In brief

  • The former vice president of AI and research at Microsoft is jumping on board with blockchain startup Asensys.
  • Asensys was founded by former Microsoft lead researcher JiaPing Wang.
  • Wang claims to have developed a way to solve the decentralization, security, and scalability trilemma of blockchain networks.

There’s something about the Seattle-based Asensys that has caught the eye of former Microsoft leads.

Earlier today, Asensys—a new blockchain network designed by former Microsoft lead researcher JiaPing Wang that claims to have solved the decentralization, security, and scalability trilemma—announced that it has brought on Microsoft’s former vice president of AI and research, Dr. Harry Shum, as an investor.

While at Microsoft, Shum also served as a fellow with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and was also a member of the National Academy of Engineering in the US and the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK.

According to Asensys, Shum is one of the first investors to jump in the new venture, though the company did not disclose how much the former Microsoft VP put in.

In an interview with Decrypt, Michelle Chuang—COO of Asensys—explained that while Shum is unlikely to hold any office with the company, he will offer advice regarding how Asensys should direct its blockchain and artificial intelligence projects in the future.

“Given his expertise in AI, his perspective on the potential applications of AI to Asensys will be invaluable to our development,” Chuang said. “His support of Asensys will also help expand our vision and network of opportunities, allowing us to achieve new levels of innovation in blockchain technology.”

Chuang said the company aims to find ways to fuse AI and blockchain technology together. She explained that AI works well whenever it’s applied to large data sets. However, if sensitive user data is fed to an AI algorithm, that can pose heavy security risks to those whose information has been collected.

Blockchain technology, she said, can help secure sensitive information and shield it from cyberthieves. It can also create a verifiable record of AI decision-making as artificial intelligence is utilized more often to perform automated tasks. This will allow Asensys and other enterprises to keep records and perform audits, thereby ensuring ethical choices are consistently made.

Asensys has also sought to make redundant or repetitive tasks easier through the introduction of its new “Asynchronous Consensus Zones,” which are designed to push through payments occurring on legacy blockchains—such as Bitcoin and Ethereum—much faster.

“Imagine one check-out counter at the grocery store that everyone must go through,” Chuang said. “Getting your groceries becomes very slow, so what we’ve done with Asynchronous Consensus Zones is open more check-out counters to allow multiple tasking and to dramatically speed up the process.”

According to Chuang, this is how Asensys can potentially achieve a scalability rate of 10,000 transactions per minute.