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Bitcoin Math Security The Almighty Buck Technology

Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age? (theguardian.com) 190

mspohr writes: This article makes a fairly persuasive argument for the utility of the blockchain. It discusses a wide variety of companies and government exploring blockchain to maintain secure records which cannot be altered. One interesting application is to use blockchain to maintain property records in many countries where these records are often incomplete and are easily corrupted (intentionally or unintentionally). A linked article in The Economist expands the thought and discusses changes to the blockchain to improve performance, reduce overhead and accommodate different uses. (See also this related poll.)
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Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age?

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  • answer: no (Score:2, Insightful)

    and any other post that ends with a question mark
    • Re:answer: no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @10:46PM (#51363507)

      Does he mean that blockchain that is already having trouble scaling in a Bitcoin market of meth dealers and Russian ransomware jockeys? What would happen if we tried using it to, say, keep track of the world's Visa transactions?

      • Re:answer: no (Score:5, Informative)

        by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @11:47PM (#51363665)
        I don't use Bitcoin, but from what little I've read from previous stories here or elsewhere is that the scaling issue at current is due to conflicts within the community and not an inherent problem with the blockchain concept. Someone who was in favor of increasing the size even used a similar example that it would need to be larger in order to handle all of the transactions for a major credit card company.
      • Does he mean that blockchain that is already having trouble scaling in a Bitcoin market of meth dealers and Russian ransomware jockeys? What would happen if we tried using it to, say, keep track of the world's Visa transactions?

        Internet humor is defined as tragedy that ends with the words "and then I lost my bitcoins".

        Pray that doesn't become "and then I lost my visa".

        • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

          That's OK you don't need a worker visa to work in US anyway...

        • >Internet humor is defined as tragedy that ends with the words "and then I lost my bitcoins".

          They hacked my Nest thermostat, and then I lost my bitcoins.

          They hacked my web-enabled refrigerator, and then I lost my bitcoins.

          They hacked my television, and then I lost my bitcoins.

          Sing along, now.....something something something, "and then I lost my bitcoins."

    • I'd grant it "most important invention of October 31, 2008".

    • This is a discussion forum. Questions are typically a good mechanism for starting a discussion. Perhaps this is not a good place for you.

    • Can Betteridge's Law Of Headlines Be Applied 100% of the Time?

  • Of course not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @10:41PM (#51363491)

    You can achieve similar things with a gossip protocol. Blockchains are just one step in the evolution of distributed and public logs. Blockchains are in fact a very very wasteful, with all that proof-of-work. Most of bitcoin is controlled by china, and most of china's energy comes from old-fashioned coal. So, Blockchains as of now are a very very dirty technology.

    But I'm really looking forward in seeing newer approaches emerge which don't need this kind of proof of work but are still safe against spam. Bitcoin has done one very important thing IMO, it has put attention to this topic. There are tons of startups everywhere. One really has to fear that "blockchain" becomes a new buzzword.

    • and most of china's energy comes from old-fashioned coal.

      The thing I 'like' about China is they get stuff done. They could announce tomorrow they were going to be 100% nuclear in 10 years and I believe they'd actually do it.

      Meanwhile all the locals around here are all up in arms over our coal plant shutting and whining how the EPA 'ruins' Murica. I couldn't imagine the shitstorm that would happen if a "Muslim" suggested that.

      • Yeah, democracies are slow in this regard, and even the chinese government criticises the slowness as problem of the democratic approach. But still, its the best proven system guaranteeing individual freedoms, so no way we should chose another one.

        China has a big problem with regional party bosses playing "little god". Bejing has to keep them all under control.

        • It is because democracy to work perfectly depends on collaborative participants. But in practice the human being is concerned only with himself and at most with their immediate relatives. Hell, I still see around people arrogantly spreading that everyone should use the "survival of the fittest" or the "law of the jungle", which are completely incompatible with democracy.
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        Meanwhile all the locals around here are all up in arms over our coal plant shutting and whining how the EPA 'ruins' Murica

        Reality is probably that it's thirty years old and has been run like a car stolen by a teenage speed freak. Any sort of failure you can think of happening in a conventional thermal power station has happened in an American power plant somewhere due to sheer neglect - but it does provide good case studies into how bad things can get. At least one place had everything on the boiler and

      • by narcc ( 412956 )

        The obvious solution, naturally, is to have several high-profile Muslims start a campaign to expand energy production via coal, while simultaneously lobbying to end nuclear, wind, and solar initiatives.

