Access and Feeds

Blockchain: Redesigns that Improve Sustainability and Performance

By Dick Weisinger

Blockchain is a distributed technology that runs on a peer-to-peer network for decentralizing transactions. Blockchains can remove the need for banks and central clearing houses and have been applied in the areas of fund transfers, trading, logistics, contracts, voting, and property ownership.

Over the last few years the growth of blockchain-backed applications has been enormous. But the technology is not without its problems.

One big problem is that blockchains allow transactions and money exchanges from the government to be hidden. Also, money scams and mistaken transfers can’t easily be tracked or undone. Because of this, expect there to be increased government regulation on blockchain technologies.

Secondly, the current generation of blockchain, for example bitcoin, require mind-boggling amounts of computing power to keep them running. Estimates are that the electricity consumed by the bitcoin blockchain exceeds the consumption of entire countries, like Ireland. The result is that bitcoin is not considered environmentally friendly and, as the popularity of bitcoin grows, many question the sustainability blockchain infrastructure. Proponents say that efforts are being made to ensure that much of the energy consumed by blockchains like bitcoin come from renewable energy — but why divert massive amounts of energy, even if it is renewable, to inefficient technologies?

A third problem is that blockchain transactions are slow. Compared to instantaneous credit card transactions, blockchain transactions might take hours to complete.

But the benefits of decentralized no-middle-man transactions is alluring and there are numerous projects to design newer blockchains that can bypass or improve these problems.

For example, researchers at Monash University, have designed a blockchain algorithm that is faster, more resilient, and more efficient that existing blockchain technology. Jiangshan Yu, researcher on the alternative blockchain algorithm, said that “through the new algorithm we have managed to increase the fault tolerance of blockchain significantly, and increase the number of transactions per second by 87.5 percent.”

This is just one of many active blockchain projects. Expect to see an increasing number of blockchain algorithm improvements in the future.

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