This Week in Tech
Blockchain. It's the new buzzword in tech. Everybody is talking about it. Everybody wants to use it. In some ways it feels like a solution in need of a problem. But boy, when that problem is identified... we might see block chain add some order and accountability to the otherwise unruly wild-wild west of cyberspace.
What is blockchain?
When you hear the word blockchain you probably immediately think about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Whilst blockchain is part of the technology that makes these currencies possible - it is not a currency itself. It is easier to understand what blockchain is if you get the idea of cryptocurrencies out of your head when trying to understand it.
Blockchain is a public distributed way of tracking transactions secured by cryptography. Let's break this down:
Other resources and explanations:
The blockchain stuff in the news this week:
|In 2014, Maersk followed a refrigerated container filled with roses and avocados from Kenya to the Netherlands. The company found that almost 30 people and organisations were involved in processing the box on its journey to Europe. The shipment took about 34 days to get from the farm to the retailers, including 10 days waiting for documents to be processed. One of the critical documents went missing, only to be found later amid a pile of paper.|
A dose of reality amidst the hype:
Blockchain is designed to record transactions. That is all.
More data added to each transaction (e.g. note, images, other fields in the record) makes the calculation of the secure hash far more complicated and requires additional computing resources. Also, each transaction is only valid when 'accepted' by more than 50% of the network, which can make validating a transaction much slower. As the list of transactions or 'blocks' grows, so does the computing power needed to manage the blockchain. It also makes each transaction slower to process. What incentive is there for people to keep on running their part of the distributed network with no reward but considerable cost?
|"...last year it was claimed that the computing power required to keep the [Bitcoin} network running consumes as much energy as was used by 159 of the world’s nations"|
Here are some people raining on the parade...
|“Right now, Ethereum can process 17 transactions per second. Facebook can handle 175,000 requests per second. Visa, 44,000 transactions per second. So, if we really want to use cryptocurrencies as currencies, it would not be possible as of this moment.”|
|Justas Pikelis, co-founder of blockchain Ecommerce platform, Monetha|
|As of late 2016, it [Bitcoin] can only process about seven transactions per second, and each transaction costs about $0.20 and can only store 80 bytes of data.|
Hacks and Cracks
Robots and Robotics
Social media & social implications
That's it for this week. Hope you have a much better understanding of blockchain and are no longer stymied when the learners ask tricky questions about it!
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