        We'll see either an end to the irrational fear of Muslims, a redneck push toward clean energy, or their heads will explode. In any case, it'll solve at least one problem.

      • The thing I 'like' about China is they get stuff done. They could announce tomorrow they were going to be 100% nuclear in 10 years and I believe they'd actually do it.

        Haha, sucker. They also claimed they'd be fully industrial by now but they have cities lying around empty because they won't let their people come up fast enough to fill them [citymetric.com] and they are building more. If China said they were going to build 30 nuclear reactors, I would assume they were going to break ground on 20 and finish 5

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        And yet, they haven't. We'll see how that plays out in a few years when they have a massive population on early medical retirement because their lungs wore out faster than the rest of them.

    • by awol ( 98751 )

      Distributed ledgers have some value, but there are not many applications where the cost of the bitcoin approach is justified. All this talk of the blockchain in the finance industry is interesting but frankly smacks a bit too much of "me too" bandwagonism for my liking. I really struggle to understand the benefits of a distributed ledger in most financial transactions. Certainly can't understand the value with latency and volume constraints like the current bitcoin implementation.

      I think public key cryptogr

    • by epine ( 68316 )

      Most of bitcoin is controlled by china, and most of china's energy comes from old-fashioned coal. So, Blockchains as of now are a very very dirty technology.

      Congratulations. You are now the proud owner of a double F minus in Fungibility 101.

      Plus, bonus!

      An exclusive membership is now heading your way to an elite social club which includes former Canadian politicians who asserted than none of the Canadian tritium headed to America was making its way into nuclear warheads (fine print: as America was very care

  • Once the "permanent, incorruptible" begins, nothing before then will matter.

    Finally, once and for all, it will bring peace to the world wherever their is a land dispute!
  • by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @10:43PM (#51363497)

    Normal definition is 99 million years. So, no; most important IT invention is probably the digital computer.

  • The main problem with the blockchain is that it's a consensus. That's OK as long as anyone isn't actively trying to subvert it. If someone does actively attempt to subvert it, would anyone actually notice?

    The other issue with it is, of course, trust. At some point you have to trust someone, which leads to the normal theft, fraud, etc issues. That's not really a blockchain problem per se, it's more of an operationalization issue.

    • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @11:21PM (#51363601)

      In fact, the blockchain has been designed with distrust in mind. Unlike most other systems, it isn't the usual "just add a 3rd party everyone trusts, and lets call the problem solved" (like with TLS certificates, there you even have hundreds of parties everyone trusts), but it gives you a real hard number of people you can assume to act "hostile" and the system is still stable, without having a trusted third party. Its all real nice, in theory, except for the question of how to bring information about the current hashing speed of the network to the client. This is the only information you as non-hashing party have to trust.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @10:51PM (#51363517)

    I'd say it was the flush toilet.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
    Watch as a lot of traditional services try and become all edgy with a new cyber front end. Same old brand and profits, but now nationally unregulated, online and very global.
    The new selected gatekeepers of allowable cyber fund movements for a fee and tracking.
    What the Vice, Master Race, American Excess credit cards allowed past generations to enjoy will now be presented in a new digital front, one branding hop away from a big bank.
    Same big gov tracking back to you if you try to support a whistleblower
  • Would it be possible to store data this way?

    • by Teancum ( 67324 )

      It isn't so much a way to store data, which can be done with any peer to peer network like a TOR network, and is in fact where the concept of "cloud storage" comes from. What a block chain does is to timestamp and certify that the data integrity is maintained in such a peer to peer data network.

      It is a time stamp so far as you can also demonstrate a chronological sequence between each block and point to one block and certify that it came before another block. You can also establish "ownership" of a chunk

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday January 24, 2016 @11:42PM (#51363655)

    If anything is the most important IT invention of our age, it's the invention of the router. routers are the fundamental building block of what we consider to be the internet. they can be software or hardware based but they are what tie many computers together so that they can communicate quickly. without routers, bitcoin could not have even existed beyond an idea.

    • by Teancum ( 67324 )

      Block chains don't need routers to exist, although it certainly is a useful feature. You can easily (or with modest difficulty) run a block chain network strictly through a sneaker network (aka with just thumb drives/floppy discs (yes... they still exist)/optical storage/etc.) moving data physically from one computer to the next. That is also true of sending transactions for cryptocurrency as well, although at some point you need to get those transactions folded into the primary block chain.

