“You’re touching too much”

#coronavirus #techhacks

Touching is tangency. We didn’t realize how much we touched stuff until health and life demanded you pay attention. Realizing how much you touch stuff other people touched is really creepy.

There can be an app for that – touching too much. Your phone’s sensitivity can pick up how much you touch things – door handles, drinking & eating, your wallet, private/public transportation/buildings. It knows your meeting sked.  It can remind you to wash hands or wipe down surfaces. At given intervals too, it politely says, “You need to wipe me down too; I’m getting kinda funky.”

There’s also already an app for one of the dominant touch activities – paying for stuff. ApplePay and GooglePay (did you know you can add money as an attachment with gmail??) already provide touchless options for transactions from your phone. Even before the outbreak, I cringed whenever I pulled out a credit card for payment. Either the cashier is touching it (who touched a hundred before) or I’m touching a kiosk innumerable people before me have.  Contactless is exactly that – no touching! Although quite prolific in Europe, many kiosks in the US have the symbol but it isn’t active. Having universal contactless transactions would hack a major TOUCH vulnerability.

Up next: Your health record: you can take it with you

what is google pay googlepay5
what is google pay googlepay3

Does Amazon Know What’s In Your Bank Account?

I watched a marketing webinar last night.  

It was free.  Typical of that genre, the point was to give away some information but sell you on a product or service that will give the rest of the picture.  That seems a good trade off considering their time and effort put into the creation of the webinar.  In return, learning from their experience made my time and effort watching it worthwhile.  That’s a fair market return.

Amazon knows what’s in your bank account 🙂

The presentation wasn’t interactive other than the pop up order form at the end.  So it was basically a recording, once produced it can be repeated with only the additional broadcast cost.  From what I can tell, it is played twice a day, most likely for a “limited time.”  The product being sold is more of the same information.  More extensive knowledge and examples are digitally boxed for download. Some level of customer service is implied.

For me, it potentially could be a good product.
The topic – Marketing – isn’t my strong suit, so I make an easy, albeit skeptical, target.  I might have bought it … but the price was a bit more than what I would spend.  I have a technique for shopping where if I like something enough to want to purchase it, I mentally calculate what it is worth – to me.  The process includes thinking about my bank balance, the relative “need” for the product or service, how long it will last, will it pay me in return, alternative resources that may or may not do the same things for more/less time and/or money.  The final consideration is Quality of Life  – will I be happier/faster/slower/better for having purchased it.  Whether a house or a pair of shoes, I scramble all that data to run it through the gonkulator that is my brain and contrive a cost I am
willing to pay.

Then I look at the price tag.

Marketing & Economics 101

Ah price point – where supply and demand meet the wealth of nations. Wrigley made a fortune from penny sticks of gum.  Today’s $.99 ebook downloaded a million times is close to a million dollars (depending more on its one time set up cost.)  On the other end of the spectrum, the multi-million dollar yacht salesman needs 3 to hit the annual sales target.  One puts him out of business and five will hold over for another year.

Adam Smith touted that without the tethers of government interference, private monopolies, lobbyists or “privileged” entities, the free market wields the perfect price where supply and demand meet.  When banana crops fail, the price of those that make it to market goes up enough to meet whomever is willing to pay for more expensive bananas.

I’m sure he would have been spellbound by the much more elaborate threading of airline flight tickets.  An incredibly (I don’t use that word lightly) sophisticated algorithm cultures those seat prices like a mother hen, sub-minute by sub-minute searching databases and optimizing just how much the seat should be priced. Would Mr Smith’s contemplations and calculations hold under the intense smoothing of the pricing integral?  His theories have been smeared all of the earth with both creamy taste and reputed disgust.

He would’ve been further floored with the near-zero production costs of electronic products and services, although I’m sure he’d have much to say on it.  These are the elements of economic evolution that test free market capability in a global economy.

Big Data Price Point

Of course, you probably wouldn’t be here reading this unless you’re more interested in Big Data than my spending habits.  This is hardly business continuing education credit either.

But these “small” data examples are all market driven.  The future – the Big Data Price Point – is the price will shift according to your ability as much as willingness to pay.  That means the webinar product that I didn’t want to pay $497 would have been further discounted to the $247 that would have made me uncomfortable but ready to use my credit card.

How is this possible?  Supply and Demand.  For one, it is a product with almost zero production cost.  Unlike the widget  which requires materials, labor, manufacturing, storage, and distribution.  The digital warehouse doesn’t need a water supply or a janitor.  The one stored copy (and backup) replicates instantly.  There is a set-up cost; the knowledge must be conveyed creatively.  People are needed to develop the product which must be marketed and maintained.  The elegance of the digital effort minimizes the cost as the theoretical sales count grows infinitely.  This is not a scenario Mr Smith would have anticipated.

 As for demand, Big Data Price Point (PP) kicks in by knowing YOU along the same lines I mentioned that I use to make a purchase.  Big Data PP would figure out if I have enough cash or credit for the sale.  Big Data PP knows if I spend money on these types of products already.  Big Data PP knows whether this fit my spending lifestyle or if it is a reach.  Big Data PP determines if I can or cannot deduct it as a business expense.   Even more so, Big Data PP calculates whether I need deductions at this point, against how many deductions I have already accrued in my fiscal year.

Big Data PP will charge me a different amount than the next sale to a different customer.  An entity with a bigger bankroll may get charged more, or they may be offered a morphed package of sales for services I cannot afford:  X downloads, unlimited downloads, additional webinars or custom services.  

That’s not fair!

The same product is sold for different prices – because of how much I make?  Well … yah.  Want to write your Congressman or call your attorney?  Think again.

Buy now!!

