Will Blockchain Technologies The Ultimate Trust Solution ? Keynote at IDATE DigiWorld Summit 2016

Here is the IDATE 2016 DigiWorld Summit closing panel on Blockchain ; the whole conference was revolving around trust hence the title chosen before I engaged in a panel discussion with ConsensysJoseph Lubin and Polychain Capital‘s Olaf Carlson-Wee.

Addressing the question of trust and blockchains requires to remember the context in which Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper was issued in December 2008 : it was a few months after the subprime crisis and the fall of Lehman Brothers, at a time when the trust in people was extremely challenged, both in their ability to process numbers without mistake, as well as their tendency to operate behind others back. It was a time where libertarians would trust machines and distrust people.

In a way, The Economist’s « The Trust Machine » could be interpreted as « trust the machines / distrust the middle people »

I am thrilled to be back at the Digiworld summit, and by the challenge of getting you into this trust and blockchain prospective conversation with Joseph and Olaf.

The challenge of introducing the topic in 10 min is a huge one, as both trust and blockchains are very flexible and often misunderstood notions.

We have covered many facets of trust across yesterday including trust in the future epitomised by our past icons Igor & Grichka. Still, the essence of trust does rely not in technology but in people first.

How many of you have read Professor Yuval Harari’s « Sapiens » essay ? It is an inspiring and powerful reminder that what made mankind emerge from other species is its unsurpassed ability to cooperate at large scale, and with remote strangers.

Trust is the core enabler for cooperation and applies to people as well as actions.

The analogy used by Marc Andreessen 2,5 years ago, comparing Bitcoin/Blockchain to TCP/IP as we knew it in the 1990’s is a quite interesting one : a usage neutral technology that insiders identified as extremely disruptive and applying potentially to many different use cases, yet not having reached critical mass.

There are at least two core differences though:

  1. Internet is a very efficient information and content copy machine while Blockchain is about transactions
  2. Internet wasn’t as much covered by media as Blockchain is nowadays

Blockchain is a very difficult topic to frame indeed and generates as much misunderstanding as it triggers both fear and enthusiasm.

Why is it difficult ? Because is is incredibly complex, but also because it challenges in lots of ways conventional wisdom.

This is particularly true in large organisations, in the public sector, and in France as we french all share, to various extent, a 17th century cultural genetical disease spread by Descartes.

We french love concepts. We love framing complex issues into simple formulas.

And it turns out Blockchain almost maliciously resists any attempt for intellectual reduction.

Blockchains are about ledgers.

It is transforming, morphing and extending a cornerstone of modern trade and finance : double entry accounting has indeed shaped our modern world for the past 450 years and was invented by Luca Pacioli, a franciscan monk, in Venice.

Blockchain has european roots in this prospect.

Blockchains are about decentralization and this is why Marc Andreessen’s analogy is relevant.

Blockchains are also and beforehand about securing transactions

As we saw Internet is a fantastic copy infrastructure : send an email, send a picture from your smartphone, each time you are duplicating information and content. The media industry knows what this means !

Now lets make an experiment : what if we replace « email » and « snaps » with « $20 » ? In the real world it is an everyday, implicit consensus on the safety of cash and the fact there is no bank note copy machine in any of our pockets.

In the blockchain world, what secures the whole transaction system and avoids double spend is a crypto asset.

Name it Bitcoin, name it Ether, the most secure public blockchain implementations at large scale rely on a digital asset that is both the transaction token and the reward mechanism for securing the ledger and make it untamperable, which means that everybody can trust the transactions that are irrevocably recorded in it.

Blockchains as transaction infrastructures are therefore redefining how we operate trust and reduce frictions in the digital age, but they challenge us all as public blockchains operate on open source software and aside any governmental framework or regulatory body

There might be promises of private / permissioned blockchains, even blockchain without the cryptocurrency, but the fact of the matter is that for now the most robust, resilient blockchains over time involve a cryptocurrency to enable trust (Bitcoin turned 7 in January of this year without having ever been compromised – only its interfaces with the traditional financial world may have been misused and compromised / like gas stations or toll bridges giving access to an autobahn where no accident occurs)

So what makes us so uneasy then when it comes to large organisations or public institutions ? What makes us distrust the trust machine ?

