If blockchain was truly revolutionary, why wouldn't top tech firms like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple be doing more with it?

Saurabh Narayan Singh

Saurabh Narayan Singh, Blockchain developer, Co-Founder learn.godapping.com

Répondu il y a 29w

This answer is specific to the companies that are named above. Other giants are doing beaucoup with Blockchain and I would name some at the end of this answer. But dans un premier temps I would like to address why Facebook/Google are not doing much with Blockchain, and in process being dismissive of the technology.

The curious case of H&Ms, Zaras and the sweatshops

Major clothing brands like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Aldo etc have time and again been accused of using sweat shops to produce and manufacture items. Small children work in those factories in 3rd world countries in conditions which can be easily classified as inhumane. Why are they not doing anything about it ?
Let us assume that in a near future, a technology comes which can hold these companies accountable for such practices, in real time. Do you think they will support that ? Keep in mind that this would have a direct negative impact on their revenue.

I digress. Apologies. Let us move on towards a more direct answer.

What is the worth of user data ?

User data is so important that a company which started as website equivalent of Hot or Not, is today being held responsible for being a tool in alleged manipulation of elections in The USA. A study over 9 key brokers found out that they generated 426 Million $ by selling the user data via marketing, risk mitigation and people search products 1 . And the major resource of this data are two Tech Giants mentioned in this question, Google and Facebook.

More about Google, Facebook and the major source of revenue.

About 77 % US internet users use Facebook. 75 % of US internet users also have a personalized google account2. Google and Facebook together accounted for an astounding 99% of revenue growth from digital advertising in the US last year3. If you are not being sold, then you are the product. Google and Facebook rely heavily on the user data that they have for their revenue model. The curated feed or personalized search results are the features that come at the cost of users willingly or unwillingly giving away their data to these companies.

Still don’t see the problem? Let me shed some more light on it.

In the recent Cambridge analytica instance, and many other previous instances of User manipulation based on their data from Facebook/Google account, the favorite excuse has been that it’s just a platform. Once as a user, you submit your data, Facebook/Google own it and indirectly achieve the capability to manipulate you, or at least pave way for you being manipulated by some other entity. And they take money for selling your data, so don’t live in an illusion that your data being used to manipulate you was a mistake. It got leaked, it became a mistake. If it was not leaked, it would have been “The great silicon valley success story”. And nothing was going to stop their juggernaut, at least not until now.

What can Blockchain change ?

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology which peuvent (can being the keyword here) be used to give control back to the users. Users, at the very least, can see and verify what’s happening with their data, where is it being stored, who is reading it and to whom is it being transferred to . In a more ideal scenario, they can control the access to their data and force a company which sells their data, to provide them a share. Essentially, earning money out of their own data which currently is entirely pocketed by the likes of Google and Facebook.

As would be evident here, this directly affects the way these companies make money. Currently it is a monopoly, a dictatorship if you may, where Facebook or Google takes all the data and then decide to sell it to whoever pays them the most. Blockchain can change this into a democracy. Each user/member/customer would be able to practice ownership of their data and dictate their own terms over how their data should be used and sold.

Now do you see why a company like Google or Facebook won’t do plus encore with Blockchain ?? Because it would hurt them. It has the potential to take power away from them. It can theoretically alter the way they are used to function. And that, for such giants, is scary.

But I heard Blockchain is neither scalable nor technically feasible ?

Yes, that’s correct. Blockchain has come a long way since its inception, but it has to go much longer before it can be scalable for a real time application. But that’s true for most of the technologies. The first airplane was not what we are used to today. Neither was the first computer. Similarly Blockchain is evolving, and sooner than later, it would be ready.

Enough ranting. Now let me tell you about some giants which sont using Blockchain or working with Blockchain. Walmart, Maersk, FedEx, UPS and British Airways are already using Blockchain for their supply chain management4. IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, SAP Labs and many others now provide Blockchain as a Service (BAAS) 5.

