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Nobody has found a use case for blockchain (hackernoon.com)
67 points by sprague 50 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 112 comments

No true Scotsmen have found a use for blockchain. This is another of those articles that defines successful use case so as to exclude blockchain. What about all those bitcoin millionaires? They don't count! What about NFTs? I think it's dumb, so I won't count it! What about inventory and logistics tracking? Not used widely enough to count! What about all those decentralized finance businesses? They aren't real businesses by my definition of businesses! Okay, you win.

I think there's a meaningful distinction between "has found ways to make money off blockchain", "has found a thing blockchain could theoretically be used for (but doesn't provide a huge benefit over doing it without blockchain", and "has found a genuine, unique, use case for blockchain".

People making money is not useful in the sense of creating value. That’s zero sum.

>And yet, after years of tireless effort and billions of dollars invested, nobody has actually come up with a use for the blockchain—besides currency speculation and illegal transactions.

I quoted the opening line of the article. I think the author clearly includes Bitcoin millionaires, and NFTs, as "currency speculation."

Inventory and logistics tracking is, as you say, not widely used enough to count. It certainly doesn't seem like it's been seriously adopted outside of pilot programs, or financial transaction/speculation.

Blockchain is older than Kubernetes. Tonnes of large corporations successfully use kubernetes in production; basically no-one uses blockchain outside of smaller programs.

I have seen it used successfully in some cases (indigenous elections), but you have to admit it still seems like a nascent industry trying to get it's footing outside of the fields the author specified.

We are using blockchain for identity verification in Canada (verified.me)

7 banks and 4 telecom companies are nodes on the network. They provide the identity details of a person.

Very interesting use case. Take a look

Yikes: So you are posting people's identifying information on an immutable, distributed database?

Maybe I don't fully understand the technology here. Couldn't it work like the following?

You have an identity entity off-chain (say a government body) that you get some kind of cryptographically signed piece of information that doesn't relay any of your personal information on-chain but allows entities on-chain to know that you are in good standing with the off-chain identity service? Couldn't it even be a one-time use type of thing?

> You have an identity entity off-chain (say a government body) that you get some kind of cryptographically signed piece of information that doesn't relay any of your personal information on-chain but allows entities on-chain to know that you are in good standing with the off-chain identity service?

Why use blockchain? Why not just have the entity provide a database? Note that the standing may change over time.

> Couldn't it even be a one-time use type of thing?

I'm not sure what this means. Why use an immutable database for one use?

> Why use blockchain? Why not just have the entity provide a database? Note that the standing may change over time.

The, "Why not use X?" argument seems to be repeated often here.

This is a really silly argument if you are using it to discount blockchain.

With most technology (nodejs, javascript, email on your phone, holographic video conferencing) there are usually alternative ways to achieve the same thing.

When email was added to phones some people said it was silly - their argument was why would anyone want to type emails on their phones when they have laptops already?

No one is saying that blockchain is the only possible way to achieve something.

It doesnt automatically mean everybody can read that information. Could be cryptographically protected to be verifiable by anyone while not readable, similarly to Monero, or something like that.

After some research I found that they are using Hyperledger Fabric, a project hosted by the Linux Foundation.


Crypto is a tradable asset, and like any other tradable asset you can make money with it. In other words you can make money with money, just like a bank, only decentralized. It's not about the technology of the banks or crypto per se, but the primary function of what banks actually do, which is save or lend money (really both).

If you think crypto currency was created to buy hamburgers, or make your energy bill more efficient to pay, as the saying goes " you can't see the forest for the trees". When was the last time you used bond certificate to pay for dinner?

The fact that people are making money and lots of it in crypto using traditional financial instruments is all the proof you need to know that it has a use case.

> The fact that people are making money and lots of it in crypto using traditional financial instruments is all the proof you need to know that it has a use case.

It's happening therefore it must work? That's a dangerous attitude, especially in financial markets. People have done that with tulips and lots of other things; those really weren't use cases in a meaningful sense.

I agree with OP. I started off my career at a derivatives trading firm in NYC. There were thousands of other firms making billions of dollars doing the same thing for even more esoteric financial instruments. And I'm a realest, they were just shuffling numbers around to get rich.

