It’s hard enough to get enterprises that compete with each other to work together as a team, but it’s especially tricky when one of those rivals owns the team.Shipping giant Maersk and tech provider IBM are wrestling with this problem with TradeLens, their distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform for supply chains.Some 10 months ago, the project was spun off from Maersk (the largest container shipping company on the planet) into a joint venture with IBM. But in that time the network has enticed only one other carrier onto the platform: Pacific International Lines (PIL), one of eight shipping lines in Asia and 17th in the world based on cargo volumes.As those involved admit, that’s not enough.
Blockchain, like the internet, or democracy, or money, is many overlapping things. It is a decentralized record of cryptocurrency transactions. It is a peer-to-peer network of computers. It is an immutable, add-on-only database. What gets confusing is the way in which these overlapping functions override one definition or explanation of blockchain, only to replace it with an altogether different one. The conceptual overlaps are like glass lenses dropped on top of one another, scratching each other’s surface and confusing each other’s focal dimensions.This guide takes apart the stack of these conceptual lenses and addresses them one by one through the reconstruction of the basic elements of blockchain technology. The first section of this report gives a short history of blockchain, then describes its main functionality, distinguishing between private and public blockchains. Next, the guide breaks down the components and inner workings of a block and the blockchain.The following section focuses on blockchain’s journalistic applications, specifically by differentiating between targeted solutions that use blockchain to store important metadata journalists and media companies use on a daily basis, and hybrid solutions that include targeted solutions but introduce cryptocurrency, therein changing the journalistic business model altogether. Finally, the report speculates on the proliferation of what are known as Proof-of-Stake blockchain models, the spread of “smart contracts,” and the potential of enterprise-level and government-deployed blockchains, all in relation to what these mean to newsrooms and the work of reporters.Key findingsFor media organizations, the use cases of blockchain can be grouped into three key areas: Auditable (and officially verifiable) database solutions for editorial and advertising Cryptocurrency-based business models Access to public data secured in blockchain-based file systems
Smart contracts are written in programming languages rather than in natural languages. This might seem to insulate them from ambiguity, because the meaning of a program is determined by technical facts rather than by social ones.
It does not. Smart contracts can be ambiguous, too, because technical facts depend on socially determined ones. To give meaning to a computer program, a community of programmers and users must agree on the semantics of the programming language in which it is written. This is a social process, and a review of some famous controversies involving blockchains and smart contracts shows that it regularly creates serious ambiguities. In the most famous case, The DAO hack, more than $150 million in virtual currency turned on the contested semantics of a blockchain-based smart-contract programming language.
Professors from seven U.S. colleges including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley have teamed up to create a digital currency that they hope can achieve speeds Bitcoin users can only dream of without compromising on its core tenant of decentralization. The Unit-e, as the virtual currency is called, is the first initiative of Distributed Technology Research, a non-profit foundation formed by the academics with backing from hedge fund Pantera Capital Management LP to develop decentralized technologies.
Blockchain has been wildly mis-sold, but underneath it is a database with performance and scalability issues and a lot of baggage. Any claim made for blockchain could be made for databases, or simply publishing contractual or transactional data gathered in another form.Its adoption by non-technical advocates is faith-based, with vendors’ and consultants’ claims being taken at face value, as Eddie Hughes MP (Con, Walsall North) cheerfully confessed to the FT recently.”I’m just a Brummie bloke who kept hearing about blockchain, read a bit about it, and thought: this is interesting stuff. So I came up with this idea: blockchain for Bloxwich,” said Hughes.As with every bubble, whether it’s Tulip Mania or the Californian Gold Rush, most investors lose their shirts while a fortune is being made by associated services – the advisors and marketeers can bank their cash, even if there’s no gold in the river.For example, Fujitsu offers fast-track consulting services starting at £9,900 to tell you if blockchain is appropriate for your project (that’s something we can confidently tell you for nothing: no, it isn’t).And the magic B-word enabled doomed tech quango Digital Catapult to conduct a Houdini-like escape.Now that’s magic.A modest proposalPerhaps technology consultancy and marketing should be as tightly regulated as financial consultancy, where mis-selling can (in theory) lead to a lifetime ban from the industry, something the US Securities and Exchange Commission can do for people who violate securities law, like Michael Milken.
Still, a problem remains: People don’t buy into blockchain applications unless they can make money. There is no evidence that people want to use it to “fix” journalism. There is also no evidence that anyone really understands how that would even work.