There are many other examples that I can give, but I think I have dropped enough names for the day.

Notes de bas de page

1 Infographic: How Much Is Your Personal Data Worth?

2 Topic: Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon (GAFA)

3 Facebook and Google completely dominate the digital ad industry

4 5 companies using blockchain to drive their supply chain

5 Tech Giants -IBM, Amazon & Microsoft Now Offer Blockchain As A...

Gaurav Mokhasi

Gaurav Mokhasi, Tech Product Management at Visa

Répondu il y a 45w · En vedette sur HuffPost et Plus 4En vedette sur HuffPost, Forbes, Inc, Apple Nouvelles, et Quora's Twitter · Voté par

Luca Accomazzi, I have owned Apple gear since 1980. I became a registered developer in 1983. I've been a columnist … and

Dmitriy Genzel, former Staff Research Scientist at Google (2005-2016) · Author has 737 answers and 3.1m answer views

This is a quasi-acid test which blockchain fails, at least so far.

Leggi:  L'argent que j'ai envoyé via PayPal n'a pas été reçu par le destinataire, comment puis-je récupérer mon argent?

Au NASSCOM Product Conclave in Bangalore recently, Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani was asked what's the one thing that keeps him up at night. He responded that it was “the fear of missing a trend”. I suspect the leadership at great technology companies are similarly vigilant; the last thing they want is some new kid on the block disrupting their business models.

In the last 20 years, it's hard to think of a single revolutionary technology that Amazon, Google, Apple or Facebook did not experiment with. Cloud technology, artificial intelligence, big data, voice assistants, augmented reality, self driving cars, machine/deep learning…all of these have been embraced (even, pioneered) by these companies. But when it comes to blockchain, these firms don’t seem fazed by (or bothered with) it.

I don’t buy the argument that blockchain is just not relevant to these firms, because it’s not difficult to imagine scenarios where it could affect these companies. Cet article cites a few examples.

“Yes, I could absolutely imagine a decentralized Amazon,” Lubin replied. “We’ve seen the pieces. They’re not all connected to one another. They’re not all but out or remotely mature, but I could imagine an open platform of many different actors with different roles.”

The same could be done with Facebook, said Lubin, who is also founder of ConsenSys, a Brooklyn-based studio that develops Ethereum-based projects. “We could stand up decentralized platform that offers same services.”

The silence of these companies with respect to blockchain is therefore conspicuous for sure.

The esoteric nature of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology makes it difficult for regular people to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook have consistently attracted the best engineering talent and researchers from the top universities in the world. These folks understand Computer Science better than most, and if blockchain did in fact have the technical merits that people claim it does, it’s unlikely that the technologists at these companies would seemingly care so little about it.

If you look back at the last five years, you can classify most people promulgating the values of blockchain technology into two buckets:

  1. People with vested interests — those who are running or are invested in related startups, offering ICOs, etc… This group is typically experimenting with public blockchains.
  2. Big financial institutions — theirs was an understandable reactionary measure to check whether their business was under threat, and to ensure that they don’t look like luddites. This group championed something called private or federated blockchains.

If you look closely at what private blockchains are, it’s not apparent what’s technically novel about them. Princeton University’s Prof. Arvind Narayanan, who offers what is perhaps the only reliable MOOC in this space, published a blog post that goes as far as saying that “Private blockchain” is just a confusing name for a shared database.

Even the decentralization promised by public blockchains, while utopian in theory, is not without its fair share of problems. Firstly, there’s the issue of performance. Bitcoin, which uses blockchain in its pure form, has an abysmal throughput of 3–7 transactions per second. Compare this to a traditional system like Visa which can easily process over 25000 transactions per second. 1 Secondly, blockchain is still a solution in search of a problem. It doesn’t have a single application so far that’s either gone past the proof-of-concept phase or where it’s been definitively proven that the proposed blockchain-based solution performs better than the incumbent technology.

Therefore, given that companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple are not doing much with blockchain, even in the face of ever-increasing frenzy surrounding this technology, one could not be blamed for doubting blockchain’s potential as a game-changing paradigm.