  • It is not only about crypto currencies in my view.
  • It is not only about open source software, which is free, while we still think that « what is free has no value »
  • It is also linked to how all of this emerged in a context of strong distrust in « the system ».

It all has to do about the relationship between trust and permission.

  1. Satoshi published his white paper then instantiated the first Bitcoin node without asking permission to anybody
  2. Vitalik Buterin raised the equivalent of $18 M in a bitcoin crowdfunding sale in 2013 to fund the development of the Ethereum Project without asking permission for what was a the time one of the largest crowdfunding campaigns for a software project.
  3. In spring 2016, TheDAO raised the equivalent of approx. $160 M in what was deemed then as the largest subscription round for a fund. Except such fund had no GPs, no LPs, no investment thesis mentioning a target, no soft cap nor hard cap, no agreement with any regulation agency. The team behind this piece of code (TheDAO was indeed a smart contract running on the Ethereum Blockchain) never asked permission to anybody either.

While « code wins argument » or even « code is law » (including the « code has flaws »), when it comes to move/track assets and value there seems to be some governance needed

So what shall you do ?

  • Be humble
  • Be curious
  • Explore by yourself with no prior assumptions.
  • Be technology agnostic.
  • Explore together as this is about redefining transactions networks

That is what we have launched a year ago with Nadia Filali and 11 partners. We are now 26 in LaBChain and growing and testing uses cases on Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Hyperledger.

I hope by now that you have a better sense of how Blockchains enable trust between machines and could be the foundation of the Internet of transactions.

But will Blockchain technology be the ultimate trust solution ?

To address this tough question I am thrilled to welcome on this panel two specialists. They will introduce themselves much better than I would then we will go through 5 core questions :

1. Trust in people

2 . Trust in code

3. Trust in Oracles and smart contracts

4. Trust in currencies & cryptocurrencies

5. Trust in the future of Blockchains

Thank you, and please give Joseph and Olaf a very warm welcome !

(below is the slide deck used during the keynote)

Open Compute EU Summit keynote

The first Open Compute Europe Summit took place in Paris on October 30 & 31st, 2014, on Ecole Polytechnique‘s campus in Palaiseau.

The european tech scene is catching up on OCP, with pioneers such as Telecity or Enter.it , and is federated by Splitted Desktop System‘s Jean-Marie Verdun.

Here is the keynote I delivered at government’s request, explaining why France is Open (to) Compute (following my April post – in french). Enjoy :

And for those who just want to read, here are the slides:

Beyond Screens – Keynote Connected TV and Digital Media Forum in Moscow


Here is the slide deck I used for my Keynote at the « Connected TV & Digital Media » forum where I was invited by Connectica Lab in Moscow on March 5th, 2014.

Due to current SlideShare limitations it is impossible to directly import slides in the latest Apple Keynote format, hence the need to manually publish here the keynote verbatim to complement the slides.

Slide 1 : Beyond Screens

Bonjour. Good Morning. привет.
I do thank Yevgueni and Serge for inviting me to speak in front of such an impressive audience. My last time in Moscow was 31 years ago and I’m therefore delighted to be back.
The Russian tech scene is certainly impressive, with internet companies such as mail.ru, investment firms such as Digital Sky Technology, and long term high tech players like Kaspersky. In the video space the best known russian contribution is probably the ‘Matroska’ (.mkv) video file format. All of this emerges on top of a very strong historical background in sciences (with more Nobel Prizes in Physics than the US)…
As I’m neither a media nor TV expert, my talk will try avoiding pretending I am, and will focus on a few personal thoughts that lined up when I prepared this talk, built from my experience in the areas of internet services, consumer devices, mobile, software, imaging and startups, with a focus on user experience.

« Television – that’s where movies go when they die » Bob Hope, 1953
Bob Hope, (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003), was an English-born American comedian, vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer, author, and athlete who appeared on Broadway, in vaudeville, movies, television, and on the radio.
Paul Graham (YCombinator – Silicon Valley’s GodFather) – « Let’s kill Hollywood » blog post

Slide 2 : What was TV ?