Google (of course) is already doing it

And there are others.  As early as 2000, Amazon was “price testing” multiple prices for the same DVD.  They took some heat when consumers found out, so they dropped the practice (as well as the price.)  In 2005, dynamic pricing came into play again when a University of Pennsylvania study noticed prices differed according browsing history – someone who had shopped competitors would get the more competitive price.  In 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported how Orbitz ‘s offerings priced up to 30% higher for Mac users – Mac users have a higher income average.

Although the level of complexity may be surprising, we have become accustomed to cookies and their impact on our experience.  Most don’t appreciate the impact though on the bottom line in the shopping cart..  The Atlantic explains:

the immense data trail you leave behind whenever you place something in your online shopping cart or swipe your rewards card at a store register, top economists and data scientists capable of turning this information into useful price strategies, and what one tech economist calls “the ability to experiment on a scale that’s unparalleled in the history of economics.” –

The price of the headphones Google recommends may depend on how budget-conscious your web history shows you to be, one study found. For shoppers, that means price—not the one offered to you right now, but the one offered to you 20 minutes from now, or the one offered to me, or to your neighbor—may become an increasingly unknowable thing.


I’m going to need to see your zip code, ma’am

Physical or virtual, cost of living has always been tied to location.  You can expect prices to be higher in New York City vice Greenbow, Alabama.  I’ve known friends who won’t shop the grocery stores near their house because they are reputed to have higher prices.  Then there’s the contra-pricing.  I live in a resort area and to help out those of us who “suffer” through the throngs of vacationers to live the other nine months in peace, there is “locals only” pricing.  That includes parking, some attractions and often secret pricing whispered over the phone ordering pizza or with the cashier for lattes.

Around the World

All the way back in the physical world, in Kenya most shopping is done in the very personal, one on one basis.  Outside the upscale Village Market shopping mall in Nairobi, the Masai Market meets weekly in an open lot across the street.  Advertised as an artisan fair of sorts, the goods are nevertheless likely to be found in a variety of souvenir shops anywhere in the country.  It’s the experience though, another country’s version of selling what makes them unique.

I was excited.  I was looking to find perhaps practical items to bring back home to share this lovely country’s culture.  I was accompanied by a local.  Although well-practiced at haggling from many countries around the world, I would need his native language and color to get a decent price.  Otherwise, I would get the “mzungu” price, their understandable upcharge for an American, which I deserve.  I didn’t expect to pay the same price as locals but I couldn’t afford the inflated price.  The average monthly wage in Kenya is $76.  Pricing is relative – to my location, my income, my nationality, my experience (traveler, savvy, job, education, common sense).  I should pay more but not more than what the gonkulator tells me.

In the cloud

Where you live is already calculated in your costs and the virtual world does not provide escape any more than it does anonymity.  My daughter realized a typical price difference phenomena when she went to college.  The prices she knew from shopping online at home increased noticeably on her laptop while in Washington DC.  She text a friend back home to shop simultaneously and compare.  She was shocked to find the results.  When she tried to change the zip code for delivery purposes – hoping to trick the system – the price refused to budge.  Amazon knew where she was.

Final Morph

So pricing in the virtual world has not gone into our personal pocket books yet (that we know.)  The online market does use digital information such as browsing history and location to triangulate your willingness to pay a certain price.  This is still within the Small Data genre of capability, utilizing mean and median sources.

Big Data Price Point though – and I believe it will – knows YOUR personal bottom line.  This is not a random variable calculated through the local and not so location population supply and demand.  Big Data Price Point knows exactly what price to set for you from all your transaction history in stores and online, your taxes, your job, your household status, and much more.

Is that scary?  Perhaps.  But it is already very close to possible.  

What would have happened with the Housing crash of the early 2000s? Big Data Price Point would have offered houses at rates that individuals could afford.  Would it have curbed the domino effect or accelerated it that much more?  Perhaps Big Data Price Point would have sensed the cumulative errors the isolated banks were unknowingly committing and eventually unwilling to admit.  It’s a twist again for Mr Smith’s legacy to wrap around.

The world out there is waiting to sell you the next Best Thing and Big Data or not, marketing will continue to morph to find the magic price you are willing to pay.  Big Data Price Point though will be oh-so intimately familiar with you and your money.  In the end though, Big Data Price Point can only posture the question:  will you buy?  

The answer is still up to you.

The Hard Is What Makes It Great

What’s the Big Data Idea is Bringing Big Data to the People.

I’m passionate about Big Data.

I believe Big Data will change everyone’s lives whether you like it or not.  It’s not just about how your cell phone let’s you know about traffic or that Target knows your daughter is pregnant before you do.  The immensity of the impact cannot be overstated.

I’m passionate about solving Big Problems with Big Data.

9/11 taught us many things about the world and how small it is.  That was a pre-Big Data world, too.  Unlike Apple computers and bleeding edge technology that only applied to the affluent, Big Data touches everyone – even illiterate natives in remote regions. Big Data can solve – perhaps for now assuage – Big Problems such as hunger, disease, piracy, terrorism, human trafficking, wildlife preservation.

I’m not a smart man…

But I know what Big Data is.  I know enough to combine it with my creativity and experience to make great visions of Big Data taking on Big Problems.

I’m not a baseball fan,

But I saw this clip recently and it reminded me about perseverance.

It’s not just about baseball.  There’s something each of us are passionate about doing.

For those that quit that passion.

For those that know they shouldn’t quit.

For those that believe in making a difference.

“The hard is what makes it great.”

8 Best application examples for blockchain in the US Navy (or your organization) – Part 3

Part 3

Expanding Operational: Blockchain Deployments for Impact


Expanding Operational: Blockchain Deployments for Impact

In Part 1, we explored the building blocks of blockchain – bitcoin and smart contracts. These top level basics of blockchain work quickly toward making more complex operations possible. Using step by step application, blockchain is already progressing right now in today’s industries.

