With more technological applications and platforms getting developed that can resolve problems having single and multi-faceted angles, blockchain is one technology among a few that is being perceived as the Internet of the 21st century. For someone new to the keyword ‘blockchain’, it consists of digital records (data stored in a tabular format) which are referred to as blocks. The blocks are interlinked using cryptography (sending and receiving data securely by utilizing unique protocols). Every block consists of a cryptographic hash function (an algorithm that synchronizes the data of arbitrary size to an array of fixed size) of the prior block, a timestamp (mechanism of safely tracking the creation and modification time of a document), and transaction data as well. In crux, it stores digital information in the form of blocks in an open-source platform. In its early days, blockchain was mostly constrained towards the financial industry. But with time and constant scrutinization, the technology started getting imbibed by other industries as well. The medical industry, logistics industry, and supply chain industry were among the few risk-takers where the technology started getting experimented and imbibed slowly and gradually. As companies of almost all sizes and nature started to experience numerous advantages of employing the technology, the rest of the industries across the world started becoming curious and began utilizing blockchain. This piece will walk you through the various upgradations that the technology’s ecosystem has gone through. Blockchain 1.0
As mentioned earlier, the first phase of blockchain majorly focused on financial services. After various firms experimented with it for some time, firms across industries started thinking about the initial steps to modify their overall architecture. One of the few teething hurdles which the technology faced was the suitability of software and hardware. One major reason among many for developing such kind of technology was the decreasing trust in the intermediaries while executing financial transactions. As separate cryptocurrencies (a digital currency secured by cryptography) were developed to be utilized in various open-source exchange platforms, appropriate hardware equipment had become the need of the hour to make the transaction transform from becoming an idea into a reality. After numerous hit-and-try, now famous cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin got built. Initially, it looked fine, but with time an issue cropped-in where one kind of cryptocurrency wasn’t able to get exchanged with a unique one. To solve that issue, the feature of interoperability was included. With the help of this characteristic, transactions with different cryptocurrencies became possible. This feature could be considered the stepping stone to Blockchain 2.0.
It was in the blockchain version 2.0 that technological experts made the distinction that blockchain wasn’t just limited to bitcoin rather it was a programmable distributed open-sourced infrastructure that operated on trust. Like the Internet saw up-gradation in protocols from TCP/IP to HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol)/SMTP (simple mail transfer protocol)/FTP (file transfer protocol) protocols, in blockchain 2.0 the focus broadened to social networks, file-sharing services, smart contracts, and much more. Around this time, coders started modifying the overall architecture making the blockchain ecosystem robust, adaptable, and intact from third party intruders (hackers).
Smart contracts as the name indicates are contracts build according to the project/task’s nature, the overall time required for its completion, modifying or personalizing minor things while the task is being implemented. Smart contracts are also referred to as dApps/decentralized applications. One major advantage of employing smart contracts is that they are built on distributed ledger architecture. A distributed ledger architecture is an architecture where there’s no need for an authority for validating or authenticating processes. Blockchain could be said as a small cluster of a bigger cluster, a distributed ledger. Utilizing smart contracts also reduces operational efficiencies. As smart contract/s heavily rely on the code on which they operate, smart contracts can be employed by firms of all industries across the world. Due to complex computational abilities, they have, safety and security while data is transferred isn’t much of an issue. Another aid in respect to security is the constant development of protocols (Proof of Work, Proof of Elapsed Time, etc) which makes the sharing of data easy and secure simultaneously.
“Code is the Law”, a quote said by Lawrence Lessig is being recognized across the world by experts in almost every field. Individuals in the technical field are acknowledging and realizing the phrase’s seriousness and practicality in the present time and future as well. Whether it be artificial intelligence, neural networking, the internet of things, etc, everywhere the phrase has a deep significance on how the outcome may differ. In short, the phrase (code is the law) emphasizes prioritizing on both the context and the content while an algorithm is being written and given as an input to the machine/robot. Just like a sharp sword, a smart contract could be very beneficial or the polar opposite as well. It all depends on what and how the algorithm is written. It’s one of the few hurdles which is being looked at thoroughly while constant modifications keep on happening in the blockchain ecosystem. With so much value-add-on being experienced in many private firms, public organizations also got interested in it and started to imbibe gradually. Blockchain version 3.0 focuses majorly on public organizations employing it, intellectual property protection, quantum blockchain, and much more.
