back to article 'Blockchain SAVED my Quango'

Picture the scene. A father is returning home to his family, his face etched with anxiety, and darkened by shame. The family sits expectantly around an empty dinner table. “We’re so hungry,” the children cry out. “I’m… I’m so sorry,” the father replies. “My funding application to explore the potential of a distributed ledger …

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Coat

Did I sleep too long?

Has April come early? No, everything tells me it's still November but this does read like an April Fool. Except it's just yet another example of government imitating satire…

Hang on, I've got an idea for a Blockchain Sitcom. Must be worth a couple of million for a feasibility study…

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Re: Did I sleep too long?

I've got an idea for a Blockchain Sitcom

Surely that would be multiple, distributed situations providing resilient comedic opportunities...

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Coat

Well, if there's a Chief Blockchain Officer then it has to be legit, right ?

I mean, there's an officer now. It's official as hell.

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Re: Well, if there's a Chief Blockchain Officer then it has to be legit, right ?

Surely you wouldn't have A chief blockchain officer, you would have a whole distributed bunch of them and add a new one with every new decision

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Joke

Re: Well, if there's a Chief Blockchain Officer then it has to be legit, right ?

Naaa. Never going to happen. Since when have you known any CxO to provide a proof of work?

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Blockchain

Blockchain

Blockchain

see, nothing happ... aaaggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

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Stop

Down under

The Aussie study should be compulsory reading.

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Thumb Down

Re: Down under

I was surprised this wasn't cross referenced in the article to heap more scorn. Sloppy journalism, on the part of el reg

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Re: Down under

That's A$700K worth spending if it stopped further idiocy.

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"Do you need a blockchain?"

Blockchain flowchart, taken from this NIST PDF

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Pint

Re: "Do you need a blockchain?"

This is a really good flowchart.

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Re: "Do you need a blockchain?"

3rd one down isn't quite correct, you can updates records in a blockchain, you do it the same way you update stuff with Git. All you cannot do it delete the version history of a record.

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Re: "Do you need a blockchain?"

"This is a really good flowchart"

Not keen on 4. It's been written arse about face simply to avoid "Yes" being the answer that doesn't need a blockchain.

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Anonymous Coward

Epic sarcasm

.. and boy, oh boy, do they deserve it.

I rather liked the tone of this article - right on the button IMHO.

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And for my next financial trick ...

I'll use the terms "AI" and "Blockchain" far enough apart to both receive massive but independent Quango funding. Then, with surprisingly little fanfare, their directors, chairpersons and Quango-runners can allow the groups to fail into obscurity whilst their tax-funded pensions are frugally spent on Barbados beaches ...

Cynical? Me?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And for my next financial trick ...

I've come across a setup that managed to add "quantum physics" to AI and blockchain, but in their case it actually makes sense and appears to do some real world stuff instead of some esoteric financial magic that will make everyone a millionaire and screw the monetary system (which IMHO are two aims in violent conflict, but I'm a cynic - I lived through the dotcon era and have thus that deja vu feeling all over again :) ).

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Re: And for my next financial trick ...

"Blockchain", "AI", "IOT", "Faceache", "5G", "Super mega-speed ultimo broadband" ... the Dotcon pot has returned to a gentle simmer and will soon start bubbling again ...

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Copyright blockchain?

Mention of the hub made me think. Is copyright an area where blockchain actually could be useful?

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Flame

Re: Copyright blockchain?

No.

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Re: Copyright blockchain?

No.

If you want a record of copyrights, you need a trusted third-party who can decide who owns the copyright, and not allow anyone to stake a claim regardless of validity.

See for example Kodakcoin for a case study of how not to do things.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Copyright blockchain?

I have heard hundreds of use cases discussed but in many, the volumes of transactions are so high (thousands per second on Spotify) blockchain is completely inappropriate. That's the first hurdle. The bigger problem is that it causes friction - sometimes insurmountable friction - where today's arrangement works OK.

