Sneak Peek: Human Blockchain Experience at Solstice FWD
Sarah Berger, Marketing Manager
Blockchain. You’ve heard about it. You’ve read about it. You know about it. But we promise you’ve never seen it like this before.
On June 21, we’re bringing a human blockchain experience to life. Yes, you heard that right.
Simply referred to as “Blockchain,” we’ve built our own private blockchain network, treating each attendee as a unique block and securely recording their transactions with our labs' experiences in real time on a decentralized ledger.
To look deeper into the question, “Why blockchain?”, and how we built it, I sat down with our Senior Digital Strategist, Palak Patel, and Director of Solution Delivery, Scott Hermes, who explore the implications of blockchain on businesses and what to expect at FWD.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception about blockchain?
Palak Patel: Since Bitcoin became popular, many associate blockchain and cryptocurrency as one in the same rather than understanding that blockchain is the root technology that can work brilliantly on its own. There isn't just one use for blockchain; every business and industry can leverage the underlying technology of distributed ledgers.
Q: What are some other ways blockchain technology can be leveraged?
PP: Imagine if goods were tracked in an immutable blockchain. This would allow us to identify what batch of produce is contaminated in the case of an outbreak, validate the origin of a product labeled fair trade, or even track prescription drug distribution to cut down on counterfeit medicines. Another potential application of the blockchain would be to manage identities — it would make it extremely difficult to defraud people and also empower individuals to take charge of all the information tied to their identities. These are just some of the possibilities — blockchain will completely change the way we communicate and do transactions around the globe.
Q: What should attendees take away from this experience?
PP: With the endless possibilities of the blockchain, we saw an opportunity to bring this technology to FWD and immerse attendees in the blockchain to understand its inner workings. We hope attendees walk away inspired by the potential of blockchain and innovate ways to bring this back to their businesses and clients.
Q: Why did the Solstice Labs team come up with the idea for a blockchain experience and why is it important?
Scott Hermes: We feel the blockchain will be a fundamental building block in designing large-scale systems and that it has the potential to disrupt banking, health, and law the way that the internet disrupted commerce. We also feel blockchain is misunderstood or that people only know about it as a platform for cryptocurrency. We chose this use case because it showed the potential for using blockchain with IoT to demonstrate its ability to broker trust between two parties who have to collaborate but have an incentive to be less than honest.
Q: What makes this experience unique?
SH: The most unique aspect is how we have embedded the user’s experience at FWD into the blockchain then created a compelling visualization of that experience. As the attendee goes from demo to demo, we will track them and create a record on the blockchain via a smart contract. As blocks are created on the blockchain, we’ll visualize that in real time.
Q: What technologies are you using to create the experience?
SH: We used Ethereum for the blockchain because it supports smart contracts. We host the blockchain and the supporting APIs and brokers in the AWS cloud using DynamoDB, EC2, and API Gateway. For the visualization, we are copying the data from the blockchain into Firebase on the Google Cloud Platform and then reading and rendering using Unity.
Q: In today’s society where trust is paramount, how can blockchain rebuild a business’s integrity?
PP: Because it’s a decentralized, transparent, public, append-only ledger, you can only add data to and can’t change previously recorded data within the blockchain. It does this through a mechanism for creating consensus between scattered or distributed parties that do not need to trust each other but need to trust the mechanism by which that consensus was arrived. It’s also important to note that no one can force the blockchain to accept a particular entry onto the ledger that others disagree with. It relies on a peer-to-peer network to take and maintain updates to the ledger and verifies the updates in a way that makes it impossible to defraud and impossible to alter after-the-fact. Having this technology, businesses will ensure their customers can always count on them.
FWD sneak peek: Speaker Rachel Cook, Founder and CEO of Seeds, will share her philosophy on the evolution of tech, money, and the blockchain June 21.