transfer huge amounts of IT-data into a secure Bigchain DB, transferred via Tangle. That would mean immutability, authentic, decentralized data integrity, and so on. There is a lot of potential in this field!

Limo: Indeed, a field where lots of developers are needed considering countless of proof of concepts, and lots of ideas which can become reality.

C. Stöcker: Right now, we are therefore trying to build more momentum around IOTA to attract capable developer and to increase the overall adoption in order to extend the team and the companies working with IOTA. Also with the help of the Innogy credentials.

Limo: Yes I guess we all have some pretty interesting times ahead!

As you know, I prepared a few questions, comparable to the questions I had for Per Lind. So I guess I just start!

1.) How did you get in touch with IOTA, what was the crucial factor that aroused your interest?

C. Stöcker: Mid-2016 I was reading online and found the IOTA whitepaper by chance and decided to read more about it. At first, it got my attention because I liked the naive hypothesis about the tangle. Especially if you consider my physics background where unidimensional concepts are quite boring compared to fancy multi-dimensional concepts.
You know, Bitcoin’s Blockchain is for me a one-dimensional concept whereas the tangle is multi-dimensional. So Bitcoin or Blockchains in general, cannot possibly be the answer to everything!
And the Tangle in comparison is, simplified spoken, a multidimensional construct, where countless nodes form the DAG aka. Tangle. And of course, there are more aspects to it, but the first thought of the multidimensional construct left me pretty curious.
And to be honest, it’s a pity I missed the ICO-Crowdsale! [Laughs]

Limo: Sadly, me too! [Laughs]

C. Stöcker: Well, whatever! I’m really intrigued by the IoT-technology, Blockchains, IOTA, by the light node concept and on top of that by combination with other technologies. For example, we thought about telematics on the Tangle, autonomous vehicles, blackboxes, weather stations, router, etc. and if you then combine these technologies as convergence, which is an important field, then we see it’s not only IoT, Blockchain or IOTA but peer-to-peer data storage, Bigdata, algorithms on top of that and then the fun starts where we are able to build systems which are able to unhinge all digital superstars. There is no end to our imagination! The massive scalable big-data architecture will be possible when we are more decentralized.
As a consequence, we could get rid of countless intermediaries, everyone could share their assets, it’s interoperable, direct transactions. In the end, we’re talking about the purest form of sharing-economy and that’s a good thing!

Limo: Yes, and I think we need time to be able to understand what huge impact on the world this could have, especially disruptive consequences. I could imagine that the majority will struggle to understand the outcome of this industrial revolution, and if they understand it, I’m not sure if everyone likes it! Especially the intermediaries will fight it, let alone the average Joe.

C. Stöcker: Indeed, just look at the continuing automation. Researchers came to the conclusion that almost 50% of all jobs in the US are at risk! And I don’t substitute them. If you combine the outcome, it could be far more than 50%.
That will have a massive impact on society, few will benefit, and we have to see how we can solve the issues for the rest.
Also supply chains between countries! Everything underlies a change: Do we need to ship everything over China, over Europe or can we get goods directly from the resource to its destination without detour, where full automated manufacturing units produce it autonomously?
That’s one reason we see China pressing out the juice of its people to be able to invest in new technologies.
That’s more or less a war of technologies, while we’re here in Germany are relatively naive in terms of the inevitable change. Some people even think we still have time or it won’t come to it.
Although we have all the puzzle pieces to make it happen, like IOTA, like Bigchain DB, Ethereum, we have NXP, Infineon, the leading crypto chip manufacturers. We also have the leading 3D-printer companies and a lot more key companies to change things.

“Internet 4.0” is the most important part to achieve this fourth industrial revolution. That would be a great thing if it would happen soon.

2.) What was the crucial factor, the moment that you became a member of the IOTA-foundation?

C. Stöcker: Well, I just wanted to be a part of this community! I wanted to help this important technology to make a breakthrough. I read the whitepaper and dove into its technological features, so it was kind of my decision to be a part of it!
I furthermore had a good talk with IOTA Co-Founder Dominik Schiener, who presented his previous project CargoChain on our GTEC “Blockchaincontest”. And after his successful presentation, we talked about the idea of common projects, we could start, which wasn’t that easy at first because we had to find a good topic to work on together. But as we all know it worked very well in the end.

3.) In what way can IOTA change the handling with energy grids?

C. Stöcker: Smart grids, of course, are in IOTA’s field of application but to be honest, I think the earliest changes we see are rather in the smart home area. Like multi-family houses, between neighbors where they share a few devices which will be orchestrated via Tangle or another Blockchain and as a further step, it will grow into further areas.
As a further example: weather stations. Environmental data systems can be set up really easy and I think there are lying a few use-cases.
Because an energy grid is regulated from top to toe and a critical infrastructure, lots of legacy systems etc. In Germany especially we even struggle to install smart meters in all houses. The transition is rather slow.

