A new study of the global open-source platform, GitHub, offers key lessons on blockchain development—how projects have grown, what’s likely to come next, and the implications for financial services firms.
Source: The evolution of blockchain technology | Deloitte Insights
While much has already been written about blockchain applications and prospects in the FinTech industry, little research has been done to explore blockchain technology’s user-centric paradigm in enabling various applications beyond banking. This article is an effort to contribute to that body of scholarship by exploring blockchain technology’s potential applications, and their limits, in areas that intersect with social impact, including human rights. This article explores whether blockchain technology and its core operational principles – such as decentralisation, transparency, equality and accountability – could play a role in limiting undue online surveillance, censorship and human rights abuses that are facilitated by the increasing reliance on a few entities that control access to information online. By doing so, this article aims at initiating a scholarly curiosity to understand what is possible and what is to be concerned about when it comes to the potential impact of blockchain technology on society.
Source: Blockchain technology for social impact: opportunities and challenges ahead: Journal of Cyber Policy: Vol 0, No 0
The meteoric rise of Bitcoin has led to heightened investment, academic, commercial, numismatic, transactional, and practitioner interest in that cryptocurrency, as well as in the growing array of such instruments worldwide. This leads to an accentuated need for an examination of the historical evolution of Bitcoin as the seminal instrument in the development of cryptocurrencies, and this discussion paper seeks to address that gap.
Source: A History of Bitcoin by Usman W. Chohan :: SSRN
An estimated $US280 million ($AU365 million) worth of the cryptocurrency ethereum is now locked up after a user accidentally deleted the code necessary to access the digital wallets hosted by the company Parity Technologies.The vulnerability impacted the “multi-sig” digital wallets launched through Parity since July 20.Multi-sig wallets usually contain large sums of money since they are primarily used by startups or large groups looking to prevent any one member of the group from running off with the money.
Source: Someone deleted some code in a popular cryptocurrency wallet — and as much as $365 million in ethereum is locked up | Business Insider
P2P Models is a large research project to build Blockchain-powered organizations which are decentralized, democratic and distribute their profits, in order to boost a new type of Collaborative Economy. The project has three legs:Infrastructure: Provide a software framework to build decentralized infrastructure for Collaborative Economy organizations that do not depend on central authorities.Governance: Enable democratic-by-design models of governance for communities, whose rules are, at least partially, encoded in the software to ensure higher levels of equality.Economy: Enable value distribution models which are interoperable across organizations, improving the economic sustainability of both contributors and organizations.
Source: P2Pmodels: Blockchain Orgs for the Collaborative Economy
The recent spike in the price of bitcoin to over $7,600 has delighted cryptocurrency speculators and early investors the world over. Many consider the windfalls as vindication of their belief that bitcoin is not just an experimental currency but a viable asset class in its own right.Adding credence to that view was the decision last week by one of the world’s top derivatives exchanges, CME Group, to launch bitcoin futures in the fourth quarter of 2017.Yet there is an irony here. The further bitcoin mutates into a price-defying asset class, the less useful it becomes as a medium of exchange and, worse still, the more expensive and energy intensive it becomes to maintain. This is an awkward situation for investors who are supposedly becoming more aware of the implications for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) when making allocation decisions. When I recently asked a room of approximately 50 students how many had heard of bitcoin, almost all raised their hands. Asked how many had bought bitcoin, about a third of them raised their hands. But when I asked how many had used bitcoin actually to buy something, only one raised a hand.That people would prefer to hang on to their bitcoin than spend it is not surprising given its soaring value. This clingy behaviour is an instance of Gresham’s law, which states that bad money always drives out the good, and that if there are two forms of commodity money in circulation, the more valuable one will disappear as it is hoarded. But these days there are other reasons to hang on to your bitcoin. The era of costless bitcoin transactions is long gone. For some time, fees have ranged from $3 to $6 per transaction, depending on the network’s available capacity. The situation makes small, day-to-day payments from coffee purchases to bus ticket sales increasingly impractical.In energy terms, meanwhile, a recent analysis by Motherboard estimated that a single bitcoin transaction requires 215 kilowatt-hours of electricity to process. That is the equivalent of what an average American household consumes in one week.Add this energy wastage to the reputation bitcoin already has for opaque governance, cyber crime and dark market trade, and you can see how, from an ESG perspective, bitcoin proves an even more controversial investment than a holding in a developing world commodity-extracting company. In that light, CME’s plans to list bitcoin futures might not be enough to dissuade responsible investment managers from shunning the asset class in ESG-friendly indices in the long term. Remy Briand, head of ESG for index creator MSCI, says: “If we assume that consumption will continue to increase roughly in line with the bitcoin price . . . then we could end up in a situation within a few years where the electricity consumption of bitcoin mining would be equivalent to a country like the Netherlands or Switzerland.”In Mr Briand’s opinion that would make a lot of the efforts to reduce emissions in the context of the Paris Climate Agreement entirely pointless. Bitcoin enthusiasts retort that the energy consumption is justified if it amounts to less than all that of existing processors and banks combined. But for this to be true, incumbents would have to be eliminated by competitive forces — a big ask for a system which already charges well in excess of rivals, implying relative inefficiency. Moreover, for bitcoin — which is capital intensive, decentralised and opaque by design — to become more sustainable, powerful vested interests who have an incentive in keeping the system inefficient would have to be taken onAnd even if all that were possible, none of it changes the fact that if bitcoin’s primary use is for speculation rather than transaction, the energy wastage serves very little constructive social purpose at all.
Source: The environmental costs of bitcoin are not worth the candle
Experiments in Algorithmic GovernanceThe following is an excerpt of an academic article [PDF] I wrote detailing why The DAO failed, and why other DAOs and blockchain technologies might also fail. In a nutshell, lack of an appropriate governance structure and plan, and insufficient recognition of the challenges of building new social models doomed The DAO. When building new blockchain platforms, one ought to plan for these eventualities.
Source: Why The DAO failed (and others might too) — Steemit
That the first forays into state-backed cryptocurrency comes from two countries with a history of restricting a free and open internet is not surprising. While Bitcoin originated as a way to opt out of government control of money supply, increasingly governments see the underlying technology as a way to increase their control of the economy.As Xiong Yue explained:For example, if the government plans to subsidize certain farms, say some corn farms, to support this sector of agriculture, they can directly add a certain amount of money to the wallets of some farms, for instance 100 million dollars and program this money to be sent to certain fertilizer merchants at a certain time, and that each can only spend maximum of 10 million dollars per year, and in this way, they can make sure that the farmers won’t squander the windfalls, and that this money won’t flow to other sectors, for instance, the stock market or real estate market.Even though this kind of monetary policy is bound to fail, from the perspective of government officials, CBDC provides them a better tool. For them, with the help of the CBDC, they can plan and manage the economy better.
Source: The Next Generation of Currency Wars: Private vs. State-backed Crypto | Mises Wire
assets serve decentralized applicationsDecentralized applications are a new form of organization and a new form of software. They’re a new model for creating, financing, and operating software services in a way that is decentralized top-to-bottom. That doesn’t make them better or worse than existing software models or the corporate entities that create them. As we’ll see later, there are major trade-offs. What we can say is simply that they are radically different from software as we know it today and radically different from the forms of organization we are used to.
Source: A Letter to Jamie Dimon – Chain