Payments and transactions are not the value, fintech automation with Defi is where the money is.

>It's happening therefore it must work?

Yes exactly, use cases are not important. This is how wall street works, giving the same features to citizens instead of large financial firms is an important distinction, and the reason why, unlike tulips, it will not fade away.

"Whether it's useful is not important, only whether we can make money off of it" is one of the more dangerous attitudes to come out of Wall Street in recent decades.

> Whether it's useful is not important, only whether we can make money off of it

I never said that.

Emotions, morals, and use cases have no place when you look logically at what blockchain is, at it's very heart it's pure math. People certainly make money using math, but that not the point.

No matter how much people try to add their own bullshit on top of blockchain, it's human nature to measure value and use economic agents. Both math and blockchain have to same primary function, ascertaining truth, which is the most important factor in economics.

We are using blockchain in our product for verification of text edits. No one has tracked text editing in this way, making it fully traceable, unwind-able, and outside-verifiable.

[0] https://nebula.mimix.io/msl/specs/ref/hash

[1] https://nebula.mimix.io/en/msl/intro#hashing

> No one has tracked text editing in this way, making it fully traceable, unwind-able, and outside-verifiable.

I know it's trite on HN, but: isn't this literally just version control? Particular integrity choices aside, Git has all of the properties you state above.

Those are properties of Git, indeed. The difference is in the "in this way" part of the sentence. I've written a lot about what we are doing and why and the proof is in the puddin', MSL is available to download and run in our Nebula product. Here's the website with full documentation and downloads. http://nebula.mimix.io

Admittedly having only given the whitepaper a brief scan, I have two questions.

Is it distributed, or are you hosting the whole instance yourself?

Does it use any other academic component of the bitcoin suite besides linked logs? https://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=3136559 I ask because a hashed merkle tree probably isnt what comes to everyone's mind when they hear blockchain, even if it is the literal definition. The author of the article is using it to be a distributed ledger between untrusted parties. If your product isnt that, its sort of an apples to oranges comparison to say you have a use case for something different than what he is dismissing.

Thank you for those excellent questions!

The entire tech is open source and can be used on-premise, in the cloud, or in any kind of hybrid. Today, we are offering Nebula which is an integrated engine and viewer with no outside dependencies, but everything is there for anyone to deploy it on a server and separate the parts. It's designed for that.

Coming very shortly are MSL Notebook and MSL.js which are UI components and a Typescript library for working with MSL and adding it to your own apps, wherever they live. We also have a "headless" MSL engine that lives in the cloud which will soon be public so you can play with it through MSL Notebook or use it to test and develop your own apps.

We are not using Bitcoin or any component of it. Our idea is based on the old skool meaning of "blockchain" in that it is a chain of records whose order can be proved by hashing. That is the only component of the blockchain concept that applies here. We use it to hash individual edits within a document, as opposed to hashing entire documents.

I see your edit so let me address that also. Yes, our use for the blockchain is to provide verifiable information to untrusted parties. Instead of information about transactions and balances, it's information about text edits.

In a simple scenario, every edit you make to a document is recorded individually and hashed with the hash of the previous edit. This forms the chain. The chain itself can be stored anywhere. It's useless if you don't have the document. But if you do have the document or any fragment, you can instantly tell what version you have and if it has any differences from the original -- without seeing the original.

I looked through the website you linked, and I was greeted with pages and pages of stuff. Technical specifications, diagrams, and an introduction that has two sections going over microfilm. Yet I couldn't find the answer to the one question I actually had: "Why?"

What is the use case for this system? How will this actually benefit me? What problem is this solving?

Sure! Thanks for saying that. It's very hard to know how to approach such a large topic with different audiences. We have a lot of materials out there with different aims.

The TL;DR is documents are wrong and often out of date. People rely on incorrect information and that screws up the work and the workflow. We are fixing this with a language designed to track and correct text as facts change.

Here's our new pitch deck with the 10,000 ft overview: http://invest.mimix.io

The pitch deck is shiny and all, but you still haven't explained what blockchain has to do with any of it?

