Explained w/ Tony Stafford: Crypto, Metaverse, & Quantum Computing Part 2

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Tony Stafford is a lifelong technologist.  

He got his first job in technology in high school. From there, he had stints in the military, government contracting, the Department of Defense, and at our company, Shadow-Soft . Currently, he’s a technology executive working with DOD customers. 

It’s that breadth of experience with technology that makes him the perfect person to talk with about technology trends. And that’s exactly what we do in this episode. 

We discuss:

  • The collision between physical and digital worlds in the metaverse
  • The world-changing potential of quantum computing
  • Qualities to look out for when building out a tech team  

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You're listening to application modernization, a show that spotlights the forward thinking leaders of Higgro software companies. From scaling applications and accelerating time to market to avoiding expensive license and costs, we discuss how you can innovate with new technology and forward thinking processes and save some cash in the process. Let's get into it. The metaverse, not to be confused with Mark Zuckerberg's Meta renaming scheme right. So, the metaverse is an interesting concept for a couple of different reasons. What I find most fascinating about it is it's indicative of the collision between the physical world and the digital world, and it's happening on both sides of the equation simultaneously, which is interesting to me. So, on the one hand you have the physical world being represented in a digital landscape via things like the metaverse and nft's right as there. Those are digital representations of physical things, physical objects, physical you know, clothing or buildings, or you know, JP Morgan opened a branch in the metaverse. So you can like put on your Vr headset and like walk into a branch of cheap Morgan now, because the only thing worse than walking into a bank in real life is doing it. In the metaverse, you can't even get it. You can't even get a crappy cup of coffee there. Right, it's the imaginary craft of you're like, even in the metaverse, I can't steal the pain. The other side of it, though, right, is this D manufacturing, on demand manufacturing, d printing thing that's going on, which is the digital world being made physical. Right, so it's like a digital representation of an object, a d printed object, a you know, D manufactured component that people now can do from home. And so you're taking something that was created solely in the digital world and then transposing that into the physical reality. And so when those two things intersect, that's when I think the real magic of this is going to happen, when it's like you can go into the metaverse by clothes, leave the metaverse and you're a D printer has manufactured the clothes that you bought in the metaverse. HMM, interesting. Yeah, you ever run this one by me? And this is this is new stuff. Yeah, and so, but the stuff that I've been thinking about a lot lately on this front is what I what I call or what one would call material reclamation, right, which is so I've got a set of clothes on and maybe I'd printed out those clothes in the morning, but now it's the evening and I don't need these clothes anymore. Can I reclaim the materials, like put them into a disposal unit, reclaim the raw material and then print out another set of clothes tomorrow? WHOA? Yeah, I mean it's kind of wild to think about where this look could all go eventually. Do like these shorts I wore today? I like them a little shorter. He's going to put them in the disposal get these daisy dukes. That's I like that idea. I'm going to be thinking about that now. Yeah, that's called my metaverse runs about this. You know, I think you know my takeaway from you know, and you and I've talked offline about you know, I've got some friends in the space and though our society is very look at me, we don't...

...really have kind of that place that replaced my space in society, for good or for bad. I might even argue for it's actually a bad thing, because then everybody's trying to influence on every other platform, whether you like it or not. So you know, I could see the metaverse becoming this, this place where you display. These are the things, I think that are cool, whether their nft's or their digital representations of bands or songs or movies or images, you know, pictures, your dog, your kids, whatever. This is where, like pinterest is really kind of hit the mark right, right, and you know, it's basically what you're talking about there, which is, you know, my space and you know the predecessors to Facebook, friends, stir and stuff like that. We're really about taking the time to do some introspection, right. It was about introspecting yourself and saying, you know, what are my you know who are my top five? Right, who? What? What? What Song it do I love? That represents me, that I want to play automatically, whether the person visiting my my space page wants to hear it or not. You know, it's it was all about customization, personalization of your digital profile, and I think what that showed was that there's a desire to be creative and and demonstrate your your humanity to some degree in the digital space. But it was too complicated, right, it was. It was too complex for grandma, and you know grandma wants to just blog into facebook and see pictures of her grandkids, right. And but grandma wasn't going to be like, you know, tailoring and animated gifts, you know, running around on her her myspace page, generally speaking. Right. It wasn't made for mass consumption because it was just too too heavyable lift for for your average person to really tailor it and do stuff like that. I think where the metaverse could get to, where you're trying to go to, is when things are a d representation, right, like you don't need to know how to code in order to tailor your VR Metaphor metaverse experience. Right when when you're in a position where it's like, okay, I like this picture, I'm going to take this picture and I'm going to make it as large as I want to make it and then I'm going to literally hang it on this digital wall and you make it as easy as kind of placing things around a home or placing things around a room. I think that that could potentially get to a place where it's going to see a little bit more mask consumption. I think that's what people are banking on. I think that makes sense because the you know, I think I think some of US enjoyed the creative side of you know, a profile like my space, but it didn't have mass peel and, to tell you truth, I don't even understand why I thought facebook was cool initially because it was pretty bland. It didn't really do anything. It was really just a directory of students, even even beyond the you know, social network, you know Harvard thing. So I mean I remember when I joined and I told my wife to join and she looked at me like I had two heads. Why would I do that? I was like, I don't know, I think it's going to be a thing. I was right until they renamed a metaverse or Meta metaverse, two different things. So it's you know, it's just interesting to see where that's going to, you know, take off. You know, all all the kids are using the what the Oculus? If you are hand sets and haven't quite gotten into that, because tell me, gets sick on a roller coaster. I don't know how I'm going to do on that, but Um, it'll be it'll be interesting to see how that converges. You...