I personally think that the electric vehicle charging will be faster enabled. When we successfully set that up, we can think about further steps with an energy grid, like using the SCADA systems to control the loading process depending on prices, renewable energy resources, because we still have not enough of them in the energy grid.
And at this point, I can imagine that Blockchains can be a realistic, very fast solution to enable an intelligent vehicle charging system very soon.
After that, we will see new systems also in the field of smart grids etc.

Limo: Interesting. Do you think, that in addition, these new solutions can be positive for sustainability or a reduction of the energy consumption in general?

C. Stöcker: I personally think a meaningful way to support sustainability would be a crypto-crowdfunding of renewable assets. As of today, for an investor, it’s intransparent, complicated and he cannot back up once he invested. But with an autonomous decentralized organization of renewable assets, I can imagine that the value of the investment equates to the asset value. That can be easily calculated through power-purchase agreements. And then a share of renewable crypto-assets has a defined value, so we get asset-backed digital currencies, where on the opposite Bitcoin has more of an expectation value.
When eventually the renewable assets investments are freed from barriers I think the renewable systems could benefit.
And I don’t talk about some solar cell on a house but bigger community fields, which are set up for eg. one street or a bigger number of neighbors sharing these cells. It’s not very practical for single households, to built single photovoltaic cells on every single roof.
That way we can incentivize people to use, to invest into, and to build more renewable energy resources where the costs or the creation of energy can be calculated fast, easy and freed from unnecessary bureaucratic barriers. That would lead to a sharing economy and furthermore to a positive impact on the environment.

Limo: I know the following question could fill books, but nonetheless, let’s give it a try. Most of the people are limited from a technical perspective to imagine what IOTA could mean for the future, but I’m pretty sure you can.

4.) What is your personal vision of the world in 25 years?

C. Stöcker: Yes, we actually wrote something about that! It’s an exemplification of mobility. With a little bit of imagination, you can transfer that vision onto other industries.

side-note: the mentioned article

The vision is quite simple. Our gross national product will be dominated by a machine economy. And this machine economy consists of machines that make transactions to each other if values need to be shifted. Machines will be their own customers. That is not a new idea: Cyber-physical systems. After that term came up, they decided to form the term “Industry 4.0”.
So we think that these cyber-physical systems can create a complete value-chain, an autonomous billing system where these machines account for the majority of the GNP.
As a result, we can think about the impact on society and about a universal basic income model and how we can employ people.
And all these thoughts and systems are at the tipping point!
So a combination of Blockchains, automation technologies, like drones, artificial intelligence, autonomous driving.
Again, everything is at the tipping point!
That’s insane. In 25 years, it will change the developed societies vastly.
And we don’t know what happens to developing countries yet. Maybe the income gap grows bigger and the problems with it.
Furthermore the so-called Zero Margin Economy, many businesses won’t be economically feasible anymore and from that perspective, it could be a total economic disaster!
What we need is a solid solution for this kind of problems.

Limo: We can expect a big transformation! Especially the universal basic income is already discussed a lot. Maybe it’s really necessary to compensate for the automation.

C. Stöcker: Yes, I’m pretty open minded for that. I’m in contact with the government to discuss a machine-taxation-system, to create a basis for such a system. You could define smart contracts that enable an automatic taxation to the fiscal authorities. This system would be very beneficial and that’s the reason we are trying to discuss them.
So all in all, it is safe to say that everything will be automated. Needless to say: IOTA fits perfectly!

Limo: We are looking forward seeing the tech in action and of course in 25 years, we’re still here!

Carsten, thank you for your precious time and good luck with all your plans!

side-note: In the meantime, Carsten published an article of the mentioned collaboration between Innogy and IOTA. You can find it here

 

 

Three Questions for Per Lind

Three Questions for Per Lind

Today, I have the great honor to share some really interesting and insightful answers, given by Per Lind, a member of the IOTA-foundation and an incredibly successful development specialist.

Mr. Lind describes himself as a “kick-ass business development expert” on LinkedIn and needless to say, that is no overstatement.

In fact, his experience and influence in several fields is more one could ever write down in one introduction, so I try to pin down a few mentionable milestones.

Mr. Lind holds a degree in electrical engineering and from there, has grown to a widely known business expert with thousands of contacts in the global business sphere.

He worked with IBM, IKEA, Carlsberg, WPP and is the former head of marketing of Bang & Olufson.

The list of collaborations with global brands seems endless so we can only guess how big his impact on the global economy really is.

Let me just take David Sønstebøs words as a placeholder:

Per is the epitome of a connector with a digital rolodex very few can match.