Thank you. Since it's not a primary function of the app, we don't dwell on it online. The biggest stuff is in the language doc.

In a simple scenario, every edit you make to a document is recorded individually and hashed with the hash of the previous edit. This forms the chain. The chain itself can be stored anywhere. It's useless if you don't have the document. But if you do have the document or any fragment, you can instantly tell what version you have and if it has any differences from the original -- without seeing the original.

> TIn a simple scenario, every edit you make to a document is recorded individually and hashed with the hash of the previous edit. This forms the chain.

You've just described a degenerate Merkle tree.

> The chain itself can be stored anywhere.

Then it's not a blockchain. A blockchain involves combining a Merkle tree with a distributed, trustless consensus algorithm.

Otherwise Git would be described as a blockchain and I don't think anyone refers to it that way. At least, not with a straight face.

I appreciate that definition.

In this scenario, however, we're going for the Wikipedia or original meaning of blockchain:

"A blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked together using cryptography."

The only use we have for this technology is the growing list of records linked by cryptographic hashes. We are not interested in consensus algorithms and they don't form part of our system.

The blockchain aspect of our product isn't any pixie dust. It isn't even necessary. Think of it like power windows. We don't sell the car because it has power windows.

Many users of our software (the powerful, pixie dust part being our MSL language) won't give a whit about blockchain and we don't sell or emphasize it on our website.

So I see where you're coming from, but in this case, we're coming from a little bit different place.

I can't help but feel you're cherrypicking from the Wikipedia definition to fit your own need.

If you read past the summary to the actual meat of the article you'll find that:

> A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and oftentimes public, digital ledger consisting of records called blocks that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved block cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.

You've just admitted your solution is neither decentralized nor distributed. By no common definition does it meet the description of a "blockchain" and I genuinely wonder why you persist in using the term, as it's at best misleading.

It sure appears to be in service of pure marketing. Which, hey, marketing is necessary! I get that.

But, in the context of this conversation, citing your project as proof that blockchains have practical applications when it doesn't appear to use a blockchain in any meaningful sense strikes me as pretty disingenuous.

I assure you as a professional putting my business reputation on the line that nothing in any of our materials or claims is disingenuous. We're just not that kind of company.

Caveat emptor, for sure. Like I said, the proof is always in the product itself much more than in anything I say.

The Wikipedia article goes on to (incorrectly) attribute the blockchain to Nakamoto when the idea was well known in comp sci before Bitcoin showed up.

Our use is, indeed, both decentralized and distributed. I mentioned earlier that the record of hashes is often kept offsite and can be used by a non-trusted third party (who doesn't have access to the documents) to perform the kind of document verification I'm talking about.

GitHub with GPG signed commits?

There's another use case. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "Announcements of blockchain's death have been premature."

For somebody selling fact checking, misquoting Twain is almost unforgivable! The correct quote should have been, "Reports of my (blockchain's) death have been greatly exaggerated." My bad.

Apparently, misquoting Twain is popular itself[0]. I only mentioned it in humor so I hope this wasn't taken as a slam in any way. Twain is an ancestor of mine and was famous for pithiness.

[0] https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/562400/reports-mark-twai...

Wikipedia does the same thing

Not exactly the same - you can drop edits from Wikipedia history (given appropriate access) and nobody would know.

Well then that's certainly a use case! :-)

No one is saying blockchain can’t do the same thing worse than other tools

Just replying to the OP that nobody has a found a use case. In our case, we are fundamentally changing the way text is marked up within a document to correlate it to individual changes in that text over time. This is different from Git or Wikipedia which make document-level snapshots.

I think "use case" generally implies "good use case" rather than "technically possible use case", which would be better classified as "misuse case". My favorite misuse case is using a knife to turn a screw.

> we are fundamentally changing the way text is marked up within a document to correlate it to individual changes in that text over time.

What does this even mean? Are you Disrupting™ the Text Editing Industry? In what substantial way is it different - and better - than existing version control?

