How Arizona is using blockchain to boost the economy

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Blockchain is a system of recording digital information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change or cheat the system. It’s used for bitcoin and sensitive data. There is a local effort to leverage blockchain research to provide usable products for the global marketplace.

The Partnership for Economic Innovation, a collective of business and community leaders dedicated to accelerating Arizona’s economic opportunities, launched the Arizona Blockchain Applied Research Center (AZ BARC). Companies that have a presence in Arizona can sign on as Members of AZ BARC to gain exclusive first access to any research findings, with initial members including Intel and other companies. We will talk to Wes Gullett, Director of Operations at AZ BARC, and Scott Carlson, Head of Blockchain & Digital Asset Security at Kudelski Security, which is an AZ BARC member, about AZ BARC.

Blockchain, what is that?

Carlson: “To put it at its most simple level you have to think of a big long list of information. Traditionally we store that list of information on something like a database and people edit it and mess with it and do whatever they need for their business operations.

But let’s pretend you don’t trust the person running that database. You don’t trust the company, you don’t trust the administrator, you don’t trust the person.  So how do you build an all-digital technology, where you can make a big list of things that has to be correct all the time, that you can’t let someone modify unless you notice, and you want to stay around and prove that it’s still good?

That’s generally what a blockchain is, a big list of things with some of the best crypto airdrops, and with some really special mathematical formulas that ensure that once it’s put there, you can’t edit it. If you do try to edit it, the math doesn’t work anymore.”

And the Arizona Blockchain Applied Research Center, what is that?

Gullett: “The Arizona Blockchain Center takes that fundamental research, and builds products for companies. So we’re an industry-led research center that several companies belong to. Intel is one of them, Kudelski Security that Scott works for is another, Early Warning which is a Scottsdale-based financial institution is part of it, BD, a big medical device manufacturer is part of it, and we’re bringing in new members all the time to the blockchain center.”

“And what we do is we have researchers at Arizona State University who are actually building platforms we can build products from that work on the blockchain.”

How would a security firm, for example, use blockchain research?

Carlson: “When you look at the word ‘security’ in information, generally you think of the words trust and integrity. You want to know that the system you’re trusting is solid from end to end. It was put in the right way, it stayed the way you put it, no one has changed it along the way, someone was monitoring it to make sure it’s not changed.”

“Most companies out there don’t have the technical depth or even the resources to build all of that themselves, they just want to use it . . . When you think about the technology-building part, most people just want to use technology and that’s a lot of what this applied research center is and Kudelski is participating in that.

Wes Gullett, Director of Operations at AZ BARC, and Scott Carlson, Head of Blockchain & Digital Asset Security at Kudelski Security

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