Blockchain technology is making headlines these days. The blockchain is a list (of transactions, agreements, or data) which grows constantly based on information that is added to it. Every block is linked to all the other blocks and is stored in an encrypted way. The blockchain is distributed, and everyone who has a stake in the block will have a copy of the blockchain, the only way to modify the blockchain is with the agreement of the others who are also maintaining the list.
The blockchain is the core of cryptocurrencies, and it has opened up a whole new research avenue for people who are interested in the way that the technology works. There’s still a long way to go before blockchain is ‘perfect’ and having a better understanding of the technology is essential for further growth. There are a lot of factors that are influencing the evolution of blockchain. Some of those factors are positive and are helping to promote massive growth, others are less positive.
The blockchain needs communication and users. Without a large user-base, blockchain would be worthless. We may want to promote electronic transactions as much as possible, and certainly that’s what a blockchain utopia would look like, but the fact is that as good as the internet is, it is not ubiquitous yet and there are many parts of the world, even in the western world, where internet connections are slow and unstable. This makes it difficult for there to be universal adoption. Another concern is that following the Net Neutrality vote, there is now the option for ISPs to control the rate of transmission of specific types of packet. This means that the major ISPs could feasibly control the rate at which blockchain information is transmitted, and charge more for people who want to be involved with blockchains. This, again, could be a huge problem for some uses of the technology. It’s one reason why people still like to carry physical cash around with them.
Public Need and Interest
Bitcoin is the most well-known form of blockchain technology and it has a bit of a shady reputation because a lot of people don’t understand how it works. It grew as an untraceable form of money, and the early adopters were cryptogeeks, political activists and those with anarchistic leanings. Those who are end users now may feel cynical and don’t really have any particular urgent need to use blockchain. After all, why would you use blockchain when your banking system works well? There is no killer app.
There is a lot of interest in blockchain in countries where internet connections are stable, and the average consumer is tech savvy, but at the moment blockchain is just a toy to those users. The Pioneers are currently working on ways to make blockchain easier to use and to make it a more friction-free process. Even simple wallet management is a challenge right now for some people.
Privacy and Security
The concept of privacy is one of the guiding principles of the blockchain, and blockchain is also intended to be secure by design. There are still some issues with it, however. Right now, blockchains are vulnerable to a 51% attack. If someone controls more than half of the network, then they can manipulate it and add false data to ledgers. Finding a way around this will be an essential part of building long-term trust in the idea of the blockchain.
Right now, the idea of there not being a broker or a middleman is appealing, and it is something that has inspired people to take an interest in cryptocurrencies and the blockchain as a whole. It is a nice idea and giving people power over their own assets, and the ability to not depend on banks could be a huge step forward. However, governments are looking to regulate currencies, and if they do this then they may introduce a middleman in some artificial fashion, which would invalidate the whole appeal of the technology. That is something that blockchain pioneers are fighting against, and that they will fight against with passion.
Blockchain restores democracy and equality and helps to ensure that the people who are participating in the chain get the credit and the reward. It is something that is of huge importance to those who are active in the world of crypto. There are blockchain based technologies that focus on the idea of shared reward for work, and that reward artists and content creators for what they do. There are chains that are focused around rewarding people for exercise, and there are even distributed ledgers for energy, and for physical products. The idea is to reward creators, producers, growers and sellers, and to cut away the all-powerful middle man that manipulates prices and controls the supply chain.
On paper, these are nice ideas. How well they will play out remains to be seen. One of the biggest challenges for blockchain is also one of the things that is driving its innovations. For any idea to work it needs the backing of the community. The sheer number of dead altcoins and abandoned blockchain projects should give an idea of exactly how hard it is to get a new idea off the ground. Disputes in blockchain projects lead to forked projects which then lead to lower use and adoption, and further problems.
Can an anarchistic system grow and thrive, or will it fall prey to the problems of being seen as a wild west? Will the project need regulation in order to grow, and if it does, will that regulation remove the very benefits that were touted in the first place? Only time will tell. The https://path.network technology is still very new and immature, and it is something that has a long time to grow. Perhaps in 2025 we will all be tapping our phones to pay with a cryptocurrency, and having our work tracked through blockchain ledgers. Or perhaps we will look back and laugh at the fever over a failed social experiment.