That's an awesome question. At the root, we are trying to provide fact-checking and fact-correction, and this goes down to remembering the "values" of individual words and phrases that make up the document, then tracking those changes over time. Instead of a list of unrelated edits, we make it easy to do things like find all of the changes to a certain term and update all of them without changing anything else in a document. That's just one kind of transform that's possible. The blockchain aspect serves as an outside, second source of edit history that can be used to just keep hash values, not documents themselves. The hash values can be checked against the hash of any version that anyone has to see which version they have.

These are just a few of the aspects of the language and the tools we've built to implement it. If anyone is interested in this stuff, there's a ton at our website! http://nebula.mimix.io And I'm always open for questions and feedback.

Don't worry, your document's editing history is safe from hackers... Or something

That's a good one! We're proposing it as an outside, second verification source that people can run independently, not as a big blockchain that we control. I know the whole area is tenuous!

Unless the hackers control 50%+ of the mining?

Indeed! Our use of blockchain doesn't involve tokens or mining. Just a literal chain of hashes. Each hash is the hash of one edit or change made with the MSL language. If the chain is incorrect, your version of the document has elements in it which were not in the original and the exact point where they deviate can be determined. You can perform this work without having any access to the documents or the text itself.

> This is different from Git or Wikipedia which make document-level snapshots.

I believe you're wrong, git commits are diffs, not snapshots.


(I don't necessarily agree with the article's messaging around "Haha you were only confused by git because you thought commits are diffs now that you know they're actually snapshots you have no more confusion", because, as the article itself admits, most of the commands like cherry-pick do work on dynamically-computed diffs anyway.)

Interesting... a git commit is almost always represented as a diff... example: https://github.com/github/gitignore/commit/991e760c1c6d50fdd...

Whether it's represeented as a diff internally seems completely irrelevant to me, even to understand the examples in the article. I would like to be able to "de-serialize" a real commit's data to see exactly what's stored, but this article doesn't seem to show how to do that... do you have a suggestion on how to do that?

Yes, diffs of entire documents. Our system works differently.

You should check out github.com ;)

Please don't post shallow dismissals or be a jerk in HN comments. We're trying for a different sort of internet here.


I didn't interpret it as a shallow dismissal. I interpreted it as a genuine inquiry and a challenge, as in, "Uh... you say your product is the first product to solve these problems, but git version control ALSO solves those problems, so why and how is your product different?"

That's a fair defense! But once a one-liner like that gets added to the ecosystem it tends to bring snark to the fore.

Hey, thanks for calling that out. I didn't intend it to be snarky - tone doesn't always carry well on the internet - and will make that more clear moving forward. Thanks for keeping this a decent place :)

Article is from 2017 - would be good if this was in the title.

I'd summarize blockchain like this: computation that is outside any individual's control. It's surprising that it's even possible!

It makes the virtual world actually a lot more like the physical world: no one person can alter the laws of physics, just as no one person can alter the laws of Bitcoin (or similar). This property makes me think that describing blockchain as a metaverse is actually pretty accurate.

It's intriguing to think that with fully homomorphic encryption, we can have distributed computation that's not only outside anyone's control, but outside anyone's understanding! You can literally imagine an A.I. agent that no one controls - and no one understands.

In April a power outage in China caused Bitcoin hash rate to drop by 45% - https://news.bitcoin.com/bitcoin-hashrate-drops-xinjiang-bla...

In the idealized little crypto world no one person has control, sure, but we have one country with the majority of the raw compute power on the earth and a government that has no problem seizing control over that compute power when it suits them.

One of the many reasons I am bearish on crypto and have been since 2014.

And bitcoin powered through it all the same. The price dropped briefly, but recovered.

That’s pretty resilient if you ask me.

The risk isn't the price drop, it's China deciding that it wants to own the bitcoin market one day, seizing control of the hashers, and then doing whatever they want with the network. For instance, refusing to process transactions from American IPs.

Would love to see how BTC's price holds up to a state sponsored hijacking of the network using raw compute power.

It's definitely not perfect and potentially more fragile than it looks -- but when was the last time a 51% attack happened on Bitcoin?

Clearly this shows there is real potential for networks outside anyone's control...

