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By: on August 3, 2021 Leave a Comment
Blockchain has many potential uses cases outside of cryptocurrency. Established sectors such as financial, automotive, supply chain, and mobility could soon move to adopt decentralized applications and distributed ledgers. The technology has even been hailed as the ideal foundation to maintain a connected economy once humans go interplanetary.
Recently, spectators note a swelling interest in decentralized, peer-to-peer, autonomous development approaches. Eyeing the excitement around cryptocurrency and blockchain, many developers are eager to start experimenting with their own blockchain-based applications. This incoming disruption could remove the middle man and give power back to people, says blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneur Max Kordek.
However, building your own blockchain from scratch is incredibly difficult. So, I recently met with Max Kordek, co-founder, Lisk, to understand how to make blockchain-based app development more accessible. According to Kordek, there are many benefits to creating your own blockchain, but simplifying the creation process will be necessary to empower new startups and enable this new paradigm to flourish.
The decentralized, tamper-proof nature of blockchain has disruptive potential to remove central authority and give more data control to the collective hive. “For me, it’s all about removing the middle man,” said Kordek. “It gives power back to the people.” Cryptocurrency is obviously the most widespread use case; Bitcoin is proof that a blockchain-based system can see mass adoption. But there are many other use cases outside of cryptocurrency where similar record-keeping is important.
For example, the automotive industry could link data across manufacturers or share data between vehicles. NFTs are using blockchain to represent one-of-a-kind digital art objects. The airline industry is looking to blockchain to synchronize partner ecosystems. Blockchain is also transforming online gaming by substantiating in-game value systems.
From insurance to supply chains to transportation, most industries hold a potential blockchain use case. But blockchain isn’t constrained to only terrestrial scenarios. Information systems engineers foresee blockchain powering future in-space economies. With significant funding going toward asteroid mining and Mars missions, an interplanetary humanity seems inevitable. Compared to Bitcoin, “Ethereum is a better choice for the interplanetary economy,” said David Vandervort. Gathering transactions in blocks and pinging satellites could enable monetary transactions from planet to planet. “An interplanetary financial system would have to be built on blockchain technology,” Kordek said.
There is ripe potential in countless areas. But who will be leading this shift? According to Kordek, we may see corporations augmenting existing structures with blockchain. However, established enterprises will find it challenging to unshackle themselves from legacy systems. Instead, new startups are more likely to have a bigger say in the blockchain revolution. “It’s much more realistic that an entirely new startup adopts blockchain and structures their entire business around blockchain,” said Kordek.
After Bitcoin was established, other developers forked the project and changed parameters to introduce new cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin and Dogecoin. Eventually, Ethereum came along, which was unique as it enabled developers to build apps with smart contracts. However, “the developer ecosystem was horrible at the beginning,” explained Kordek. “It was the wild west of development.” To this day, it’s still very complicated to develop on Ethereum, he added. Plus, since it is open source and immutable, it’s vulnerable to security threats. “It’s like the biggest bounty program in the world—if there’s one bug, contracts are drained.” Ethereum also has scalability issues — it can only run 30 transactions per second, equating to 1 million transactions per day.
For these reasons, it may be better to build your own blockchain. However, doing so is a difficult task. From a research perspective, this requires a lot of theoretical knowledge, Kordek explained. Blockchain also introduces new maintenance concerns—since the infrastructure is always on, it is unstoppable, making patching a bug or pushing an update tenuous at best. If hundreds of millions of dollars are dependent upon a stable network, one mistake could have drastic repercussions. The high development and QA roadblocks make prototyping blockchain-based systems from scratch challenging. “Experimentation is essential to bring an industry forward,” said Kordek. “It’s important we simplify blockchain development so more experimentation can happen.”
So, how do we make blockchain more accessible so that experimentation can occur? Well, a lot of progress has already been made via ready-made open source language-specific SDKs. For example, there’s Polkadot (Rust), Cosmos (Go) and Lisk (JavaScript). Kordek is an advocate for language-specific libraries that fit a team’s programming preferences. Out of these, he favors JavaScript, as it’s generally easier to learn and already supports many web-based interfaces.
These projects are not about the smart contracts themselves; they’re about improving your own blockchain creation process. According to Kordek, going down this route grants more control in the early days. If something is broken, you can fix and push and update. If tokens are hacked, you could roll back and adjust things, he said.
As companies get bigger and bigger, the technology could have a centralizing effect. “How can we somehow bring power back to people?” asks Kordek. Blockchain is one profound answer, empowering new entrants to alleviate problems across industries — it could even help us boldly go where no one has gone before.
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