TV was the screen in the home where content was delivered from TV channels, in a timely manner with a certain choice, and around which people gathered across several generations as anybody knew of to operate it.
TV was indeed simple to operate, provided with an expanding choice of programs, as was capable of gathering millions of people at the same time around the same topic / story / event / moment.

Slide 3 : What is TV now ?

TV has evolved significantly. First came color. Then came choice. Then came the VCR that allowed recording, deferred viewing, and introduced external content (either purchased, rented, or handed out by friends and family) into the TV set.
Then came digital content and digital broadcast, followed by HD.
And only very recently came competition from other screens to consume video content: not only were they personal, they follow the viewer…

How many of you have a smartphone? A tablet?
We now spend a full five hours and 16 minutes a day in front of a screen, and that’s without even turning on a television (4,5 hours a day for US adults).

  • What even does TV watching now mean?
  • is TV video delivered in real time ?
  • is Connected TV is just TV with Ethernet and firmware updates?

Cartoon image from Wall Street Journal

Slide 4 : Multiples Screens & Audience Fragmentation

Facebook captures 20% of online spent time: it is estimated that Americans spend 100.000 years on the social network every month…

Mobile screen consumption has also considerably impacted our average attention span, most viewed videos on YouTube being in the 3 min range.
Even when sitting in front of a TV screen, a growing majority of users are now multitasking as shown in the previous cartoon from WSJ. The figures should be updated and would reveal a much bigger share for mobile and tablets. (Video consumption in bed)

Lower attention span also means lesser tolerance to execution failure especially in terms of user experience.

Slide 5 : From Towers to Routers

Broadcast is no longer the only way to bring content to your TV. Cisco was right when they predicted that 90% of Internet traffic would be video. This conference is a good example as it is followed by hundreds of remote participants thanks to CDNs… Hello to all the remote viewers !

  • YouTube = 1 Bn unique visitors per months and this is the beginning
  • YouTube is where 1 south Korean singer can be seen 1.6 Bn times in 12 months. Billie Jean sold 80 M units

Yet Psy earned « only » $10 M, way less than Michael Jackson…

This raises many issues on Internet neutrality, telecom infrastructure, and business models.

Consumption of online video actually declined in the U.S. by 3% year over year, according to analysts Arvind Bhatia and Brett Strauser of Sterne Agee — but not at Facebook. Users of the social network watched a total of 118 million hours of video in January, according to comScore— a huge, sudden leap.

Facebook is preparing a new, yet-to-be-launched video ad product. before that happens, though, the company has been seeding the news feed with viral video, most recently its « Look Back » feature in which a custom video is created from your best-liked posts of the last few years.

P2P Filesharing now accounts for less than 10% of total daily traffic in North America. Five years ago it accounted for over 31%.

Slide 6 : Market Shift

Millennials watch more video content than any previous generation. They love movies, TV shows, and short-form video. And while this sounds like great news for advertisers, the trouble is, millennials aren’t watching video content on their living room TVs anymore.

YuMe conducted a study that tracked how millennials consume media, finding that 13% watch video content on their smartphones while they work, while another 13% watch while they shop. In total, 94% of millennials are multitasking (and likely distracted) while viewing content.

What does this mean for brands? Smartphones and tablets, not televisions, are the gateway to a millennial audience. Millennials recall brands at a much better rate when they’re on mobile devices, and they think of the TV as old-fashioned. In fact, only 3.1% of millennials consider brands that advertise on TV as being « modern. » More than twice that number think of smartphone advertisers as having « modern » brands.

Slide 7 : Content Experience is broken

So what is broken? What needs fixing? First, look at two viewing experiences of digital content in the TV screen (and I am not talking from the legal point of view – piracy is bad and illegal – but from the experience itself)

Streaming is making offline video consumption obsolete.

