Last weekend I went to Dublin for the Blockchain Hackathon organized by Chainsmiths. The main sponsor of the event was Fidelity Investments. The event was actually by most part organized by a single person, Kevin Loaec (@KLoaec) who put enormous effort to pull it off.
The Twitter hashtag for the event was #blockhack15.
The original idea was around Autonomous Decentralized organization, temporary wallets, and selling procedurally generated art. This has been iterated over multiple times, and we have settled for proof-of concept for using Bitcoin blockchain with temporary wallets and pure client-side implementation for digital assets tracking and rewards redistribution. We started with nodejs server-side but realised that it might be possible to completely skip server side and implement everything as a single-page client-side only app, that uses blockchain for all the state and data tracking. It was quite hard to make all the necessary components to talk to each other but eventually it almost worked. We have got stuck on small technicalities with OP_RETURN data passing. Nevertheless, the concept worked.
[Those are some of the notes that I’ve taken during the event]
History: distributed ledger-like systems were known for long time. However, Bitcoin blockchain brings in distributed consensus into the picture. This is quite a unique proposition (being matched now to some extent by Ethereum).
Why Bitcoin blockchain?
- No central authority controlling it.
- There is no credit risk. The credit risk always exists when talking about national currencies or bank issuing the currency tokens.
- There is no 3rd party risk.
Scalability in Bitcoin: major issue, no real solutions, but some technical progress, eg. with Colored Coins and Open Chain to address some of the most pressing scalability issues. Will there be a single Bitcoin blockchain or will other alt-coins persevere? None knows. Bitcoin has a huge head start, most of the computing power and by far most of the investment.
Issues: mining pools becoming inherently centralized. Chinese miners dominating that part of the ecosystem already. Note however, that the miners could, but are unlikely to jeopardize the system as they have their own financial incentives at stake.
FinTech: blockchains are huge in fintech industry. They are used to reduce operational costs, for transparency and tracking, for technology itself. Not Bitcoins directly. Rather the underlying blockchain technology. Bitcoin often equated to cash – same rules apply on multiple levels.
Ethereum: promising technology. Can they build and sustain the blockchain network?
- Automating charity donations by linking small micropayments for procrastination activities that one would like to reduce in her/his own life. Inspired by SelfControlApp from MacOSX: “SelfControl is a free and open-source application for Mac OS X that lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet.”
- Charity donations made transparent for everyone involved. The donors see their funds being used for the cause advertised.
- Blockchain for a better world: donations made before crisis situations (flooding, earthquake, etc) and funds released to the areas affected by the disasters upon triggers from real world (the use of smart contracts).
- Keeping track of personal data and identity and only allowing 3rd parties to access parts of your identity (e.g. age). Think of it like a trusted 3rd party service managing access to your identity without the 3rd party.
- Automating transaction tracking for the backoffice: tracking, transparency and verification of all backoffice processes.
- Rental housing market managed by smart contracts on Ethereum.
- Smart-contract or blockchain control over doctor/pharmacist prescription market.
- Vehicle licence plate tracking via open distributed blockchain. Register for digital assets tracking.
- Workplace reward scheme; giving out reward tokens, that can be redeemed by participants for something, via company own, verifiable blockchain.
- Kidney swap: finding a donor willing to donate a kidney that matches your requirements and swapping the kidney with a donor that you have found, that doesn’t match your requirements, but matches the other party.
- Collector cards for digital content; artists broadcast a hash of original work that can be purchased and “owned” by collectors.
- Using Ethereum for control/management of mining in the Bitcoin blockchain. The idea is to form smart contract around mining pool. An allocated collateral is locked by the owner of the pool, and whistleblower can signal violation of rules that would release the collateral to all stakeholders. This mechanism would prevent mining pool owners of conducting anything outside of the set of agreed rules. Without any 3rd party controlling it.
- Identity tracking, identity creating, web-of-trust-like mapping between a person and digital identity, without central authority.
- Kondo-apartment management using blockchain. Shared between landlord and tenants for tracking assets, rental agreements, leases, etc.
- Autonomous insurance company: interested parties all sign up and make capital investment. The claims are managed by the 51% consensus, and the funds are released upon reaching the majority for a given claim.
- Associate value of software to its use. Proof-of-work evaluation system for autonomous calculation of software worth by the usage that it experiences.
- How to manage Bitcoin micropayments without the use of Bitcoins directly.
- Car-chain: tracking car ownership by public ledger.
- Lending money and using smart-contracts to track the loans and repayments.
- Distributed computing platform with BTC micropayments for proof-of-work (after certain tasks are accomplished).
- Analytics on blockchain: how to extract valuable informations from transactions on Bitcoin and alternative blockchains.
- Replacing computational proof-of-work with something meaningful in the real world.