The names we have for blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) are entirely inappropriate. They describe ways to store data, which does not capture its function as a new way to transmit it. What makes blockchain so transformative is its data transmission protocol. It distributes data in a manner of “broadcasting,” as opposed to linear transmissions the vast majority of IT processes use.
At this time, cryptocurrencies happen to be the simplest and by far the most common use case for blockchain tech, but I have my eyes set on a future where blockchain innovates the internet as we know it.
Yifan He is founder and CEO of Red Date Tech, the architect firm behind China’s Blockchain Service Network (BSN). He will be speaking at CoinDesk’s virtual event Consensus 2021, May 24-27.
In the early days of the internet, transferring data between individual computers was a manual process, often involving tapes, floppy disks or CDs. The basic premise was to transfer data within seconds, and linking all computers, everywhere, is what makes the “World Wide Web.”
We’ve all seen the changes this data transmission technology has brought to the world, but when the internet was first invented over half a century ago, information systems were in their early stages and business transactions relatively simple.
With today’s internet, if a business scenario involves multiple IT systems, data is transmitted between them one by one. The more systems there are, the more convoluted this linear process becomes; an early participant won’t know what happens with later participants and there are time lags between each party in receipt of the data. There is no easy way to counteract the possibility some or all of the data has been manipulated along the way.
When you consider all of the privacy and security issues the internet has now in its current form, it can be seen as a legacy system in need of an upgrade. The basis of blockchain enables different computers to communicate seamlessly with multiple counterparts, and any data changes can be synced to all IT systems in real time. It really does not matter if you save the data into a block, ledger or even a traditional database.
There is no doubt in my mind that using blockchain tech for its broadcasting data transmission capability is the key to evolving the internet. Why, for instance, when we send an email, does it need to pass through and be stored in third-party servers on its way to the intended recipient? Why, when we visit a website, can’t we choose how personal data is shared with the host?
To help you understand the power of data broadcasting, here is an example: self-driving cars. In a linear transmission process, a self-driving car could only rely on each neighboring vehicle to share its current and intended movement data, which is a slow and inefficient process. Should the request for this information of each vehicle be exchanged and reacted upon via broadcasting data transmission, instantaneous synchronicity between all vehicles within a certain radius improves everyone’s experience.
With blockchain technology’s ability to transmit data through broadcasting, we can rebuild the internet to become more secure, more efficient and more privacy oriented, and we can evolve other IT processes to innovate 21st-century living. This is the motivation behind and vision we hold for BSN.
We simply are not in the business of working with speculative cryptocurrencies. Red Date will continue to invest in the research and development of blockchain’s underlying technology and the global infrastructure based upon it. While the possibilities for using blockchain tech are wide-ranging, not nearly enough industry professionals are leveraging the research and development needed for it to begin solving real-world problems. The sooner this changes, the sooner we all benefit.