BlockBuster is gone and the BluRay® might be the last video disc standard / physical format

Slide 8 : 10 Feet Experience is broken

In Europe and especially in France, TV is now delivered increasingly over Broadband, meaning

  • a box : power supply, connectivity, remote control, interface
  • questionable quality in the video stream

Last September I watched the Americas Cup on TV. It was captured and edited for a TV experience except that it was not broadcasted on DTB, nor on IPTV, but from YouTube. Image Quality was great (1080p on a FTTH broadband connection), but navigation was extremely poor (finding content, pausing/resuming) due to limitations in my TV’s YouTube implementation…

Slide 9 : Device Experience is broken

The TV experience was meant to be a 10 feet experience, focused on entertainment, not struggle.

Slide 10 : Product Life Cycles

  • Over the past 20 years I have had 2 TV sets (and I must admit 2 video projectors – I am a geek)
  • Across the same time I have had : 4 desktop computers, 7 laptops
  • Not counting : 7 cell phones, 4 PalmOS devices, 6 iPhones, 2 iPad

TV does not evolve quick enough. While software is eating the world, it seems it has not hit the TV set yet. Firmware upgrades happen, but do not deliver any visible experience upgrades. Meanwhile, since 2007 and the first iPhone, we have been used to smartphones and tablets that can handle at least two major OS upgrades over their life cycle, not even mentioning the App Stores that provide further UX extensions

+ The Camera question : every laptop, every smartphone, every tablet now has a built-in front camera. Why is it still missing on TVs ?

Slide 11 : Laws At Work

Technology Accelerates. Software eats the world. Platforms rule. Our user experience will be recoded. And TV experience might be driven by software vendors.

Third to a billion – Horace Dediu on Sept 6th 2013
Android is the third platform to reach a billion users. The first was Windows and the second was Facebook. Apple sold around 650 to 700 million iOS and is expected to be the fourth to a billion sometime next year.

If we define the Race To a Billion to be bounded by a time limit of 10 years, then Windows does not qualify and Android is actually second. The race is shown in the following graphs (the one on the left is logarithmic scaled, the one to the right includes only a few contenders for illustrative reasons).

Slide 12 : Software is Eating the World

Sales of the Apple TV are estimated to have grown by 80 percent in 2013, reaching around 10 million units for the calendar year, or some $1 billion worth of set-top boxes sold to end users.

In Q4 2013 estimates show Chromecast selling as many units as Roku, around 2 M units
Context will be key

Slide 13 : Looking into TV Future

  • 4K : direct experience from smartphone to TV as networks are not ready
  • Younicast : « machine learning »will enable viewing contex, allow zapping within a channel, and let viewers set their « surprise / discovery » level on the fly
  • Automated translation and refined search will make 10 million hours of World TV content available

Dagestan has 40 languages and dialects so I expect Minister Aznaur Adjiev will appreciate.

Slide 14 : TV waiting for its « iPhone moment » ?

Hardware design is less and less differenciated. Smartphone/tablet/TV screen look just alike with just a scale effect.
We need to refocus on the experience and it’s simplicity.
Maybe my Sony business friend Renaud will have an answer?

Slide 15 : La French Tech

La French Tech is the movement triggered by the french government on November 2013, following the Report submitted to France’s Prime minister (downloaded more than 10.000 times) by Caisse des Dépôts on June 28th, 2013.

La French Tech encompasses a generation of forward-looking entrepreneurs who think globally but who are attached to their roots. It is a way of life, a way of doing business. La French Tech is about French savoir-faire.

La French Tech is the standard-bearer for French digital stakeholders and communities abroad. Grouped beneath the French Tech umbrella, they can achieve enough critical mass to be seen as a global force to be reckoned with. It will then be up to each player to convert strengths into market share.

Here are a few examples of companies that can illustrate La French Tech at its best in the Connected TV space and in Moscow:

Slide 16 : Questions ?

Большое спасибо !


from Hollywood to Silicon Valley : I played Minority Report

I attended recently Orange Institute session #11, dubbed « When Worlds Combine : how creative meet geeks« , and that took us from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The last visit on Friday morning was one truly blasting experience, as I not only met with John Underkoffler but also discovered how Oblong Industries, Inc. had turned a 2002 gesture grammar designed for Minority Report into a fully functional image navigation technology.

In 2011 and 2012, I had used and analyzed a famous Minority Report scene for two keynote presentations built around the history of interfaces (available in french). The scene had been ripped from a DVD and edited with iMovie to add comments and subtitles.