In the most recent alterations happening around the blockchain ecosystem, the focus has turned towards public firms. After observing, examining, and predicting precise advantages in the future, public institutions across the globe (more in developed nations) are figuring out how to encompass blockchain technology to make the overall functioning simpler, easy, citizen-friendly, transparent, and accountable as well. This piece of research indicates that the application of blockchain in many industries (private and public firms) has given more priority to its application in supply chain management, healthcare and medical management, and identity management among others. As mentioned earlier that blockchain’s initial application began in BFSI (banking, financial services, and insurance) industry after which the Medical industry came into existence, and then logistics and transportation were given importance afterward.
Due to the pandemic, the healthcare and medical industry as well as the supply chain and logistics industry are given more attention. Updated individual’s healthcare history and their family’s history is seen crucial in regards to having the probability of being susceptible to the current virus (COVID-19). Besides that, knowing all that information helps the doctor treat the patient appropriately. Another factor being perceived crucial at the moment is the stock of daily ingredients (fruits, vegetables, dairy products, etc) and their life cycle. Consuming fresh food/drink is being given more preference by almost every doctor. These two factors when administered via blockchain technology aid in an appropriate outcome (human being living a healthy life).
With more start-ups getting incorporated in almost every industry worldwide, protecting their core ideas has become a vital focal point. One may find many firms trying to copy the entire idea from competitors and launching the product/service prior, and hence becoming popular and famous through unfair means. To stop such unethical steps, intellectual property protection has become the norm of the day. One illustration can be seen in 3D printing. Along with blockchain, the prototypes which are being designed, developed, and used for trial purposes (before launching in the market) are now somewhat safer w.r.t plagiarism. Credit to constantly modifying consensus models, hashing, and computational abilities, copying has become nearly impossible. The protection of one’s intellectual property could also be achieved via SAML (security assertion mark-up language) as well as per this piece of research.
Besides 3D printing, another area that is being debated and discussed constantly is combining quantum theory and blockchain. This topic is said to be crucial in the success of the current version of the blockchain. For someone who has just heard about quantum theory but doesn’t know exactly what it is, it’s the study of modern physics theories (nature and behavior of matter and energy in atomic and sub-atomic level) being implemented in practical daily life. Quantum blockchain tries and overlaps the fundamentals of quantum theory and blockchain. According to this piece of research, quantum key distribution takes place between the nodes in a network when data is transferred. Quantum blockchain at the core alters some of the basics of the classic blockchain (the one’s being used at the present). At the end of the day, as the topic is fresh, experts in quantum physics and blockchain need to sit together and build up a prototype that can resolve the issue subtly and quickly.
Concluding Remarks: The journey of blockchain’s architecture, the overall ecosystem that includes applications like cryptocurrencies and much more has evolved to a great extent. The probability of it getting modified regularly and in short-interval is high as public institutions across the world are becoming curious and hence are preferring to imbibe the technology. As more emphasis is given on Research and Development in the Western part of the world, they might showcase numerous advantages of employing it across each nation. Issues that weren’t able to get resolved have exponential chances of getting the desired outcome due to appropriate infrastructure, synchronization in people’s mindset and becoming competent enough to use the technology in achieving what was desired. PrimaFelicitas have been in the industry since 2014, and have seen the changes happening on the ground. As the founders of the firm understand the behavioral changes in customers, technical experts, and the economy by large, they had prior knowledge/instinct as to what alterations might happen in the coming days. To know more about the company or to discuss the future forecasting or any other query in the field of blockchain, do visit PrimaFelicitas.
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