For now, Civil is essentially just another media operation with venture capital funding. The money underwriting it, from ConsenSys, remains, you know, regular money. The company uses some blockchain technology underneath the hood, including a plugin for its publishing software. But the technology remains difficult to comprehend, and, for any news consumer’s purpose, irrelevant.
The goal of Quality Magnet Coin QMC for short, is to build a large torrent magnet index that’s impossible to take offline, censor, or block.
The core idea is fairly straightforward. The application uses the blockchain to create a decentralized database of torrent magnet links which doesn’t rely on a hosting service or domain name, making it virtually impossible to take down
A solution to providing frictionless trade across the Irish border after Britain leaves the European Union might be found using technology such as Blockchain, finance minister Phillip Hammond said on Monday
Human communities of every era have had to solve the problem of social order. For this, they developed governance and legal systems. They did it with the technologies and systems of belief of their time.
Athenians of the Classical period believed that all citizens had the right to participate in the lawmaking process and as jurors in popular trials. They used a sophisticated piece of civic technology called kleroterion for random selection of jurors and avoiding manipulation of the system. Modern justice systems were created in the 17th and 18th centuries, at a time of consolidation of nation states.
These systems worked fine for many years, providing rule of law for industrial development and economic prosperity. But in early 21st century, they started to reach their complexity limits. The advent of the Internet and the creation of a global, digital, real time economy started to show the cracks in legal systems built in an era of paper contracts, horse transportation and national jurisdictions.
In today’s global economy, a large and increasing number of transactions are conducted online across jurisdictional boundaries. Clients from different countries hire contractors from all over the world for building software and other services. Investors from different countries participate in crowdfunding campaigns from everywhere. In their book Digital Justice (2017), experts Ethan Katsh and Orna Rabinovich-Einy estimate that disputes arise in 3 to 5% of online transactions, totaling over seven hundred million in 2015 alone.
Existing dispute resolution technologies are too slow, too expensive and too unreliable for an online real-time world. Even alternative methods like online dispute resolution (ODR) have failed to address this problem. ODR promised to bring resolution to this new type of disputes, but in the end it just streamlined existing court procedures, without really bringing an innovation.
Cars, not faster horses
Henry Ford famously said (although some people doubt the veracity of this): “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” A better justice system may not come from further streamlining existing processes but from fundamentally rethinking them from a first principles perspective.
In the last decade, we have witnessed how collective intelligence could be leveraged to produce an encyclopedia like Wikipedia, a transport system like Uber, a restaurant rating system like Yelp!, and a hotel system like Airbnb.
These companies innovated by crowdsourcing value creation. Instead of having an in-house team of restaurant critics as the Michelin Guide, Yelp! crowdsourced ratings in users.
Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention of Bitcoin (and the underlying blockchain technology) may be seen as the next step in the rise of the collaborative economy. The Bitcoin Network proved that, given the right incentives, anonymous users could cooperate in creating and updating a distributed ledger which could act as a monetary system. A nationless system, inherently global, and native to the Internet Age.
Cryptoeconomics is a new field of study that leverages cryptography, computer science and game theory to build secure distributed systems. It is the science that underlies the incentive system of open distributed ledgers. But its potential goes well beyond cryptocurrencies.
Kleros is a dispute resolution system which relies on cryptoeconomics. It uses a system of incentives based on “focal points”, a concept developed by game theorist Thomas Schelling, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics 2005. Using a clever mechanism design, it seeks to produce a set of incentives for randomly selected users to adjudicate different types of disputes in a fast, affordable and secure way. Users who adjudicate disputes honestly will make money. Users who try to abuse the system will lose money.
Kleros does not seek to compete with governments or traditional arbitration systems, but provide a new method that will leverage the wisdom of the crowd to resolve a large number of disputes of the global digital economy for which existing methods fall short: e-commerce, crowdfunding and many types of small claims are among the early adopters.
Political institutions are the result of trying to solve the practical problems of social coordination. Human communities of all times developed the institutions better suited to their problems, their technologies and beliefs. Athenians of the Classical period built their court system on their belief of citizen participation and the technology of kleroterion for random selection. The founding fathers of the United States built American courts based on the best knowledge of the political theory of their time.
In a time of globalization and digitalization, cryptoeconomics may become the pillar for building the institutions of the Internet Age.