I’ve already reported on a number of new technology areas where Scotland is punching above its weight, so to speak, including these:
Now, the Scottish Business News Network has raised the question of whether Scotland can become a ‘powerhouse’ in another new technology – Blockchain. There will be a conference on the issue at Scotchain17 on 13th October and the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics already has a Blockchain Technology Laboratory.
Blockchain is an information handling system of the kind underpinning Bitcoin which is very secure against hackers and, I read, with little understanding, has a ‘high Byzantine fault tolerance.’ From the sbbn report:
‘Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, will make the opening address to ScotChain17 and is expected to discuss Scotland’s potential to become a powerhouse in blockchain technology. Scotland has made great strides around blockchain during 2017 and in June the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics opened the doors to its Blockchain Technology Laboratory, one of the world’s first centres of its kind. From start-ups to large corporates, more investment and resources are being put into blockchain research and innovation than ever before in 2017.’
I won’t pretend any further understanding. Here’s the Wikipedia entry. Make of it what you can.
A blockchain – originally block chain – is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data. A blockchain can serve as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.”[not in citation given (See discussion.)] For use as a distributed ledger a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which needs a collusion of the network majority.
Blockchains are secure by design and are an example of a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralized consensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain. This makes blockchains potentially suitable for the recording of events, medical records, and other records management activities, such as identity management, transaction processing, documenting provenance, or food traceability.
The first distributed blockchain was conceptualised by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and implemented the following year as a core component of the digital currency bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions.[not in citation given (See discussion.)] The invention of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency to solve the double spending problem without the use of a trusted authority or central server. The bitcoin design has been the inspiration for other applications.
Footnote: Those, like me, more interested in Byzantine generals than computers, should click on the link on Byzantine fault tolerance on the wikipedia page.