The Blockchain For The Non-Technical

Think of a blockchain as a publicly shared Excel sheet.

Anyone can access, read, save, and share this Excel sheet. No one can delete or edit its content. You can only add a new row(s) to it, which everyone can then read and access afterwards.

Those newly added rows usually record transactions. Those transactions are saved in a unique, encrypted way, and called blocks.

Those blocks are linked to each other on what is called a chain. The final ledger is called a Blockchain. It rose to fame with Bitcoin, being its most ‘famous’ application at the time

You don’t need a central trust authority to tell you those blocks are legit, not fake. The encryption used in building the blockchain itself takes care of that.

The need for the blockchain

Take for example your iPhone. It consists of 100s of components. To stay the top in its games, Apple has to make sure that every component is of the highest possible quality.

To make that happen, Apple needs a way to track and audit each and every component. But to keep a record of all that on paper, Apple will have to break every green rule it believes in.

Even if it takes a digital copy, it will end up with a humongous database that needs thousands of computers to access it.

Blockchains will shine when any system suffers from corruption. The ability for anyone to audit any component in that system makes it harder to rig.

The blockchain, simplified

This what the blockchain offers. It keeps endless blocks of records, organized in a chain. This blockchain lives on thousands of computers, distributed all over the world. They are accessible 24/7.

The user can trace down the components of his iPhone down to the screw and the nut. On top of that, this same blockchain can track-down the owner(s) of the final product. If some steals your iPhone, then with the help of Apple themselves, the blockchain will mark it as stolen.

When anyone tries to connect this phone to any cell network, it will not allow it, the blockchain will cry ‘stolen’.

IBM has conducted a study that found people would pay more to purchase a product they can know its production-life.

Not only that, people will be able to track down any phone, its components, and its origins. Fake / copy phones will never have a chance to fool people with such a blockchain accessible to anyone.

Examples of Blockchains in everyday life

King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Saudi Arabia started implementing what they call a “digital credentialing solution.” The hospital now publishes digital certificates directly on the blockchain where they can be verified by residents. Using the blockchain will enable the hospital to quickly verify and manage all patients that use its facilities.

On the other hand, Renault (at al) developed their own blockchain solution with the help of IBM in 2018.

Their technology is called XCEED (eXtended Compliance End-to-End Distributed). It creates a trusted network for sharing compliance information between parts / systems.

XCEED is based on the “Hyperledger Fabric”, an open-source blockchain protocol by Linux Foundation launched in 2015.

Today, we know very little about XCEED. It doesn’t help either that IBM has fired almost everyone in their Blockchain Dept. for failing to achieve targets – as reported by CopinDesk.

Enter Circulor

Mercedes-Benz is working with a blockchain specialist called Circulor. They use their tech to track the emissions of climate-relevant gases and the supply chains of battery cell manufacturers.

Working with Circulor, Jaguar tested the supply chain traceability technology. They used GPS, biometrics and QR Codes to digitally track leather from farm to finished product – the Land Rover!

Geely-owned Volvo Cars is also working with Circulor. Using their blockchain technology throughout their battery supply chain, they trace 100% of the cobalt used in their first fully electric car.

BMW uses Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) with open-source blockchain management tools. They aim to enhance the traceability of automotive parts and critical raw materials throughout their supply chain.

Finally, see what Wikipedia has to say about the Blockchain (Link)

2 replies
    • Raouf
      Raouf says:

      In the early days of the internet, having a website was simple yet complex because of the many decisions you had to make. Same scenario now.

      I’d give it like 3-5 years and uploading our data to the blockchain will be as easy as uploading an image today to some website.

      Reply

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