Welcome to Last week in blockchain. My name is Wim Pelgrim, a blockchain enthusiast and with this weekly podcast you’ll stay up to speed about all the major developments on the blockchain. And if you like what you’ve heard: share this podcast, like it in your podcast app or support me by going to Patreon.com/wimpelgrim (p-a-t-r-e-o-n.com slash wim pelgrim)!
I had a great summer break the last few week.s I visited Greece, the island of Rhodes, and I had a great holiday there. Besides that I walked the Four Days Marches of Nijmegen: 200 kilometers in 4 days, which is a great event. Check it out if you want to know more about it. And I read a lot of things about blockchain and in this podcast I will tell you the highlights of the last 5 weeks in about 20 minutes because it is so much it doesn’t fit into my regular 10.
I also made a few changes in the podcast: I have a new podcast microphone, the Bleu Yeti and I hope you can hear the difference. I have chosen to tell you more about a few items and to refer to other sources for interesting but smaller news. And I have a few new categories. You’ll see how that works in the next few minutes. And as you may have have noticed, my podcast is uploaded on Thursday instead of Wednesday and that is because of my new school roster. I’ll be discussing a lot so no index at the beginning of this podcast I’ll just start with the new technological news
Over the last few weeks, there wasn’t much technological news: one type of press release kept coming back: companies acquiring or filing a patent. Mastercard, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Wallmart, Nippon Telegraph, Barclays… the list is growing. And I think that’s not cool or funny: it’s really, really weird, because a patent and decentralization, democratization, distribution don’t mix. Maybe my approach to this problem is to black or white, but either you believe in big corporations owning technology or you believe in a community using technology. But if you see the grey area in that, I’d love to hear from you on Twitter.
The boldest claim discussed in the last months is a Reddit-statement claiming proof-of-stake was solved. After some discussion on Reddit, Coindesk wrote an article in July about this claim. Proof-of-stake could be the industries next big consensus algorithm. It differs from Bitcoins Proof-of-work mainly because it doesn’t require a lot of computer power and is thus more energy efficient and users can participate easier, because they don’t have to buy hardware. But both developers and computer scientists haven’t found the holy grail of Stake yet. And the Coindesk article shows that: theoretically the story of Charles Hoskinson sounds solid, but theory and practice have shown to be to opposites in the past. An interesting field of technological research to keep your eyes on.
I told earlier (podcast #21): we’ll be seeing more “over the hill” and “what’s really important” type of news this year. Two nice articles about the hype were published last month. I’ll dive deeper into an article by McKinsey. The management consultancy firm wrote a report on the strategic importance of blockchain to major industries and also who can capture what type of value through what type of approach. The research give a great overview for anyone who has heard a lot about blockchain, but doesn’t know what to do with it: common myths, categories of blockchain use cases, architecture types and impact on several sectors. Looking at that last graph, the biggest impact on all sectors will be on costs according to McKinsey. Manifacturing and mining will be least hit by blockchain, financial services, healthcare and the public sector will experience high impact on revenue, cost, social and even capital. An interesting long-read for anyone. Check that link!
Two big tech companies had blockchain related news last month: Facebook and Google. Facebook seems to be serious about its blockchain initiatives, because David Marcus, head of blockchain at Facebook is leaving the board of Coinbase. Read more in the link in the description. The most important company news comes from Google. After Oracle announcing its own blockchain as a service and earlier initiatives by almost all big tech companies, including Microsoft I discussed earlier (podcast #15), Google was lagging behind in this field. And I’m not the only one: Google founder Sergey Brin said so too. In early July he attended a blockchain conference in Morocco and told Google missed its chance to be at the forefront of blockchain technology. He’s personally interested, he even has set up an Ethereum miner with his son and suggested Google X was working on something. And then, at the end of summer, Google announced its cloud platform will support blockchain technology later this year. Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum applications will be made possible. Google partnered with two companies experienced in distributed technology and joined a private beta of a new coding language for smart contracts. So it seems like they are catching up. But Google needs to join other networks and companies, in stead of being the place to go to.
