back to article IBM open sources its blockchain code – the non-crazy part of Bitcoin

IBM has open sourced a significant chunk of the blockchain code it has been working on, putting its weight behind the Linux Foundation and its Hyperledger project. Big Blue has dumped the Apache 2.0-licensed source on GitHub, providing a limited but functional dev environment to build on. The IT giant has pledged to maintain …

  1. frank ly

    Solution looking for a problem

    "One company agrees to pay another x amount of dollars to deliver their product. Currently this approach requires multiple layers of review and approval before payment is made."

    That actually sounds like a good thing.

    "The healthcare industry could share electronic medical records in fast and secure ways."

    They could do that at the moment if they had any incentive and could agree between themselves and their professional bodies and their governments. Oh, .... right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solution looking for a problem

      Yes I thought that example was a terrible one. Companies have multiple layers of review and approval to insure money is spent properly. Putting it all in a blockchain won't take away the fact that expenses over $50K need approval X, over $500K need approval X and Y, and $5M need X, Y and Z. Whether each layer adds their approval into a blockchain, sends an email, signs a piece of paper or sends up smoke signals won't change that.

      1. KitD

        @DougS Re: Solution looking for a problem

        > Whether each layer adds their approval into a blockchain, sends an email, signs a piece of paper or sends up smoke signals won't change that.

        It will if the blockchain is of the "smart" variety proposed by IBM et al. Approvals like that become part of the transaction handling, with all communication between the parties and the blockchain, rather than each other.

    2. murraci

      Re: Solution looking for a problem

      The whole point of blockchains is that institutions and people don't have to agree. Adecentralised application is completely user controlled. So when you go to Doctor X, or Hospital Y, they upload your records to your personal healthcare wallet linked to a blockchain ID. When you show your records to your lawyer after you've had an accident, your lawyer can know from verifying the digital signatures against the blockchain IDs that the records are true. Professional bodies and governments are disintermediated. The user controls their data and who has access to it. And that's the way things should be.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Solution looking for a problem

        There is nothing magic about a blockchain ID, it provides the same authentication that having that information signed with the hospital's signing key would. You don't need a blockchain to allow you to connect to your hospital via your health app and download records to your healthcare wallet.

        In either scenario by far the most difficult hurdle will be all the regulatory issues they'll have to work around to even ALLOW your phone app to connect to the hospital and access/download health records. Blockchains don't remove those regulatory hurdles or make the process any more secure.

  2. ciaran

    What the RFID?

    I fail to see why an article about blockchain technology keeps bring RFID technology into the discussion. Blockchain is purely virtual, RFID is mostly a mistake^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H a physical implementation. Yes an integration could link them, but certainly there are no RFIDs used in the healthcare industry...

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: What the RFID?

      I think you will find that RFIDs are used to label many medical supplies (stock control)

  3. pben

    I wonder if this could be a foundation for implementing Nelson's vision of an internet of information consumers directly paying information providers. Moving the internet off the advertising business model of support.

  4. G Mac
    Black Helicopters

    Seems a bit thin on details - aka happy path only...

    Hmm this seems to be fairly happy path, and it might be true, though I have questions/observations:

    * My understanding of the blockchain processing is that it is computationally intensive, taking non-trivial compute power and a finite time (10 minutes for BTC at the moment??), so 'almost instantly' is subject to understanding. 10 minutes versus 3 days for a check to clear? Sure

    * It is also my understanding that, at least for BTC (at the moment), around 6 'independent' (correct?) verifiers of the transactions in the next block is required (concensus mentioned in article), so although you have disintermediated the current payment system, you reintermediated those folks;

    * The fear for verification is that if a common group of verifiers make up some high proportion of the total verifiers then it becomes a bit dodgy since they can verify spoofed transactions. From memory there was some concern in BTC land a couple of years ago when a 'mining' group got ~45% (correct?) of the pool, which they then voluntarily scaled back. What happens for these ledgers?

    * It is also my understanding that as a 'reward' for verifying the block the verifiers are rewarded in BTC for the effort (hence 'mining'). Eventually that was to be replaced by a transaction fee that is associated with each transaction as payment for the verification effort.

    Since this new system cannot create currency (aka forging), it either would need another token for payment (analogous to BTC) or the transaction fee is a cut of the invoice price. I am sure that there may be some folks out there that are willing to verify for free, but like most things that are free you may not have a great experience (with say turnaround time).

    On the other hand if you do add a transaction fee, you could expect that the higher the fee the higher priority for verification. What does that fee look like? Do I pay 0.X% for 3 day turnaround, and X.0% for 'almost instantaneously'? Is there a market for transaction verifiers? If so how to I get that - remember they have to be 'independent'. I smell Wall Street.

    * Is this a single global ledger, a global ledger per currency, combination thereof, or some arbitrarily created ones, say for a supplier?

    * Who verifies the verifiers? Given currency ones is that is supranational? Government? Self-regulated (remembering self-regulation is to regulation what self-esteem is to esteem)?

    If it is some ledger created for that supplier, who are the independent verifiers? Or is the supplier allowed to mark their own homework?

    * How do you deal with cross currency transactions - that is, getting the cross rate? Is that set at transaction time or delivery (given it takes non-trivial amount of time to create/transport goods)? Do you trust that rate setter?

    * What are the laws surrounding problems that occur (they always will - see the history of the credit card industry). What happens when returning goods? What happens in disputes?

    With respect to the RFID, yes they use it for stock control now, but now it proposed to use it for financial transaction control. To stop the swap out of goods for cheaper knockoffs, is it embedded in the product itself? When I get a pallet of cement, do I scan each bag to make sure I got them all, or just the pallet, trusting the supplier (and deliverer!)?

    Hmm a bit of a wall of text. But although this could be a miracle, just saying it will be so without explaining what it actually means in practice is a bit thin.

  5. BobRocket

    BlockChain has FA to do with money

    It is a cryptographically signed digital ledger.

    It provides full traceability of transactions between participants.

    So when I've got an AOG because partno. xxx failed OOS everybody knows exactly which planes all the other are fitted, when, where and by whom.

    The BlockChain can be used for currency but that is just a demonstrator app.

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