Our FutureLab Presents the Blockchain
Have you heard of the Byzantine generals problem? The generals have to agree on a strategy to attack a city. But they are not all in the same place, so how? They need a messenger! This messenger must be a middleman and cross the citadel. But what if the message has been compromised? How can they make sure that they all have the same information? The more generals want to join, the more complicated the plan becomes. Does everyone trust each other? The only way to solve the problem is to make sure that everyone is working with the same status of info - and then can agree.
Doesn't it sound a lot like a cryptographic system we know?
The blockchain is a distributed ledger, which is like a distributed message of the past. Everyone that has this info, can make sure that this info is a common truth. It is a peer-to-peer network that validates transactions without the use of third parties, like banks, in the case of bitcoins or similar crypto currencies. But the blockchain isn’t just about monetary transactions. It can also be used to validate contracts. Indeed, the blockchain stands for the digitalization of trust - and makes sure that there are no hidden agendas. Everyone can trust each other, based on the distributed ledger, in which many different computers can be used to verify information.
Who needs this thing?
Maybe Some Examples?
Ripple an example that is driven by financial institutions with a lot of banks behind it - so that they can replace traditional & slower financial transactions. A number of banks started this consortium to get experience with the blockchain, so that they don’t get left behind. All this because the blockchain can actually work without them.
Other examples include: Bitcoin (the most well known), Tendermint, Ethereum, Hyperledger, and the Energy Web Foundation (EWF). At E.ON, we are part of the EWF, a non-profit that was conceived at the Rocky Mountain Institute. It was started as a great place to explore blockchain technology within the energy industry, now it is an open-source, scalable blockchain platform specifically designed for the energy sector’s regulatory, operational, and market needs.
And some of our internal projects, like EISBLOCK, which optimizes feed-in management compensations, and Enerchain, which looks at B2B trading energy wholesale products, are active use-cases for blockchain.