Wrap-up I AM Blockchain event

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I AM & Blockchain event                     30-03-2017

On 30 March 2017 at 1 p.m., the moment had finally arrived. The I AM & Blockchain event, which we organised together with Sogeti, was about to start. That afternoon, experts from the world of Blockchain presented a full programme to an audience of over 100 guests.

Blockchain for dummies

The essence of Blockchain was compared to a philosophical phrase by C.S. Lewis, who said: “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” According to the opening speaker Erik Holkers from Sogeti that is exactly what Blockchain does.  

The philosophical phrase was presented in the context of a comparison of Blockchain with banks. According to Erik, three things are important in banks.

1. Firstly, there is the integrity with the business.
2. Then, there is the integrity of the employee.
3. The employees who check the integrity of these two. With Blockchain, the first two fall away, as they are entrenched in the technology. In short, farewell to banks; for someone managed to come up with a way to discontinue two of the key duties of banks by designing an incorruptible system that incorporates these duties.

These two components fall away, since the design of this technology has taken into account that the integrity must be warranted. The integrity is being kept stock of on the basis of a kind of ledger. This ledger contains a chain of transactions. These transactions are divided over thousands of Bitcoin Nodes. You might say that everyone with whom someone conducts a transaction has a Bitcoin Node. For this reason, mistakes, fraud and corruption can be traced easily and efficiently. The integrity is also guaranteed by encryption. Within the Blockchain technology, nobody can spend other people's money, and money can only be spent once. A so-called public and private key ensure this. The public key is a piece of code that can be decoded by means of the private key. The public key is contained in the ledger.

BlockClaim – Turning Facebook and Google into Blockchain.
Blockchain gives someone control over his or her own identity, Haaino Beljaars from Sogeti told the audience during this second talk for the I AM Blockchain event. this is because the technology makes it possible to manage an identity independently from another party, for instance Facebook or Google. This gives someone the opportunity to determine for himself with whom he shares that identity, or not; someone can even see directly when his or her identity has been misused, someone is sure of who the client purchasing a product or service, someone is sure of whom he or she is talking to online, and someone can protect his or her identity as much as (s)he likes.

To show how this works, Haaino presented a demo of a self-design taxi app. The app is about a customer who needs a taxi to get home. This customer logs on to the taxi app to find a taxi near him. As soon as he does, he can click on the taxi to see who the taxi driver is. This includes all kinds of extra information, such as customer reviews stating that the driver is always on time, drives straight from A to B, et cetera. As soon as the prospective customer is happy about the information, he or she can send an invitation to the taxi driver to be picked up. As soon as the driver has received the information, he in turn can see the customer information, for instance reviews by other taxi drivers stating that the customer is behaving nicely, pays in time, et cetera. This way, the driver can refuse the client or approve of him/her. If both parties consent, there is a taxi ride waiting to happen. Meanwhile: No trust, No deal.

Block ID
Steven Gort (ICTU) gave the last presentation before the break. According to Steven, Blockchain has both disadvantages and advantages. The disadvantages of Blockchain are as follows: it is slow, data storage is limited and it is expensive. The advantages are: is is distributed, there is no central authority, it is unchangeable, it has a corresponding algorithm and it is secure by design.

The challenges that Blockchain imposes are mainly: the wide variety of users, privacy and how Blockchain can easily be used for applications.

Relevant legislation in which the Blockchain technology can play a role is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). An important aspect of the GDPR is that it says that citizens must get back control over their own data. That is what the Blockchain technology can offer. With Blockchain there is only one owner: the person who can decide which personal information (s)he does or does not share with someone else. Also, it is easy to use, since you can log on to various applications with a single private key.

During the I AM Blockchain event, a demo was presented of how Blockchain can be applied in practice. The demo was about an application that makes it possible for a transaction to be concluded with the aid of a Blockchain. One example is that someone wants to vote for a political party through a government website. He or she selects the political party and subsequently the Blockchain concludes the voting transaction.

Passport @ IDnext
After the break, it was time to listen to the students from Delft University of Technology, Leon Overweel, Wouter Raateland en Daniel Vos – winners of the World Port Hackathon 2016. At this hackathon, small groups were developing new Blockchain software to solve problems in harbours.

At the hackathon, four types of challenges could be chosen from, for which issues were to be solved. The challenges were: Infrastructure & Logistics, Energy & Climate, Disrupt the port and International challenge. These students opted for the Disrupt the Port challenge.

In the Disrupt the Port challenge, the students had to find a solution to a current problem. In order to find out what the problem was, they visited Dutch Customs. There, they found out that the contents of containers are often unknown and that there is a fair chance of fraudulent use of the containers' contents.

They went to work on this problem, thinking that Blockchain might offer a solution. They designed a system to register the contents of a container in a Blockchain and thus to enable tracing them during transport. Their idea won a prize during the World Port Hackathon.

Blockchain and Identity (Peter Penning – ING)

Banks and identities are closely related. The business models for banks require a strong identity, for instance for creditor risks or irrefutability (logging activities) to solve conflicts. Moreover, many banking products are digital, constituting major income sources for banks. That is why a safe business transaction is mandatory. Furthermore, government and other legislators demand strict compliance with legislation, imposing fines in case of non-compliance.

To Peter Penning, Blockchain means a mechanism that has been designed to evade third parties. It is a peer-to-peer network on which business can transacted on a one-on-one basis. This peer-to-peer network includes cryptography to protect the data. Lastly, the mechanism has been designed in such a way that reward and general conditions are managed without a third party.

As regards how and why Blockchain, ING totally associated itself with the talk Sogeti's Erik Holkers gave before. However, Peter thought that the definition of identity and digital identity received insufficient attention during this afternoon. To Peter, 'identity' means exactly how Wikipedia defines it, i.e.:

personal identity is the unique numerical identity of a person in the course of time. That is, the necessary and sufficient conditions under which a person at one time and a person at another time can be said to be the same person, persisting through time.

This definition states that an identity is a unique numerical that applies to someone during his or her life. This has no bearing on time-bound events such as date of birth, school, work and death, or your biological origins. Peter gave an example about an man who had undergone a sex change. The operation ensures a new life, but the person's numeric remains the same.

According to Peter, the requirements of a digital identity must be comparable with the used definition of identity referred to above. Within the Blockchain technology, it can be said to meet all these requirements. To illustrate this, Peter referred to the inventor of Blockchain, Satoshi Nakomoto. Up to now, this person has not shown himself, but his identity is entrenched in a hash in the Blockchain, If this person would wish to show his true identity and prove that he is the inventor of Blockchain, he will need to show himself by logging on with the private key.

What did the guests think?
Following these presentations, the guests in the audience were asked what their opinions were. It is clear that Blockchain is still at an early stage. The applications of Blockchain are few and far between. And so far, the Blockchain business case is likewise unclear.

Yet, one guest wanted to see the technology find its way to the disabled care sector. That person indicated that employees in disabled care homes share one workstation where they can write reports on the disabled clients they provide care for and that this workstation is often occupied. This state of affairs is at the expense of the quality of disabled care.

After all, employees can become motivated against writing reports due to the unavailability of workstations. As a result, essential information fails to be registered and becomes inaccessible to other carers. One example was that a disabled client suffered from diarrhoea and needed to be cleaned more often. If a colleague does not receive this information, this may mean that the disabled client needs to spend parts of the day without a change of clothing. According to this guest, Blockchain technology should make writing reports easier and more efficient, making information accessible to other employees.

See also our wrap-up trailer.