...know, for me, I play NBA to k because I'm not cool and I'm old. But there's there's a definitely a metaverse vibe in there, you know, like there's this whole world that you exist in where you play other people and you communicate and you buy cool shirts and sneakers and, you know, it's this whole like, you know, altered life thing we've just found. I think you know better words for it, or more more, more fun words for it, I guess. Well, you know video games. I think that you know the the Og metaverse at this point, if you want to call it. That might actually be like the Microsoft xbox live for experience right, where people could create digital profiles and play Games together and, you know, could communicate together and it didn't matter, you know, what game you were in. You know, if you're playing NBA and I'm playing, you know, madden or something like that, we could actually still be communicating together. We still we still coexisted in the same digital ecosystem, even if we were doing different things, right, and so I think that you're probably going to see, you know, I think that's that's where facebook is sort of placing its bets, is that there's ultimately that there's money to be made in being a digital hub that enables experiences, but through a unified platform. You know, the oculus being the hardware, unified hardware platform, Meta software being the unified software platform, very similar to an xbox live and then developers, you know, kind of working and building experiences within that digital theme park. You know, row blocks, right. I've never played row blocks before. My my boss's grandkids play row blocks. It's like it's pretty younger, younger generation, right, but fifty one percent of children under the age of twelve play row blocks in the United States today. I've never heard of market penetration like that before in a demographic like that before, and that's a very similar sort of model. Right. It's there's row blocks, which is an up and then people build digital experiences that you can then go into, right, right, that are it's sort of the roblocks universe expands with every developer who adds something new to their ecosystem. And so, you know, ultimately the next the next generation of competition in this space could be something like facebook Meta versus rob blocks, like they could be the two titans of the metaverse for all we know. But yeah, you can kind of see the inkling of what that's going to look like if you look in a couple of those places today. Yeah, that's that's interesting. They you know, it's a shame. You know, twenty five years ago they didn't just capitalize on like Sim city. You know, that's like what you and I had, right yeah, like I'm going to go build a world, it's going to be great and it's going to be mostly two dimensional and awful and everybody's angry because my taxes are too high. The city's riding and a tornado just wiped it all out. Those are the days right there. I mean I guess they kind of made their jump, old nol maxis back in the day when they created the Sims. I mean they were way ahead of it, probably so they were, you know, pretty intuitive. Yeah, they I guess they saw the second life right. If you remember the second life, it was same sort of thing, right, like way ahead of their time when it came to some of these concepts. And and even then, right like,...

...businesses were building second life experiences. You know, you could go visit the world of coke in second life, right like they were actually building those experiences. I think what was missing at the time was things like payment infrastructure. And you know, how do you how do you compensate creators? How do you compensate you know, companies. How do you buy or consume things, because they're all consumers at the end of the day. You know, I think there are some of those things that weren't fully worked out, but I mean those are some og kind of early looks at what we probably are going to be experiencing, you know, ten, five to ten years from now. So lightning around. Tell you, what is the technology trend that you thought was going to change the world and it didn't? That's a good question. Doesn't feel like lightning, does it? It doesn't feel like lightning. I'm very slow at this because so I'm actually I'm going to answer this question a little bit of a different way, if I can. Actually, one of the things that I've been thinking about recently is quantum computing, and the thing that I've been thinking about is if quantum computing becomes a thing, it's going to change everything the whole world. There's not an aspect of human life that won't be impacted by quantum. I'm computing if it becomes a thing, but the real question in my mind is what if it doesn't? Right, we are banking on quantum computing in many ways. From a cyber security perspective, you know cryptologic perspective and efficiency perspective, computational you know, capability perspective, but the reality is is that there's a lot of things that are not ready for quantum computing to be real yet. You know, you've got some early examples of successes with things, but it's not ready yet and I don't think it's a given that quantum computing is ultimately going to succeed. And so I'm answering your question of a little bit of a different way, which is, you know, maybe I come back to the show and four years or something we talked about this again or whatever. But my guesses is that quantum computing, if it becomes real, will change the entire human experience. But if it doesn't exist, we've got a real kind of problem on our hands and I'm more worried that it won't happen then than it will at this point. Can you define what that means to, you know, the layman, right quantum like the impact of quantum computing? Assume I don't understand what quantum commute. You know computing is, and that may be true or not. Sure. So quantum computing is using quantum physics phenomena in order to conduct computational conduct computational workloads. So if you think about how computers operate today, it's mainly electrons traveling over, you know, through transistors in order to essentially add answer, you know, a one or zero. Right, it's either on or off and it, you know, it's like a light switch that's flapping, you know, that's flipping very, extremely rapidly in order to calculate things. Quantum computers use something called cubits instead, which is a Subatomic particle, and it uses the spin and location of the cubit in order to conduct a computational unit. So what that means is we move from binary language to something else, Trinary, you know, quadronary, something something else, because it's going to depend on how many different states of a cube it you can actually compute. Now, to put it in perspective for everybody, imagine the...

