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50+ real world use cases built on blockchain architecture (medium.com)
85 points by vickiitb 40 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments

Almost all of these would have been possible without a blockchain. Either through a web of trust or even simple cryptographically signed messages with timestamps stored in a normal DB. Some of these aren't even "real world use cases" like Hawaii trying to boost tourism by something-something blockchain.

Civil is a notable exception, though I'm not unconvinced that it couldn't be done without one.

In the end though, if blockchain is sexier / more marketable than signing messages with GPG or SSH keys then fine. At least we're getting higher integrity guarantees on data one way or another.

Namecoin is the best example of a real world use case, a proper replacement of a DNS with no central authority. This is clearly one which is very difficult to replicate reliably without a blockchain.

All the blockchain systems have serious scalability issues with, for example, bitcoin transactions times slowing remarkably over time. I don't see how this would be a practical match for a DNS system.

Moreover, at the end of the day, even DNS is a matter of "real world truth" and there's no reason a vote by miners would be particularly reliable source of this truth.

For namecoin, the blockchain doesn’t need to be involved with grabbing the data, just creating a public record of intent.

Right now, accurate propagation of settings throughout DNS kind of assumes a lot. I don’t think Namecoin captures incentives properly either, but I can imagine some blochchain system connecting the dots.

Even if blockchain DNS systems were production quality - which they're far from - why is a 'central authority' inherently bad? The entirety of cloud computing, and the modern internet, is based on the pretense of giving your entire infrastructure to a centralized authority. "Oh, but what if your centralized cloud provider is actually evil and incompetent", the free markets allow you to change providers until you have a provider with absolute highest quality.

> Even if blockchain DNS systems were production quality - which they're far from

That's not an argument against building something...

> which they're far from - why is a 'central authority' inherently bad?

They're not. Sometimes you want a central authority, and sometimes you don't. Both modes can be good. But previously central authorities were necessary due to the physics of DNS. Blockchain enables a new mode. Now the two modes can compete, and we can reach a new equilibrium with both, or one can win out. That's what's cool about it.

>That's not an argument against building something...

At which point did I argue building things is bad? I actually took a lot of time to learn Ethereum smart contract development just to get to the bottom of the whole blockchain ecosystem. Learning and building are almost never bad things.

I'm not bashing the idea of competition between blockchain and traditional centralized authorities either. I'm extremely pro-competition. I'm bashing the fact that all - yes, all - blockchain applications provide negative value compared to their traditional counterparts. The argument that blockchain enthusiasts use to justify their support for such low-quality infrastructure is this philosophy that having no centralized authority is, by itself, valuable. This is what I'm bashing.

If my cloud provider is bad, I can switch to another one or self-host.

You can't switch from the ICANN, no matter which domain you chose, it depends on them, they effectively have a monopoly. I want to self host my domain name.

There's a fair point to be made there. But then I would ask which solution is best: lobbying hard enough to democratize the organizational structure of ICANN, creating a competitive ecosystem, or resorting exclusively to a ledger of entries with no capacity to be modified according to legalities, attacks, or otherwise? What if someone spams the ledger with too many names? What if someone takes domains that should be illegal for them to possess? What if someone takes someone else's private key? What if an organization gets their private key stolen? The vectors for exploitation don't just disappear because you have a decentralized system. The exploitative behaviour just changes.

All these issues currently exist with the existing domain name system as well.

> What if someone spams the ledger with too many names

You need to pay in coins to register a namecoin domain so this attack won't work.

> What if someone takes domains that should be illegal for them to possess?

This should be up to courts to decide if the name is illegal and handle it over, not to some random organisation like the ICANN which has no legal basis.

> What if someone takes someone else's private key?

Same as if some gets access to your registrar password right now, nothing changes with that.

> What if an organization gets their private key stolen?

Again, same as before, nothing is improved or changed by a blockchain here.

There was AlterNIC, it didn’t have a lot of success.

You can't switch ICANN... Unless you count onion addresses but then Namecoin is very similar.

Noon question: does the P2P network bootstrap with traditional DNS to find peers?

Ripple is kinda an exception as well, it allows the bank to crowdsource their nostro/vostro accounts.

Even if blockchain really just means dressed up encryption, I would never trust a security solution that is built and marketed on lies.

That is my biggest excitement. Blockchain is something the CEO wants to say they are doing at the board meeting. If this enables an end around so that we get more transparent healthcare or government or ...., they I'm fully for that.

About that fine art project they mention (it doesn't work): https://twitter.com/edent/status/1006248586395508737

> I don't understand the blockchain hype. A startup has certified my artwork & placed their verification on the bitcoin blockchain. Now art dealers & auctioneers can feel secure that I am the original artist. One small problem… I am not Leonardo da Vinci! https://www.verisart.com/works/23f2c64a-08c6-4a42-8013-84ac8...