This was written in 2015 and still holds up well:

http://ratpie.org/2015/11/25/dear-music-industry-there-is-no-saviour-machine/

"Music benefits from a kind of semi-formality, where we can freely move audio files around between devices and platforms, some of which are part of the tracked and royalty bearing infrastructure and some not. Ensuring that the many stakeholders in a single audio file had given permission and were compensated at the point of each transfer would add massive cost and inefficiency."

And that's just music. I heard of one case for fine art (low transactions, high value) where it is plausible. Just. But auctions don't have a trust issue: they're a case where buyer and seller can both be anonymous, and the system works today. Blockchain doesn't solve the authenticity problem just by recording the transaction.

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Re: Copyright blockchain?

To be honest I wasn't thinking in terms of (semi)professional content creators/consumers, as you say they are well served by current systems.

I was thinking more in terms of the sea of content on the internet, most of which was never created with an intent to commercial gain, effectively orphaned works. Just some meta data within the work and a reason to trust that meta data. Something decentralised rather than the IPO's 'we'll take the licence fee and give it to the rights holder if they ever come forward (we just won't ever try to find them...)'

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aks

Re: Copyright blockchain?

I ran across a suggestion that Blockchain could be used for land registration. That would fit the high-value low transaction model.

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Coat

Re: Copyright blockchain?

I ran across a suggestion that Blockchain could be used for land registration.

Because the one thing that one finds really stressful in house buying is the land registry?

[sorry, coat is on already, just doing up the buttons, leaving right now.]

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Unhappy

" Is copyright an area where blockchain actually could be useful?"

Possibly,

Which suggests Google and Facebook will hate it.

And I rather like that.

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Blockchain Innit?

Blockchain Innit?

For What?

Mumble.

Well, because this, no.

Yeah but what if?

Well, because this, no.

Ah but...?

NO!

Why?

LOOK YOU GREAT BIG VACUOUSLY IGNORANT TOSSPOT JUST NO!!1!!

Blockchain Innit.

Be afraid.

https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/2f8d494a-f7fa-469c-bde2-032b456e7c15

Be very afraid.

"A scheme that is durable and will be able to be evidenced forever..."

https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/2f8d494a-f7fa-469c-bde2-032b456e7c15?in=14:07:30&out=14:07:50

Blockchain Innit.

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Facepalm

Re: Blockchain Innit?

Interesting video and thanks for sharing. On an unrelated point, in the second one , did you see that truly atrocious piece of modern "art" nailed to the back wall? How much did us taxpayers get stiffed for that ?!

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Re: Blockchain Innit?

No. Just someone trying to smoke their Biro.

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SVV
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Eddie Hughes MP (Con) - "an intellect in blockchain"

Eddie! Seize the Zeitgeist! Utilise the amazing power of the blochain by moving all your party's election campaigning, financing and administration over onto blockchain based systems! Just think how much more powerful and effective that would make them! It's a no-brainer idea! Just say the word and all us block chain experts in the Reg community will happily advise for market competitive rates! Spend that money wisely!

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Re: Eddie Hughes MP (Con) - "an intellect in blockchain"

Wow! It's not often you here the words "MP" and "intellect" in the same sentence: I'm impressed...

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Re: Eddie Hughes MP (Con) - "an intellect in blockchain"

As in "MPs are completely lacking in intellect"?

I hear that a lot.

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This is an example of

Something that depressed me working in Local Government. Most people were cutting expenditure to the bone, working their asses off to do less with more, all the rest of it. And by and large almost everyone was doing less with more.

Yet, somehow, for no logic I could see, money could always be found for pet projects of very limited value. In Surrey, for example, there's a cycle race. Sure they managed to create "business cases" with a bit of creative accounting, but if you really looked it was pretty obvious the emporor had no clothes...

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Blockchain + Government

Someone please pull the Bogchain on this gravy train

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WTF?

