Building the Impossible

The Wright Brothers' solution to the challenge of human flight is a story of building the impossible

Published on 03 Juillet 2020
Richard Caetano

Between 1900 and 1902 the Wright Brothers perfected a glider with new and innovative aerodynamic control. While many others around the world experimented with gliders using two axises, vertical and lateral, it was the Wright Brothers who demonstrated the third. Their true innovation was to implement a system of control for longitudinal roll.

With your hand flat, turing it left/right is yaw, up/down is pitch and twisting it left/right is roll.

With all three forms of control working, their glider was now ready for the next level: a gas powered engine. The potential of this machine was significant. One could imagine at that time the realization of something extraordinary. Inventing a flying machine must have produced an overwhelming feeling, the feeling of doing the impossible.

Our new machine is a very great improvement over anything … anyone has built. Everything is so much more satisfactory that we now believe that the flying problem is really nearing its solution.

Wilbur Wright, Octobber 2, 1902

In fact the impossible became possible over the dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903. After this historic flight, hundreds of other flights where conducted by the Wrights over the dunes.

One could imagine the media frenzy that might follow, but apparently nothing of the sort happened.

The amazing news was indeed reported to the journals and reporters. However, it was not easy to convince them that the impossible flying machine problem was solved. The journalists vacillated from belief to disbelief while trying to make sense of it, but evidently it took some time:

Writing his autobiography later, James Cox, publisher of the Dayton Daily News, remembered reports coming ‘to our office that the airship had been in the air over the Huffman Prairie … but our news staff would not believe the stories. Nor did they ever take the pains to go out and see.’ Nor did Cox.

Building unimaginable systems for the future

At Stratumn, we aspire to build the impossible for the enterprise. The challenges of information technology today are quite daunting: trusting business partners with asymmetric information, making good business decisions through difficult to synchronize workflows, and protecting private and sensitive information.

Our vision is to transform enterprise software systems into a new paradigm by solving some difficult and, somewhat “impossible”, challenges.

Proving Secrets Without Revealing Them

Is it possible for a corporation to convince its regulator of compliance without revealing its sensitive customer and operational data? Can a home buyer convince the bank of their net value without copies of private financial statements? Can an individual convince a health care insurance company of their health without giving their medical reports?

The fundamental pattern of our vision is the proof system, where a prover can convince a verifier of a secret, or fact, without revealing it. Like the Wright Brother’s innovation in roll control, we find proof systems as the missing link in connecting enterprise information systems.

This level of transparency brings a new future for business partnerships and customer privacy. It allow us to be honest and accountable to our partners without compromising our secrets.

Reducing the burden of regulations

During a football game, a referee is responsible for keeping the teams honest. But we all know that during the heat of the game, incorrect calls can be made and fouls missed. The simple fact is, the human eye is limited and often biased.

In the business world, the same observation applies. Regulators are given the burden of being thorough and objective, but, like the human eye, are limited and often biased. With a new level of transparency and accountability, we can envision a major shift in how regulations are applied.

Proof systems can completely change the nature of how regulations work. Customers, vendors, partners and government could hold each other accountable with better tools, guaranteed by cryptographic proofs.

Building a globally inclusive financial system

With the combination of blockchains, cryptography and proof systems, we believe there are solutions to these challenges which could remove the boundaries and friction points seen in today’s financial system.

There are new possibilities for contractual relationships and how we fulfill them. With self-evident proofs, the fulfillment of promises become objective. This leads to new forms of reputation systems for building trust, rather than centralized credit stores.

This new paradigm could redefine how we compete and, more importantly, how we collaborate. These new tools should empower businesses to make better decisions, based on cryptographic proof, allowing them to fulfill their potential. As for the regulators, rather than limiting or holding back business, perhaps they can enable new pathways for growth without the burden of compliance reporting.

This is our vision at Stratumn: a new kind of operating system for markets and finance to serve a global population. It is our version of building the impossible.

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