The Irony of Blockchain

Anyone who works or writes about technology in 2017 simply cannot ignore Blockchain. It is the elephant in the room, the pot at the end of the rainbow or in some interpretations — the “Emperor’s New Clothes”.

Love it, Hate it, Snarl at it — Blockchain is here and not going away anytime soon.

There is enough literature out here, there and everywhere you look. (You just have to say the magic word). Blockchain simply lets you store information:

  • In a decentralized manner
  • With IronClad (no — this isn’t the “iron”y) encryption

Blockchain talks about democratizing transactions. No bank, no individual can control/manage transactions. No one can apparently “undo” — a blockchain transaction is like a bullet that left the gun. Several bullets — in fact. Because this the blockchain where the transactions are recorded existing over a decentralized network of machines.

And the cost of recording these transactions is what “Cryptocurrency”. So now, you can have an ID created on the blockchain — set in stone. Blockchain thus claims that the possibility of fraud on a transaction or a blockchain ID is greatly reduced because no individual — as known of today — is capable of going into the system and modifying it to make it represent someone else.

Blockchain aims to do for transactions what Open Source world has done for software development, what the Cloud has done for software deployment strategies.

What we didn’t account for is how much easier BitCoin and others would make it for entities like the Dark Web and Ransomware creators to cash in on their tactics. The recent bust of the Silk Road (the Amazon.com for drug dealers and arms traders), the WannaCry and SambaCry ransomware attacks — where the individuals behind the idea steeled their identities further using the BitCoin framework for transactions that don’t leave fingerprints made us realize the nefarious side of these technologies.

It is true that the creators of BitCoin and Ethereum clearly did not intend on their platforms being used for the Dark Arts. However, cryptocurrencies, while yet to deliver on promised benefits to the masses have proved to be more lucrative much faster for nefarious purposes.

While this is not really a good reason to not use these platforms, we need to wait for them mature further and have more tooling built around them such that the degree of adoption for and by the masses makes their misuse the occasional outlier.