Meet the TSC: Dan Middleton, Intel

Back to our blog series that focuses on the motivations and backgrounds of the individuals that make up Hyperledger’s Technical Steering Committee (TSC). The TSC is a group of community-elected developers drawn from a pool of active participants and is a core element of Hyperledger’s Open Governance model. The TSC is responsible for all technical decisions – from which features to add, how to add them and when, among others.

Now let’s introduce the next Hyperledger TSC member, Dan Middleton from Intel. Let’s see what he had to say about Hyperledger, his role in the TSC and the community!

Describe your current role, background and why you wanted to be a part of the Hyperledger TSC?

My background is in distributed systems and applied cryptography with a particular interest in anonymous credentials. I’ve spent many years working across the boundary of research and commercialization. Currently I’m Head of Technology for Blockchain at Intel.

Being a part of the TSC is a great opportunity to be directly involved in this new and interesting field. I get to work alongside bright people with diverse technical views and see their approaches to the challenges we face.

Dan Middleton, Head of Technology for Intel’s Blockchain and Distributed Ledger program & maintainer of Hyperledger Sawtooth

How are you or your company currently using Hyperledger technologies or how do you plan to?

Intel is using Hyperledger Sawtooth in a number of internal and external engagements.

I’m personally quite interested in Supply Chain applications of blockchain. I’m really proud of work from other committers on this latest addition to Sawtooth’s capabilities.

It’s going to let people automatically add telemetry to records and provide provenance for anything that needs to be tracked (food, software, hardware, etc.). That aspect of traceability is one of the strengths of blockchain I’d like to see tested in the market.

It’s inspired by the case study that Intel previously contributed:

What are the benefits of Hyperledger’s open governance model?

Transparency drives a lot of really good behaviors. Decision making is all in the open and it’s clear for anyone who’s interested to see and participate in how the technology is built. (It’s also an interesting parallel with operating distributed ledgers).

What’s the most important technical milestone for Hyperledger to reach by the end of 2017?

There’s a number of important technical milestones for each project and workgroup under the Hyperledger Umbrella. I’m focused on the Sawtooth 1.0 release and definitions of critical metrics in our new Performance and Scalability workgroup.

What advice would you offer other technologists or developers interested in getting started working on blockchain?

Pick something that you are passionate about.  

What’s the one thing you hope to accomplish by being a part of Hyperledger’s TSC?

Maintaining the Intellectual honesty of the project. There’s a lot of uncertainty and ignorance about blockchain in the marketplace. We have an opportunity to present a responsible view of the technology so consumers and companies can make rational decisions.

What’s a missing feature or spec that you hope Hyperledger can add in the soon future?

The industry needs a way to meaningfully measure the performance of blockchains. Metrics designed for monolithic systems will not help people make good decisions about blockchain platforms where availability and integrity features are paramount. The work we are starting in the Perf. & Scalability WG should arrive at useful measures that reflect the unique aspects of blockchains.

What’s the biggest struggle or challenge you see Hyperledger having to overcome?

Hyperledger is NOT a single ledger and is not a single project but this is immediately confusing to everyone on their first encounter with the name. As an umbrella, Hyperledger encompasses a wide range of projects each with a unique contribution to the field. Advertising the full breadth of work here is a constant challenge.