Talking Proof of Location and The Future of Blockchain with Platin's Co-founder Lionel Wolberger
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Blockchain has won its place among the most innovative technologies in the world, and for good reason. Some experts even claim that it has the potential to be even more revolutionary than the internet itself. However, understanding how it works and its general mannerisms can be quite challenging. That’s why it’s good to have Dr. Lionel Wolberger fill in the details for us.
There is no better way to get the real picture of an emerging market than from the people who are actively involved in the field, those putting in the hours and efforts of advancing the blockchain space, and the world itself — the change makers, the early adopters, the visionaries.
Dr. Wolberger is one such individual. He is one of the founders of Platin — an up and coming startup building the first Proof of Location (PoL) protocol on the blockchain.
So, what did Lionel have to say about the state of the cryptocurrency space? What about Platin’s innovative product? Let’s find out.
1. Some believe that cryptocurrency will soon take over fiat currency; how likely do you think that is? If so, when do you think such a change could occur?
Lionel: I suspect that with crypto and fiat it will be like rap music and rock music: the newer rap didn’t “take over,” it displaced rock, forced accommodation, and today both musics borrow, use and abuse one another in different ways. Anything as old and well rooted as national currencies will not go away any time soon. They are resilient and have ways of adapting. They only became “fiat” about fifty years ago. Before that they were backed by precious metals--in fact not too long before that they *were* precious metals. I still have a “silver dollar” coin! Cryptocurrency is very, very new in comparison and will continue to grow in its role. It will also evolve, like fiat did, reacting to hacks (the world had seen some scary hacks last year) and new ideas.
2. What do you believe is the greatest threat (or threats) to cryptocurrency investors, developers, and users at present?
The greatest threat in my opinion is state-sponsored cyber hacking. We rely on Free and Open Source code in our systems. Yet we know that nation-state financed cyber teams work tirelessly on long-term attempts to compromise this open code. OpenSSL was run on a shoestring $2,000 annual budget (!!) until the Heartbleed bug brought more people and resource to bear.
But we prefer to think of the sunny side: the greatest promise for investors. We see great promise in geo-located digital assets and geospatial in general as sensor data and location capabilities improve, especially indoors. While the call of yesterday was the great outdoors, the call for tomorrow is the great indoors. Traditional sensor fusion and signal harvesting work well out of doors, less so indoors. The built environment is home to over half the world’s population and this is set to grow to significantly in our lifetimes. Some immersive tech such as augmented reality depends on accurate indoor positions. Platin will contribute to and benefit from this overall trend.
3. With constant rumours of another financial crash around the corner, do you think cryptocurrency could use that as a chance to become mainstream?
The simple answer is yes. It’s happening already as we see in Venezuela. But let’s take your question to the bigger stage. Disruption is the new normal. Financial change is only one scene of this drama, as we face climate change, social change, population movements, all at faster rates than ever before. Technology companies make great and useful products that if and when they are needed, are ready to enter the scene. We don’t wish financial tragedy or troubles on any nation or community--it is always scary when these things happen. We are proud that our technology and cryptography communities have invented new ways of doing things, and this technology is ready to step up if needed. Crypto is here and it works, and decentralized location is similarly ready thanks to Platin.
4. What do you think might be the biggest roadblocks to the full adoption of cryptocurrency in the future?
It is difficult for people to see cryptocurrency as something real. “Normal money,” or fiat, is also mostly electronic digits on a bank’s computer. But it is anchored in the tangible experience of cash that everyone has felt setting in their hands and thus have a sense of security that they can hold what they own. With cryptocurrency, people tend to shy away from the concept of a digital currency because it doesn’t feel real to them. Platin gives them the ability to see and interact with digital assets making the cryptocurrency feel more like a physical currency. Instead of transferring it from wallet to wallet, a person can perform a geospatial airdrop of Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any cryptocurrency for someone else to see via their smartphone and touch to collect. By adding visualization and tactile feedback to the transfer, Platin is creating a much smoother adoption process.
5. Moving away from a centralized banking system appears to be a good move for society. Do you believe it’s easy enough to explain that benefit to a layman?
Platin makes cryptocurrency as easy to understand as that ten dollar bill. Great products don’t need an explanation — they just work. Keep in mind, people think they understand dollars, because a ten dollar bill buys food. But very few people understand what underpins the dollar, how the Federal Reserve works in tandem with the United States Government. I’m not sure the Reserve Board Governors’ do themselves! So crypto will make sense when it’s used in everyday life. This is happening, slowly but surely, and Platin’s airdrops speed the process.
