Solving “track and trace” problems, even in reverse.

To get a sense for how blockchain can address issues in the electronics industry, it may help to start with a story about an earlier technology. A young electrical engineer in 1980 had a job interview with an industry veteran who asked if he had ever heard of a thing called a “vacuum tube.” The young engineer admitted his semiconductor class had included a one-hour lecture demonstrating how field-effect transistors worked like vacuum tubes.

“When I was in college, they made us take a semester of tube theory because they thought it might be useful some day!” the veteran exclaimed. His outburst highlighted a common theme in emerging technology. More than 50 years later, it was easy for the next generation of engineers to see the number of new products enabled by vacuum tubes, even though by that time solid-state devices had already largely replaced them. But during the 1920s, when vacuum tubes represented the latest innovation in technology, it was difficult to see they would lead to radar, FM stereo, television, and rock concerts. In the same way, it’s doubtful the creators of the internet anticipated using it to watch videos, hail rides, or monitor a newborn baby in the crib.  Even those of us lucky enough to apply the latest advancements in technology are unlikely to foresee all the ways new technology will be applied.  

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