In Part 2,  we began moving from tactical to operational.  The tactical utilization of bitcoin and smart contracts for stand-alone functions in test and evaluation morphed into the next level of operational with the isolated applications pulled into a third dimension, kinda like the third semester of calculus.

In this Part 3, we move further into operational with more complexity and subsequently a greater demand for coordination of resources.  Using these novel concepts also further intertwines cultural change both internal and external to the organization. Instead of modifying or enhancing current business practices, blockchain replaces the process entirely.

Scary? Because replacing a current practice requires extensive planning and considerable disruption to the business process, the effort must exact a significant return on investment. So, let’s start with a strong and somewhat clean candidate for substituting a process entirely.  

NO Sugar Coating

Blockchain can eliminate travel claims. Travel claims are a huge administrative burden to any organization and the Navy is no exception. The present digitized paper process although cumbersome has been necessary because travel claims historically have been riddled with fraud.  A significant check and balance system has been necessary not only to counter the financial risk but also to hold together the integrity for faithful use of government funds.

The essence of blockchain is trust and the point of a travel claim has been verifying trust in a complicated (but not complex) process determining whether travel costs are true to the mission, in line with the command operations, and in adherence to multiple legal rules and guidelines.

By integrating smart contracts as the mission validation and order generation, a blockchain solution ensures the individual travel arrangements are only ticketed if they follow the smart contract requirements. A traveler can’t make a first class airline reservation to the Caribbean unless the orders include that provision. The traveler can’t accidentally book a rental car in Bangor Maine when he or she should be in Bangor Washington. They can’t book a hotel that exceeds the maximum lodging rate, again unless the orders permit such exceptions. Although the user-unfriendly Defense Travel System (DTS) flags such transgressions, it does so in a cryptic procedure that still requires verification in both the creation and execution of the process, adding administrative burden as well as risk – to the traveler, the authorizing official and subsequently to the organization.

Blockchain ledgers reside in several distributed processing nodes that miners use. As such, a complete copy of the database exists on each node. This makes it highly difficult for anyone to misuse the technology for fraudulent purposes. A person will need to fool all the miners in the system to create a fraudulent entry.



Furthermore, changing travel arrangements, even to save the overall cost of the mission, requires significant staffing of command personnel as well as a 24/7 help desk.  Resolving those changes works well sometimes and not other times, making the process clumsy and flex-deterrent. Travelers avoid modifications because the process often doesn’t cooperate and changes cause ambiguities in cost accountability, shifting the risk to the traveler. It’s safer for the traveler, but more expensive for the government, to stick to the original itinerary.


With smart contracts, the travel payment and former claim process actually execute simultaneously in real time as travel occurs.  There is no back-side report which is today’s travel claim. When the traveler boards a plane, the transaction is verified and paid. When the traveler checks in the hotel, the night’s stay is paid, and the next, and the next until the traveler leaves. The metro ticket or Uber ride is verified – and paid – as it happens.  Per diem clocks in at midnight every day. Per diem might morph into per minuta (prima/secunda) more relevantly. Each transaction is a block – communicated and verified as it happens.


The immediate exchange is possible because accountability is pervasive and simultaneous. The command, the travel authority, and the financial auditing are all the distributed network.  All receive identical copies that cannot be altered or corrupted as the traveler progresses. The smart contracts are created to only execute with valid transactions. By definition, all costs are incurred and audited in situ – as they happen.  Travel claims are not necessary because the transaction cannot happen without valid quid pro quo.  Get it?

Smart contracts also provide detailed record keeping on a Big Data level. Because the transactions are distributed to several sources, each monitors flags for transactions out of context. More efficient than verifying each travel claim, individual anomalies are not only detected and resolved more readily, the anomaly data provides feedback to the system as a whole.


Pay Off

The Defense Travel System (DTS)  is basically a digitized paper process, enhanced with the ability to flag certain items and complete select transactions such as airline tickets, hotel reservations and rental cars (most of the time).  A blockchain smart contract is a true digital process inherently built with trust to facilitate transactions without undue verification. Smart contracts would understand cost trade offs without manning redundant staffs.

APPLICATION 5: substitute the travel claim process with travel order smart contracts


Replacing a digitized paper process with a digital system is a foundation for operational blockchain applications.  So let’s pick another example.

Pass the Test

Physical fitness is and always will be a personal measurement.  No one can be your fitness for you; it’s a bank account only you create through deposits and withdrawals.  However, it no longer needs to be a command function. Like most standardized tests, the Navy’s Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) doesn’t measure fitness; it measures the ability to take the test. Blockchain can eliminate the administrative burden of physical fitness assessments currently required of each command by replacing them with continuous monitoring and smart contracts.

To understand the solution, let’s first look into the natural stasis of physical fitness testing within the Navy lens.  Personal physical fitness – and the test thereof – falls into three categories.


The first group – hopefully the largest within the Navy – already routinely exercises without monitoring or testing, often far exceeding any written instructions. Whether they hit the gym three times a week or hit the trail every day or train for triathlons or all of the above, they just do it.  Working out doesn’t have to make sense or be convenient, these folks know it feels good and it is good. They don’t need an instruction or direction, let alone a minimum test.

The second group does not have any workout regimen, yet they appear twice a year to pass the current fitness testing at whatever competency level. This “3 mile club” demonstrates that testing does not measure fitness so much as underline the administrative burden it takes to execute the command physical fitness assessment. They naturally pass the minimum standard and do not need training or workouts. They do not need further monitoring or assistance unless they begin missing the mark.

