Unsolved Mysteries: Blockchain Edition

Here at BlockX Labs, we are passionate about blockchain. We love taking on new and complex projects, enjoy the blockchain community, and the drive within the space to make things better.

But.

We are also realistic. We know Blockchain is not a magical be-all, end-all solution to all of the world’s problems. Even a disruptive technology has limitations. Although the hype surrounded blockchain has merit, and there is a lot of potential, it is foolish to believe that it is without challenges and mysteries.

This week’s article aims at navigating through some of the unsolved mysteries on blockchain. We are busting out our looking glasses and analyzing some of the challenges that blockchain faces. Do we have all of the answers? Definitely not. But like the SherBlock Holmes that we are, we are on the case!

Mystery №1: Can secure data be stored on a blockchain?

According to Technopedia, Data security, at its core, refers to protective digital privacy measures that are applied to prevent unauthorized access, and protects data from corruption. Blockchain manages to achieve some elements of data security according to this definition. The following are two challenges with storing secure data on a blockchain:

1. Limited storage capacity

The max amount of data that can stored on an Ethereum blockchain is 98k. The code required to store the data, is also deducted. Limited storage capacity renders storing sensitive data on a blockchain inefficient.

2. Ever-evolving landscape of technology itself

Protective security measures that are secure now, may not necessarily be secure 10 years down the line. Anything that is put into the blockchain today may be at risk due to infinite computing resources. Evolving technology poses a risk to how data is secured, and having it stored on a blockchain does not negate this issue.

How does one ensure that the data is secure forever? How do you account for human error? It is often said that humans are the biggest security risk, so how is that accounted for on blockchain? These are just some of the questions that need responding and until they are, we believe that secure data should not be stored on a blockchain.

Mystery Status: Case Closed.

Mystery №2: Can Blockchain magically fix the supply chain?

To tackle this mystery, let us walk through “The Case of the Sticker Problem”

Mad Kush Industries is a business that grows and distributes marijuana. They have logs on the entire supply chain process from the location to where the seeds are planted, to which particular strains of MJ are grown.

Each plant is harvested and taken to a processing plant where it is then packaged and sent to a distributor. The distributor then affixes a barcode or “sticker” that allows access to the history of the product on the blockchain.

It is at this point where provenance fails. What is the guarantee that the sticker cannot be copied? What is stopping the distributor, or any employer from tampering with the sticker and places it on another fake product? When a user buys a fake product and uses the same sticker to define provenance, the verification would come out positive. This fundamental flaw cannot be solved by using blockchain.

Blockchain can improve transparency in the supply chain, it can even cut out middlemen leading to decrease in cost and vastly ameliorate the auditing aspect. But there has been no tangible solution with integration in the real world.

To solve this mystery, we propose the following simple non-blockchain based solution:

Source: Amazon.com

What is the image above you ask? Well, they’re scratch stickers!

In this scenario, the idea would be to cover the sticker, preventing anyone from copying or tampering with them. If the stickers cannot be copied, then only one version exists. Once the sticker is scratched off, the sticker is rendered void, thus restoring provenance in the supply chain. It’s also a cost-effective solution.

Mystery Status: Case Closed

Mystery №3: Can Blockchain process transactions instantly?

Remember Cryptokitties?

Source: CryptoKitties

It was an online craze which actually slowed down trade in Ethereum, one of the largest cryptocurrencies in November. According to the BBC, CryptoKitties had become so popular that users were taking up significant space for transactions, raising concerns that that a frivolous games was crowding out more serious, significant business uses. Allegedly, the CryptoKitties game accounted for over 10% of network traffic on Ethereum. It is important to note that as traffic increases, transactions become more expensive to execute quickly.

In this case, instant transactions are exactly what blockchain is trying to avoid. Traditional blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum depend on the ‘proof of work’ concept. This deters denial of service attacks and other service abuses such as spam on a network by requiring some work from the service requester. This in turn, translates to added processing time by a computer which can take a significant amount of time to find the correct hash.

Time delays are thus intrinsic to the blockchain system.

Mystery Status: Case Closed.

Conclusion

Although blockchain has endless possibilities and is truly a disruptive technology, it’s important to tackle the challenges. Blockchain is not infallible, and as the Great SherBlock Holmes that we are, we recognize the current limitations of this technology in terms of scalability, provenance, and security. Understanding and working to solve these mysteries fosters a greater understanding of the technology and allows for blockchain innovation to truly thrive.

These are just some of the mysteries we found in our search to better understand blockchain from all angles. Want to see us tackle a particular challenge in Blockchain? Do you have any suggestions or want to prove us wrong? Let us know in the comments below or contact resident Blockchain Consultant Laura Marissa Cullell at lcullell@blockxlabs.com.!