> no one person can alter the laws of physics, just as no one person can alter the laws of Bitcoin

This is one of the things that concerns me most about Bitcoin, or as the headline addresses: blockchain.

The fact that people misunderstand its technology.

Blockchain is inequivalent to physics. It is a mathematical model, and so, unlike physics, we understand its machinations precisely.

So precisely in fact, we wrote them!

And we wrote them utilising other mathematical models that are only effective in the goals of blockchains contingent on the fact that they are, similar to our current ability regarding physics, outside our ability to fabricate.

But where the fabrication of laws of physics would require the development of both the mathematics and devices which render the mathematics physically, the fabrication of blockchain would only require the mathematics as it itself is a mathematical model.

A proof of an algorithm that can freely manipulate a blockchain will render it useless.

You will likely hear from those who support using unproved mathematics in these types of systems that these conjectures have elluded proof for so long it is time to disregard rigor for a more meta analysis of the probability that a proof is likely in order to promote the technology.

But the possibility is always present that mathematically there will be a way that 'one person can alter the laws of Bitcoin' until proven otherwise.

> no one person can alter the laws of physics, just as no one person can alter the laws of Bitcoin

I think we're into hyperbole if we're comparing it with physics. It's literally true that "no one person can alter the laws of physics", but it's not the truth.

I am so very tired of these articles and the "opinions" that always leap to the forefront when they receive any attention at all.

The funny thing about most them is that they are always, always written by someone "talking their book." In other words, the old guard defending their turf from a new way of doing things. This 2017 article is written by a person who runs a financial services company for elders. A FinServices company, by the way, which is aimed at a market which will never uses crypto or the blockchain. So his opinion is worthless and pointless.

The rest of us, those of us whom the banking and finance industries have left behind and ignored, now have the ability to create currency, terms and trade amongst ourselves or anyone who agrees to our terms without being summarily denied, lied to or cheated.

Native Americans now have the opportunity to build on their own land by setting up a separate SOR from the one the Government forces them to use and they can document ownership to the farthest point and have it all be maintained digitally. Instead of the old oil and gas software they modified to use to split royalty payments, they can now do it all digitally and those records can be held wherever they want them to be.

I could cite new possibilities all day long....but if Bank Of America has enough sense to commission a report about the changes crypto is making in emerging markets, I should not have to...

Crypto is NOT for everyone, but neither are credit cards. For some of us the ability to be our own bank and insurance etc is far better than constantly being ignored/denied/fleeced or whatever else wall street and the tech world comes up with next. The simple fact is this: if you don't see the potential, then don't participate. Leave it for those of us who do. Your "but what about" systems whatever they are didn't work for us....but these might if they can be left alone long enough for us to build what we need from the parts we were given.

My main worry is that all of you "but-in skis" will cause the powers that be to pay attention to your ridiculous whining and regulate far too heavily and ruin our first real chance to be apart of the global financial system on terms that don't penalize us heavily. As all the others do.

I work for a large organization which is exploring blockchain to link several disparate databases (all with different software, intranets, etc).

This is the only reasonable use of the tech I have seen.

Isn't this achievable with an API/RPC?

While I don't see anything stopping them from implementing an API solution, I'm guessing they don't want everyone to have to do n queries every time they need some joined info, but I can't say as I'm not involved in the project, and only overheard managers talking to each other about it.

I've just started digging into the space, so maybe my question is way off base. I'm hoping someone will at least give me some insight though. Would it be possible to source the same level of credit data in a decentralized manner and use (e.g. send a loan to collections) all in a decentralized manner? If so, what is legitimately preventing the migration of all functions of a modern bank to a decentralized model?

There is no benefit to doing this. Credit scores/checks only work by centralizing loan data with various credit bureaus. Whether that data is in a database or on a block chain doesn’t matter.

I feel I'm taking crazy pills with all the people screeching the blockchain has no uses. They're as wrong as the people who say it has ALL the uses.

Also, a (2017) wouldn't go amiss. This article is about three and a half years old, and for a concept that's supposedly so bereft of use cases, it's managed to be pretty enduring.

