How blockchain is similar to a kitty party group
- A new book simplifies the world of Artificial Intelligence, blockchain and other emerging technologies
- The author, Jaspreet Bindra, is an authoritative voice when it comes to writing about digital transformation
Little did Jaspreet Bindra know that when he wrote an article titled “The 10 Commandments Of Digital Transformation" for Mint in 2016, it would unwittingly lead him to his first book. The article that recommended 10 necessary principles for legacy non-digital companies to undergo digital transformation, i.e. the use of technology to radically improve performance, generated a lot of debate and discussion. That was the inspiration for The Tech Whisperer.
Lucidly written, The Tech Whisperer demystifies and simplifies new and emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, 3D printing, the Internet of Things and virtual reality, and narrates how companies can use these to transform their organizations.
Bindra is an authoritative voice when it comes to writing about digital transformation and how to leverage emerging technologies for success. As a leading expert on digital transformation, blockchain and other emerging technologies, he was responsible for the digital transformation at the Mahindra Group of companies as a senior vice-president from 2015-18, helping drive it across the group’s businesses. At present, he is an independent consultant and the founder of Digital Matters, a digital transformation advisory firm. The book is a summation of his experiences and presents a practitioner’s view.
The Tech Whisperer, as the author writes in the book’s introduction, is a tale of two books. The first part, from chapters 1-7, revolves around digital transformation, while chapters 8-14 focus on the emerging technologies that enable this transformation.
In my opinion, however, the coup is chapter 13—where for the first time in publishing history a bot was built to write a chapter on AI. The chapter was written in partnership with Findability Sciences, a US-based AI company. Even if one doesn’t read the entire book, it is worth taking a look at this chapter. Bindra has demarcated it not only by using a different font but also colour-coded it green so that the pages stand out.
The chapter is a biography of AI, detailing in a chronological manner its evolution and development. It also examines questions on how AI will enhance human lives, AI and jobs, and the future of AI.
Bindra admits that the chapter written by a bot lacks the soul and emotion of a human being but what the AI has woven together is quite remarkable. For those technically inclined, Bindra has explained the whole process of how sentence extraction and algorithms were used to write the chapter.
What makes the book eminently readable is the fact that Bindra uses Indian examples to explain the concept of digital transformation. For instance, he likens the process of digital transformation to the “Holy Trinity". Bindra likens business models to Brahma, the creator; customer experience to Vishnu, the preserver; and people and culture to Shiva, the destroyer. He writes: “For most of us, immersed in the practice and theory of transforming legacy businesses and companies into digital, digital transformation is a religion too." It has its own set of rules, gods and role models. Chapters 4, 5 and 6 explain “the trinity" in detail.
Two entire chapters are devoted to blockchain, a technology Bindra is passionate about. For him, blockchain is not just a powerful technology but a philosophy—a way to think about the world, a new structure of economic capitalism, a different way to live and to do business.
Blockchain, however, is difficult to understand and he helps the reader by comparing it to, believe it or not, a kitty party: a bunch of women who meet once a month or so to play cards, gossip, eat and, most importantly, pool in some money. In a kitty, each member contributes a sum of money, which goes into a “kitty" or pool. There is a lucky draw, and the winner keeps the kitty. Over the year and every month, each member gets a turn at being the winner once. So, each kitty party is “immutably linked" with the last party, which is linked with the last party, and so on, making a “kitty party chain". Bindra goes on to explain that there is no one woman or a single, central trusted authority who keeps the money. Every woman trusts the entire group. “Thus, there is trust, but it is distributed trust as opposed to centralized trust." This is precisely how blockchain works—it harnesses the concept of distributed trust. Analogies like these simplify a complicated concept and make the narrative engaging.
As for the title, Bindra writes that in a world dominated by cacophony, “where we look at our phone more than 2,000 times every day to try and take in the half a million tweets, the hundred thousand Instagram photos, 50 million WhatsApp messages which are sent every minute", not including the videos and emails, it is a whisper that can be heard far more clearly. “Therefore, I have dredged into my experience and scoured the world to collect all these whispers," he writes.
There are other technologies that Bindra has not covered: 5G, quantum computing and DNA computing. All this in “The Tech Whisperer 2", perhaps?
FIRST PUBLISHED19.10.2019 | 10:00 AM IST