...universe as we know it and all the atoms in the universe, right, all the things that make up our reality as we know it, like the total mass sum of all the atoms in the universe. A three hundred cubit quantum computer could calculate the location and spin of every atom in our known universe. Once every second. Mind blown. So we could technically calculate the universe's, you know, the physics of the universe once a second if we had a three hundred cubit quantum computer that could operate, you know, extensively over time. All right, kids, get on the WIKIPEDIA. It's time to learn about quantum computing. That's what's possible. My head hurts. Great job. Maybe I didn't help that. I do more good, more damage than good. We'll know in a couple weeks now. I mean, that's that's that's interesting. You know, I don't. It's not stuff we talked about every day, right, which is part of the reason why I wanted to have you on the pod was, let's talk about some weird stuff, you know, it's things that we need to think about, right, because you know, and I don't want to delve too much into this, because it's supposed to be the lightning round. I understand that, but you know, think about the implications on things like are like something like agriculture, right, if you could calculate the atomic structure of the soil and the atomic structure of the seats and the atomic, you know, structures of the of the water and things like that and you could actually you could actually predict all the interactions that were about to take place, right, like if I put this seed right here, based on all these interactions, I can predict exactly what's going to happen to this plant before it actually happens. Right. Yeah, it would erase in efficiency. It races the potential for some of those inefficiencies, you know, and then you pair that up with something like drone swarms who are running around, informed by a quantum computer of exactly where to plant every seed, and all of a sudden you've got, you know, food yields that you've never seen in your in your entire life, because we've created such massive efficiency by virtue of this calculation. So, you know, there's massive legal and policy implications to this as well as is you know, now we've got all this huge amount of surplus food. What is that due to the economy? What is it due to the to the food, you know, ecosystem? What does that due to world hunger? You know, all those types of things come into view if you kind of go down the rabbit hole on this front. And so that's what I mean by it's got a potential to change every aspect of human life. Yeah, now, that's that's yeah, that's interesting, because then we'll have a surplus of corn and then all that corn will, we have to be modified to fuel or something. Right, like, what do you do with all this? And then all the people who modify corn to fuel will be yeah, and Ron, conspiracy, conspiracy road. Here we go. All Right, so you've built some teams over the years. I've seen you build one here. What something you learned? will try to make this lightning? Yep, one thing you learned from building teams. Attitude and chemistry are possibly the most important thing. APTITUDE, technical skills, technical capabilities mean a lot, but ultimately, when you're building a team, you need people with the appropriate attitude and people with the, you know, the appropriate chemistry to to maximize the efficacy of the the whole team. That's good. So when you've hired someone over the years, is there a I'll quote you here, not ensuring way you know now interesting what...

