Your home needs a blockchain

Grandpa's Pocket Ledger & My Field Notes

The internet of things or web of things has always been quite interesting,, even with the terrible ideas to marry the internet with certain objects in bad ways (cue the internet connected fridge).

Even myself have started to purchase a number of objects and appliances which are internet connected, such as my philips Hue lights. Not necessary so I could turn them on and off anywhere in the world but I like the colour control and have ambitions of doing something similar to redshift/flux/twilight Still need to work on this part.

I’m very peed off that Philips just pushed an firmware update which blocks 3rd party support for their bulbs. Luckily they saw the error of their ways.

This is only the beginning of course….  (don’t even go there about ethics of data). Something I have been keeping an eye on using Diigo groups.

Thinking about this quite a bit, especially during the build up for Mozilla Festival this year. We planned to connect as many things  together via their open API’s (now you see the connection with the Philips Hue lights), log it to a life-stream and then printed out into a number of books.

Global Village at Mozfest

Why?

Part of it is making data physical, one of the underlying ideas behind the iotsignals idea, which drifted into the ethics of data. Which is fitting because….I can point you to Alexandra and Aleks in the ethics of data.

Aleks – If we had a status life for every single time that light over there was communicating with that lift, or that thing over there was talking to that thing at the bank. If we had a status every time we would just be completely frantic and totally dizzy with inputs.

There is a trend to internet enable everything.

Alexandra – I think the potential of IOT emerged when technology was cheap enough that you may want to put it anywhere.

The Nest thermostat, Smart TV, Smart fridge, Hue lights, etc, etc… You don’t want to know the up to date status of everything.

Nest Thermostat

But you may want to know or understand why your heating keeps turning off just as you finish cooking dinner?

Smart devices should log all communication/transactions/decisions with other devices. If the Nest decides the temperature is too high, it should be logged somewhere. Giving an insight into the underlying algorithm and decisions. Why and what triggers it… This is one step on the very long road to build trust with devices.

Of course if you haven’t guessed lifestream isn’t the right thing. What is needed is a home wide blockchain system.

From reading, about blockchain.

In essence it is a shared, trusted, public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls. The participants in a blockchain system collectively keep the ledger up to date: it can be amended only according to strict rules and by general agreement. Bitcoin’s blockchain ledger prevents double-spending and keeps track of transactions continuously.

This could be the perfect ledger/logging technology for building reputation and trust with devices/things. Of course the participants would be things, who all agree to update the home blockchain..

This level of transparency in what the systems and things around you are doing allows for inspection by people. I don’t assume most people will care till something happens. Same as when people have their identity stolen or compromised in some way. Like the GPL (general public licence) enables, you can have somebody else inspect, consult, recommend, etc on your behalf if you allow them permission.

This should be a start to the little black boxes appearing one day. Worst than Doctor Who is the little black boxes can change their function based on a external demands. Yes you may get a email saying read our new EULA update but honestly most people delete it or ignore it. Its only once something stops working or acting differently from before, people may actually start to wonder.

It seems pretty obvious to me but I’d love to hear why I’m wrong or how it can’t work…. Even Big Blue gets it, somewhat.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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