One of my favourite pieces this week was Elaine Ou’s article, “Maybe Blockchain Really Does Have Magical Powers”. Although, it might not be apparent from the title the piece calls into question all the hype surrounding blockchain tech - and it does it well.
Although some might view the piece as nothing but pure snark, Ou does point out some of the asinine comments going around at the moment regarding blockchain tech. For example, she singles out R3’s recent comments in their Corda whitepaper on why ‘now’ for blockchains:
“What makes this vision possible today is that the recent popular interest in distributed ledger and blockchain systems has created an environment in which such a vision can be openly discussed and that a collaborative alliance through which multiple financial institutions can act together has been formed.”
In other words, what’s driving the industry at the moment is the willingness of banks to work together. Although, it’s a great kumbaya moment for financial services it probably isn’t a glowing endorsement of blockchain tech.
In many ways, we’re very close to 'peak blockchain’ (if not already there). When every consultant is pumping a technology’s ability to solve all the world’s problems this should give us all pause for thought. More than ever we should be trying to discern what the technology can do, how it can be applied and what is just straight up snake oil.
When bitcoin emerged from the ether in 2008, it revealed a new technological frontier seemingly outside of the scope of our current financial institutions—and our law books. In this Wild West of finance, there is both an uncapped potential for growth and an unknown amount of risk at play.
Last week, when the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced a challenge soliciting white papers on the topic of the use of blockchain technology in healthcare, it got me interested in trying to understand the concept a little better.
For years, tech startups sprung up on a daily basis, “revolutionising” messaging, photo sharing, taxis, damn near everything. Dominant providers were swapped out for new intermediaries who took a cut, new underdogs turned into the new winners.
The author presents a mini-language for professionals and researchers interested in drafting and analyzing contracts. It is intended for computers to read, too. The main purpose of this language is to specify, as unambiguously and completely and succinctly as possible, common contracts or contractual terms.
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