The fact that it was written in 2017 and yet today the only use cases for blockchain are still just buying small amounts of illegal stuff and warming the planet lends the author a bit of credit as prescient technologist.

You forgot "making money off people who just want to get in on the hype".

...and they are?

I think the subtext that is implied with the no use case statement is really: "that couldn't be done with an existing technology (such as a database)".

Seriously, decentralized, pseudonymous money that is censorship resistant and doesn't rely on any single government or organization is the killer app. That's how I'm using it, it works perfectly for my use case and even though it's a sample size of one, there's at least one person who relies on it and can sleep at night a bit more soundly knowing that their money won't suddenly be gone the next morning because PayPal or their bank looked at them funny because they were born in a spicy patch of land. Anything else comes as a plus.

Do please spare me the whole "it's boiling the oceans" and "only hackers and druggies are using it" spiel though as they're both [0] untrue [1].

[0] https://hbr.org/2021/05/how-much-energy-does-bitcoin-actuall...

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/haileylennon/2021/01/19/the-fal...

what about the aliens who were looking for ways to get us to speed up heating the planet so it was more to their liking?

I think Gods Unchained, a collectible card computer game, is a pretty cool use for blockchain technology. I'd be much more inclined to "pay to play" if I actually owned the thing I'm paying for and could sell it later. Though I didn't personally get into the game enough to bother spending money on it.

Here is a quick MIT Tech Review article on it from 2019: https://www.technologyreview.com/2019/07/11/693/this-blockch...

You could do that without a blockchain.

The problem with unchained too is that it is literally attached to the market not as a protocol of it's own to divise exchange and authenticity of held digital goods.

For example it is completely tied to etherium. Bet $10 that their backend just maintains the rarities but doesn't assign a real blockchain value to ensure security and ownership.

“The Baseline Protocol is an open source initiative that combines advances in cryptography, messaging, and blockchain to deliver secure and private business processes at low cost using the public Mainnet for event ordering, data consistency and workflow integrity.

The protocol will enable confidential and complex collaboration between enterprises without moving any sensitive data from traditional systems of record.“

Note: It is a protocol - not a company or commercial software.

You can watch a number of videos of the protocol in action - maintaining state across enterprises of say an SAP installation and Google Sheets.

i worked 2 years ago on an energy trading system on local nets for a local port. I was pretty awesome and connected the energy usage to Ethereum tokens. Producers could sell energy to the grid and Consumers could buy. It worked and was actually deployed for a few months with few participants. Then it got shut down. But BChain was a major and important part to it.

What do you see as the benefit of having used blockchain? (I can imagine an answer, but you are the one who implemented it and have direct experience with it.)

Why did it get shut down?

because of market forces. It was a semi-public financed project. After the initial deployment, the semi-public port didn't dare to go full in. And private energy companies refused to participate.

Bitcoin seems like an obvious success story.

So, I didn't bother clicking the click-bait link to read the article.

Funny how HN completely discount the best performing asset of the past decade.

The truth is that with blockchain came Bitcoin.

Bitcoin's rapid price rise has allowed many people to make money.

This has created a number of evangelists with almost feverish pitch of excitement with claims that Bitcoin and Blockchain will change the world.

With this, it has also created a backlash of people who are against Bitcoin and Blockchain and refuse to believe there is any value whatsoever.

I've seen people on HN embrace all sorts of technology - a lots with very little utility or use cases or actual real-world users. Yet with Bitcoin/Blockchain they argue there is no value whatsoever.

The truth is that if Blockchain didn't come with Bitcoin or the potential to make money (or if Bitcoin was more stable around $1) there wouldn't be this backlash.

People in tech can become cynical easily and a bit mistrustful of new technology claims. This can be a good thing. But this knee jerk reaction to Blockchain and Bitcoin is highly disappointing to see on HN.

a global and decentralized authentication authority that respects user privacy by design.

I'll assume my perspective is naive here, so feel free to correct me, but, at least with the case of bitcoin, having an immutable transaction history doesn't seem to be a way to promote privacy, as evidence by the Dread Pirate Roberts transaction history, and where that got him. A "privacy by design" would have tumbling/anonymity built in, which isn't a requisite for a blockchain, and not part of the most famous one, bitcoin.

if your transactions are the act of publishing, revoking and reissuing new public keys, then immutability is a very desirable property.

where you use those keys to identify yourself remains a private matter between you and the entity you authenticate yourself to.