The third group does not make the minimum requirements.  Falling somewhere in the range of how much or little they workout, these folks are potential for either direction.  Not everyone has the natural ability to pass like the second group, but the the patterns of the first group’s regimen can be learned.  Instead of the time spent testing the whole, the attention can be given to supporting these individuals that need help. If this group is failing, by this means we can focus the attention on those that need it the most, potentially by learning from those exceeding the bar.


The Minimum

One of the challenges to having standards testing is the minimum requirement itself. The bar is set surreptitiously to ensure that during the perceived arduous duty, Navy personnel have the physical capability to thrive in combat. Historically, the need for physical capability has fluctuated greatly.  Even within the lens of today’s standards, the Navy is bounded by the overall physical fitness of the recruiting population, which is famously becoming less fit and overweight.

Within the Navy, too, the physical demands of a job vary from community to community. The pilot flying high-performance aircraft requires greater physical capability than the human resources officer ensuring the mission continues on the ground.  The combat corpsman needs to be in better shape than the submariner.

The Rest of the Story

At the end of the day, the bar is set not so much to ensure physical fitness as to meet the variety of goals required for the Navy’s overall mission.  End strength – the overall numbers in uniform – and Fit & Fill – the right skill sets sitting in the appropriate job – are highly challenging tasks even without any friction.  PFA testing has often been used for force shaping – the tool to manage end strength and fit & fill. Thus the bar raises higher during times of economic downturn and reduced budgets in order to pare down numbers.  The bar settles downward to retain Sailors in less austere times.

The Navy will grant a clean slate to nearly 50,000 sailors with fitness failures in their records, part of new shakeup for fleet-wide fitness rules announced Thursdsay.

So what replaces “testing”?

Blockchain validates a transaction and for the PFA, a smart contract fulfills through individual accomplishment. That data aggregates into a Navy-wide physical fitness measurement. Wherein a standardized test measures the ability to pass a test at a given level, flipping that idea means recording actual fitness participation and determining fitness from the data. The smart contract fulfills the testing requirement, but the Big Data capture is actually the value that is important to understand. One more time – knowing how fit the Sailors are is far more valuable than passing any test. Time and policy has proven the test is variable. If followed effectively, this methodology actually relieves the need for a test.


MCS Christopher Pratt/NavyPic MCS Christopher Pratt/Navy

What Does it Look Like?

Implementation would start with a morph. The first group is the model. Their individual workouts fulfill the requirements of physical fitness for the organization day after day. For this group, the smart contract obligations are integrally and continuously verified. For the second group, the 3 mile club makes a trip to the gym for specific measurements at a periodicity to fulfill the obligation, like an inoculation that has to be fulfilled. Finally, the third group gets flagged immediately, which provides the quality attention for establishing the routines of the first group.

Eventually, the fitness assessment would be seamless, ubiquitous, and transparent. Like your phone knows where you are, the Navy would know fitness as a whole and as individuals. The notion of twice a year testing is bound by the discrete, paper limitations in the box of analog thinking. Today’s Sailors are not draftees. The all-volunteer force are amassing millennials, born into a connected, continuous world. Making a digital process – not digitizing the current one – is what serves them as well as the Navy.

APPLICATION 6: substitute the Command Physical Fitness Assessment test with personal continuous fitness smart contracts


Next up:  Part 4,

8 Best application examples for blockchain in the US Navy (or your organization) – Part 2

Part 2

Moving from Tactical  to Operational: Contained Blockchain Deployments


In Part 1, we explored the building blocks of blockchain – bitcoin and smart contracts. These top level basics of blockchain work quickly toward more complex operations. Step by step block chain applications are progressing right now in today’s industries. It’s as easy as 1-2-3D.

Going 3D

As the tactical is utilizing bitcoin and smart contracts to execute stand-alone functions for test and evaluation, the next step is to pull the isolated applications into a third dimension, kinda like the third semester of calculus.  For the US Navy, that opportunity could be implementation with Additive Manufacturing. Here’s why.



Nascent Technology.

Although 3D Printing was developed in the 1980s, the feasibility of metalworking for parts such as nuts and bolts didn’t mature until the 2010s. Thus the capability being explored is founded in practice and yet still molding (har har) into full application – in regard to the grand scale of spare parts that the US Navy demands. Because of the newness, the technology and its deployment are still pliable.

Bounded Issue.

Spare parts are a significant contribution and yet a contained subset of Navy needs for its mission. Although the traditional supply chain may be cumbersome and expensive, it works and provides a stable backup for production.

Appropriate Application.

3D printing is a developing technology itself that is fundamentally digital. Since additive manufacturing begins digitally and executes digitally, utilizing blockchain enhances the process by simultaneously replicating the team effort to the distributed ledger. Blockchain is adding to the system, not replacing it.

In the summer of 2017, the Navy actually announced plans to use blockchain for additive manufacturing. Numerous US government organizations such as the Center for Disease Control, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and Office of Personnel Management are also investigating the possibilities of blockchain in their missions.

Coming Together

This graphic illustrates the interconnected capabilities of blockchain while still keeping the basic concepts in common buckets..



Additive manufacturing itself is seen as a means to reduce costs and enhance the production cycle in both time and quality.  With smart contracts, the additional benefit is simultaneous, irreversible duplication of the production cycle as it lives. All members of the process – start to finish – are active and aware of the function transactions.  These members are the selected distributed network of nodes that are integral to the process: creators, engineers, users, legal, accounting and poignant chain of command. Because of the inherent sequential iteration foundation of blockchain, every version of the product – success, failure & in-between – is captured for the network. So mistakes are captured for remediation as well as historical reference functionally or administratively.