Disclaimer: I make the statements above in a personal capacity. They should not be seen as a reflection of my employer’s view on the topic.

Notes de bas de page

1 Bitcoin and Ethereum vs Visa and PayPal – Transactions per second - Altcoin Today

Terry Lambert

Terry Lambert, ancien ingénieur logiciel senior chez Google (2011-2012)

Mise à jour il y a 28w · Voté par

Ryan Martin, technical writer at Google and

Jeremy Miles, Data Scientist at Google (2015-present) · Author has 6.7k answers and 19.7m answer views

Blockchain technology is Mostly Useless™.

It’s pretty much nothing more than a distributed permanent ledger system for recording transactions.

C'est tout.

It solves the same problem that having a trusted broker, like Amazon, or E*Trade, or PayPal, or Visa, or a title company, certify a transaction on your behalf solves.

And fails to solve a lot of other things brokers actually solve, as well.

In any security system, there are three components.

Ce sont:

  • Authentication — I am who I say I am
  • Authorization — who I say I am is allowed to do the thing I’m saying I want to do
  • Nonrepudiation — The person who requested this action actually requested it, and we’re sure it was them, and not someone pretending to be them

The part a permanent ledger solves is nonrepudiation.

Or to put it in terms a 5-year-old could understand: “no backsies”.

So what problem can Blockchain solve that a permanent ledger held by a trusted broker cannot solve?

It can let you distribute the permanent ledger all over hell and gone, without having to resort to a trusted broker.

You can even keep your own copy, if you want.

And because of the cryptographic signatures, I can’t claim that I did not, in fact order and pay for that inflatable sheep from The Inflate-A-Date Corporation of Trenton, New Jersey.

You could do the same thing, with a broker like Amazon.

But now you don’t need Amazon to do it.

So what problems can’t Blockchain solve, that everyone mistakenly believes it can?

Great question, and one which no one asks, which is why I’m glad I’m pretending you’ve asked it.

Blockchain does not render transactions anonymous.

If anything, it’s a lot more like hiring the graffiti artist Banksy to write:

Bob Bobertson bought an inflatable sheep from The Inflate-A-Date Corporation of Trenton, New Jersey, and now he can’t claim it never happened

on 10,000 walls, distributed all over the planet.

And now, because everyone loves Banksy’s work, third parties are copying that same graffiti to new walls, all the time.

Live a millennium, spend every waking hour scrubbing walls: that’s never going away.

OK; so what does the Blockchain property “distributed all over hell and gone” potentially enable?

I’m glad you asked that, too; you know, you ask really good questions, for a figment of my imagination!

It lets you disintermediate transactions.

In theory, this is rather powerful. You gain some things, you lose others.

What you gain:

  • You get rid of the Amazon brokerage fee
  • You get rid of the single chokepoint for sales tax; if the government wants their sales tax, they have to prove a transaction took place (or you can give it to them voluntarily)
  • All of the middlemen? Gone!

What you lose:

  • Transaction escrow — all payments are up front: hope you trust the person you are buying from, with no broker to vouch for them
  • Dispute resolution — someone sends you an empty box? Too bad you don’t have a broker you can go to to penalize them for being a bad actor
  • Schelling points — where do I go to buy that widget again? I know “Amazon”; how do I find “some widget seller somewhere”?

And if you don’t think those things all sound like disadvantages… welcome to the “Global Craig’s List”, only you never get to meet the guy on the other end of the transaction, and you send them cash, up front.

Count me in on this “Global Craig’s List” thing; I’m an idiot; where do I download the software?

Vous pas.

Writing it would be massively complicated, since you essentially have a tiny piece of technology that you could use as part of the implementation of the software.

What you don’t have is a trading platform built on the technology, and then you don’t have software which runs on top of that platform as a server (doing selling) or a client (doing buying).

And that’s all before you do any catalog management and display, or anything else.

