Author: Gan Jia Ci
At a budding age of 32, Ming Zhongxing has already conducted a myriad of research and development regarding smart home products, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, next-generation internet system protocol and more for over a decade.
On Saturday, the esteemed academic researcher and founder of Blockcloud introduced Block Asia to the company during the 3AM Summit organised by World Blockchain Forum (WBF) in Singapore.
Block Asia personally attended the summit to hold an exclusive interview with Ming.
Blockcloud is a blockchain-based advanced Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) infrastructure and a strong advocate for the future internet. According to Ming, the internet initially contained closed and centralised IoT networks. 40 years later, we now have open access to open IoT networks and will be moving from a centralised to a distributed cloud as the internet evolves.
“In the past, the fundamental basis of the TCP/IP was to defend wars. The American army utilised it for telecommunications among commanders. The internet has since changed when it became public. Gadgets became portable, and we now have smartphones, cars and aircrafts.”
It is exactly because of the constant evolving that we envision our future lives to consist of smart products such as smart health, smart cities, smart homes, smart vehicles and more. “Everything that is connected to electricity can be connected to the internet,” Ming explained.
However, it seems that we are not quite there yet. Ming pointed out the flaws in our current technology, drawing examples from self-driving car accidents and smart camera errors to illustrate his point. “It is the network that transmits navigation information to these smart gadgets to operate as they are supposed to. But, there have been many errors in these network systems that resulted in incidents,” Ming clarified.
According to Ming, the TCP/IP layer was designed over 40 years ago, but the internet has evolved over the period. Hence, the current TCP/IP protocol is outdated and there is a need to catch up and expand.
“The internet was designed for a stable environment. For huge and unstable environments like traffic and homes, the internet that was built cannot support such scenarios. We need to improve it and make it better.”
While Ming has been an avid researcher in the realm of smart gadgets, Blockcloud only recently started adopting the blockchain technology into its research project.
“We are not doing blockchain just for blockchain. The reason for adopting the technology is so that we can support a better internet,” Ming declared.
According to him, whilst utilising the traditional technology to build on the internet, there were two fundamental issues that could not be solved – trust and incentive.
The first issue stems from trust. Traditionally, people were able to connect with one another directly. Party A knows the identity of Party B, thus A is able to trust the service provided by B, especially since B can be held accountable. However, now that services can be put up on the web anonymously, people do not know the origins of the services and thus do not have assurance.
In addition, there is the problem of incentives. When users were able to connect directly, service provider A could refuse to supply a service to B as long as B owed him money. Now, when a service is put up on the network, anyone is able to draw the service directly from it without liaising with a service provider. Service providers are not able to guarantee their profits if they do not have knowledge of these users.
With blockchain’s Proof of Service (PoS), users are able to verify services and the providers’ authenticities before employing them.
While blockchain technology is rapidly expanding, there have been many fad vs future debates that drew heated discussions between advocates of the two groups. When asked about whether blockchain is here to stay, Ming stated,
“If the internet is a man, blockchain serves as the heart. I do believe that blockchain will become a core component of future internet, but it is not the internet. It is a fundamental element of the former.”
Introducing The Team
Blockcloud consists of a dedicated team of core members originating from top universities and research institutions. Majority of them have been studying future internet technology for at least a decade.
Ming also excitedly shared with Block Asia the team members’ rich relationship history. Majority of them go a long way back. According to him, many of the members were either his undergraduate roommates or classmates. In fact, some of them were even childhood friends. As determined and venturous youths, they shared a common vision in the future of internet and technology and have never stopped the aspirations in their entrepreneurship.
“Our members come from renowned and diverse universities such as Princeton, UC Berkeley, Tokyo University, Peking, Tsinghua and more. At least 50% of them hold a PhD degree,” Ming noted.