While the current means for supply aren’t going away, blockchain provides opportunity to further expand the benefits of smart contracts while minimizing the risk.

APPLICATION 3: expand testing smart contracts for consumption through the Additive Manufacturing deployment


Identity Management

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Shakespeare

As we move further into operational, identity management is another subset that is already in practice in industry.  In a world of biomarkers and data exhaust, an individual can be identified by so much more than a name or a number. Using thumbprints or retinal scans never became as common as future-casts predicted, and even identification cards are losing their power.  For example, when is the last time someone checked your ID card when paying with a credit card? The card actually says “not valid until signed,” but is the signature on the back verification for the vendor or opportunity for a forger? A new practice also allows for no signature of the receipt for purchases under $50, which indicates a proven algorithm of risk and return for chasing fraud according to a threshold.  Credit agencies have many more mitigation strategies that subjugate the need to identify the user.



Blockchain Identity Management (IDM) has not been accepted as common practice as yet.  At this stage, developers are still exploring the technology and with the significant threat of information breeches, it is understandable financial institutions are leading the way. The potential though is being carried in real currency.  Blockchain IDM startup Selfkey began its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) with the intent of selling a limited supply through the end of the month.  They closed sales in 11 minutes when they reached over $21 million in investment. Last June, Civic raised $33 million through ICO, again closing the sales well ahead of schedule.

Another strong demand signal is creating a global identity standard, establishing a common practice for personal identification worldwide regardless of country of origin. Several startups are utilizing bitcoin, blockchain, open and secure networks to meet the demand signal of digital containment.


The blockchain holds no PII data, only verification signatures that cannot be reverse engineered.






Since blockchain is an ongoing accumulation of data blocks in a chain, think of a person’s identification that way.  The person doesn’t change so much as their circumstances. Blockchain is used for identifying diamonds and high-end wines as they travel from point of origin to sales floor. The item itself doesn’t change; its journey defines its identity. Its value is certified by the steps it takes, which are captured as blocks in a chain.  Only when the chain is broken or corrupted, then the item not only becomes scrutinized but also the sequence of events can be evaluated for interpretation and judgment.

The credit card company knows it is you more or less when you charge and the down side risk is minimal compared to the cost of deeper certainty. Individuals with security clearances by and large keep to the trust endowed. With blockchain identification, the organization and all the individuals who are trustworthy benefit when a single trustee breaking the chain can be identified immediately.

Blockchain Identity Management is a good operational application because it does not replace existing trust systems in place. The technology can be “bolted on” to a test unit for determining best practices.  The bounded process can then be readily implemented and replicated. Identity management is ideal for blockchain implementation because the ongoing issues of personal identification risk are rising. A light bulb is needed because better candles are not sufficient to hinder hacking.


APPLICATION 4: develop identification blockchains for access to classified information

UP NEXT:  8 Blockchain Applications for the US Navy (or your organization): PART 3, Expanding Operational: Blockchain Deployments for Impact


Show Your Tatas! Big Data on Big Boobs, Bras & Breast Cancer

Big Data Takes on Big (Boob) Problems

Big Data application comes in many shapes and sizes and the Big Data Bra is Big Data wrapped in the silk and latex of lingerie.

It starts with a simple problem.

We have come a long way baby from corsets and elastic superstructures. The width and breadth of materials and configurations is overwhelming today and surpassed only by the running shoe industry in the utilitarian fashion spectrum.

Yet bras still don’t fit well. For those who “need” to wear them, they pinch and sag and ride up your back. You push and pull to pack ‘em in and in return they pooch and groan to comply. The straps spend a lifetime slowly paving a permanent groove over the shoulder. At the end of the day, within the privacy of the house, you pop the straining band – freedom!

Open the bra drawer on the dresser and the volume and variety (2 Vs) are apparent. There’s a bra for every occasion: bras for sweaters or for t-shirts or racer back or the all-day-at-work ones. The padded, the push-ups and the breast minimizers. Going to the gym or hitting the trail is a whole different world altogether, with sports bras equipped in extraordinary configurations to look good somehow while keeping everything from exploding.

Then there’s a whole undergarment wardrobe established just for after dark: the trying-to-be-sexy bra, the one bra that goes with THAT dress bra (the dress is sssoooo cute but only one bra works with it), and the worst ever compromise – the strapless bra. These all fall in the genre of i-can-last-x-hours at the restaurant/dinner party/gala event. There are pads and patches to replace bras and yes, in a pinch, the old school – duct tape.

One Size Does Not Fit All      

And neither does band width and cup. Travel to any department store lingerie section and you’ll find a world of bra selection. Unless you don’t really need one, it’s not about size and color. You want what looks and feels great. Although you want something pretty, it’s about fit and form. This is a perfect example of lots of selection but not true fit.

So you spend as long as you can stand in the lingerie section. Like the 20 year old dating strategy, you try on bra after bra to find the perfect match, or at least one that will work for a while. It’s a simple affair then but as time drags on (downward I mean), it gets harder to meet one you like. You know it may fit in the store and “hold much promise” but one wash later and it is on the path unfortunately to break down. Keeping it clean means delicate washes and special care but it’s going to unravel on you sooner than you like.

So how about flipping the market from push to pull? A single customer doesn’t need all that selection. She needs The One(s) that fit her. Wouldn’t the manufacturer and retailer want to sell her The One(s) without holding the inventory of racks of choices and piles of discards? Instead of creating a huge variety of bras that consumers can squeeze into, how about starting with the customer and tailoring the selection to her exact dimensions?

“3D printing is creating everything from cars to human tissue. Facial recognition software commonly creates 3d renderings from its algorithms.Facial recognition technology captures data form the contours of a person’s face and then computes the ratios between each feature. Since no face is exactly the same, each person would generate a unique data set based on the shape, size, and location of their features. This mathematical output can be compared and sorted for matching and identification purposes or to track a person’s identity.”


