By Sandra Upson January 19, 2018
IN 2014, JOSEPH Poon and Thaddeus Dryja were bitcoin-obsessed engineers hanging out at pizza-fueled meetups in San Francisco. Their conversation often turned to the central problem of bitcoin: How to make it more useful? The bitcoin network’s design effectively limits it to handling three to seven transactions per second, compared with tens of thousands per second for Visa. Poon and Dryja recognized that for bitcoin to reach its full potential, it needed a major fix.
The pair had an idea, one whose elements were already in the air at the time. On the weekends they met in unofficial coworking spaces to hammer out a paper describing their vision. Six months later, they revealed their work at a San Francisco bitcoin meetup. They called it the Lightning Network, a system that can be grafted onto a cryptocurrency’s blockchain. With this extra layer of code in place, they believed, bitcoin could support far more transactions and make them almost-instant, reliable and cheap, while remaining free of banks and other institutions. In other words, it promised to fulfill the cryptocurrency dream originally set out by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008.
As word of their paper spread, blockchain enthusiasts started hashing out its technical details in blogs and on social media. Around the world, engineers began trying to turn the ideas in Poon and Dryja’s paper into working code. “It was the second most exciting paper I had read in the blockchain era,” says Rusty Russell, a developer at Blockstream, a blockchain technology company. “The first was Satoshi’s.”
More at: The Lightning Network Could Make Bitcoin Faster—and Cheaper – Wired
By David Pimentel January 19, 2018
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is seeking for proposals on how blockchain technology can help improve its operations.
VA is a federal cabinet-level agency that provides near-comprehensive healthcare services to eligible military veterans at VA medical centers and outpatient clinics located throughout the country. It offers several non-healthcare benefits including disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, education assistance, home loans, and life insurance. It also provides burial and memorial benefits to eligible veterans and family members at 135 national cemeteries.
During the AFCEA Bethesda’s 10th Annual Health IT Day, VA chief technology officer Charles Worthington said the agency’s approach to blockchain is to take a step back and look at the problem the department wants to solve.
“We really would be looking to industry to surface use cases for us,” said Worthington. “I think we’re going to be coming to industry with problems we have, and if you think blockchain is an appropriate solution, bring it to us.”
More at: Blockchain Solution Proposals Sought By Department of Veterans Affairs – BlockTribune
By Robert J. Bowman January 19, 2018
Blockchain has the potential to transform supply chains.
Blockchain technology was created to support transactions involving Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But it has quickly emerged from that dark and mysterious world to offer an invaluable tool for business in general, and global supply chains in particular. Touted as a secure, immutable system of record for any number of transactions between business partners, it seems an ideal tool for managing the complex web of relationships that make up a typical supply chain. On this episode, we learn about the applicability of Blockchain to supply chains from Jack Shaw, executive director of the American Blockchain Council. He explains just what Blockchain is, and offers his vision of the crucial role it will play in supply chains in years to come. Companies are promised an unprecedented level of security, convenience and efficiency. According to Shaw, Blockchain and supply chains have at least one thing in common: They’re both “team sports.” Hosted by Bob Bowman, Managing Editor of SupplyChainBrain.
More at: What Blockchain Means to Supply Chain – SupplyChainBrain
By Julia Travers January 18, 2018
NASA has awarded University of Akron (UA) Assistant Professor Jin Wei Kocsis a three-year $333,000 Early Career Faculty grant as part of its Space Technology Research Grants (STRG) program. Dr. Kocsis will utilize the grant to develop AI and blockchain-based technology that will help satellites safely travel farther away while making decisions independently.
Space Travel and Fuzzy Logic
Satellites currently rely on wireless communication with Earth to send and receive vital mission data. As they venture further into space, these transmissions take more and more time to travel. If a satellite encounters space debris that must be avoided or needs to collect information from a nearby meteorite quickly, it is often incapable of doing so in time. Kocis says that,
“I hope to develop technology that can recognize environmental threats and avoid them, as well as complete a number of tasks automatically. I am honored that NASA recognized my work, and I am excited to continue challenging technology’s ability to think and do on its own.”
More at: NASA Bets on Blockchain and AI for Satellite Intelligence Study – BTCMANAGER
By Mike Orcutt January 18, 2018
Close examination reveals how power is being consolidated across their networks.
In cryptocurrency circles, calling something “centralized” is an insult. The epithet stems from Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto’s revelation: a monetary system doesn’t need a central authority, like a government, to work. That’s such a potent idea that it’s morphed into a battle among crypto-enthusiasts between good—that is, “decentralized”— currencies and evil ones, or anything with a whiff of “centralization,” that are assumed to threaten the utopian view of cryptocurrencies as the vehicle for a new financial world order.
Do these arguments hold any water? Emin Gün Sirer, a cryptocurrency expert at Cornell University, says in many cases the jury’s still out—mainly because no one’s bothered to take a hard look at how decentralized these networks actually are.
This piece first appeared in our new twice-weekly newsletter, Chain Letter, which covers the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Sign up here – it’s free!
“We don’t have any real metrics yet.” he says. His group aims to help change that with newly published results from a two-year-long study focused on Bitcoin and Ethereum, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency networks.
More at: Bitcoin and Ethereum Have a Hidden Power Structure, and It’s Just Been Revealed – MIT Technology Review
By Jessie Willms, Bitcoin Magazine January 17, 2018
Brian Behlendorf is confident that 2018 will be a peak year, not only for Hyperledger – the international consortium of companies and organizations developing open source, permissioned blockchain technology – but also for blockchain technology in general as businesses and governments recognize the potential power of distributed ledgers and smart contracts.
“2018 will be the year that Hyperledger and blockchain come into their own. Projects demonstrating real world solutions, like Change Healthcare , that will enable healthcare systems to better and more efficiently process claims and payments, will launch this year.”
Hyperledger, founded in 2015, incubates and promotes blockchain technologies for business, including distributed ledgers, client libraries, graphical interfaces and smart contract engines.
members include leading companies in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and technology development.
More at: Hyperledger’s Behlendorf: 2018 Will Bring Breakthrough Blockchain Developments – Nasdaq.com