You are talking about needing another (literally, and quite conservatively) 30,000 times as much code as has already been written for just the blockchain itself.

But we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet!

The best part.

Say you’re a company that has a dream of providing this platform.

The whole thing, not just the teeny, tiny blockchain part.

You hire the best engineers; best at security, best at writing bug-free code, the best at everything.

And you get it done in half a decade or a decade.

It’s infrastructure.

All the real software engineers out there are currently laughing their asses off.

Because you never make any money from infrastructure. No one pays for it.

But maybe you're an idealistic “CTO” at a Blockchain startup, and you think people will buy your technology from you, because if you just spend a lot of effort building something, surely it will be worth a lot of money!

You’re wrong.

Let me ask you one question, oh hypothetical CTO…

When was the last time you bought a TCP/IP stack?

Note: This question has been sitting out there for a while; Amith Prabhu’s recent answer prompted me to answer as well. I’m pretty sure my answer is both more fun, and addresses the “utility” issue in a more profound way.

Halena Braden

Halena Braden, Blockchain developer for a year

Répondu il y a 19w

It’s as simple as Heads and Tails.

If blockchain was truly revolutionary, why wouldn't top tech firms like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple be doing more with it?

Before answering your question, let’s see how these companies make revenue.

If blockchain was truly revolutionary, why wouldn't top tech firms like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple be doing more with it?

Technically, all the companies listed above are middlemen in some way. Just skip the Facebook, Amazon, Google and Youtube parts if you already know their business model.

Facebook : Connects people. Collects users’ interests and stores it on its centralisée database. When an advertiser approach Facebook to market their products, fb sells users’ data and makes revenue.

For ex: Mark is interested in buying shoes today. Facebook’s latest algorithms labels me as a shopper who’s looking to buy shoes. Jeff has a online store which sells shoes. Jeff approaches Facebook for marketing. Now, Facebook sends Mark’s data to Jeff who is selling shoes. He can bombard mark with advertisements about shoes.

Amazone: Connects buyers and sellers. Allows sellers to upload their products on their centralisée platform. When the buyer chose to buy anything, it costs the seller some commission depending upon the category of the product.

For ex: Jeff is a seller who sell laptops. I upload my products on Amazon. When a user buy it from me, amazon collects the money from the buyer, deducts the commission and credit the remaining to my account.

Google: Connects advertisers and publishers. Also connects web surfers and web pages.

For ex: Larry owns a site which serves google advertisements. Jeff has a e-commerce site which offers a wide range of products from electronic products to apparel to all other stuff. Now, sundar is a google user who wanted to buy some clothes. So he google it. Now Google’s algorithm automatically labels sundar as a shopper who is interested in buying clothes and stores the data to its centralisée database. It servers this data to all the publishers including Larry. Now if sundar visit Larry's website, he will be served with jeff’s advertisement about clothes since he has a wide range of apparel.

Google charges jeff some amount of money when sundar clicks the ad on Larry's page. Google keeps a part of jeff’s money and transfers the remaining to Larry.

Google also shows advertisements across search results.

YouTube: Connects content creators and viewers. Enabling content creators to monetize by allowing advertisements.

For ex: Steve creates music video and publishes it on Youtube platform. Jeff wanted to advertise his company on YouTube. Now if Sundar wanted to view his favorite video, he may need to view the advertisement first. Being a google product, Youtube anyways gets data about Sundar from Google’s centralisée servers. So, he sees relevant advertisements. And Youtube earns money from Jeff and shares a part of it with Steve.

Now, what’s the problem being faced here? Yes, centralisation it is. All of them listed above have a enormous user data. It is being stored in a centralized database. Our data is at the risk of being manipulated, misused and can be sold without us knowing it. We’ve already seen cases such as Cambridge Analytica.

It is the one side of the coin. Say, chefs.

Blockchain’s core is decentralization which makes it the other side of the coin. Say, Tails.

