Blockchain & Smart Contracts – Next Disruptive Technologies

During my explorations with Blockchains, Smart Contracts and Ethereum; I feel that these could be next disruptive computing paradigms. Rightly placed fifth after mainframes, personal computers, the world wide web, and social networking, it has potential to replace current Banking System, VISA /Master Cards/PayPal, Health care Asset Management Systems and list goes on.

Well suited to building economic systems in pure software.

Change is law of nature and it should not be resisted. With Internet, 20 years back we could have never imagined Google Search, Facebook, Amazon, Flipkart etc.

Rather than opposing such paradigms, there’s a need to embrace these changes.

If data privacy is an issue, private networks can be created as well with restricted access.

1.1      Trust

Both these technologies provide a platform of trust, which is difficult to break. Real power of the blockchain is in creating applications enabling users to make transactions: buying, selling, licensing, trading, streaming, and so forth

With support from Government and participation of corporates both big and small, it has potential to revolutionize the ways business is conducted.

Smart contracts have potential to replace need of third party enforcement agencies involving humans, unnecessary documentation and prevent cheating by participating parties.

1.2      Change in Attitude

Success of crypto currencies and smart contracts will require change in mindset of potential users. For example in world of crypto, private key is crucial component that drives it, in general, people protect keys when those keys are attached to value. Using smart contract and related currencies will provide that value.

Owning bitcoin/ether quickly changes our attitude towards information security.

Success of bitcoins has proved the ability to operate in a decentralized way without having to trust anyone. It demonstrated software to authoritatively and independently verify everything yourself— without appeal to authority.

Private ethereum networks can be alternate to distributed database, permissioned consortium of the stakeholders. Collaboration and sharing could simplified.

1.3      Challenges

Some of questions that come to my mind for its success are:

  1. Can Cloud service providers will provide / rent / donate infrastructure or service for mining. They already hold a large infrastructure, which can be used for further development and testing.
  2. A monitoring agency to monitor health of network, provider can take entire system for a toss. How to prevent that.
  3. Ethereum Block time is ~15 seconds but still it is quite high for retail and stock-trade transactions. With this constraint, it may not be suitable for quick online shopping experience. User will have to wait for 15 seconds before they receive a response back.
  4. Incentives for participation beyond value tokens and transaction fees.
  5. What efforts be required to forge and disrupt block chains?
  6. Can a single party or hackers break this trust?

1.4      Future

  1. Proof of Authority protocol can be used for private networks wherein the block time creation time can be reduced and will be suitable for applications wherein response time is critical.
  2. Relief is underway with 220+ companies collaborating together to formalize and plug exiting gaps, Hyperledger, an umbrella project of blockchains and related tools, by the Linux Foundation, to support the collaborative development of blockchain-based distributed ledgers. Hyperledger is also evolving into a specification that can be used as a reference to build blockchain platforms as compared to earlier blockchain solutions that address only a specific type of industry or requirement.

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