Scotland at forefront of another new technology: Blockchain. Get your ‘high Byzantine fault tolerance.’ here


I’ve already reported on a number of new technology areas where Scotland is punching above its weight, so to speak, including these:

‘Why your first robot might speak with a Scottish accent’

SNP help further impressive growth in new technology sector as: ‘Number of Scottish games firms grows 600% in five years’

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[1][2][3] – originally block chain[4][5] – is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.[1][6] Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block,[6] a timestamp and transaction data.[7] 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.”[8][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.[9] This makes blockchains potentially suitable for the recording of events, medical records,[10][11] and other records management activities, such as identity management,[12][13][14] transaction processing, documenting provenance, or food traceability.[15]

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.[1][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.[1][3]

Footnote: Those, like me, more interested in Byzantine generals than computers, should click on the link on Byzantine fault tolerance on the wikipedia page.


4 thoughts on “Scotland at forefront of another new technology: Blockchain. Get your ‘high Byzantine fault tolerance.’ here

  1. William Henderson September 28, 2017 / 9:15 am

    Hello John,

    Followed your lead on Byzantine fault tolerance. Tough going!

    But, I reckon I’ve cracked it to some extent. The last sentence, “Byzantine failures imply no restrictions, which means that the failed node can generate arbitrary data, pretending to be a correct one, which makes fault tolerance difficult.” is a clear description of the operations of Scottish main stream unionist media.

    That was fun!


  2. Ludo Thierry September 28, 2017 / 10:38 am

    Hi John, Hi William – since we’re on the topic of MSM was amused to read of rant by Murray Foote (ed. of Daily Vow, Trinity Mirror’s Scottish daily) – Looks like the dilligent use of enquiries to IPSO by the many heroic guerilla fighters in the campaign for Scottish democracy who manage to find the time, energy and resolve to pursue the IPSO avenue are having some (limited) success – even if only in the ‘nause factor’ they are causing our charming MSM chums like Mr. Foote: (from holdthefrontpage info):

    A daily editor has criticised the press watchdog for investigating “completely spurious” complaints – and making journalists “jump through hoops” to disprove them.

    Murray Foote, left, who edits the Daily Record, also claimed that rulings against his newspaper have ranged from “unduly harsh to downright unfair”.

    Murray spoke out during a roadshow event hosted by the Independent Press Standards Organisation in Glasgow, where the paper is based.

    Addressing the roadshow, Murray described himself as a “big advocate” of IPSO and its Editor’s Code of Conduct – but went on to question whether “everything in the IPSO garden is rosy”.

    Murray told the event: “There have been IPSO rulings against us where we have found the findings against us ranging from unduly harsh to downright unfair. On one occasion, IPSO found against us by holding us to a more exacting standard than Scots Law demands of us.

    “But, as IPSO point out, the Code of Conduct was drawn up by newspaper editors, it is regularly reviewed by newspaper editors, and IPSO are simply interpreting our own code. And that’s true, but I do reserve the right to moan about it.”

    Murray claimed there had been days when he had more staff dedicated to answering complaints about previously published stories than had been working on new stories for the next day’s paper.

    “In an industry where journalists are becoming increasingly thin on the ground, the workload can be burdensome. There are some complaints that I believe are completely spurious yet IPSO insist that we jump through hoops to prove we are correct,” he added.

    “I accept there are good reasons for this, primarily IPSO’s wish to be seen to deal with all complaints equitably rather than being accused of sweeping some under the carpet. And that was one of the allegations regularly levelled at the PCC by its critics. But often the time our staff spend contesting complaints makes life difficult.”

    Bit of advice for Murray Foote – maybe if his MSM stormtroopers were a wee bit mair accurate and balanced in the first place they wouldn’t find it so “burdensome” sweeping the mess under the carpet afterwards – maybe?



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