Now coming to the question, Si la blockchain était vraiment révolutionnaire, pourquoi les entreprises de haute technologie comme Facebook, Amazon, Google et Apple n'en feraient-elles plus?

They need to switch the side of the coin. They need to change the business model upside down. Remember, their current business model let them earn money because of having enormous user data in their centralized servers. This isn’t as simple as it sounds. They’re not going to change this model anytime soon which gives billions in revenues.

This doesn’t mean they’re ignoring blockchain. They’re researching it very carefully about the potential applications and also adapting the technology in their business. Of course they need to change the business model, but remember they’ve missed no chance in the past decade experimenting with technology from Machine Learning to Artificial Intelligence among others.

Blockchain is here to destroy middlemen and no business can survive if they keep being a middlemen. We’ve already seen bitcoin making a damage to the financial institutions. Trust is established between users and hence there’s no need of financial institutions aka middlemen. The growing list of cryptocurrencies remains us about the only thing. Blockchain is here to stay.

In a decentralized world, our data is not for sale. We can specify what data to be sent to the advertiser and make money out of it. Fox ex: You may want to not share your age but your interests and so you can.

Now see how the blockchain has made the middlemen go away.

If blockchain was truly revolutionary, why wouldn't top tech firms like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple be doing more with it?

This doesn’t mean businesses can’t benefit from it. The incumbents have to change their model.

Ah, i forgot to mention Apple.

If blockchain was truly revolutionary, why wouldn't top tech firms like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple be doing more with it?

According to wikipedia,

Apple designs, develops and sells consumer electronics, computer software and online services.

Blockchain may or may not disrupt their online services which include iCloud / App Store among others.

If blockchain was truly revolutionary, why wouldn't top tech firms like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple be doing more with it?

Apple’s service sector is constantly growing but the consumer products continue enjoy the larger piece of the pie. Blockchain may or may not disrupt apple’s service segment because they have a cult fan following. I don’t know. Please let me know in the comments so that i can add them here.

New businesses have a tremendous opportunity in adapting blockchain. So, come on.. Let’s create a decentralized society where our data is in our hands.

Sources: Why Apple’s Services business is so valuable

Apple Inc. - Wikipedia.

Et Google

David Seidman

David Seidman, Responsable de l’ingénierie de la sécurité pour Google. Mes opinions sont les miennes.

Répondu il y a 44w · Voté par

Jan Rosa, former Recruiter, HR systems analyst, Vendor manager at Google (2010-2017) · Author has 2.4k answers and 22.9m answer views

Blockchain is a solution in search of a problem. It enables parties that don't trust each other to maintain a reliable record without needing a trusted third party. However, in most situations in the real world, there are several trusted third parties. We trust the New York Stock Exchange to settle our stock trades correctly, for example.

Cryptocurrency is a special case, because most currencies are controlled by a third party government that is very much not trusted, and currency-like commodities such as gold are impacted by real world events like changes in mining costs. Furthermore, laws make it difficult to move traditional currencies and commodities around the globe, to establish new currencies, and to transact anonymously. Cryptocurrency solves these problems.

All that said, I'm sure all of these companies do have small teams exploring possible applications of blockchain technology. They may even have products in development right now. But I kind of doubt it.

Modifier: Two commenters pointed out that the first paragraph of this answer isn't true for many developing countries. Indeed, for these countries blockchain does solve real problems in facilitating the exchange of financial instruments. However, developed country tech firms won't be the ones to solve those problems for the same two reasons developed country finance firms haven't: laws and market size. In many developing countries, regulations make it explicitly or practically impossible to develop new exchanges. And even where those barriers don't exist, the amount of money that can be made is too small to justify the investment. So I suspect blockchain systems for developing countries will be built locally or by nonprofits.

Margus Laurits

Margus Laurits, Enthousiaste

Répondu il y a 12w

For one thing, you are not entirely right. Google has already declared its interest in experimenting with blockchain some more, Facebook already has some ambitious plans, Amazon also plans some ambitious blockchain project. Apple does

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