Meet the Proof Team: One-on-One with Paolo “The Tech Yogi”

As the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Proof Media Inc. (Proof), I am not only leading the Global Team of IT developers, but diving into the nitty gritty myself.

I believe the main problem facing society today is the lack of trust for each other. As a resident of Italy, I see first hand that a centralised corrupted entity, without trust, does not work for our citizens. The prevalence of people abusing government aid, allocated for good purposes has been escalating in the recent years. And with social platforms it’s now easier to make political propaganda, which steers people away from the real problems facing the nation.

“Trust has reached an all-time low”.

The potential impact of Proof is incalculable; it defines a simple way to educate people on finding the right sources to grow their knowledge. It hopes to rebuild trust in both science and each other, while bringing communities back together.

As a kid, during the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was addicted-to-video games. I loved AMIGA and couldn’t believe that one developer could make an incredible gaming world of magic powers and fantasies. So I went on to study Computer Science at the best university in Rome. By the time I completed my degree, video games evolved and a full production team was required to build them. While deciding on the best direction, I took an extra class in Biology and wrote my thesis on the analysis of the human genome. This is how I found out about CASPUR, the Research Computing Center Consortium in Rome, where I was later offered a job to work as a developer on a distributed and high-throughput system.

Throughout my years as a junior developer, I started reading various cutting-edge scientific papers on biology and informatics analysis, joined international meetings and connected with people in laboratories to cure rare human diseases . The tools and platform that I developed during that time became publications; they were mostly distributed architectures with a strong middleware layer to let people from web pages access high computing power facilities. I’ve also come to understand scientific rigorous methods and to trust (with a few reservations) the human knowledge that we globally created from the dawn of our species.

About 2010, the Italian minister decided to change the organisation of the research centres in Italy, merging all of them into one important entity (CINECA). As a senior developer, I was requested to bring my middleware experience to create APIs on top of the European Data (EUDAT) oriented services. I’ve been the main architect and developer for the transport layer, the service leader for storage and finally the task leader and technical coordinator for ingesting daily data in an entire European network of sensors.

Two years ago, I learned about blockchain and how it proposed a new way of creating trustable networks and consensus.

I knew that blockchain would be the most profound breakthrough in technology, since the internet came to life.

After chatting with my cousin Luigi about the importance of blockchain, I came to realize that he was already delving into the field, while I was just toying the idea as a hobby. He explained the idea of Proof that was evolving between the conversations of he and Chris, his co-founder. I was completely fascinated! I started to think of the world as a different one. This concept could change people’s lives all around the world for the better. I knew that I had to join the journey for truth; Proof was the answer.

Of course there are a few challenges, as with any new startup business. The main challenge for me was purely technical. As a developer, who has tried using the blockchain and Ethereum / Smart Contracts (who are the “standard de facto” at the current state) for some real purposes, it was clear that the network performances and costs were not production ready yet. This is normal, as the blockchain era is just beginning. There will inevitably be something better than Bitcoin and Ethereum networks and we can’t even imagine how amazing it would look in ten years from now.

There are at the moment several fundamental projects ready to launch, and we are following a few very closely. The most promising is ‘R-Chain’ which found some clever ways to drastically improve scalability and minimize the costs per transaction. Another facet about R-chain that I love, is unlike that of most new blockchain companies, they don’t try to create hype before an actual product goes live or has been battle tested. The team has been most efficient, as they haven’t missed a deadline on their roadmap, a badge that others are not willing to take. In the interim, we are experimenting with hybrid solutions as well, e.g. the blockchain is used for a part of the algorithm and not for all processes on the platform.

Proof has a distributed team across the world, thus allowing remote full-time working. This is a fundamental change in my life because I can now dedicate any moment of the day to my family needs, especially the medical needs of my wife, who suffers with Multiple Sclerosis. This disease has many complications which have affected her sensations and daily tasks. Prior to Proof, my daily commute to Rome was over one-hour by train, which caused many issues for my family.

Working with the Proof team is a dream come true! The passion and talent of the team is surreal. There’s great diversity in age and background of the team, which allows us to keep our minds open to new innovative ways. of thinking. There is this positive energy and constant flow of ideas, everyday! I love it.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading novels, listening to music, playing the electric guitar and spending time with my family (my adorable 3-year old son and beautiful wife).

My family is one of my greatest joys, we are always looking for new ways to do things together. That’s when we discovered Yoga, Tai ji quan, and other eastern disciplines, which are less physically challenging, yet extremely spiritual. We’ve learned so much through these eastern disciplines, at some point we naturally focused on mindfulness and for good reasons; with the MS always there reminding us that we need to seize the day and enjoy even the tiniest things in everyday life. Tai ji quan is a Chinese ancient practice of martial arts but in its slowest form, concentrates on your body’s vital signals, its response, and the present. In my opinion we all should apply this lesson, rather than racing through our lives. We need time to really appreciate what’s around us and slow down. Using this viewpoint, we can see that we are constantly growing as individuals and discovering happiness like never before. We are recently thinking about learning archery!

There’s a lot going on in the world right now.

Hate and divisions are growing among people, on all levels. It’s now time for a change.

I’m a very positive person and believe in the power of unity, which is the key to a better future. I want to thank the Proof team for giving me this opportunity to bring trust and honesty back to the world, through this great community initiative.

Article originally published under Michele Leppard on July 2, 2018