In a world of 3D printing and people recognition software, you should be able to take some pics and make a bra – 10 bras – that specifically fit the pic.

That’s where Big Data comes in.

My Big Data Bra begins with uploading personal pictures to the Volume, Variety and Velocity of data from Victoria’s Secret or Bali or Warner or Free People or Maidenform or Wacoal. They design and manufacture a bra – a suite of bras if they’re good – and send them to me, not the store.  They send me sales suggestions on replacements. I send them back my battle worn discards, which they computer analyze for fatigue to find the next best thing – for me – using the millions of data points around me. I can send new pictures to show adapting to life’s gravity effect or cosmetic repair thereof and they use the feedback for new bras. The cycle continues.

Nice Tata Thought, but How Does This Solve Big Problems with Big Data?

This consumerism creates a huge non-medical database of biometrics. These geo-tagged, anomyzed sources are deposited in data lakes with other data associations. It creates a new lens for researching breast cancer. Several breast cancer studies have already linked larger breasts to increased risk of cancer but the correlations are only suggestions.

More data would create more patterns and new opportunities. In one capability, the information is utilized by huge research organizations, using larger resources in order to view the Big(ger) picture.

Another angle is third party specialists create ways to analyze a personal signature against other Big Data sources – location, transactional, lifestyle, etc. – to assimilate breast cancer risk factors unique to that person. Third party providers could also suggest products and services to enhance breast life choices. There could be an app for using the pictures to tap into other big data resources for your overall health.

Further outside the box

Now blow this concept out of the bra. Whole body scans could do the same for total body health by incorporating pictures into your Big Data Medical Record. Providers use them as part of a holistic view of your health. Apps analysis helps assess your strengths and weaknesses. Big Data derives suggestions for effective and very personal results.

Like your cell phone traffic app provides a comprehensive picture of traffic for everyone, it also provides specific information personally important to YOU (like where u are).

We live in a global collective. Now is only the beginning of its documentation. Big Data is the ability to utilize those billions of millions of data points. Let’s use Big Data to solve Big Problems.

Why Can’t it be (Christmas) Tax Season All Year Round?

With the joys and boys of summer fresh upon us (in the Northern Hemisphere), it spoils the fun to bring up taxes. Summer is time off from school and most of society either joins in or gets the heck out of the way.

So why bring up taxes? There are better things to do!

Unlike Christmas, taxes ARE a year round evolution. Every paycheck or dividend return is a taxable revenue event. Every mile driven and bill paid has potentially tax significance. The smartest of us plan their taxes carefully, using each day each occasion to maximize yield against risk. Tax planning is a bit of an art. Those that can afford it pay a professional and the rest of us need to study up. Accountants aren’t tax planners either; their job is to keep you from getting audited, which is contrarian to minimizing the tithe.

Sadly for most – “the number” is a random lottery that hits on or about April 15th (in the US.)

So how can that change?  

Let Big Data be the Big Brother of tax planning.

Small Data taxes is the W-2 or 1098 or form X that arrives with the snowdrifts on your doorstep in January. If you’re good, you have a system for collecting them all neatly. If you’re great, that file started long ago with the various receipts of life. With all the other faded New Year’s resolutions, you vow to “do them early this year,” whether that means sitting down at the computer or sitting down with your accountant.

Always On

The Big Data tax file accumulates every month, every day, every minute. It’s a continuous flow of information that absorbs records and sorts your transactions as well as some actions and secretes a constant number on demand. Your tax “number” sits on your life’s dashboard along with the today’s stock report and how many steps you took.

If you want to burrow into the Big Data tax data, you can set parameters or let it roam free. Big Data taxes finds the patterns you don’t see. Big Data knows you’ve hit a limit or a new variable. Big Data even talks to you, “what if …” you beckon, and it responds with … another number. Uncle Sam meet Siri.


This technology isn’t available today but it is quickly rounding second (or third) to come home. The data is definitely THERE but perhaps Turbo Tax hasn’t quite tapped the line yet. Batter up and Seasons Greetings!



Many thanks to my friend at Intuit who let me bend his ear on this idea during the eMetrics conference this week in Chicago.  You know who you are 🙂

Why Haven’t We Cured Cancer?

Why We Haven’t Cured Cancer

My mother died of breast cancer in 1989. She was 44. Ironically, she was considered a “survivor” because she lived for five years after diagnosis.   She was a teacher and during those five years, she never missed a day of school. She saved the summers in between for chemo, two rounds of radiation and a mastectomy, all at famed MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, which was considered then and remains today one of the world’s premier cancer treatment facilities.

So what has happened in the almost 30 years since?

Breast Cancer for the past 25 years


It’s not very impressive, is it?

Yes, there is a decline in the mortality rate – for less than 5 years. As grateful as I was for those five years, I would have liked to have 20 years or more. I’d like to know that today much fewer women get breast cancer. I want it to look like this chart of polio occurences.


Polio hits the dirt

That makes me pretty demanding too. Cancer is tough stuff. Many brilliant minds and passionate hearts have dedicated their lives to research of the disease and care of its victims. Is it too much for anyone to figure out how to cut the numbers?

In my years of work in resourcing individuals for worldwide mobilization, the numbers represent people, I realize that each node has excruciating significance. Who is that specific person that melts into those numbers? Was it your mother or aunt or sister? Did they live less or more than the survival 5?