Re: Blockchain + Government

There actually is a coin called Bogchain

https://etherscan.io/token/tokenholderchart/0xaa69e4f2516a4c20b97e64f57dd2b6cca5108aa5

Whatever next

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The one use

The one use I could imagine (apart from crypto coin) is a decentralised register of academic achievement such as degree certificates. There are many many issuing authorities (universities and colleges) but once issued the credentials are fixed and for life. Validating someones academic credentials, especially internationally, is currently a chore that requires requesting a transcript from the institution either by an employer or the (former) student. For the university this is a pain in the storage as well as an, albeit fairly automated, admin chore that they could really do without. I could see blockchain potentially working in this space,

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Re: The one use

Fails due to confidentiality requirements:

I'm sure the person with the violent abusive ex doesn't want a public announcement publishing saying where she just graduated from, along with the names of all her classmates. It makes it too easy for the nutjob to track her down. If it's published promptly, he may even be able to go ruin her graduation ceremony.

Fails due to need to change the data:

People do change their name. E.g. trans people will want their certificate re-issuing with their new name after they transition. Also witness protection. Also, grades get appealed, degrees get revoked due to discovered fraud/cheating, etc.

Fails due to authenticity requirements:

To prevent a record of a certificate being faked, you'd have to have it digitally signed by the university. So how do you know which signing certificates are valid, and not something that the "degree holder" just invented? That implies some central organisation validating signing keys ... at which point the central organisation could just run a database of degrees, or a list of links to the university websites that allow you to check the degrees from each university.

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Re: The one use

Fails due to need to change the data:

People do change their name. E.g. trans people will want their certificate re-issuing with their new name after they transition. Also witness protection. Also, grades get appealed, degrees get revoked due to discovered fraud/cheating, etc.

Actually, many of those cases should be auditable. For instance, with my degree certificate was information on what to do if your Cert is lost/destroyed. They will issue a new one, but it will have "Copy" marked on it. You only get one "original" and that's it.

If your degree is revoked due to cheating, that's actually useful information in the blockchain - not only can it be seen that you were issued a degree, but also the disgrace that follows (probably breaches GDPR Right to be Forgotten, but from a basic position of academic integrity, it's a matter of historical record. X happened, then Y happened. Though people might prefer to pretend that X didn't happen given Y).

Likewise, changing your name - you get paperwork for that. In the majority of cases it should be an audit-able change for fraud prevention. You don't change your certificate. If you get married, you don't get your Birth Certificate reissued - you have your original records, then your marriage certificates and your change-of-name. In a basic case, blockchain is ideal for recording those immutable historical facts - you were born on day x1 with name y and gender g, you did graduate on day x2 with name y and degree z, and you got married on day x3 and changed your name to y2, you changed your gender and your name on day x4, etc.

It runs out however when you need to subvert the normal order of things for legitimate purposes that need to escape auditing - like building a legend for witness protection, or a spook going undercover. You can't simply insert records because they'll appear in the wrong place in the blockchain - a degree awarded from 20 years ago but only logged last week...

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Re: The one use

Why not have the certificate signed by eg. the Department for Education, Education Scotland or whoever, and their signature countersigned by UNESCO?

That's what you are looking for with a degree certificate, and you don't need a blockchain for that.

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Re: The one use

One use? The only use of blockchain is a means of parting fools from their (or in this case taxpayer's) money. And you don't even have to use it for it be effective - all that's required is to generate a load of baseless waffle about technology, change, digital disruption and the rest, make some loose recommendations, and then go and bank the cheque.

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Re: The one use

"In a basic case, blockchain is ideal for recording those immutable historical facts - you were born on day x1 with name y and gender g, you did graduate on day x2 with name y and degree z, and you got married on day x3 and changed your name to y2, you changed your gender and your name on day x4, etc."

Well,someone did all that. What the potential employer - or whoever depending on the use case - needs to know is is the person claiming to be so really that someone?

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Re: The one use

Exactly. It is going to be no more or less reliable than the Registry Office, except that they might, for example, change the details of the gender you were born with, if it turns out that the doctor got it wrong.

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aks

Quote of the day

“unlikely to have provided benefits and value for money envisaged at the outset.”

or in simple English

"i've been suckered"

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