It is great to be first. But it is better to be correct. Humans seems to always be in a hurry, which often leads to a mistake. Countless times we have jump into something without fully understanding the situation. This phenomenon has given rise to the phrase unintended consequences.
There is a rush to be the first to implement IoT. These early solution almost certainly deficient in some significant ways that will lead to unintended consequences. This paper argues that we are throwing caution to the wind. Read it and beware.
I recently explained to my cousin why I’m skeptical about blockchain. She is in the technology side of the banking industry so her interest was more than casual. Below is basically what I told my cousin.
A blockchain is a ledger: An append-only file that stores records (i.e., blocks). The blockchain file is replicated across many nodes to build trust. In order to corrupt the file, an attacker must co-opt 50% plus one nodes. The more nodes involved, the greater the trust. I speculated that a highly trusted blockchain needs to be widely distributed because if at breakfast it become known that a $10B hedge fund ledger were distributed across only 10 nodes the money would be missing by dinner.
Second, because the blockchain file is distributed the information is shared. Sharing data increases the security perimeter that must be guarded. Thus there is a conflict between trust (increases with node count) and security/privacy (decreases with node count).
The last point, which is the most overlooked, is that blockchain does very little to protect against fraud. It protects the ledger by making it hard to tamper with. However, the ledger is internal data that is fairly easy to protect. But it does nothing to prevent an erroneous ledger entry from being inserted in the first place, as the millions of dollars of stolen bitcoins attest to. Therefore, the blockchain offers no help for the most vulnerable attack vectors.
In addition to these limitations, blockchain is also very inefficient, Consequently I have yet to be shown a use case (other that crytocurrency) for blockchain. Tell if I’m wrong in the comments.
I have an earlier and longer post on block chain.
Second, the ledger is constructed as a chain of blocks that are cryptographically connected. Each block has a hash value that contains the hash value of its predecessor block. This is the key to blockchain. Modifying a block changes its hash value and it will not match the value stored in the successor block. Therefore, in order to incorporate this modified block into an existing chain all successor blocks must also be modified.
What3words is a fascinating technology for mapping the earth. Instead of a postal address (which is country-specific and too coarse) or latitude and longitude (which is too hard to remember), one can use a simple three-word phrase. For example, my office is gates.fears.value [*] It is also 35°46’17.8″N 78°40’25.1″W. The latter is more precise but cannot be remember or easily shared. Also, notice the difference in URL complexity. The former is 36 characters long (17 not counting the domain) and the latter is 65 (50).
Each three-word phase uniquely identifies a 9 square meter patch of the earth. The advantage over postal addresses is obvious–you can identify the door of your building to take a delivery or you can specify the where you are in a park.
It is a novel way to map the earth. Read the white paper.
[*] If “gates” is taken as for Bill Gates/Microsoft, my office location has the added advantage of being a sentence that might even be true.