Average Joe

We live by statistics. We toss around the words “average” and “normal” more commonly and casually than their less technical counterparts “mostly” or “seldomly.” We actually abuse statistics, using it to create desired response. Politics report crime is down or up X% to catch your vote; business marketing emphasizes attributes and effects skewed to get you to buy; teeth are Y% brighter or items contain Z% less calories. The media wants to grab your attention and activists want to prove their point. It’s the notorious tail wagging the dog. Data collection, data sets and data analysis are manipulated with ignorance or intent to provide facts and figures that support a cause.

Even without using statistics, our brains are wired to measure risk in ways that are often unrealistic. We assess situations trying to find cause and effect relationships when actually only coincidence is present. We perceive great risk where there is little (shark attack), and we underestimate potential dangers (driving to the grocery store).

Treat to the mean

What does cancer look like to the “average” victim today? A diagnosis via testing, a specialist doctor, and a suite of supporting consultant experts and services. A team is built to craft a treatment. This is goodness but it’s not the best we can do.

In this Ted Talk, Kristin Swanson explains her personal journey with cancer and the cold hard numbers.



To Kristin Swanson, this is personal. And to me, she is right. Treating every person as the mean is today’s standard, regardless of how many experts are in the room. Although that is amazingly better than even one generation ago, the medical research, as scientific as it is, is also subject to misdirection. Medical poor methodology and outright plagiarism is likely, as in many disciplines and forums.[i]

Two heads are better than one, and a whole team behind you definitely improves your odds. Going back to the stadistics, though how much has that made a difference?

Going from Little Data to Big Data

Medical school is not walk in the park; it is notoriously long and rigorous. I imagine the volume, velocity and variety of information learned in medical school has grown exponentially from even just two generations ago. Although the human body itself hasn’t changed (appreciably) in a couple thousand years, the amount of research compiled about body parts, human habits and social environments again expanded in quantity and quality in the past two generations. But that is small data.

We can do better

Kristen gives the example of Patient X whose tumor is larger after therapy. In a small data world, this is a “failure.” Therapy => larger tumor => failure. In reality, had Patient X been the famed “mean” participant, his life expectancy would have been 15 months. This Patient X lived another five years. So where is the true failure?

This doesn’t mean doctors are wrong or idiotic about their techniques and therapy recommendations. These physicians are compassionate and intelligent resources for developing appropriate therapy according to standard practices. Unfortunately, they are making life decisions for patients with relatively very little information that is very biased.

Comprehending the intricacies of the infinite array of influences that affect a single person’s holistic health profile is impossible psychologically. Humans (at this stage of evolution) can only hold so many numbers in their brain and then the matrix of combinations thereof quickly pushes override. Even if doctors could study harder or lean harder on tried-and-true practices in an attempt to maximize survival, it is still small data.

A Streetlamp Named Desire

There’s a joke told several ways about a man at night searching for his car keys under a streetlamp. A passer-by/neighbor/police officer stops to help him look and begins by asking where he thinks he has dropped the keys. The man responds he lost them down the street near where his car is parked. “Why are you looking here then?”

“Because this is where the light is.”

Tackling Big Problems – such as cancer – has been looking for those car keys. What we know about cancer is under the streetlight. The complexity of cancer and other Big Problems has been beyond the tools and capabilities we have been utilizing.

In comparison, polio and small pox were not complex; they were complicated.  In these situations, enough experiments and enough coincidence unraveled the mystery and a vaccine was borne. This scenario is likened to untying the ear buds that were wadded up at the bottom of a backpack. Patience and grit win the day. Neither polio or small pox are even curable, but they are preventable. That prevention significantly dropped mortality rates. Small pox was even considered eradicated from the earth in 1980.




Sir Isaac Newton Needed Calculus

 Big Problems need Big Data. Big Data’s capability has only come into play within the past ten years. Its nascent tools are just evolving. The information of the world previously has been only ether, captured in memory through unreliable replication or in select recording capability of finite data points. Now it is being captured in ways and means –subtle and overt – that even the most creative imaginations didn’t predict.

Big Data is possible now for a couple of reasons. Data acccomodation was limited in a small data world but now digital capture has created an expanding flow that is not only easily made, but also sharable and searchable. Punch cards and floppy disks were the beginning of the end of small data. Storage is just the first tenet.

The power to manipulate the data is keeping pace with capacity. The cell phone of 10 years ago (think flip phone) had more power than what was possible for the Apollo missions to the moon. Today’s typical work environment still relies heavily on spreadsheets and traditional databases, an abacus of sorts relatively. This gap between what is possible with data that is collected and what is done with it sets up the huge demand signal for data scientists. We need intelligent people who can manipulate Big Data.

Finally, Big Data needs to be articulated – art meeting science. Data scientists are needed for accuracy and intent but the expression needs a handshake with the operators of the information. In the case of cancer, this is doctors and specialists and caregivers. Data visualization rounds it out because the reasonings and relationships are far more coquette and piquant than dashboards and powerpoints.

Heavy Lifting

Big Data is complex – not complicated. It’s chaotic. The earbuds cannot be unraveled; they continuously contort with each pull of a knot. Each of us carries around genetic predispositions which are either enhanced or deferred with the daily choices that compound into life time patterns and twist with chance events. How much you weigh or what you eat or drink or where you live or how you work or play or where you travel or stay put or how you relate to friends, family and coworkers – these all interplay until a tipping point is reached.

Big Data captures the minutiae of internal gyrations and external influences affecting that probability of cancer. Big Data is where the breakthrough lies.

Since Big Data has become a capability, we can go beyond treating the mean. A cancer treatment need no longer be determined by your doctor, or a suite of doctors. It can be determined by all the doctors who have ever treated cancer. A patient’s medical history isn’t a couple of pages of discrete data points. It is a continuous flow of information illuminating personal habits, events, and discretions. All the dedication to cancer research folds into Big Data.

