Since Bitcoin erupted into mainstream media and society's psyche, blockchain technology has been tied to cryptocurrency. Such an assertion is not true, and throughout the following text, we'll present hard evidence demystifying blockchain's bond to digital currency. To achieve this a brief history of initial technologies leading to blockchain will be explained, continuing with its functionalities and use cases and finalizing how Internet of Everything Corporation implements blockchain to accelerate Industry 4.0's connected embedded technology.
Blockchain reached stardom around 2013 when one Bitcoin was worth over USD$1,000, and it continued to rise to reach an all-time high of USD$66,0000 in 2021. But before Bitcoin introduced the blockchain in its white paper in 2008, others, decades earlier, began to evolve the technology.
Ralph Merkle 1979 introduced the first blockchain foundations. Merkle described an approach to public key distribution and digital signatures called "tree authentication" in his 1979 Ph.D. thesis for Stanford University, now known as the Merkle tree. Merkle's contribution provided a data structure for verifying individual records.
A couple of years later, David Chaum presented his 1982 Ph.D. dissertation for the University of California, Berkeley. He introduced a vault system for establishing, maintaining, and trusting computer systems by mutually suspicious groups. A system embodying many of the elements making what today is a blockchain. He was also credited with inventing digital cash when in 1989, he founded the DigiCash corporation.
By 1991, two other innovators entered the scene, Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta, publishing an article proposing a solution for preventing users from backdating or forward-dating electronic documents. The main goal was to maintain document privacy without a timestamping service. A year later, in 1992, they added the Merkle tree enabling multiple document certificates to live on a single block.
Other innovative approaches helping to lay the grounds for what is known today as blockchain tech or digital ledger technology (DLT) are the following:
As you can see, DLT went through decades of evolution before it was implemented in cryptocurrency. Therefore, assuming blockchain tech is digital currency is wrong. What is true is that by 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto (thought to be a pseudonym), published his white paper introducing a digital payment system, the bitcoin/blockchain architecture.
The crucial aspect of Nakamoto's architecture was the “chain of blocks” making it possible to add blocks without requiring them to be signed by a trusted third party.
Thanks to Merkel, Chaum, Haber, Stornetta, Black, Finney, and Nakamoto's contributions, digital ledger technology was born. In simple terms, a DLT or blockchain works by introducing any type of asset in blocks into an immutable and tamper-secured distributed network. A decentralized system where all the data is equally shared throughout the whole system.
In this way, the issues coming from centralized storage, e.g., system failure, outage, or hacking are mitigated by having block copies distributed. As the data introduced is immutable and to change it, all the nodes in the network must comply; changing data inputs is practically impossible. Even if a cyberterrorist tries to take over the blockchain through 51% node ownership, the costs of controlling these are huge.
If money is not a problem, once the chain has been corrupted and 51% of nodes accept the change, the rest of the nodes could easily see the change and hard fork off to a new version. Leaving the cyberterrorist with a worthless asset as the version of the token would plummet in value. Implementing this approach makes it taking part in the network far more economically incentivized than attacking it.
DLT development is constant, and although the first worldwide used blockchain was a public one, there are different types: public, private, permissioned, and consortium blockchain networks.
We won't dwell too much on this type as it was mentioned above. The most known representation of a public blockchain is the one used by the Bitcoin network and most of the cryptocurrencies we see nowadays.
These are open networks to which anyone has access and can register into the network, without any type of specific requests. Drawbacks include substantial computational power required, transaction privacy, and weak security. Therefore, public DLTs for enterprises are not an option.
As the name suggests, these are closed networks that one can access only through the permission of someone already in the network. It still uses a public blockchain network basis, i.e., a decentralized, peer-to-peer network, but one organization governs the network. It controls who can participate, execute a consensus protocol, and maintain the shared ledger.
Corporations can use this type of blockchain to create, depending on the use case, a significant trust and confidence boost between participants. A private blockchain can function behind a corporate firewall and be hosted on-premises.
Similar to a private blockchain network, permissioned DLTs, are invitation-only and restricted to who is allowed to participate in the network and in what transactions. Although this use case can be applied to private and public networks. It is common to see private DLTs using this network type.
This type of network is used when multiple businesses are intrinsically connected and apply a consortium for organizations to share blockchain-maintaining responsibilities. The pre-selected organizations determine transaction submissions or access data permissions. It is ideal for business when participants must be permissioned and share responsibility for the blockchain.
The possibilities digital ledger technology provides are far and wide, as it isn't solely used for digital currency; any type of information can be introduced. Its revolutionary approach to providing trustworthy information permits all industry verticals to benefit from blockchain technology. From supply chain and healthcare to oil and gas and retail, DLT's immutable, decentralized, and privacy and security data assurance ignites various opportunities.
Blockchain technology is perfect for healthcare data management as this data is case-sensitive, and digital data use is constantly increasing. The benefits Industry 4.0 opens to healthcare are tremendous. Embedded technology generates large amounts of data, like equipment monitoring and telemedicine.
Hospitals are aware of the potential interconnectivity ignites to all aspects of the value chain. Artificial intelligence is being used to reduce Health-Associated Infections (HAIs), introducing equipment predictive maintenance and cancer research opportunities. All this is great, but if you can't ensure data generation security and privacy, healthcare industry leaders won't risk being cyberattacked and exposing patient data.
Actioning blockchain in healthcare into these breakthroughs does ensure sensitive data is kept private and secure. Therefore, healthcare practitioners must be educated on how a digital ledger works and demystify it from its ties to cryptocurrency. They must be aware that a blockchain is executable without any digital currency. Looking at specific blockchain in healthcare use cases:
The food supply chain is one of the great beneficiaries. Through blockchain tech implementation, the whole production process obtains precise traceability. A fundamental stepping stone to counter the various issues coming from food supply chains:
Sustainability is also increased as data is accessed equally throughout the supply chain, providing decision-makers with reliable information. This helps to manage inventory, surplus, and transportation, finally decreasing the supply chain carbon footprint as trucks, aviation, and shipping procedures are executed when required. Another sustainable benefit is achieved as illegal and un-environmentally friendly processes are accounted for and stopped, e.g., pesticide and contaminated water use.
The capacity to offer transparent, immutable, secure, private data validation presents blockchain tech as revolutionizing. Industry 4.0 is data-driven and is entering all industry verticals. Therefore it makes all the sense in the world to invest in a technology that makes data credible throughout your business without third parties.
Internet of Everything Corporation (IoE Corp) has developed Yggdrasil, a decentralized blockchain designed to accelerate Industry 4.0's embedded tech connectivity. It's implemented within IoE Corp's Eden system, which is a decentralized software platform for massive projects' data management using embedded technology and AI.
To learn more about our tech benefits and opportunities, read What is Eden?, you can also access a more direct path. Apply to our Planet Partner Program. Take advantage today as we are onboarding new partners with our same vision. A move from centralized web-based data management models is a must for Industry 4.0 to reach its full potential. To achieve this, decentralization and data management on-premises are required.
Start the process to become a Planet Partner Program and pioneer the fourth industrial revolution as an industry leader applying here.