Right now, Mr. Lind is director of his own growing company Farmor Cloud Factory , and plays an active role in the Asian telecommunication and software development.

He’s furthermore collaborating with HYPR, the leading provider of biometric authentication for mobile payment solutions.

He agreed to answer three simple questions, and I won’t keep you in suspense any further: Here we go!


1.) How did you get in touch with IOTA? Was it a flash of wit or your experience in this field that you wanted to be a part of it?

I was involved with mining Bitcoin from a very early stage, but as I started spending and looking at use cases, it became painfully obvious that the Bitcoin blockchain had some very difficult bottlenecks to contend with. One is the slow validation of transactions because of the mining bit and this makes it almost impossible to scale to any usable size for remittance and all the payment ideas everyone was immediately thinking about. I started looking at M2M networks and quickly came to the conclusion that Bitcoin is completely unsuited for micropayments as is needed in the IoT and M2M networks. About a year ago I looked into some information about IOTA and as I started to read their published paper and some of the things they were playing around with,  I got really interested. I contacted David and Dom to hear if there was anything I could help with, and from then on I have introduced them to my vast network globally. We are now working on some really cool use cases and hopefully, we will be in a better position to go into details in a month or so. Personally, I still see Bitcoin as an 8-year-old Proof of Concept which should have been stopped some time ago, so the next generation distributed ledger technology could be developed. That is exactly what we are doing at IOTA.

2.) In this competitive “Game of Blockchains” what’s the biggest advantage for IOTA to become THE interoperability protocol for the IoT, rather than existing projects?

There are several advantages for IOTA. Our basic idea with the Directed Acyclic Graph which makes up our “tangle” solution, is completely unique. If you compare to Bitcoin and Ethereum, there is a vast difference in performance and scalability. With the tangle approach with the need to verify two previous transactions to get your own transaction verified, has flipped the bottlenecks the blockchains have. The more transactions we get into the Tangle network, the quicker the verification becomes. I think there are a few new initiatives like the InterLedger project I participate in at W3.org, where we are trying to build a standard for clearing any cryptocurrency and fiat payments from any blockchain or distributed ledger to another, so we can get true interoperability between all currencies, digital or not, which will greatly help promote the cryptocurrency idea to many more use cases. The zero cost of verification, infinite scalability and the almost instant time to settle transactions are by far IOTA’s biggest strengths

3.) 25 years from now, how changed the IoT the world in your opinion? What is your personal “Arthur C. Clarke”- vision?

I’m probably not qualified to be compared to Arthur C. Clarke in this instance, but we have some excellent visions for what IoT and IOTA can do in the future. One thing we always talk about is to disrupt the whole mobile operator industry. Imagine that you no longer have a contract with any mobile company but you just pay (with micro-payments) on the network which is the strongest and most available as you go. No more headaches about what “plan” you are on; no more restrictions on how or where you use data and also no more ridiculous roaming bills, as you are always connected locally and paying for your usage as you go. With smart contracts on top of IOTA, this can become a very robust disruptive force in the next few years. Also, we have seen a need for a data collection solution for poor farmers, like in Thailand. Here IoT devices can collect all the live statistics which are important for farmers and fish farmers, rainfall, ph levels in the soil or water, temperature, moisture levels etc. Once this is connected to the IOTA network, you get an immutable history for each farmer, which the crop insurance companies can trust explicitly and pay out insurance settlements, should the crop fail because of drought or flooding. So as an example in Thailand, the government does not need to hand out money to the farmers who yell the loudest, this will be handled in a fully transparent commercial way. Also, the farmer can then set smart contracts up, for instance stating his minimum price for his crops or fish and when a direct buyer agrees, the transaction, shipment and payment is automatically settled. This can help millions of farmers to get a fairer price for their crops, get them out of the “middle-income trap” and cut out the greedy middlemen. The World Bank is very interested in promoting a system like this. Bitcoin and Ethereum will be too expensive in these instances, as the micro-payments will be lower than the cost of verifying the blocks in the blockchain. Another twist for the farmers is that they then own their own data and can sell this as they see fit. It is not the seed or fertilizer companies who are the owners of the farmers data. But as you can see, there are unlimited use cases when you start thinking about it. There will be some really wild things popping their heads out over the next many years, 25 years is a LOOOONG time, so not sure I dare venture that far into the future. One fundamental issue we need to get tackled is the security for the access to these solutions and the IoT networks. We are working on some really cool things here as well. I am sure this will give your readers some food for thought and we are always prepared to answer any questions you might have. Greetings from Thailand.

Dear Mr. Lind, I’m very grateful that you spend your precious time to give us a little bit of insight.

My best wishes to your ventures in Thailand, thank you!

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