Big Data is not a Holy Grail of itself. Big Data helps us see information in a way never before capable, evolving a holistic methodology.  With that power comes great responsibility. Like statistics, Big Data outputs can become ugly monsters or heavenly returns.

Big Data can move the street lamp.


Further reading:

Big Data Medical Record

The Inherent Clumpiness of Randomness

Spurious Correlations

[i] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4401313/






Who is Betting $25 Million on the IoT? Who will be left behind?

Marc Andreessen is betting $25million

on the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming a big thing. His famous ability to forecast the evolution of emerging technology weaves a picture of sensors embedded in walls and doors and doorknobs. It makes today’s humble offerings – the likes of remote operation of your house security and appliances or fitness bands that connect to a mobile device and the cloud – seem kinda silly.

Marc Andreessen stretches out that belief a little further with his opinion that cell phones will become obsolete. In his perspective a single point of contact such as a cell phone is a limiting vision. He conceptualizes that screens will pervade many more surfaces so much that having to carry your own electronic portal seems a bit ridiculous. That’s an intriguing perspective from an expert on the subject. Goodness knows that a home phone or a pay phone seems quite antiquated today; even paying for a phone call is becoming upended. It’s becoming possible to speak to anyone in the world with an Internet connection and a choice of free apps.

So what happens to the countries …or continents … that are amassing mobile service by leaps and bounds but still lagging far behind? Are they going to be left even further behind …again? Will the technology gap drop those that can’t afford the latest and greatest?

Mobile Phone Adaption

Africa for example doesn’t have as many mobile devices per capita as the rest of the world, but they do use mobile phones in the din of the more remarkable remote locations. Their mobile technology isn’t so much smart as functionally adaptive, performing the most cursory and vital functions, such as currency, in more creative ways than more technologically adapted regions.

So how could it be possible this makes Africa a better candidate to take a technology leap than further advanced countries? Let’s looks at that.

In 2008 Intel reported on their self-developed “Technology Metabolism Index” – a map of what countries adapt technology relative to economics. What they found was that those that “have” don’t necessarily beat out the “have nots” to adopting new technology. The United States had a relatively low index in consideration of the greater resources, access and availability of new technology.


Some experts worry that a technology gap threatens to leave behind vast swaths of the world population too poor to afford new innovations, but Nafus work could be seen as evidence that more complex dynamics are at play than just disposable income levels. http://www.wired.com/2008/06/intel-anthropol/

Intel’s Dawn Nafus, a Cambridge PhD, conducted the study in order to better determine the potential of emerging markets versus mature markets. Her team found a couple of surprises. The first is a bit counter-intuitive.

Population size is actually a constraint on technology adoption, just the sheer number of connections between people seems to slow adoption.

The research also supported that foreign direct investment, or how much money foreign firms pour into a country’s economy, can actually constrain how fast technology is adopted. Again, it’s not what you’d think, when more money usually portends resources and capabilities.

Didn’t See It Coming

So let’s look at another technology adaptor story – Colombia. For years, Colombia was known for illegal drug activity that held it hostage. By investing in technology growth its economy has tripled from what it was 10 years ago and its middle class has increased 50%. The country’s remarkable make over has attracted US businesses, increasing import from the US to Colombia by nearly 400% since 2003. Google, Facebook and Microsoft have established presence in country, and of course, Starbucks is there as well to fuel the creativity.


The advances are attributed in great part to fostering entrepreneurship in tech hubs such Ruta N in Medellin and Bogoda’s HubBOG, a 5-year-old tech campus. These hubs are a common theme worldwide.

Another reason entrepreneurs may want to take a strong look at Colombia is because it’s coming online quickly. The Colombia government is working to bring 63 percent of its population online by 2018, according to a report by Colombia Reports. It also boasts 69 percent smartphone adoption, according to the GSMA “Mobile Economy” report for Latin America. http://www.cnbc.com/2015/05/07/three-growing-start-up-cities-in-south-america.html

Big Data Africa Opportunity

According to the TMI index map, a case could be made for South America, Africa, Eastern Europe or the Far East to make Big Data a turn-around industry for any of these regions or countries within.

The availability of Big Data is an inevitable global factor that grows exponentially continuously. Because it is ubiquitous and open source, in Africa or any of the other emerging regions, Big Data is a tremendous opportunity.

Big Data is already deployed in multiple directions: competitive industry, government interest and non-government action. Where there is a will, there is a Big Data way. Training and deployment of all levels of Big Data tools are ubiquitous, given connectivity. Big Data has a relatively low cost of entry as well.

Innovation Hubs in Africa

Africa already has a healthy network of these centers. The number of technology centers in Africa has increased dramatically over the past couple of years. More than half of African countries have a technology hub and leader South Africa has nineteen. According to World Bank, more than half of African nations have at least one tech hub, totaling around 90. In 2014, investment in tech hubs has gone from $12 to $26 million.

Africa Mobile Adaption

A wide variety of participants are needed to make Big Data work. The Big Data industry has an extreme shortage of data scientists and technicians. Even the occupation “data scientist” is actually not as straight forward as it would seem. This is opportunity to find a niche or create a new one.

Not Another NGO

The volume, velocity and variety of data accumulating are a worldwide phenomenon. Perhaps it is relative size, but every person in every country is creating more and more streams of information. In the same thread, every business creates and has access to tremendous amounts of data, but who uses it varies greatly. It’s not a necessity now for entity differentiation, but it is rapidly becoming so.

Those that don’t adapt to utilizing Big Data will get left behind – corporation or country.  We are in a global economy ecology as well.  In a post 9/11 world, we can’t leave others behind and hope for the best.  We’ve got to create the rising tide to lift all boats.  Bring on the Big Data.