Brace yourself for the hype cycle around blockchain. Instead of indulging in the hype, I suggest we focus on the technology’s characteristics and how it might be applied to specific use cases. Meanwhile, broad-ranging discussion of governance issues and standards development must proceed apace.
I make these statements as an avid participant in exploring this technology’s capabilities and potential, through my involvement with the IEEE Special Interest Group on Blockchain. As a novel approach to traditional security challenges on the internet, blockchain likely will have many useful applications that benefit ordinary people. But the excitement it is generating needs to be tempered with a sober discussion of how its characteristics may be applied in the real world and the limits of its applications.
That said, it’s certainly safe to also say that blockchain possesses some fantastic characteristics, which have never been seen before. These characteristics, if properly understood, will indeed bring value to all users of the internet.
There are a multitude of discussions about blockchain’s characteristics and potential use cases, and I urge readers to search for these sources themselves. The IEEE Special Interest Group on Blockchain involves a range of interested stakeholders, from technical experts to keen experimenters. We aim to help provide a technical audience with some idea of this technology’s potential, sans the hype.