What's boiling up in technology - the WEF vision - III. Blockchain

The Blockchain landscape of applications and start ups. Credit: Let's Talk Payments

The third technology identified as impactful in 2016 is Blockchain.

In 2015 blockchain(s) have harvested 1 billion $ in venture capital investment for its promises of redefining the way markets and governments work, with a significant economic and social impact.

>>> The term Blockchain has become a sort of mantra. If you look at research proposals in the area Fintech (and several others as well) it is almost a sure bet that you will see here and there a claim that the proposal is "worth of the money requested" because of course, it is going to use blockchain!

Blockchains solve what was known as the Byzantine Generals Problem. The Byzantine army was camped in several camps, each one led by a general. The generals had to plan the attack and coordinate among themselves by sending messengers from one camp to the other. The problem was to make sure that the messages exchanged were not tampered by a traitor (which could even be a general). It turns out, mathematically speaking, that is you are using oral messages you need to have at least 2/3 of the generals that are loyal to guarantee the correct messages are identified. In case of written messages you don't have this kind of constrain but of course you need to have the capability to detect if tampering occurred.

Blockchain solves this problem in a fully distributed way (as distributed were the camps) with no need for a centralised organ to check what is going on.

In this sense blockchain indeed represents a key solution to the management of distributed data (bases). As we are moving towards a world of distributed autonomous systems whose loose cooperation (interaction) generates value, solution like the one of Blockchain are godsend.

Hence I agree with the analyses of the WEF, in the sense that we need to create a fabric out of independent, or loosely dependent, data points (and data will tend to be clustered into applications). Same goes for the coordination of distributed, independent services. And same goes for the coordination of independent organisations, like the one formed by individuals creating with their car and their availability to be a driver: Uber. 

Blockchain technology can be the answer to this.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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