Slava and imparities and Block Chains
By José Reis Santos | 1st of March 2019
This is a late article. The idea was originally to write about the Christmas season, and to focus on the interesting differences between Catholicism, Protestantism and Orthodox, starting from the fact that I am culturally Catholic (Portuguese), living in Budapest (a city with a huge Protestant tradition) and for personal reasons having celebrated orthodox rites and moments (Christmas on January 6, and Slava on January 24).
But afterwards, when I learned about the Caixa Geral de Depósitos impairments report, and the way hundreds and hundreds of millions of euros – of our money – were wasted due to total lack of competence of those evaluating these loans, and I realized the absolute impunity of those who should have taken responsibility, I thought: how is this still possible. How it is possible to have sectors of the State finances under complete disarray, without any responsibility being established or without someone being punished or judged for such harmful management.
And worse, since we are dealing with a bank like CGD. i.e. public, we are facing an institution with which the common mortal has some type of contact within their daily life and routines, either through managing their accounts, requesting a loan to buy a house, etc. And the situations described in the report are such routinely (going to a bank to apply for a loan or presenting an investment project) that the scandal is easily personalized, as many of us have been through similar situations, knowing very well the sieve we go through when we try to buy a house or apply for a loan. I myself, who have been trying to leverage my start-up, am well aware of the difficulties in convincing conservative bankers of the validity of my project, and the difficulty of convincing them to loan some money to a blockchain and crypto assets project. I know well that I would never see approved any business plan, without at least auditing me to the marrow and present me a premium to the moon (or Mars these days).
For it seems that in this country of Portugal, the one with the good comadres, these still have a very different plane on which they move, treading on an asphalt quite different from where I and many of you readers tread. They never get dirty, these comadres. For some reason, they don’t even spend soles. Everything comes out to to them at first, without many questions being asked, drawing euromillions after euromillions without even playing, armed with a magic key that guarantees that every combination is correct before they even enter the appraiser’s office. And interestingly, if this information were loaded on the blockchain, thus enabling that the entire recorded information chain to be safely tracked, we would be able to identify those responsible for each decision. And take easy steps to combat the fraud and the abuse of state power verified. The problem is that in Portugal few seem to want to take the necessary measures so that these realities can be put into practice, or at least explore some of the paths wide open by the characteristics of new technologies, even judging by some of the (few) articles I have managed to catch up on the blockchain theme on the Portuguese press pages.
Take the example of last January 4th 2019, where the highly qualified President of the Instituto Superior Técnico, professor Arlindo Oliveira, placed an full page article on blockchain in the reference newspaper Público. In this article, for some reason, Arlindo Oliveira decided just to choose the bitcoin platform to reduce the applications of such technology to its decentralized and anonymous forms. Had he for example explored the characteristics of Etherium and he could have entered the new and evident possibilities of smart contracts; or had he explored the various private, corporte and consortium platforms or semi-public platforms available today he would see the variety of projects available. Or even explore practical applications that are much wider than the world of money transfers. In any case, and despite his shortened field of analysis, Arlindo Oliveira excellently describes the mechanism surrounding public blockchain, and its security, failing only to read its implications or the disruptive potential associated with blockchain technology. He fails in Its main implications: transparency and digital identity management
Allow me to provide you an example, certainly many people remember the «10 years challange« on Facebook, where for a week it was fashionable to put separate personal photos 10 years old side by side. Such a challenge will have offered hundreds of millions of euros of free data to the facebook folks, who took advantage of other people’s stupidity to brutally advance the learning process of their algorithm with regard to facial recognition and aging processes. Certainly, the Facebook’s machine learning division appreciated. Now if Facebook had its blockchain platform (as it seems they are preparing for, as they have just acquired a couple of companies in the area and hired a large team of developers), all of their users could, in the first place, define what type of information / data sharing could be used and then be sure that any kind of future monetization of your data can be traced back to the source, that is, the original user. Thus, if and when Facebook sells the results of such a tassel, for large millions, and because everything would be registered in the blockchain, each user could receive a sum for the information that they consciously shared. This ability to control digital identity, and assets, in an increasingly (inter) connected world, 4.0, and permanently monitored, is in itself revolutionary, and disruptive. It is just a matter of having the rights to manage information that we consciously or not share. That is, to think ahead, with the user in the centre and in control of its data, and not the corporations nor the compadres that in the background make the shady deals.
(Article published on the Online of Revista Visão on the 1st of March 2019)