Yet last Friday we were given the opportunity to put Tome Cruise’s gloves and not simulate but operate a gesture based, real time interaction with real content displayed on several screens, including a Surface. The result was amazingly fluid, with a short gesture learning curve and an immediate interface feedback, conveying a very smooth and playful experience.

Enabling such experience is an abstraction layer, dubbed g-speak™, and that manages any pixel displayed across multiple screens. Oblong uses it today to address high-value, real-time, big-data, and big-workflow challenges in applications such as military simulation, logistics and supply chain management, and energy grid management.

Another impressive demo showcased data coming from 2 computers and displayed on 5 screens as a continuous single image.


IDATE DigiWorld Summit 2012 « Platforms & Shovels for the next Gold Rush » plenary session panel introduction

Digiworld Summit 2012, 15Nov – Philippe Dewost (Caisse des Dépôts) – Plenary Session
from DigiWorld by IDATE

Here is the introduction speech I gave for the « Platforms & Shovels for the next Gold Rush » plenary session panel I ran on Nov 15th in Montpellier during IDATE DigiWorld Summit 2012.

« Thank you François and Yves to have asked me to run and moderate this last panel. Caisse des Depots, a long term investor playing a pivotal role in sustaining french economy, has been indeed a long time standing partner of IDATE

This is my first time at the DigiWorld summit and after what I’ve seen and heard over these past 36 hours, I am sure it won’t be the last one !

Our plenary session faces two challenges:

  • One, it is the last one and is therefore supposed to embrace what was delivered since the summit’s beginning and bring a fresh outlook on platforms
  • Two, it is tangled between two high profile keynotes, and short after your lunch, which will urge our panelists to keep it vivid and engaging.

Before introducing our panelists, I’d like to make 2 preliminary comments on our topic « Platforms and shovels of the next gold rush »

1/ about platforms

Platforms are not new, but have become a masterpiece in the current digital game plate. This has been mainly due to the combined ground work of Moore and Metcalfe’s laws, and the singular breakthroughs of a few disruptors in devices and services. The speed at which the market has reconfigured makes today’s positions less than eternal and hopefully not just transient: but looking backwards, who have dare to predict, 6 years ago, that Nokia would move so quickly from #1 to burning platform, or that an online book seller would initiate the cloud computing revolution and hit an estimated $1 Bn revenue mark in 2012, by allowing any team of software engineers to rent massive amounts of storage and computing, sometimes for just a few days?

2/ about the gold rush and the underlying business issues

Platforms, be they devices, cloud services, market places all have in common the fact that they are two sided business models. Two sided business models are about controlling a portion of a value chain by deploying both client and server, in device app and service, for the sake of both market coverage AND dependancy reduction.

Platforms however go beyond 2 sided business models as they try to create dependancies for others. By exposing carefully some of your inner workings to partners through APIs allows you to extend your customer reach without having to reach the customers yourself, and to enable value creation on top of your infrastructure.

The whole trick is of course what you expose and what you keep under control. Even when you create a free service perception in the mass market, there is huge money at stake. So the only question, in each business, is to precisely define what you want to control and how the « openness » you display on the rest actually helps you strengthen such control. As a paradox, most key platform players actually do own their own infrastructure, in sometime massive ways as Pascal Cagni reminded us yesterday.

Yesterday was all about openness, choice, avoiding prisons on apps & devices since smartphones are themselves platforms. It was also about how broadband networks shall be deployed to cope with bandwith needs while capturing more of the value they create.

In the Cloud and Big Data space, we will face the exact same challenges, the same scale effects, hence this session.

