Blockchain And The Trusted Third Party

Blockchain disintermediates trusted third parties
Disintermediating Trusted Third Parties
Credit: Blockchain

I have a good friend, a colleague in the Fintech Start-up space who submitted an entry for funding for a Blockchain Start-up. The ‘deciding committee’ rejected the opportunity on the grounds that nothing the start-up could do, a ‘Trusted Third Party’ couldn’t do.


That’s the point.

Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin, the digital currency. Can you have a currency with a trusted third party? Of course. All currencies rely on trusted third parties. Usually the government, or a government agency. The whole point of Bitcoin is that you now have a currency without a trusted third party. Because the technology codifies the trust.

So to reject a start-up because you could do the same thing with a trusted third party is ridiculous. Of course you can. That’s the whole point of Blockchain.

We need to move beyond the legacy evaluation of innovation in Australia, and consider the subtleties and opportunities of nascent technology.

Facial Recognition for Access

Facial Recognition Software
Access Granted Credit: Wired

One of the slight annoyances in my work, entirely my fault, is leaving my access pass somewhere else, and having to wait for a friendly colleague to tailgate. How do they ensure who I am? Facial recognition of course.

Of course this is embarrassing at best, and in remote offices can be frustrating at worst. Often I’ll have to sign for a Temporary Pass to get into an office.

Insecurity Through Scale

Then there’s the ridiculous number of systems, even within an Enterprise, that don’t use SSO (Single Sign On). The number of websites have a login for numbers in the hundreds.

Which is one reason the iOS fingerprint reader is so powerful. It’s two factor, combining something I have (the iPhone) with something I am (the fingerprint) to authenticate me to any number of systems, and shortly, payments.

But there are times, most times actually, but let’s keep it to handsfree times, when you need authenticated access to information and you don’t have the time, or the means, to type in a password or touch a finger pad. Let’s say you’re a doctor treating a patient, or a harried traveller checking in for a flight.

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition is no longer the stuff of dystopian Sci-Fi movies. As an industry, border protection, police, and security services have been using this for well over a decade.

And with the power of Moore’s Law, the compute power you need to process a face accurately is well within the reach of consumers. Even for large set recognition, we have technology that does a good job of recognising customers for focussed concierge.

Just look how accurate Facebook is at suggesting a name tag for photos you upload to the site.

It won’t be long before passwords (at least typed ones) and access cards are a quaint footnote in history.

What does this mean for Trust, Privacy, and Personal Liberty?

How To Build Faith

Walking on Sea Ice
Credit: Bee in Finland

Back in '95 when I worked for Nokia I used to visit our sister factory in Oulu. Situated in northern Finland, Oulu is some 200kms south of the Arctic Circle. It get's pretty dark and cold in winter, and a popular attraction is to walk on the sea.

Which is pretty cool. Especially for someone who grew up on the coast in South Africa, instructed scuba, and has sailed across an ocean.

Cool is one word. Daunting another. I only ever set foot on the sea. Out in the distance, miles from shore, locals enjoyed themselves.

It would take a lot to get me to walk very far onto the ice. Even then it would only be with a local guide I knew very well, intimate with the area. Even though rationally I can see the ice can support me, I can believe it will. To put my faith in the ice needs more than just rational belief.

There's a visceral element to faith that is deeper than logic. In fact faith often requires that depth to trust [someone] even when all the 'evidence' points to a different conclusion. Trusting your spouse's isn't cheating, even when it appears they are.

Those people comfortable out on the ice have been doing it winter after winter for years. For generations. They understand the reliability, and are intimate with all of the moods of the ice.

Ultimately, of course, it's a decision. You choose to have faith and walk, or choose not to and don't. Or you choose not to, and live a life of continual risk assessment. Not that faith should ever be 'blind' just that there are more factors at play than can rationally be explained.

Unfortunately not enough people leave the beach and walk further from their comfort zone each day, so they develop neither the science nor the faith.

How're you going? Do you trust in your education, your job, your income, your status, your relationships, your country? They are all as illusory as the seasons. Enjoy them, but never cease to step out of your comfort zone. Never cease to step away from the shore, just a step extra each day.


Accelerated Rapport – Part 1

Project 2012: Day 324

Small talk!! The bane of so many people. I mean it’s not real communication is it?

Well, actually…

…in an interview, you have a job to do. One job only. Get to the next stage of the hiring process. That could be short-listed for the next round of interviews, or contract negotiation. That outcome requires you to generate trust that the interviewer considers you, not only right for the role, but the best person for the role.


Trust is a combination of 4 factors: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy, and whether you’re oriented on yourself or the other party (in this case the interviewer). Now your CV and references will in a large part determine your credibility & reliability, as will your answers to interview questions. Not to mention the questions you ask.

But only building rapport will increase your intimacy factor (and decrease your self-orientation factor). In short, how do you make the person believe you are like them, or at least “in synch” with their way of thinking?

The Cold Read

In the (brilliant) BBC series Hustle, there’s an episode where Alfie, the mentor of a group of con-artists, teaches Danny, the up-and-coming n00b, the Cold Read. In the episode he shows how to observe tell-tale signs on a mark, and use these to build rapport. To become “like-minded,” or “two peas in a pod”

An example would be to observe say someone wearing a divers watch, then ask if they dive? From  here, if you dive, you have something in common that you can talk about – when last did you dive? where? What equipment do you have? Where was your best dive? etc. etc.

Even if you don’t dive, you have something that interests the other party, and you can ask open questions to get them talking about their interest.

Couple of points to note:

  • Don’t pretend to be a fellow fan of something you aren’t. To anyone even vaguely interested in something, it is child’s play to see right through someone who isn’t interested and is trying simply to manipulate you. You can show genuine interest (open questions) without having to be a fellow afficionado. I hate golf, and will never play, but can still allow a golfer to espouse their passion for the sport.
  • Don’t be a “story topper.” The idea here is to allow your interviewer to talk about their interests, and to build rapport by being genuinely interested. Not by having been higher, further, faster, or generally better than them. That simply pisses people off, puts their back up, and destroys intimacy. It’s because your self-orientation factor is too high. So even if you have been higher, faster, deeper, or generally better than the interviewer, allow them their moment in the sun.
  • Be genuinely interested. This is easier, of course, if you have a similar interest. You get enthusiastic about the same rides (or golf courses, or knitting patterns for that matter) but you can be genuinely interested even if you hate the hobby. Read magazines, check out the Internet, follow bloggers or tweeters. In short, show respect by researching and learning about the topic. Then ask open questions, not with the outcome to build rapport, but with the outcome of learning more about the topic. The rapport will build naturally. In short, be interested in the topic, because you’re interested in the person.

One of the interns in my team observed to me that I get a lot of things done in HP because I ride a motorbike. People, especially other bikers, invariably talk about my bike, week-end rides, then talk nostalgically or dreamily about biking. This leads to talking about things other than work, which builds intimacy (friendship by another name), which leads to me having an extended network of all sorts of specialists across our business unit and the entire company.

It was an astute observation, but I pointed out that he was only half right. I’ll pick up on any topic of interest which I have in common, and lead into the conversation with that. It’s not about motorbikes, but about an interest in the person. First. Before the work stuff.

Believe me, it beats talking about the weather or the traffic…

…which is what your competition is talking about.