      I would agree

  • Is this a bitcoin puff piece or just stupid? In terms of getting things done, do blockchains even show up on people's radar to make it to a top 50 of useful things in IT?
  • >> companies and government exploring blockchain to maintain secure records which cannot be altered

    Why bother? The most important information and most important decisions usually have no paper trail. After all, it just takes a phone call to make a hard drive disappear, and once people reach a particular level they seem to be completely immune to restrictions on handling classified information.

  • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Monday January 25, 2016 @12:51AM (#51363803)
    Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age? No!

    more complete Answer "FUCK NO, to think it is laughable"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2016 @01:27AM (#51363901)

    Bitcoin is a distraction. What the underlying technology, the blockchain, is actually enabling is a new internet.

    This is part of a larger trend that covers things like serverless architecture (e.g. AWS Lambda, public cloud computing) and peer-to-peer storage systems (e.g. IPFS, Storj). We are moving increasingly towards a web that will be "decentralized".

    These are not buzz words or utopian fantasies. This is a continuation of the internet's development. What started from widely distributed networks has long since been concentrated into enormous data silos and processing farms under the tight control of a handful of megacorps. We've been complaining about that for over a decade now. But it's only over the past year or two that we starting to witness a swing of the pendulum back in the other direction.

    With the advent of new blockchain-based platforms, most notably Ethereum, but perhaps also Tao chain and MaidSafe, we are going to see the business models of the current web come under threat in a serious way. Just like piracy disintermediated media giants and news publishers, just like open source disintermediated proprietary software. and just like Bitcoin and Uber have been attempting to disintermediate the financial sector and taxi industry, there is no question that a large segment of top tech companies are going to evaporate under the coming weight of this movement.

    They will never be able to compete with organizations that have become entirely decentralized. These organizations, which are in the making as we speak, are going to drastically lower transactions costs, stimulate greater public participation, support more efficient governance, and promote more incentives for average web users. All these organizations need to do is replicate current models like Airbnb, Amazon, Uber, Reddit, Twitter, and so on, with the new tech.

    That will rapidly destabilize whatever you might think is a stable landscape. I can't predict precisely what will happen, but if my research on this subject is worth anything at all, then it's likely that we'll be seeing a transformation on the scale of the internet itself, if not greater.

    Do some in-depth reading on this before letting your complacency and skepticism get the better of you. Bitcoin is a joke compared to what's coming.

  • The blockchain isn't even on the list of important inventions of our age.

    To ask whether it's the most important, is like asking if Ryan Hoyer is the most important quarterback in the NFL. He's really important to one city, but he couldn't handle prime time.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Monday January 25, 2016 @03:01AM (#51364057)

    Email, the WWW, computers, computer networks, etc. are all a much, mucg more important than this specialized solution for a problem that has other solutions as well.

    The question can be answered with a resounding "No, and why are you asking stupid questions?"

  • I'm getting pretty old now, so "My Age" has brought me technological advances like Linux, broadband and mobile Internet, and Smartphones.

    Compared to those, electronic funny money like Bitcoin isn't even on the radar. Hell... Bitcoin has supposedly been "popular" for 5 years now and most brick and mortar stores still don't take it.

    But, hey... I know that a few Slashdot editors got in early and made some money. Good for them, I guess, but they probably should have cashed out when the price was briefly above $

  • Could a blockchain be used to create a tamper-proof log file?

  • by Parker Lewis ( 999165 ) on Monday January 25, 2016 @09:07AM (#51364921)
    Why are we not using it for eletronic voting systems?
    • Yes it could. TFA mentions that application.

      • My English is a bit bad and I didn't read the entire article (while I've read a bunch of blockchain articles in the last months). But in a quick search, I was not able to find mention to this (using the keywords that came to my mind). So, this is a truth question: can you point me where? I mean, a sentence/keyword that I can search in the text.
        • by mspohr ( 589790 )

          Sorry. It's a bit buried.
          You have to go to The Economist article and look at the comments where voting is discussed.
          http://www.economist.com/node/... [economist.com]

          • Thanks, good sir! Nice to see this idea spreading! I'm from Brazil, and we have e-voting system here, but we have serious concerns with current used system. Interestingly, most of people here prefers the e-voting due results speed, even with these concerns.
    • You can't implement a secret ballot since all transactions are public.

  • The introduction of virtual machines was a huge step forward for computer utilization and security. The ability for a single physical server to serve a diverse set of workloads in a secure and efficient manner made mainframes far more versatile and is a cornerstone of cloud computing.

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