The Blockchain Is beginning to Live Up To Its Potential
The divide is wide between people that say cryptocurrency will transform society and people who find no substance within the entire field. Lost between the extremes is that the reality that many billions of dollars of applications are operating today, mostly in boring, niche “blockchain” applications few people notice. It’s worth taking a survey of them to urge some idea of what the longer term might bring, a minimum of within the near term.
A blockchain may be a digital database, or ledger wont to record information and transactions collaboratively. While it’s more complex and expensive to run than a standard database created and maintained by a central party, it’s important advantages in security and charitable trust.
Blockchains are safer because no individual or entity can change or view any data except with the acceptable cryptographic private key. No company or IT worker or hacker or writ or disgruntled ex-spouse or pharmaceutical company has access to your data without your permission. most successful cryptocurrencies are supported blockchains, but blockchains needn’t have any ties to crypto to function.
One major application is personal medical information. Your medical data is fragmented among different providers, test companies, insurers, pharmacies, public health agencies, and other entities, often resulting in frustration, security breaches, and mistakes.
There are traditional database solutions like MyChart, but they’re being challenged by blockchain competitors like Patientory, Nebula Genomics, BurstIQ, and MedicalChain. rather than MyChart having to sign information-sharing deals with every possible entity and each patient, blockchain solutions operate peer-to-peer. As long as any pair of participants use the service – you and your doctor, your insurance firm and your testing lab, your pharmacy, and your urgent care clinic – they will communicate seamlessly and securely.
Another area of the rapid climb is elections. Elections throughout history have indeed been rigged or stolen. Even with today’s technology, it is often almost impossible to work out a definitive winner in close elections. Plus, the method of voting is often tedious. And, of course, confidence is undermined because the method is meant and travel by incumbent elected officials.
That’s why some states are trying to find blockchain solutions. Voatz runs a blockchain for West Virginia military personnel and travelers. Another entrant is Follow My Vote. The state-run Illinois Blockchain Initiative uses a blockchain to secure voter registration information. With a public blockchain, every voter could see precisely how their vote was recorded – or not – and cry foul if there have been any errors. But nobody aside from the voter could see that information.
Losing candidates could check the totals and confirm there have been no missing, unaccounted for, or illegitimate votes. Recounts would be unnecessary, and totals would be available immediately upon the closing of polls. Blockchains could support any method of voting-machines, paper ballots, mail ballots, or electronic – but are naturally suited to mobile device voting secured by biometric information like fingerprints and face recognition.
MediaChain (acquired by Spotify in 2017), MadHive, Steem, Civil, and therefore the Open Music Initiative, alongside other entrants, run blockchains for the media business, paying creators and editors — collecting fees from users and advertisers-without the necessity for centralized media companies to act as intermediaries. Another big sector is logistics, with companies like DHL Worldwide Express (yes, the large shipper), Block Array, Maersk (yes, the large shipper, working with IBM), and ShipChain are using blockchains to trace and manage supply chains everywhere on the planet.
There are even blockchains for non-humans. Filament, Hypr, and Xage are three companies that hook your things-your refrigerator, car, video doorbell, Alexa, and everything else with a chip and a signal-together securely. nobody but you’ll see your information, but you’ll aggregate it and provide it to whomever you wish. Your refrigerator can ask InstaCart, your video doorbell to the police, your car to your mechanic.
This just scratches the surface of blockchains within the current operation. While some applications use cryptocurrency et al. don’t, if blockchain adoption continues to extend, cryptocurrency use will inevitably grow also. Cryptographically protected distributed public ledgers are a strong tool and can replace many existing private centralized ledgers, with profound effects on business models and society.