The panel on stage is a high profile and interesting one with combining huge infrastructure vendors, both in networks (Dr Robert PEPPER, VP, Global Technology Policy of Cisco) and computing (Kedrick BROWN VP Telecom, Media, Entertainment of IBM global services), the mothership of cloud computing that is deploying a platform model on digital content including devices (Ryan SHUTTLEWORTH of Amazon Web Services UK), a telco known for its early expansion in business and value added services (Corrado SCIOLLA of BT Global Services) , and the founder of a disruptive company playing in the CDN, Cloud and DataCenter ecosystem (Julien COULON of Cedexis)

The rules we agreed on with the panelists are: no corporate lingua (to stay polite), few slides, conversation mode with 2 to 3 min single talks. Please welcome and support all the panelists in sticking to this promise and enjoy the session.« 

See also related speeches from :

Group YASSP, French Alps


Shot in late afternoon with an iPhone4S in HDR mode, using a b&w « Ansel Adams » effect thanks to (now defunct) Path App. This one is the first attempt using a group: actually, my 2 boys and several friends of theirs.

Cameraphones morphed into Smartphones in the mid 2000s. It took a few more years before video calling services such as Apple’s FaceTime added a front camera.

Soon, this additional, low resolution piece of optics would be used for a much more « Warholic » purpose than saying hello to GrandPa : the selfie addiction was born.

A planetary, compulsory, maslowic exhibition need of oneself took over the planet and created a (chinese) new industry : the selfie stick.

The « me on the picture with » replaced the autograph and added the « smile different » module to the media training skillset catalog.

This posed an interesting challenge to those who wanted to show their image processing capabilities while still using the back camera and keeping their ego at acceptable levels so that fools could enjoy the moon without being distracted by the finger.

Shooting an interesting shadow of yourself mostly happens on difficult light situations, where imsense’s eye-fidelity magic could reveal itself as it was all about « relighting » especially in dark areas of photographs.

I started Yassps as a sales and marketing tool (selling eye-fidelity , not myself, which is another reason for taking my shadow), and realised one day that such collection of photographs could be framed as derivative work.

This is how « Yet Another Self Shadow Portrait » was born, and became a photo category by itself : a selection is available on Burbanx, thanks to Fabien Baunay.

An extended YASSP gallery was available on (now defunct) ZangZing service.

Now you can follow the #yassp hashtag on Instagram.

A Magazine is an iPad that does not work

Amazing video evidencing how Operating Systems and User Experiences can affect our behavior very early in the process. And a tribute to Steve Jobs.

From the author of this video

« Technology codes our minds, changes our OS. Apple products have done this extensively. The video shows how magazines are now useless and impossible to understand, for digital natives. It shows real life clip of a 1-year old, growing among touch screens and print. And how the latter becomes irrelevant. Medium is message. Humble tribute to Steve Jobs, by the most important person : a baby.« 

Monitoring and Optimizing your iPhoto folder size

I noticed recently that my hard drive had shrunk by several, if not a dozen GB. The phenomenon shortly followed a smooth upgrade to OSX Lion who became suspect #1 shortly. And in vain.

Then I turned towards the other usual suspects, namely caches. For these, a simple restart does most of the cleanup and reclaims several GB if your machine has been up and running for a long while (several days if not weeks).

Focus really came to iPhoto when I realized that some changes made to pictures within iPhoto did not reflect on my iPad2: pics were preserved, but did not show up in their latest version.

So I opened the iPhoto packet (Ctrl-click) in my Images folder, sorted content by size, and found that the iPod Photo Cache was 19.6 GB = 25% of my total iPhoto library size

This folder holds all the resized versions of pictures you sync with your various iDevices: in my case, many of the iPhones I had used in my former business lives along with two iPads and a now old iPod Photo… Even if it sits in the iPhoto packet, the iPod Photo Cache content is actually manipulated by iTunes at each synchronization session.


So I quit iPhoto, trashed the folder, and went for 2 long sync sessions (iPhone and iPad) as the whole cache had to be regenerated. Now my pics are in sync again, and the new cache folder is 85% smaller.

Tell me about yours.

The Fireworks Equation : €€€€€€€ = Light + Noise

An absolutely flaggerbasting demonstration of the above equation was given to us on Saturday Sept 10th at the « Grand Feu », claiming to be (and probably being indeed) the biggest in Europe.

Probably also the most expensive (which big means in any case when it comes to qualify fireworks). I haven’t counted how many shots were fired in the « Bouquet Final », but this one lasted more than 5 minutes by itself.

You can check it in up to FullHD resolution and let me know what you think.