Last week in blockchain for week 7 of 2018, a podcast with the latest developments in the world of the blockchain.
Welcome back to Last week in blockchain. In a week with the drop in value of the bitcoin all over the news, there is also a lot of interesting news on the backbone of the bitcoin: the blockchain.
First a small news item from the transportation field. This one is especially for my Dutch listeners: Prorail, the Dutch Rail Transportation Authority, is organizing a blockchain hackathon on April 13th until April 15th. Check http://www.blockchainophetspoor.nl/ if you are interested.
The biggest news this week was the release of version 1.0 of Hyperledger Sawtooth. First started as a project by Intel, it was incubated at the Hyperledger foundation as of 2014. This project is the second project to come out of beta at Hyperledger, who produced Hyperledger Fabric last year. They came up with a bunch of great innovations compared to the first blockchain networks like the Bitcoin network.
The Proof of Work consensus algorithm that is used in the Bitcoin network is one of the big problems of Bitcoin: it consumes big amounts of energy and has the potential for a take over of the decentralized network. At this moment, the estimated amount of energy used in the Bitcoin mining is 47,6 TWh a year. That is the same amount of energy a country like Denmark, and that comparison was made in December of 2017!
Sawtooth uses the Proof of Elapsed Time consensus algorithm, that consumes less energy, making this network a green alternative, as Hyperledger calls it.
And centralization? In a distributed network? Because in the Bitcoin network, the amount of computing power you put in gives you power in the network, potentially a mining pool of combined computers, controlled by one organization or individual could have more than 50% of the computing power in the network and control the entire network. And that’s not what you’d want.
The Proof of elapsed time algorithm is based on the idea that a leader election is held across the largest possible amount of network nodes. And all participants have to verify the legitimacy of the selection. No take over possible. I will skip a lot of the technical details, but if you’re interested, Hyperledger has a great course on EDx.org.
Other innovations are the Transaction Families they introduced tot build safe smart contracts; on-chain governance, to use smart contracts to vote on blockchain configuration settings; support for Ethereum and the ability to change the consensus algorithm depending on the scale of your blockchain. Interesting developments and cutting edge technology and we’ll see what Sawtooth will become in the future.
The government in The Netherlands is a frontrunner on the blockchain. A few years ago they started the Dutch Blochchain Coalition. Last week law firm Pels Rijcken joined the coalition in the strategy team. I spoke to Sandra van Heukelom, partner at the firm about BlockChange and the things we are doing in Helmond last September; a nice conversation about blockchain in education and I got some interesting tips from a legal perspective on the project I’m working on.
The Dutch Blockchain Coalition consists of all kinds of organisations, from energy companies like Enexis, the universities of Delft, Nijmegen and Tilburg, Rabobank and a accountancy firm PwC. I think it’s great that public and private organizations work together on our national level and I’ll be talking about the Coalition in a future podcast.
Working together is also something that was part of a great Dutch interview I read this week. Tech website Tweakers, founded in 1998, had an interview with the Microsoft Azures principal architect Marley Grey. The title of the interview is also the most important thing he said: “We don’t need new blockchains, we need applications!” He talks about ICO’s, Bitcoin, Ethereum and Microsofts Coco-framework and drafts a comparison between the blockchain and the internet: private and public networks will grow closer: public networks will be the backbone, interwoven with private versions.
A great interview, but also a great vision on the future. The blockchain starts with a network and the data they need to work together: insurance companies in The Netherlands have a shared blockchain solution to store data about refinancing risks, health care professionals and families of the people they help share a blockchain to store data about the care they give a patient, schools and Employee Insurance Agency in Helmond work on a blockchain with student data for the transfer from schools to the job market.
And that wraps up this Last week in blockchain. Check my website: www.wimpelgrim.nl for more info on me and my podcast and a full transcript of this episode. Check the links to all the news items I talked about in the description: Hyperledger, Prorail, the Dutch Blockchain Coalition and the interview with Marley Grey. And definitely check back next week for my new podcast on Soundcloud!
Prorail blockchain hackathon
The Dutch Blockchain Coalition
Interview with Marley Grey (Dutch)