Government and law
A lot of countries and regions want to be the place to be for blockchain. Ohio became blockchain friendly, and all eyes are on Malta, a small European country. In the links an interview with the blockchain lead of the Maltese government. Interesting, but maybe something for historians looking back on the great blockchain wars of 2018. The best article I read in the last few months about the legal side of blockchain is about Hyperledger Fabric 1.2. In this latest version of Fabric, Hyperledger built in a GDPR compliant solution. It’s quite a technical article if you check the link in the description, but summarizing: within the blockchain network, you can authorize peers to see the hash of the data on the main ledger, but you keep the actual data in the private database. Unauthorized peers will not have the private database synced and only see the hash on the ledger. The main problem with blockchain and GDPR until now was the right to be forgotten. When you have private data, that can be deleted and forgotten and the hash that still exists on the ledger can never be related to the actual raw data.
The amount of new “killer apps” coming out is huge and I try to cherry pick. Check the referrals at the end of this podcast for more. The one app I’ll discuss this week is Oasis labs: a start-up Silicon Valley seems to be buzzing about. CEO of the company is Dawn Sung, a UC Berkley professor and it aims to knock Ethereum off the throne. Oasis has two technological developments to overcome fundamental limitations Ethereum, published in a research paper: the requirement that every node executes every smart contract constrains performance and today’s smart contracts can’t assure the confidentiality of sensitive data. The solution: separating contract execution from consensus. It seems like a smart approach to me and a lot of investors apparently think so too: they raised 45 million dollar in private token sales.
Then to some blockchain hardware: the first blockchain phones are coming out. The Sirin Labs Finney blockchain smartphone and the HTC Exodus. The phones will be coming out in the next few months, but in the summer most information about the phones appeared online. HTC’s phone is part of a network: every phone is a node; it’s a universal wallet, your identity is stored on the phone and you can use DApps on your mobile device. The Finney phone also is a wallet and it handles secure p2p resource sharing and Sirin Labs uses several cyber protection solutions. And I saw And they both look great. But why would you want a blockchain smartphone? Why does your phone need to be a blockchain node? What is the advantage in the long run? And how should we share battery power over the network as described on the Finney website? I’m not convinced yet, but if you are, share your thoughts with me on Twitter: @wimpelgrim.
Oh my god!
Then to the Oh my god category. Why is it called Oh my god? Because I’m a huge Friends fan. And sometimes you read stuff that makes Janice yell “Oh – My – God” in my head! Three small oh my god moments in the last few weeks and one big one. Gibraltar United will be paying their soccer players in cryptocurrencies. Why? What’s wrong with dollars for you mortgage? Apearently to end corruption, but I think it’s more because more people are talking more about the club now than last week.
Remember Long Blockchain Island ice tea? The company that changed it’s name to see its stock go up and up and up? They’re subpoenaed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Because they don’t do anything with blockchain and mislead investors. Whoops!
And the best clickbait title goes to Hackernoon: “Can blockchain mke sex obsolete?” The answer is simply “No”, but the title exquisitely ridicules all the claims other companies are making about blockchain.
But the biggest “Oh my god” is West Virginia: the state wants to use a smatphone app, based on blockchain in its midterm elections. General elections and voting using smartphones. And making it secure by using blockchain. I don’t know where to start and tell how bad an idea that is. how can the state guarantee the voting secrecy? How does a blockchain make the results more reliable than a central database? Why do we want this type of voting? And I could go on forever. But Let’s leave it at “Oh – my – God!”
After companies and governments, research institutes focussing on blockchain are popping up all around. This summer Turkey started a university blockchain centre, Deloitte opened an expert centre for blockchain, Manila University started a blockchain lab and China is leading an international research group for standardization in IOT and blockchain tech. And that is great, because we can only achieve the best and get the most out of this technology if not only private companies work on blockchain, but also scientific researchers work on blockchain. As we have seen with internet and cyber security: scientific research has made the internet better and keeps an eye on the plans of government and companies.
What else should you read this week? TRON takes over Bittorrent, Blockchainbubbel barst (Dutch), The World Bank picks Commonwealth bank for the worlds first blockchain bond, Buterin: “Centralized exchanges go burn in hell…”, the first sharia certified blockchain has started, Chinese internet users share censored articles via blockchain, Commonwealth bank claims success in global trade test, app store by CLS and IBM and first customers on We.trade by Rabobank Netherlands.
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. And I hope to see you next week for my first regular episode after my summer break. And if you like what you’ve heard, share this podcast with your friends and on social media and click those five stars in your podcast app.
Interview with Maltese blockchain lead
Long Blockchain Island Ice Tea
TRON and Bittorrent
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