...you'll know tomorrow? That's that's something you've said to a lot of people. But what's what's like a key element within you know, someone's makeup that makes you go, get you excited. You're like, I want that person on my team. Enthusiasm, curiosity. Generally looking for lifelong learners, especially in the technical space, because our our ecosystem moves so quickly that if you are really happy just sort of you're looking for a status quo kind of job, it's this isn't really the field for you because it's just moving too fast. So you're looking for people to have a passion, desire to learn, a natural curiosity and have a positive attitude because, as you're well aware, when you're building teams that are working in emerging spaces, there's a lot of failures, there's a lot of things that don't work out the way you plan, there's a lot of lessons that need to be learned when you're on the cutting edge and those can be extremely disheartening to people without the right sort of enthusiastic attitude to go with it. Now that makes sense. So would you so, taking from how you would build a team, how you look for, you know, the right type of person, to something you learned maybe as an early technologist that shape the way you look the world. Maybe you know could be a negative experience, could be a positive experience. I mean I'm sure there's a few something I've learned, you know, really the biggest thing that I've learned, I might have actually learned it out of the military in reality, and that is to say yes to opportunities, which might sound obvious, I guess, but when I was in the military I kind of decided that I wanted to have an experience and that in order to have an experience, I was going to say yes to two things as they came up, that there was an opportunity to go train, an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to work on something new, they needed a volunteer to go do something, I was going to be the guy that would raise my hand and go, yeah, I'll do that, because I wanted to maximize the amount of experience and exposure I had, and I've carried that over into my the rest of my professional career where, you know, if there's an opportunity that presents itself in a new technology space or to ex dancy new product or some training that you know that's available, I will generally still to this day, raise my hand because I want to continue my learning journey and continue to be relevant and excited about the technical, you know, technical ecosystem. So the the enthusiasm that you're looking for with people to be on the team is something that you lead with, something I try to lead with, right. It's I'm not always perfect at it, that's for sure, but, you know, leading from a point of presence, right. It's really hard to lead people if you don't have a good context of what you're leading them through and so being up to date as much as is practical. Like as a technical leader, it gets harder and harder to get hands on time with technology because it's too big, it's too broad. You're worried about trends more than you're worried about the actual wrench turning of the technology. But you've got to be able to talk the talk. You've got to understand the concepts. You want to understand the patterns and practices, the methods that are used, so that you can speak to your team members in a way that is doesn't make you sound like you're some you know, fool that doesn't know what he's talking about. Right, like your team needs to respect you and you've got to have some level of technical cognizance in order to to build that respect. So even to...

...this day, you know, earlier today I volunteered to take some brand new training because I want to lead from the front whenever I can and if we're expecting our workforce to get on board of this training, I want to validate the quality of it. I want them to know that I'm spending my time on it because by me spending time on it it it indicates it's a virtue signaled right that if Tony spending his time on it, then maybe I should too, and it demonstrates a commitment. You know, this isn't just some flash in the PAN thing. It's we're committing to this, because I'm going to go do this personally. Now that makes sense. I mean there's a sometimes we have a little trend here that chat US software. Some of US lead by example, selling new solutions, new concepts. It's scary, it's unproven, you know, but like our jobs to look around the corner. So if we're not looking around the corner and taking a customer on a journey to something new and exciting, then we're just like everybody else. So you know, there's a there's a validation point there where our team looks to people to go, okay, they did that with that customer. You know, worked out great. They've set a lead block for me right outside of the Super Bowl. That analogy should work. Could you go for for the Super Bowl? I was actually pulling for to see, even though I think that Matthew Stafford kind of deserved a right win here, mainly out of just Karma because of his time in Detroit, but I also think that the city of Cincinnati has been denied for so long. It's like, I'm a cubs fan, right, I kind of you know, the way that the world was pulling for the cubs in the world series is the same way that I probably felt about Cincinnati, where I was like hey, you know these guys, they've been through the ring or they probably deserve a deserve a win here. And then I also determined that if I squinted really hard, the Cincinnati Jerseys look just enough like a bears jersey. That I could imagine is that you still got eighty five or whatever you're that was. Yeah, I could still do the super bowl shuffle on vinyl if I want. That's funny. Well, that was rooting for the bangles, but I bet the rams and I lost both. So that it was a good, good year, good here at the track. But not for the Super Bowl. So all right. Last thing. What's it? Maybe not as a world change you, but what's something kind of minor in the market place that you see bubbling up now that people should keep their eye on? To me, it's API management. Right now, I think that people have really jumped onto containerisation in a big way and I think that has created a sprawl, like there's an it sprawl kind of a thing that's happening, with containers all over the place and getting your arms wrapped around that, you know, sort of the what application lives where and how do I call it in a micro services ecosystem, is probably where things are going to need to there's a you know, I think there's opportunities there because it's it's this is a problem that's clearly going to get worse before it gets better and and I think there's going to be a real challenge there. There you go, wise words, wise man. I try appreciate you doing this. Always a joy. Top of good friend, technologist,...

...leader of the metaverse, Tony staffway. It's a new job. That'll leader of the verse gone on my Linkedin. Thanks again, man. Appreciated all absolutely. Thanks for having me. It was fun. It's great talking with you about this stuff. Application modernization is sponsored by Red Hat, the world's leading provider of enterprise open source solutions, including high performing Linux, cloud, container and Coupernetti's technologies. Thanks for listening to application modernization, a podcast for high growth software companies. Don't forget to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player so you never miss an episode, and if you use apple podcasts, do us a favor and leave a quick rating by tapping the stars. Join US on the next episode to learn more about modernizing your infrastructure and applications for growth. Until next time,.

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