That's the part that I can never understand with blockchain applications. Blockchain technology is excellent at maintaining a ledger or variables of information within the blockchain - these processes are completely trustless due to the properties of the blockchain. The problem is getting that information INTO the blockchain. This part DOES require trust and all those nasty things people say blockchain solves. I think it's called the oracle problem?

This is just a list of current ideas (mostly) and implementations using blockchain. Calling it a list of "real world use case" is far fetched. We have yet to see whether it actually works.


It seems to me that a reasonable test whether these ideas make sense is to ask whether they can be done without the blockchain. Most of these seem to obviously fail this test (eg the government of Hawaii is a centralized institution that clearly does not need the blockchain to mandate a change on any of the islands).

There are only 30, it's full of typos, doesn't include any finance stuff, and some aren't actually real use cases.

And three of the 30 are “Esssentia”

And a lot seem to be "...is experimenting with..."

Yeah those are the "not real use cases" I was calling out.

And I am heavily exposed to enterprise blockchain... This kind of half-assed thing doesn't build much of a case in favor of the industry.

> Rare Species Protection

I can't think of a part of meatspace more removed from the special properties of a blockchain. That's honestly dumber than blockchain iced tea or KodakCoin.

I don’t think the “Giant Graphic” format was the right choice for this kind of post.

Even if these were all full-fledged businesses/ventures/operations -- most of them don't answer what is, to me, the real question of the day: in what applications are the benefits of blockchain an actual imperative to the use case? Most of these don't seem to clear that hurdle.

"But why???" is the question I keep asking myself after reading each entry.

I wrote a Blockchain to learn the tech. I now have a pretty good understanding. Now that I get it I keep looking for legitimate reasons to use it and frankly I haven’t found many. Eliminating property title insurance via an immutable set of property ownership records/txns is one that seems reasonable. It fits because the txn volume is low. Many “forced” uses would be better served by more standard architectures.

This is just a spam ad for a Blockchain promoter "Internet of Blockchain"

Ripple? Mobile payments? How can a bloated ledger with thousands of tps be good for running on mobile. It's more like interbank thing.

Seems like most of these can be done without blockchain. Some are not even 'real world' at this point, but just experimenting. As others have pointed out, when in doubt - 'do you need a blockchain? no'. Overhyping them for use cases where they are not needed will have a negative effect on trying to get support for the places where they might actually be useful.

Blockchain is a collection of technologies rather than a single one. Like a car. Yes, one can claim their motorboat runs on “car technology” because of the internal combustion engine. But it would be strange to do so.

Real world use cases?

is developing a, that would use, will be using, it is possible to, as it seeks to, is building, which will be, seeking a way, has been experimenting, ...

Sounds more like a maybe future fantasy world.

Time to mount a 51% attack and steal land in Georgia.

"It doesn't work like that"?

Indeed it doesn't. 51% attacks don't allow you to steal something you've never owned, because there's no valid transaction that transfers ownership to you.

The only way a 51% attack allows you to steal anything is by reverting a transaction you made that sends something from you to me, and immediately replacing it with a transaction that sends the same thing from you to yourself.

This is only useful if you convinced me to give you something in return for the money you paid me in between you sending the original transaction and subsequently reverting it. Once all is said and done, even if I can't prove it (for some definition of proving it), I still _know_ you stole from me, which has its own consequences.

51% attacks _do_, however, allow you to wreak havoc on the chain state, which can sometimes be an attack worth performing.

You can prove it, you have the signed transaction from him that can't be included in the blockchain because their inputs were spent. If you know who you were dealing with that did the double spend, you likely would have a very good case against them of fraud.

There's two potential issues: Can I prove they control the private key that goes with that transaction? Can I prove that that transaction was originally used to settle a specific invoice (or something equivalent)? Sometimes, one of the two will be true and I have a strong case. In others, I have neither and it's my word against theirs.

I'm shocked IOTA isn't on this list.

Companies like Bosch and Fujitsu are already creating uses for it in IoT.

There're already a few IOTA-powered electric vehicle charging stations in Europe. It's instant and fee-free, with very little overhead (no power consumption problem).

Since it cannot be mined via PoW, there are already efforts to create "mining pools" were universities can rent CPU/GPU power from "miners" using IOTA, that way miners are performing valuable computations rather than just a bunch of redundant math.

Honestly the list would be even more cringy if IOTA was there. The codebase is so terrible, the wallet management so cumbersome, and it has so many security concerns that I can't even understand how any company would push for that other than fad of riding the blockchain train.

Plus the IRI is written in Java, that's totally rock the socks off the IoT world, right?

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