6. Proof of Location (PoL) is a very convincing solution to dealing with some cryptocurrency fears: how would you describe PoL to a newcomer?
The oldest internet cartoon was captioned, “on the internet nobody knows you’re a dog.” In our everyday electronic lives it’s like a fog descends and it’s hard to know who, what or where is that person on the other end of the digital line. PoL blasts away this fog when it comes to where you are. All the tricks of hiding location--GPS spoofing, VPN tunnels, IP replay attacks--fade away in the sharp light of PoL’s three security pillars of sensor fusion, behavior over time and witnessing. The result is, we can prove the location of the party. Though he may still be a dog.
7. How many countries do you intend to operate in: at launch and in the foreseeable future?
Platin is hardware agnostic and can spread as fast as Facebook, Google or Amazon on the wings of mobile to wherever it is needed. Our current Platin Labs process has leading companies based in Korea, Japan, Israel and the United States, and we expect more to follow. Any fan of Platin with a smartphone anywhere on planet Earth can begin the adventure of signal harvesting and being a node on the Platin network.
8. The technology behind blockchain is very much developing and changing all the time: can you see it being used in other industries outside of finance?
Blockchain was born with Bitcoin, but its destiny is to function as an enabler in every sphere of life, far beyond finance, from fast-moving consumer goods to fine art, from food to gaming. Dominating the recent news is that Walmart is tracking leafy greens on blockchain, and will block any supplier who does not use blockchain. So finance just happened to be the birthplace of blockchain as handmaiden to Bitcoin. It has no integral link to money or balance tracking. Instead, it is an amazing way for people to track, as a group, something important to them, without appointing any representative or central authority.
9. Why do you believe that making digital assets available to all is such an important part of our future?
Let’s start by understanding, we’re not just talking about digital currency. Digital assets are a much broader category. You interact with them in almost every moment of the day. Without actually touching a computer, in a typical day you may use clocks, microwaves, cars, mass transit, telephones, music players, and automatically opening doors. Digital enablers play a role in each of these enabling networking, making decisions, encoding and storing value--that is the meaning of a digital asset. Any song, podcast, e-book, email, and chat message is a digital asset as surely as a Bitcoin is.
These belong to us as surely as the physical DVDs, paperback books, paper envelopes and telegrams did long ago. Platin takes the concept of democratization very seriously, allowing anyone with a smartphone to interact with digital assets in a more visceral way making it easier to understand for those who don’t even think about things digital, young and old alike. Crypto is part of our futures, and it’s just a matter of ‘when’.
10. Where do you see major coins such as Bitcoin and Ethereum in five years, as well as altcoins?
If I knew I wouldn’t tell! Like any scarce, immutable and desirable asset — like fine art, gold, dollars or a Picasso — it’s hard to tell what will be valued. So let me answer a different question: do we see major coins such as Bitcoin and Ether able to last five years? Yes, we do since they are supported by active communities who will work hard to change and adapt them as time goes on. We are proud to be part of those communities. The secret to lasting years is people, not technology, and people care about these innovations. For example, we are contributing our SolidityGEO language to the Ethereum community, so anyone can work with geography and location the way we do in Platin.
11. What would you say are the most recent achievements and / or the most significant achievements of Platin so far?
Platin spent time getting things right, and now we are starting to reap the benefits of our approach. Here are some highlights:
- Our work with the W3C on a Location Claim standard is moving forward rapidly. The first result is a paper that is being promoted to a report, found in the W3C’s CCG GitHub.
- Block.one and EOS have invited Platin to demonstrate PoL at their next hackathon in San Francisco, and we are negotiating a closer integration.
- Our work with our partners in Platin Labs with huge corporations such as 7&i Holdings, the owners and operators of 7-Eleven retail stores and the 7&i Bank, to define airdrops that drive customer foot traffic.
- Our Zero Knowledge Location proof will be published soon, along with working code to allow our community to really play with it and see how it preserves privacy yet allows the geolocation of valuable digital assets in the real world
- Our SolidityGEO geographical language for Ethereum smart contracts is being proven and shared.
And of course our recent TGE event on October 28th, 2018 made our token live. We’ve been receiving some really great reactions from the blockchain community, it’s been exciting to see, and we already have listing agreements on exchanges.
With the likes of PLATIN, making it easier for people to understand and get involved, the time for larger uptake on blockchain technology cannot be far away. We might be witnessing one of the biggest technological advancements in human history, but as with any new technology, it takes a bit of time to become renowned and used globally. In the end, Bitcoin is only ten years old and it took the internet over 15 years to be present in the majority of US households.