Not your keys, not your life is the worst idea to come out of crypto. And that's really saying something IMO.

you can still have counterparties hold portions of keys for recovery purposes and those counterparties would have less visibility into your online activities than current "sso for the web" offerings from large internet companies.

Those companies offer a means of account recovery through them, and also, everywhere I've SSO'd also offers a separate un-linked account recovery mechanism.

sure. but the point is, current "sso for the web" offerings have three problems:

1) the sso provider has full visibility into where you use their service.

2) sso provider operations are opaque.

3) other internet services don't trust them. (i can't sign into my bank with Google yet)

maybe we need an iana for authentication, but a decentralized database may be an easier sell.

or maybe with more time more adoption will take place of the big sso providers.

it still seems to be a problem to me and i favor an open solution over more reliance on large internet companies.

Why is this 5 year old click-bait article on the front page?

bitcoin bad

I think there may be some good uses for public immutable records that can be verified as a chain.

But none of that requires distributing the block chain.

Isn't distributing it the means by which it's made immutable? i.e. you can't mutate it unless you control at least half the network?

A centralized blockchain can be a publicly readable ledger that is still only writable by trusted parties. A git repo works in a similar way.

For example: a bank uses a public ledger to store all transactions. If a mistake is made, they can correct it, but not by removing/changing the past transaction, only by adding another transaction to the chain which corrects it. Everything is transparent to observers, but obviously I can’t mutate my own account balance without transfering money to my account.

The major drawback of these write-only ledgers is the same as in git: if you accidentally write a secret to the chain, it’s there forever.

This, exactly! Our product offers and outside blockchain for verification but that's not necessary for the product's function. It's just a "block chain of records" that is useful to keep separately from the documents itself, often in a third party location. In our case, the use is for tracking editing and collaboration in text documents on a word-by-word, sentence-by-sentence basis.

It does not require a block chain, period

Fluff piece. Block chain could be used to maintaining and secure digital licensing. We use it for a lot of dumb arbitrary things and so it seems there is no genuine use case.

You can use as a ledger to track transactions and make your transaction trackable. Do we though, do we apply this to digital exchange of actual currencies... nope.

The constant conflation of block chain and bitcoin makes the article tiresome. Furthermore the author seems only to propose "everyone uses it" use cases. Imo the most useful use cases are distributed ledgers used between companies who know each other...

the blockchain is a huge social experiment. it's a study of anthropology masked as a hard-science experiment.

Article is from 2017


blockchain = database

distributed blockchain = database in cloud

did databases in cloud "change the world"?


did they change EVERYTHING?

depends who you ask! :D

> distributed blockchain = database in cloud

A very expensive database in the cloud

I still think an awesome use case would be a public blockchain for tracking inventions and patents. You could have a searchable index of inventions that anyone could add onto, and every article would be hashed and the signature recorded on the blockchain to serve as independent historical proof. The inventor would then be the only person with the cryptographic key to prove they are the owner of the patent. There could also be a whole other sidechain for tracking licensing agreements, for example.

Who wants to help me build it?

Part of the problem is that nobody has a definition for what "blockchain" even means. We all know what Bitcoin means because it has a whitepaper and an implementation. The same goes for all other operational systems that use the same ideas.

"Blockchain", on the other hand, just means whatever anybody who wants to ride on hype wants it to mean. For example, some simply take it to mean a series of blocks where each block references its parent block by its hash. To others, that definition makes no sense because that concept existed long before Bitcoin (eg. git).

Nobody has found a use case for a decentralized, trustless, permissionless ledger which is free from the horror of attack by byzantine generals.

Git is only one of those three, well two if you count the byzantines.

incorrect, the original sum zero inventor had a use case and in fact he went broke to attempt to prove it

Most of you were too young or not born yet

Google cipher punks and you may get a glimse

In case of git it is more like a blocktree, I suppose.

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