Blockchain’s Evolution: How Humans Collaborate in Cloud-based Conception
- February 24, 2020
- Federico Kattan
What is a Blockchain?
Blockchains are traditionally described as a novel form of distributed ledger technology that cryptographically secures records and transactions; in more simple terms is a network of computers that co-custodize a set of records guaranteeing: availability, immutability, and record authorship. Every computer has a complete copy of the ledger, but nobody can unilaterally decide to make changes to it; playing by the rules implies a financial reward, while playing a foul has negative financial consequences: every computer operator is then incentivised to maintain, and protect the ledger.
In a Blockchain, the records are organised in blocks that are then linked one to another by a cryptographic “fingerprint” called a “hash”, hence the name “Block Chain”; any attempt to alter the data in a given block, would require modification of all the blocks that succeeded it and the consensus (and synchronisation of the database) of every computer in the network.
Anyone can verify the existence and history of a record from inception to its current state by just downloading a copy of the ledger and querying it to obtain the needed information. Since the ledger can’t be altered unilaterally by anyone without making it obviously inconsistent, and cryptographic guarantees hold the authorship of records, the ledger as a whole can be trusted and considered credible.
Why is it important?
Through history we have used ledgers for innumerable things, like counting crops, milk, or money; ledgers have been so useful through history that the earliest form of human writing (found in the city of Uruk, and dated from around 5000 years ago) is more like Excel than Word.
The digital revolution owes part of its success to the ease of creating, copying, and transferring information. A basic tenet of the digital economy is the near-zero marginal cost of duplicating and transferring information like software, music, movies, or books.
The ease of duplicating, altering, and shipping information is in direct opposition to the creation and maintenance of a trusted database; so traditionally access rights to the data and modification of databases has been guarded jealousy by enterprises. To protect the information from unauthorized access, multiple layers of authorization and authentication must be implemented, and in extreme circumstances (where the sensitivity of the data requires it), the computers are detached from the internet and guarded from physical intrusion.
A Blockchain based ledger is just a new way of producing one of the most powerful tools for human collaboration; a manner that combines the best of the digital revolution, with the ancient utility of a trusted ledger: a blockchain, enables computers to make commitments. Since the data is made immutable by the dynamics of the blockchain, access restrictions can be relaxed or eliminated (as is the case for public blockchains like Ethereum or Bitcoin)
Traditionally people had undisputed control over computers, their software, and the data they manipulate. A Blockchain inverts this relationship: once that a computer program is placed in a blockchain it will run autonomously, and everyone interacting with it must abide by the rules and protocols it defines; all this while keeping the data safe, available, and immutable thus guaranteeing to all stakeholders that rules would not change without consent.
Autonomous programs can be relied upon in a manner that traditional programs cannot. The designers trade control for trust; for some applications this is a good tradeoff as evidenced by the success of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
At Metacube we take our strong knowledge of the conceptual foundations of the technology and we couple it to our client’s business knowledge and objectives. It implies the formation of a team, and a learning curve for all involved as some of the concepts are radically new. First objective is to produce a proof of concept that showcases a fundamental area of the problem domain; it is followed by an MVP, and later with a release to production.
If you want to know more before then contact Steve Fourace.